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Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription

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Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription/
(Kandahar Edict of Ashoka)
AsokaKandahar.jpg
Bilingual inscription (Greek and Aramaic) by king Ashoka, discovered in Kandahar.
MaterialRock
SizeH55xW49.5cm[1]
WritingGreek and Aramaic
Createdcirca 260 BCE
Period/culture3rd Century BCE
Discovered31°36′56.3N 65°39′50.5E
PlaceChehel ZinaKandaharAfghanistan
Present locationKabul MuseumAfghanistan
Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription is located in South Asia
Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription
 
Location of the Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription in Afghanistan.
Show map of South AsiaShow map of AfghanistanShow all

The Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription, (also Kandahar Edict of Ashoka, sometimes "Chehel Zina Edict"), is a famous bilingual edict in Greek and Aramaic, proclaimed and carved in stone by the Indian Maurya Empire ruler Ashoka (r.269-233 BCE) around 260 BCE. It is the very first known inscription of Ashoka, written in year 10 of his reign (260 BCE), preceding all other inscriptions, including his early Minor Rock Edicts, his Barabar caves inscriptions or his Major Rock Edicts.[2] This first inscription was written in Classical Greek and Aramaic exclusively. It was discovered in 1958.[1]

It is sometimes considered as one of the several "Minor Rock Edicts" of Ashoka (and then called "Minor Rock Edict No.4),[3] by opposition to his "Major Rock Edicts" which contain portions or the totality of his Edicts from 1 to 14.[4] Two edicts in Afghanistan have been found with Greek inscriptions, one of these being this bilingual edict in Greek language and Aramaic, the other being the Kandahar Greek Inscription in Greek only. This bilingual edict was found on a rock[5] on the mountainside of Chehel Zina (also Chilzina, or Chil Zena, "Forty Steps"),[1] in the vicinity of Kandahar, which forms the western natural bastion of Old Kandahar, or Alexandria Arachosia, Kandahar's Old City.

The Edict is still in place on the mountainside. According to Scerrato, "the block lies at the eastern base of the little saddle between the two craggy hills below the peak on which the celebrated Cehel Zina of Babur are cut".[6] A cast is visible in Kabul Museum.[7] In the Edict, Ashoka advocates the adoption of "Piety" (using the Greek term Eusebeia for "Dharma") to the Greek community.[8]

Background[edit]

Greek communities lived in the northwest of the Mauryan empire, currently in Pakistan, notably ancient Gandhara near the current Pakistani capital of Islamabad, and in the region of Gedrosia, nowadays in Southern Afghanistan, following the conquest and the colonization efforts of Alexander the Great around 323 BCE. These communities therefore seem to have been still significant in the area of Afghanistan during the reign of Ashoka, about 70 years after Alexander.[1]

Content[edit]

 
Chil Zena ("40 steps") complex, offering a commanding view of Kandahar, and on the mountainside of which the bilingual edict is carved.[1] Chil Zena commands the entrance to the city of Kandahar when coming from the west.
 
The Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription was located at the edge of the Indian realm, near the border with the Greco-Bactrian kingdom and Ai-Khanoum.

Ashoka proclaims his faith, 10 years after the violent beginning of his reign, and affirms that living beings, human or animal, cannot be killed in his realm. In the Hellenistic part of the Edict, he translates the Dharma he advocates by "Piety" εὐσέβειαEusebeia, in Greek. The usage of Aramaic reflect the fact that Aramaic (the so-called Official Aramaic) had been the official language of the Achaemenid Empire which had ruled in those parts until the conquests of Alexander the Great. The Aramaic is not purely Aramaic, but seems to incorporate some elements of Iranian.[9] According to D.D.Kosambi, the Aramaic is not an exact translation of the Greek, and it seems rather that both were translated separately from an original text in Magadhi, the common official language of India at the time, used on all the other Edicts of Ashoka in Indian language, even in such linguistically distinct areas as Kalinga.[8] It is written in Aramaic alphabet.

This inscription is actually rather short and general in content, compared to most Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka, including the other inscription in Greek of Ashoka in Kandahar, the Kandahar Greek Edict of Ashoka, which contains long portions of the 12th and 13th edicts, and probably contained much more since it was cut off at the beginning and at the end.

Implications[edit]

The proclamation of this Edict in Kandahar is usually taken as proof that Ashoka had control over that part of Afghanistan, presumably after Seleucos had ceded this territory to Chandragupta Maurya in their 305 BCE peace agreement.[10] The Edict also shows the presence of a sizable Greek population in the area, but it also shows the lingering importance of Aramaic, several decades after the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.[1][11] At the same epoch, the Greeks were firmly established in the newly created Greco-Bactrian kingdom under the reign of Diodotus I, and particularly in the border city of Ai-Khanoum, not far away in the northern part of Afghanistan.

