From the reign of Cyrus the Great, Persian conquerors used the languages of their subjects in local communication. Darius I cemented this practice, and with the creation of the Behistun monument and inscription, the Achaemenid Persian Empire became the world’s first truly ‘multilingual’ empire. The king composed his res gestae, and subsequent royal inscriptions, in the standard trilingual: Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian written in cuneiform script. At Persepolis, administrators used Elamite for record keeping, and some records were copied onto papyri by Aramaic scribes. In Egypt, hieroglyphs were added to the standard trilingual, and Aramaic written on papyri served as the lingua franca of the empire. These days, researchers interested in Achaemenid history contend with the use of diverse languages for imperial control and administration. Alongside these documents, we use the statements and testimonies of Greek and Roman authors to fill out something of the structure of the Achaemenid Empire.
Achaemenid communications week, at the Institute of Classical Studies will focus on Achaemenid use of language. Each morning, Professor Prods Oktor Skjaervø (Harvard) will give a three-hour lesson in Old Persian language and script, and each afternoon a workshop will be held considering the use of language in an area of the Achaemenid Empire, and more general concerns. Confirmed speakers include: Professor Christopher Tuplin (University of Liverpool), Professor Eleanor Robson (UCL), Dr. Lindsay Allen (KCL) and Professor Jan Tavernier (UC Louvain). The full timetable will be published soon. (Each day’s activities begin at 10am, to accommodate those commuting from outside London).
Participant numbers will be capped at 20, and we hope to attract equal numbers of students, early career scholars and university staff interested in the study of Achaemenid Persia, and the use of language in ancient empire. Please visit: https://ics.sas.ac.uk/e
A fee is required for attendance at the study week: £100 waged/£20 unwaged.
Tea and coffee will be provided but lunch and the study week dinner are not included in the cost.