Roger Wood/Corbis

As Ahura Mazda-the supreme winged deity of the ancient Persians-hovers overhead, king Darius the Great (522–486 B.C.) places his foot on the neck of a rival king and judges nine others in this relief celebrating Darius’s triumphs. The extensive trilingual inscription surrounding this image, carved high up on a cliff in Behistun (modern Bisitun, Iran), enabled the 19th-century British army officer and linguist Henry Creswicke Rawlinson to decipher cuneiform.