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Grotefend, Georg Friedrich


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


Extract

(1775–1853) In his treatise Praevia de cuneatis quas vocant inscriptionibus Persepolitanis legendis et explicandis relatio (Preliminary Report on Reading and Explaining the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Persepolis ), published in 1802, Grotefend, a German philologist, explained the names of the Persian kings Darius and Xerxes in Old Persian inscriptions. His idea was that the introductory lines of a Persepolis inscription probably contained the name, title and genealogy of the ruler who had caused the inscription to be carved. He assumed that a certain group of cuneiform characters repeated several times represented ‘king’ and set up a hypothetical formula: ‘so-and-so, great king, king of kings, son of so-and-so, the king’. On this assumption the first of the two inscriptions he worked on read ‘king Y, son of X’, while the second was ‘king Z, son of king Y’. This fitted perfectly with the genealogy of King Xerxes known from Herodotus: Xerxes, son King Darius, son of Hystaspes (who was not a king). On the basis of this discovery Grotefend was able to read several proper names and thus opened the path for the decipherment of cuneiform writing. See also cuneiform writing . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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