The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
(CAIS) -- The
translation of 2586 clay Achaemenid tablets has remained unpublished due to lack
of government funding.
The tablets, written in cuneiform, were discovered along with a great number of other inscriptions at Persepolis in 1933 by the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute.
of the tablets and tablet fragments were loaned to the university’s Oriental
Institute in 1937 for study purposes.
and texts of the 2586 clay Achaemenid tablets, many of which are kept at the
University of Chicago, have been collected and the writings deciphered over the
past few years, and the results are ready to be published in four volumes,”
linguist Abdolmajid Arfaei told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.
despite the initial agreement of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts
Organization, funding for the publication of the details of the inscriptions has
not yet been provided,” he added.
years ago, Arfaei, who is an expert on old Iranian (Avestan, Old-Persian,
Arsacid-Pahlavi -Sasanian-Pahlavi) as well as Elamite languages, traveled to the
United States taking with him photos of 607 of the tablets for use in the
addition, the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, which holds a great
number of these tablets, gave photos of 34 of them to Arfaei during his sojourn
in the U.S.
complete his research, Arfaei also acquired some texts written by the U.S.
Elamitologist and Assyriologist Richard Treadwell Hallock, who was responsible
for the first translation of the cuneiform inscriptions.
500 million rials (about $53,000) and more than two years have been spent on
accomplishing this research project, but there is no one to fund the publication
of the study,” Arfaei lamented.
of research work covering 32 of the tablets have previously been published in
English, and this was by a foreign magazine in 1978.
artifacts clarify administrative details of the Achaemenid dynastic Empire from
about 500 BCE.
tablets case politicized
spring 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Blanche Manning ruled that a group of
people injured by a 1997 bombing in Israel could seize the 300 clay tablets
loaned to the University of Chicago and the university could not protect
Iran’s right of ownership to the artifacts.
the international as well as the Iranian officials’ protests against the
ruling, the court was required to reexamine the case.
to Gil Stein, the director of the university’s Oriental Institute, the case
may take several years to resolve due to its complexities, and both parties can
appeal against the court’s decision.
set of 179 complete tablets was returned to Iran in 1948, and another collection
of more than 37,000 tablet fragments was returned in 1951.
university also sent back a number of tablets in 2004 based on an agreement
concerning the excavation of some ancient Iranian sites. However, a large number
of the tablets still remain at the university.
the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute is still holding 8,000 to
10,000 intact clay tablets and about 11,000 fragmented tablets, Stein estimates.
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