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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.


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.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the: website

Mode of instruction

Students are expected to attend the weekly seminars of the BA course “Old Persian”, where we’ll treat the grammar and read the texts.
Students will be given a reading list for self-study in order to deepen their knowledge of the historical development of this language.

Course Load

Total course load for the course is 140 hours: hours spent on attending lectures and seminars (28 hours), preparation for the seminars (60 hours), reading of the list (10 hours), preparation for the exam (42 hours)

Assessment method

Written examination with essay questions


Written examination with essay questions, similar to the first examination.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • course materials

  • Old Persian texts and translations

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


Enrolment in uSis is obligatory. If you have any questions, please contact the student administration, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs

not applicable

Contact details

Master Linguistics student administration, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;