Roger Wood/Corbis

High up on a cliff face in Bisitun, in western Kurdistan, Darius had his claim as rightful successor to Cyrus the Great carved into stone. The tall figure of Darius stands at left, with his foot on the supine Gaumata “the Magus,” pretender to the throne, before nine rebel kings who are bound at the neck. The relief is accompanied by a trilingual cuneiform inscription in the Elamite, Babylonian Akkadian and Old Persian languages; in the text Darius claims that he restored the kingship to “our family.”