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Newly Found Old-Persian Cuneiform Inscription of Kharg Island Deciphered


09 December 2007



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  Pictures courtesy of Cultural Heritage New Agency (CHN)

(Click to enlarge)

By: Rasool Bashash 

Faculty Member

Linguistics, Inscriptions, and Texts Research Centre 

Research Institute to the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization 



LONDON, (CAIS) -- Following my first concise decoding of the Kharg Island newly found cuneiform inscription, now I find it necessary again to give, in detail, my own comments and suggestions in English. First of all, it is our duty to mention that the first person who informed the Linguistics, Inscriptions, and Texts Research Centre (LITRC) about the appearance of this inscription was revered Prof. Dr. Sarfaraz, whom we should profoundly appreciate for his opportune attention. 


Immediately, being informed on November 14th, 2007, I was given a mission to see the inscription. Therefore, the next morning on Thursday, November 15th, I took a flight to Kharg and arrived in there at around ten o’clock. There I was accompanied to the site of the inscription by some state officials including Mr. Heydari, the Governor, and Mr. Jazebi, the Deputy Governor of Kharg, along with the representatives of the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) in Bushehr, and Prof. Sarfaraz, and two other local archaeologists, Mr. Bazyar and Mr. Ebrahimi. There I gathered all the necessary information and needed provisions and returned to Tehran, to read the inscription. 


As it has already been mentioned the inscription is carved on a coral rock in Old Persian semi-syllabic cuneiform signs. Despite the usually well-ordered regular system of Achaemenid inscriptions, this one is in an unusual order written in five lines. The first three lines are separated with a space of 8cm from the second two lines which are very awkwardly engraved. 


Of course, the cuneiform signs of the syllables are very well and correctly engraved. Except for the abovementioned peculiarities, there are two other engraved signs between the text. One is a three-angled crown-looking sign at the beginning of the third line, and the other is a curved scratched line between the third and fourth lines which is proceeded in below coming paragraphs. 


The below coning tentative decoding of the inscription was carried out through referring to almost all Persian rock and artifact inscriptions, while studying, at the same time, the other contemporary and coincidental Elamite and also some Avestan, the Old Persian’s closest cognate language texts. 


Transliteration Transcription 


1 a ha .ha

2 sa a na . .a a . .. 

3  za ha ma i vazahamai   

4 ba ha na ma . bahanama 

5 xa a x.


“The not irrigated land was (became) happy


(with) my bringing out (water).


Bahana   wells” 




The only one word in the first line is .ha from the radical .ah1, “to be, to become, …”, impf. 3rd sg, “was, became”. 


The second line contains two words. One is read as sa a na > This word was not found in any of the Old Persian cuneiform texts, but in Achaemenid Elamite (Persepolis Fortification Tablets), either sa-a-in or sa,-in and sa-a-na (PF572:7f;9500:10) are attested and are translated as “not irrigated land”, which serve as qualification of grain, in contrast to HAL.A, meaning “place (of) water”, or “irrigated land”. The second word reads as .. from the ..y. is an adjective meaning “happy, glad”. 


The third line, as mentioned, begins with a fallen three-angled crown-looking engraved shape. Actually, it shouldn’t be a real crown, but I prefer to discern it a corruption of the cuneiform sign for the syllable va, and later manipulated into the shape of a crown. Therefore, I suggest a transliteration of the corrupted and broken third line as va za ha ma i > vazahamai, a noun with enclitic first person possessive pronoun: vazah n. from the verb .vaz, meaning “to bring, to offer, to flow”. Vazahamai; “my offer, my flow”. 


The fourth line can either be read as the name of a person, transliterated as ba ha na > bahana, with the accusative (-ma), or it can be matched with an Elamite word read as pa ha nu, meaning “prince”. 


The last line consists of one word transliterated as xa a > x., which is a noun plural (NP), nominative and accusative of substantive xan, meaning “wells, quells”.  

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Extracted From/Source*: Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN)


*Please note the above-news is NOT a "copy & paste" version from the mentioned-source. The news/article above has been modified with the following interventions by CAIS: Spelling corrections; -Rectification and correction of the historical facts and data; - Providing additional historical information within the text; -Removing any unnecessary, irrelevant & repetitive information.


All these measures have been taken in order to ensure that the published news provided by CAIS is coherent, transparent, accurate and suitable for academics and cultural enthusiasts who visit the CAIS website.


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