Art Resource, NY

“I am Cyrus the king, an Achaemenid” proclaims this sixth-century B.C. cuneiform text inscribed on a pillar in Pasargadae, Cyrus’s new capital. Written in Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian and now referred to as CMa, this trilingual inscription emphasizes Cyrus’s Achaemenid lineage. One problem with this statement, however, is that Cyrus could not have inscribed the Old Persian version, for cuneiform writing was not adapted for the Old Persian language until early in Darius’s reign, more than a decade after Cyrus’s death in 530 B.C. It seems likely that Darius himself commissioned CMa to cement his linkage to Cyrus and promote the legitimacy of his rule.