Saturday, July 21, 2012

The “Res Gestae Divi Saporis”

The mid­dle part of the third cen­tu­ry AD is not well endowed with his­tor­i­cal sources.  We are large­ly depen­dent on later, often very abbre­vi­at­ed, texts.  But about 50 years ago, an inscrip­tion was found in Per­sia, at Naqsh-e Rustam, which sup­ple­ments these:

To these sources has recent­ly been added a unique mon­u­ment, the inscrip­tion of Sha­puhr I, engraved on three walls of the first floor of the Kaabah of Zoroast­er, the tow­er­like stone build­ing of Achaemen­ian times which still stands in front of the rock cut graves of the Achaemen­ian kings of Per­sia near Perse­po­lis at Naksh i Rustem (Pl. VII, 1-2).

The inscrip­tion which gives the same text in three lan­guages, Arsacid Pehle­vi, Sas­san­ian Mid­dle Per­sian, and Greek, was dis­cov­ered in 1936 and 1939, by Dr. Erich Schmidt, direc­tor of the Iran­ian expe­di­tion of the Ori­en­tal Insti­tute, Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go. [1]

The "Kaabah of Zoroast­er" is lit­er­al­ly the "Cube of Zoroast­er", and looks just like one. The plates show­ing the mon­u­ment are these: