Old Persian

Spoken in

  • Indo-European Indo-Iranian Iranian Old Persian

N / a



In Old Persian refers to a ancient Iranian language which is attested as official court and family language of the Persian Empire of Darius I Achaimenidenherrscher in inscriptions since. It embodies a Altstadium the later Middle Persian and New Persian language and can thus be considered as earliest attestation of a (in principle) still spoken today Iranian language. It is also the earliest occupied by contemporary original certificates Indo-Iranian language ( Vedic and Avestan are indeed during ancient, but are only documented by younger manuscripts ).

So far it was assumed that Old Persian was used exclusively in royal inscriptions, as well as for religious purposes and for national emblems. The discovery of a ancient Persian clay tablet from Persepolis, which supports in Chicago since 1937, showed that the language was probably also used in exceptional cases in the administration.

In contrast to the younger stages of the Persian language, the Old Persian has a varied formal grammar with up to seven case, three genera and three numbers. The conjugation system is, however, compared to the more ancient Avestan been simplified: The Old Persian has no differentiation of imperfect, aorist and perfect anymore, but knows only a past tense.

The Old Persian was written in a special form of the Persian cuneiform, which is related only externally with the Mesopotamian cuneiform script by their character shapes. It is this to be a Clockwise syllabary syllables of the form V ( vowel a, i, u) and KV ( consonant- vowel). Narrated almost exclusively monumental inscriptions on rocks or buildings. Most stands next to the Old Persian version is still an Elamite and a Babylonian.

Remarks on the Grammar


The Old Persian has the Numbers singular, plural, and some forms of the dual, the genera masculine, feminine, neuter and six case: nominative, genitive / dative, accusative, instrumental case / ablative, locative and vocative. The inherited from the Indo-European genitive and dative cases coincide in Old Persian, as well as ablative and instrumental. There are several declension: a- declension ( -a,- ā ), i- declension, u - (or auto- ) declination and the consonantal declension.

Adjectives are declined in the same way.


Can be increased:

A) comparative: -tara -,- θara - and - iyah -B) superlative: - tama -,- ista

Personal pronouns


The Old Persian has the tenses present, perfect, imperfect and aorist, the modes indicative, subjunctive / subjunctive, optative, imperative, and injunctive and the diathesis and active medium ( them. Pres. - AIY -,- ataiy ) [ Passive ( -ya -)].

Witnessed are usually only 1st and 3rd person. Only testified verbal dual form is ajīvatam " both lived ."

The imperfect has an augment.

There are four participles:

  • Present participle active: active -nt
  • Present participle of medium: - amna -.
  • Participle passive: passive -ta- / -na-
  • Participle Future Perfect Passive: -ata -

Formation of the infinitive: - tanaiy example atāvayam in utādiš bartanaiy ( DNb 46f ) " and I had to apply the force "

The Persian cuneiform

The Old Persian inscriptions are written in a syllabary, ie each down -written character contains a vowel or a consonant with a vowel. The character set consists of 36 characters (3 vowels, consonants 22 -a- characters, 4 -i - consonant characters, 7 consonants -u- characters). In addition, the reference includes 5 ideograms, ligation of an ideogram and Fallsuffixe, delimiters and numerals. In dictionaries we find the following order: aiukxgcjt θ dnpfbmyrlvs ç š z h

Sample sentences

θātiy Dārayavahauš xšāyaθiya vazrka xšāyaθiya xšāyaθiyānam xšāyaθiya dahyūvnām "It tells King Darius the Great, king of kings, king of countries. " ( DPh ) maña Pita VistaSpa nāma AHA Haxāmanišiya " My father's name was Hystaspes, an Achaemenian. " adam Dārayavahauš Parsa Ariya Ariya - Ciça "I am Darius, Persian, an Aryan, of Aryan tribe. " ( DNa 8-15) ima xšaçam HACA Sakaibiš tayaiy para Sugdam amata Yata ā Kusa HACA Hidauv amata Yata ā Sparda tayamaiy Auramazdā frābara haya maθišta bagānām " This Kingdom ( Persia ) until after Sparda gave me of the Scythians who dwell behind Sogdiana, thence to Ethiopia and India Auramasda, which is the largest among the gods. " ( DPh ) baga aniya thy seed astiy " There is no other God. "