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« Tuna 3 / 2017

Fourth Column of Behistun Inscription of Darius I (522–486 BCE)

This article gives a commented translation of the 4th column of the famous Behistun (Bīsitūn) inscription of the Persian king Darius I (522–486 BCE). As we know, the Behistun inscription was composed in three important languages of the Persian Empire — in the Babylonian dialect of the Akkadian language, in the Elamite language, and the Old Persian language. It is important to note that the Behistun inscription is a very good example of the use of propaganda by the king in Persia, but at the same time it is an important source concerning the history of Early Achaemenid Persia.

The 4th column of the Behistun inscription covers an historical period from the end of 522 BCE, or from the beginning of 522 BCE until the beginning of 520 BCE. During this period, Darius I had fought against several serious enemies in Persia, Babylonia, Media, Margiana, etc, who revolted against his power and did not recognise him as their king. For example, his biggest opponents in Persia at that time were Gaumata (Smerdis), who usurped power in Persia in 522 BCE, and after Gaumata (killed in 522 by Darius I), a new opponent, Vahyazdāta, was killed by Darius I. Vahyazdāta had tried to seize power in Persia and pretended to be king of Persia.

Other serious enemies were the Babylonian usurpers Nidintu-Bēl and Arakha, both of whom usurped power in Babylon, thus leading to rebellions in Babylonia twice in 522 BCE and in 521 BCE. Nidintu-Bēl and Arakha both claimed that they were Nebuchadnezzar — sons of Nabonid (555–539 BCE), the last king of Babylonia. It the end after several battles in 522–520 BCE against enemy forces, Darius I became victorious over all his enemies in Persia, Elam, Babylonia and the far eastern provinces.