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Ancient Seal Corroborates Bistun Inscription Text


13 January 2005



An ancient seal has been discovered by chance which confirms the information recorded in the text of the Bistun Inscription in Kermanshah Province, an expert of the Hamedan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department announced on Wednesday.

Fariba Sharifian explained that the Iranian police recently confiscated the seal from smugglers in the town of Asadabad in Hamedan Province, adding, “It is not clear when and where the seal was unearthed, but the information and reliefs carved on it narrate significant and interesting material.”

The seal is made of green jasper, she said.

A cuneiform inscription in ancient Persian on one side of the cylindrical seal reads “Dadar Shish, Satrap of Bactria”.

Dadar Shish was an ancient Iranian proper name which meant brave. It is said that the English word “dare” is derived from this word.

According to the Bistun Inscription, in ancient Iran two persons were known by this name: the Armenian Dadar Shish, who had been tasked by the Achaemenid king Darius I to suppress the army of Armenia sent to the region; and a satrap of Bactria (modern Balkh in Afghanistan).

The Bistun Inscription is a cuneiform text written on the precipitous limestone rock of a mountain above the village of Bistun, in western Iran. The inscription was carved in parallel columns, repeating the same text in the Old Persian, Assyrian, and Elamite languages, by order of the Persian king Darius I. It recounts his genealogy and conquests.

The other side of the recently discovered seal bears a relief depicting a horseman who is hunting a lion with his bow and arrow, with the symbol of Ahura Mazda above this scene.

“This relief illustrates a story of Darius the Great hunting lions,” Sharifian said.

According to archaeologists, cylindrical seals were common in economically and politically developed societies of the time.

Seals have been employed in Iran since the Neolithic era. The Achaemenids used them for administrative purposes.



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