The Bīsotūn Inscription - A Jeopardy of Achaemenid History

Amir Ahmadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


According to the currently favoured view among historians of the Persian Empire,
the Bīsotūn Inscription is a deceitful piece of propaganda whose purpose was to
resolve Darius’s legitimacy problem. To this effect, Darius cobbles a family
relation with Cyrus and fabricates the story of a magus who impersonates Smerdis,
son of Cyrus, and usurps the throne. This view, however, contradicts not only the
Bīsotūn Inscription but also the ancient Greek testimonies. This article examines
the arguments historians have given for their position. Since all views of the two
issues in question are necessarily interpretations of the relevant sources that rely on argumentation, reasons and inferences must stand up to critical scrutiny.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages54
JournalJournal of Archeology and Ancient History
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Achaemenid history
  • Bīsotūn Inscription
  • Persian Empire
  • Darius
  • Cyrus

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