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Discovery Magazine 4/1/1991

Mr. Rawlinson Makes a Discovery

In 1835, Henry Rawlinson, a young Englishman serving in the Persian army, made a wonderful discovery. Near Behistun, Persia (now northern Iran), Mr. Rawlinson discovered a mountain (about 1,700 feet high). One side was almost straight up-and-down. He could tell there was a place on the mountainside, about 350 feet up, that had been carved smooth. He could also faintly see the figure of an ancient king, leading captives bound neck-to-neck with a rope. Next to this were several columns of cuneiform inscriptions.

Mr. Rawlinson finally made his way up to the carvings. There was only a narrow ledge (about 14 inches wide) from which he could work (sometimes on a tall ladder). At times he worked in a swing suspended from the top of the cliff. It was a very dangerous task for he could have easily fallen into the valley below. He labored very hard for about four years, carefully copying most of the inscriptions.

Eventually, it was discovered that the inscriptions were not of a single language. Rather, there were three languages carved into the mountain side. They were Babylonian, Elamite, and Persian. A comparison of these languages provided scholars with the "key" they needed to unlock the cuneiform writing on many of the monuments and clay tablets of the ancient world. This important discovery helped scientists prove that many of the historical statements recorded in the Bible were absolutely correct. Therefore, archaeology supports God's Word!

The king pictured in the Behistun carvings was Darius I, a Persian ruler who is mentioned in the Old Testament book of Ezra (Ezra 4:5,24: 5:1-17). The inscriptions, among other things, contained a tribute to some of his military victories.

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