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Achaemenid Inscription Names Uncle of Darius the Great in Old Persian for First Time


12 April 2008



LONDON, (CAIS) -- The name of Farnaka, who was the uncle of Darius the Great, has been identified in a newly discovered Old Persian Achaemenid inscription for the first time.


Written in Old Persian cuneiform, known to Achaemenids as Aryan, the stone inscription bears the names of Darius the Great and his uncle, Farnaka, the Persian service of CHN reported on Friday.


His name had previously only been found in historical texts written in other languages. Greek texts refer to him as Pharnaces and Elamite texts call him Parnaka.


“Sometime ago, I discovered the tablet at the foundation of a monument during an official mission,” archaeologist Shahrokh Razmju said.


Razmju with the help of Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, who is a leading expert on several ancient Iranian languages, are trying to reconstruct the damaged inscription and decipher the remaining lines.


Razmju described Farnaka as an important official during the Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE) and added, “The inscription also refers to Farnaka’s post as the Darius’s empire’s chief superintendent of receipts and payments.”


“The style of engraving of the inscription-tablet and the type of stone are different than similar inscriptions previously found in Persepolis,” Razmju explained.



Historical Background


Farnaka was one of Arshama's (Arsames) three sons and brother to Vishtaspa (Hystaspes), father of Darius the Great. According to Elamite inscription tablets discovered in Persepolis known as the 'treasury tablets', Farnaka as the head of entire economic and administrative system was the second most important person after Gobryas in the Darius the Great's government.


Farnaka's son Artabazus became satrap of Dascylium who commanded the Parthians and Chorasmians in Xerxes' eastern border war (480-79 BCE) and was in the Hellespont region in 470 BCE. His descendants continued to sustain their positions as the satraps and rulers of Dascylium almost to the years leading to the demise of the empire in 330 BCE.


One group of lesser officers from a cadet branch of the house of Pharnaces produced the dynasty that created the Kingdom of Pontus in 302 BCE which survived until 64 BCE. The Persian kingdom of Pontus remembered as one of Rome's most formidable and successful enemies.






Extracted From/Source:   Mehr News [*]




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