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Old Persian Cuneiform

Darius I (550-486 BC) claims credit for the invention of Old Persian Cuneiform in an inscription on a cliff at Behistun in south-west Iran. The inscription dates from 520 BC and is in three languages - Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian. Some scholars are sceptical about Darius' claims, others take them seriously, although they think that Darius probably commissioned his scribes to create the alphabet, rather than inventing it himself.

Notable features

Used to write:

Old Persian, the language used in the cuneiform inscriptions of Achaemenian dynasty and the vernacular of the Achaemenian elite. Old Persian was spoken in southwestern Persia, an area known as Persis, and belongs to the Iranian branch or the Indo-Aryan family of languages.

Old Persian Cuneiform


Old Persian logograms


Old Persian numerals

Sample text

Sample inscription in Old Persian Cuneiform

Photo by Simon Ager, taken in the British Museum.

Transliteration and translation

Sample text in Old Persian Cuneiform

Sample text provided by Fereydoun Rostam


Details of the Old Persian script and language

Old Persian cuneiform fonts

Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), University of London:

ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform:

Cuneiform scripts

Akkadian, Elamite, Hittite, Old Persian Cuneiform, Sumerian, Ugaritic

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