Friday, July 01, 2011

Paper Online: The First Administrative Document Discovered at Persepolis

From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 3 The First Administrative Document Discovered at Persepolis: PT 1971-1

By Charles E. Jones - Institute for Study of the Ancient World, New York, and 
Seunghee Yie - Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

ARTA 2011.003

Ernst Herzfeld’s field photographs from the 1932 excavation season at Persepolis include three pictures of a large fragment of a cuneiform tablet (Herzfeld Nos. 32.85 a & b [= Oriental Institute No. 12979] and 32.86 a [= No. 12978]; see Fig. 1).1 The photographs were made in the year before the discovery of the first Persepolis Fortification tablets in March, 1933, and about four years before the excavation of the first Persepolis Treasury tablets in 1936 (Schmidt 1939:  3-37; 1957: 4f.).

Although this was the first cuneiform tablet discovered by the Oriental Institute’s excavations at Persepolis, there is no mention of it in the publications of Herzfeld or of Erich Schmidt, who succeeded him as director of the excavations, or in those of George G. Cameron or Richard T. Hallock, who undertook the publication of the many Treasury and Fortification tablets found later. Perhaps Herzfeld was not excited by a fragment with a text that was mostly numbers and “dittos” and a few
words that would have been incomprehensible in 1932, accompanied by the merest traces of a seal impression.

It is tempting to infer from these photographs that Herzfeld made trial excavations in the Treasury as early as the season of 1932, but no records of such an effort survive....

Persepolis in Pleiades