Friday, June 16, 2017


Annalisa Azzoni, Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre, Mark B. Garrison, Wouter F. M. Henkelman, Charles E. Jones, and Matthew W. Stolper, “PERSEPOLIS ADMINISTRATIVE ARCHIVES,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at (accessed on 16 June 2017).
PERSEPOLIS ADMINISTRATIVE ARCHIVES, two groups of clay tablets, fragments, and sealings produced and stored by administrative agencies based at Persepolis. The groups are named for their find spots: the Persepolis Fortification Archive (Figure 1, A) and the Persepolis Treasury Archive (Figure 1, B). Clay sealings found elsewhere in the fortification wall at Persepolis (Figure 1, C) may stem from other, perhaps related, administrative documents.
Discovery, Locations, Components, Numbers. In March 1933, archaeological excavations directed by Ernst Herzfeld for the Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago discovered inscribed and sealed clay tablets and fragments at the northeastern corner of the platform of Persepolis, in two small spaces of a bastion in the casemate fortification wall (Garrison and Root, 2001, pp. 23-6, Henkelman, 2008a, pp. 69-71, Stolper 2017a, pp. vi-xii). Herzfeld estimated that the find included about 30,000 or more tablets and fragments (“Recent Discoveries,”  p. 232).
In 1935, Iranian authorities loaned these objects to the Oriental Institute for analysis and publication (Stolper 2017a, pp. xiv f.). About 450 tablets and tens of thousands of fragments were returned to Tehran; a small number of tablets and fragments have since been excavated at Persepolis or identified in the National Museum, and 12 others have been identified in other collections (Henkelman, 2008a, pp. 75-79). As of 2017, the balance of the Fortification archive is at the Oriental Institute, about 20,000-25,000 tablets and fragments representing about 15,000-18,000 original documents (Jones and Stolper, 2008, pp. 37-44).
There are three main kinds of Fortification tablets. Most (ca. 70 per cent or more, remains of about 10,000 or more original documents) have texts in cuneiform script, in Elamite language. A few (ca. 5%, remains of about 1,000 or fewer original documents) have texts in Aramaic script and language. Many (ca. 20 per cent, remains of about 5,000 or more original documents) have no texts, but only impressions of seals. The functional relationship among these components — whether they represent relatively autonomous streams of information recording comparable kinds of administrative transactions or more interdependent ways of recording the same transactions — is an unsettled issue (Garrison, 2008, pp. 183-84; Henkelman, 2008a, pp. 157-62; Garrison and Henkelman).
There are unique Fortification documents in Old Persian script and language, in Greek script and language, in the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, and (probably) in Phrygian script and language (Stolper and Tavernier, pp. 1-5), as well as sealed clay bag or box closures, and tablets with impressions of Greek and Persian coins in place of seals.
Most of these documents were produced in the middle of the reign of Darius I by an agency that managed the intake, transfer, storage, and distribution of food crops (cereals, fruit, cress), livestock (sheep and goats, cattle, equids, poultry), food products (flour, cereal products, beer, wine, processed fruit, oil, meat), and byproducts (hides, perhaps textiles) in a region centered on Persepolis, reaching roughly from the Rām Hormoz/Behbahān area to Neyrīz, providing support for livestock, workers, craftsmen, administrators, travelers, religious personnel, courtiers, and gods.
Elamite Fortification Documents. Current understanding of the Persepolis Fortification Archive rests chiefly on a sample of the Elamite documents that includes 2,284 published texts (Hallock, 1969, 1978; Grillot; Vallat, 1994; Jones and Stolper, 2006, pp. 7-9; Arfaee, 2008b), and 2,550 texts widely cited from draft editions by Richard T. Hallock (some of them published in collated editions with photographs, see Henkelman, 2003, pp. 103-15; 2008a, pp. 379, 385-415, 455-63; 2011a, pp. 134-56; 2011c, p. 28; 2017a, pp. 274-98; 2017b, pp. 288-89, 307, 309; 2017c, pp. 187-207; Henkelman, Jones and Stolper, 2006; Henkelman and Stolper, pp. 284-86), and about 1,550 texts recorded since 2006 (some of them published in collated editions, with photographs, see Azzoni and Stolper, pp. 48-82; Henkelman, 2017a, pp. 275-76, 289-90; 2017b, pp. 320-29; Stolper 2015, pp. 6-21; 2017b, pp. 748-73; forthcoming[b]). Current understanding also draws on impressions 1,148 seals accompanying published Elamite texts (Garrison and Root, 1998, 2001, forthcoming[a], forthcoming[b]), and impressions of over 2,200 more seals on mostly unpublished Fortification documents (some published with detailed drawings and photographs, e.g., Garrison, 2017c, with references). Draft editions of many unpublished texts and  documentation of many unpublished seals are available via “Persepolis Fortification Archive Project” at
The earliest known dated Elamite Fortification text was written in month I, regnal year 13 of Darius I (April, 509 BC); the latest in month XII, regnal year 28 (March/April 493 BC). The largest numbers of dated texts are from years 22 and 23. A few texts refer to administrative records and activity as early as regnal year 4 of Darius I (518/17 BC) and a fragment that mentions regnal year 35 suggests that the Archive was still consulted as late as 487/86 BC (Stolper, 2017b, pp. 752, 767-69)...

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