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Old Persian


Admission requirements

Familiarity with historical linguistics, with Sanskrit 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 are able to independently read and understand Old Persian inscriptions.
    1. Students have knowledge of the main tenets of the historical grammar of Old Persian and of the Iranian languages in general.
    2. Students are able to judge and interpret scholarly literature dealing with Old Persian.


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 ‘Oud-perzisch’ (5512KOP), where we will treat the basic grammar of Old Persian and read some texts.
Students will be given a reading list for self-study.
Tutorials on the topics from the reading list will be given on the basis of students’ needs and interests.

Course Load

Attending seminars: 26 hours
Preparation for the classes: 49 hours
Reading list and attending tutorials: 60 hours
Preparation of the final paper: 145 hours

Assessment method

Final paper 100%

The paper can deal with any aspect of Old Persian (historical) grammar or represent a grammatical and etymological analysis of an Old Persian inscription.

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the final paper.


Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course.

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

Other course materials and the texts will be made available.

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies


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

Contact details

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