The Behistun Inscription is a multi-lingual inscription and large rock relief on a cliff at Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran , near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran . It was crucial to the decipherment of cuneiform script .
Authored by Darius the Great sometime between his coronation as king of the Persian Empire in the summer of 522 BC and his death in autumn of 486 BC , the inscription begins with a brief autobiography of Darius , including his ancestry and lineage . Later in the inscription , Darius provides a lengthy sequence of events following the deaths of Cyrus the Great and Cambyses II in which he fought nineteen battles in a period of one year (ending in December 521 BC) to put down multiple rebellions throughout the Persian Empire . The inscription states in detail that the rebellions , which had resulted from the deaths of Cyrus the Great and his son Cambyses II , were orchestrated by several impostors and their co-conspirators in various cities throughout the empire , each of whom falsely proclaimed kinghood during the upheaval following Cyrus's death .
Darius the Great proclaimed himself victorious in all battles during the period of upheaval , attributing his success to the "grace of Ahura Mazda" .
The inscription includes three versions of the same text , written in three different cuneiform script languages : Old Persian , Elamite , and Babylonian (a later form of Akkadian) . In effect , then, the inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs : the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script .
The inscription is approximately 15 metres high by 25 metres wide and 100 metres up a limestone cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana , respectively) . The Old Persian text contains 414 lines in five columns ; the Elamite text includes 593 lines in eight columns , and the Babylonian text is in 112 lines . The inscription was illustrated by a life-sized bas-relief of Darius I , the Great , holding a bow as a sign of kingship , with his left foot on the chest of a figure lying on his back before him . The supine figure is reputed to be the pretender Gaumata . Darius is attended to the left by two servants , and nine one-meter figures stand to the right , with hands tied and rope around their necks , representing conquered peoples . Faravahar floats above , giving his blessing to the king . One figure appears to have been added after the others were completed , as was Darius's beard , which is a separate block of stone attached with iron pins and lead .