unique collection of clay inscriptions and seals
of the Achaemenid era are on display in Iran’s
National Museum for the first time ever, providing
evidence of the great administrative powers of the
The inscriptions were discovered in 1933 by the
Oriental Institute of the Chicago University in
Persepolis. The discovered collection included
some 30,000 clay inscriptions in Elamite cuneiform
dating to 509-494 BCE. Four years after the
discovery, the inscriptions were loaned to the
University for further studies.
The Oriental Institute of Chicago University has
so far published some results regarding the texts.
Last year, Professor Gil Stein, the director of
the Oriental Institute, sent back to Iran some 300
pieces of the inscriptions sealed in acid and
moisture proof boxes.
The invaluable documents which narrate parts of
Iran’s ancient history were so far kept in store
in Iran’s National Museum, but they are now
showcased for the first time ever in the Museum,
categorized by subject.
According to director of the Achaemenid Research
Center of Iran’s National Museum, Shahrokh
Razmjou, the tablets are filled with useful
information of the vast Achaemenid Empire which
included more than 30 different nations. “Ruling
such vast empire 2500 years ago needed great
discipline and administrative organizations,”
explains Razmjou, adding that the Achaemenids
succeeded to do so for nearly two centuries.
tablets show that working Iranian women of the
Achaemenid dynastic era received wages and
salaries three times those of the men holding
similar job positions. Those working for the
government also received child benefits and other
extra benefits. Studies furthermore show that
people in general enjoyed high salaries and wages.
to the clay records, the couriers who were to
travel the roads of the Achaemenid Empire to
transfer messages were paid by the government and
this can be considered as the most ancient postal
system of the world, founded by Darius the Great.
Most of the tablets, specially the accounting
ones, include writings or marks which show that a
copy of the document has been made to be kept in
the Imperial Archive.
to Razmjou, one of the important features of the
current exhibition is a seal impression dating to
500 BC or the 22nd year of Darius II kingdom. The
seal itself, however, belonged to Darius I, Darius
the Great’s grandfather, dating to the seventh
The Darius seal is similar to the stamp type seals
used today. Another type of seals showcased in the
exhibition is the cylindrical type, the use of
which was common at the time. Seals were used to
authorize the documents and inscriptions.
The exhibition also showcases some of the research
reports and books published by the Oriental
Institute of the University of Chicago specially
those carried out on Achaemenid seals.