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Old Persian


Admission requirements

Familiarity with historical linguistics, with Sanskrit, Greek or an Iranian language would be an advantage, but is not required.


Brief introductory description of the course. Please include course subject and teaching materials used.
Old Persian is primarily known as the language of the inscriptions of the great Achaemenid kings. The extant Old Persian texts all date from the 6th to the 4th century B.C.E. They are written in a cuneiform script, probably designed at the behest of king Darius for the purpose of recording his deeds.

The Old Persian grammar is fairly simple. In the first few weeks the students will get acquainted with its main features (from a synchronic and a diachronic prospective) and with the Old Persian script. Already after a few lessons we shall start reading the Behistun inscription of king Darius. During the course we’ll be reading extensive portions of this inscription as well as some other inscriptions of the Persian kings.

The course also offers an introduction to the study of Iranian languages.

Course objectives

1) Students have basic knowledge of the Old Persian grammar and script.
2) Students are able to independently read and understand Old Persian inscriptions.
3) Students have knowledge of the main tenets of the historical grammar of Old Persian and of the Iranian languages in general.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Total course load for the course is 140 hours: hours spent on attending lectures and seminars (28 hours), preparation for the seminars (70 hours), preparation for the exam (42 hours)

Assessment method

written examination with essay questions


This course is supported by Blackboard. Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course. Please see:

Reading list

M. de Vaan & A. Lubotsky, Old Persian. In: Gzella H. (Ed.) Languages from the World of the Bible. Boston/Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2011, pp. 194-208 (to be downloaded from the address, where the reading list can also be found.

The course materials and the texts will be supplied.


Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Application for A la Carte
Application for Contractonderwijs