According to Sircar, the usage of Greek in the Edict indeed means that the message was intended for the Greeks living in Kandahar, while the usage of Aramaic was intended for the Iranian populations of the Kambojas.[3]

Transcription[edit]

The Greek and Aramaic versions vary somewhat, and seem to be rather free interpretations of an original text in Prakrit. The Aramaic text clearly recognizes the authority of Ashoka with expressions such as "our Lord, king Priyadasin", "our lord, the king", suggesting that the readers were indeed the subjects of Ashoka, whereas the Greek version remains more neutral with the simple expression "King Ashoka".[3]

AsokaKandahar.jpg
 

Greek (transliteration)[edit]

  1. δέκα ἐτῶν πληρη[ ... ]ων βασι[λ]εὺς
  2. Πιοδασσης εὐσέβεια[ν ἔδ]ε[ι]ξεν τοῖς ἀν-
  3. θρώποις, καὶ ἀπὸ τούτου εὐσεβεστέρους
  4. τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐποίησεν καὶ πάντα
  5. εὐθηνεῖ κατὰ πᾶσαν γῆν• καὶ ἀπέχεται
  6. βασιλεὺς τῶν ἐμψύχων καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ δὲ
  7. ἀνθρωποι καὶ ὅσοι θηρευταὶ ἤ αλιείς
  8. βασιλέως πέπαυνται θηρεύοντες καὶ
  9. εἲ τινες ἀκρατεῖς πέπαυνται τῆς ἀκρα-
  10. σίας κατὰ δύναμιν, καὶ ἐνήκοοι πατρὶ
  11. καὶ μητρὶ καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων παρὰ
  12. τὰ πρότερον καὶ τοῦ λοιποῦ λῶιον
  13. καὶ ἄμεινον κατὰ πάντα ταῦτα
  14. ποιοῦντες διάξουσιν.

English (translation of the Greek)[edit]

  1. Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King
  2. Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of)
  3. Piety (εὐσέβειαEusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made
  4. men more pious, and everything thrives throughout
  5. the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing)
  6. living beings, and other men and those who (are)
  7. huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted
  8. from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they
  9. have ceased from their intemperance as was in their
  10. power; and obedient to their father and mother and to
  11. the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future,
  12. by so acting on every occasion, they will live better
  13. and more happily."[12]

Aramaic (in Hebrew alphabet, stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet)[edit]

  1. שנן י פתיתו עביד זי מראן פרידארש מלכא קשיטא מהקשט
  2. מן אדין זעיר מרעא לכלהם אנשן וכלהם אדושיא הובד
  3. ובכל ארקא ראם שתי ואף זי זנה כמאכלא למראן מלכא זעיר
  4. קטלן זנה למחזה כלהם אנשן אתהחסינן אזי נוניא אחדן
  5. אלך אנשן פתיזבת כנם זי פרבסת הוין אלך אתהחסינן מן
  6. פרבסתי והופתיסתי לאמוהי ולאבוהי ולמזישתיא אנסן
  7. איך אסרהי חלקותא ולא איתי דינא לכלהם אנשיא חסין
  8. זנה הותיר לכלהם אנשן ואוסף יהותר.

[4]

English (translation of the Aramaic)[edit]

  1. Ten years having passed (?). It so happened (?) that our lord, king Priyadasin, became the institutor of Truth,
  2. Since then, evil diminished among all men and all misfortunes (?) lie caused to disappear; and [there is] peace as well as joy in the whole earth.
  3. And, moreover, [there is] this in regard to food: for our lord, the king, [only] a few [animals] are killed; having seen this, all men have given up [the slaughter of animals]; even (?) those men who catch fish (i.e. the fishermen) are subject to prohibition.
  4. Similarly, those who were without restraint have ceased to be without restraint.
  5. And obedience to mother and to father and to old men [reigns] in conformity with the obligations imposed by fate on each [person].
  6. And there is no Judgement for all the pious men,
  7. This [i.e. the practice of Law] has been profitable to all men and will be more profitable [in future].[13]

 

 


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Other inscriptions in Greek in Kandahar[edit]

 
An 1881 photo showing the ruined Old Kandahar citadel ("Zor Shar") where the second Greek edict was discovered.[1]
 
Ancient city of Old Kandahar (red) and Chil Zena mountainous outcrop (blue) on the western side of Kandahar.

The other well-known Greek inscription, the Kandahar Greek Edict of Ashoka, was found 1.5 kilometers to the south of the Bilingual Rock Inscription, in the ancient city of Old Kandahar (known as Zor Shar in Pashto, or Shahr-i-Kona in Dari), Kandahar, in 1963.[10] It is thought that Old Kandahar was founded in the 4th century BCE by Alexander the Great, who gave it the Ancient Greek name Αλεξάνδρεια Aραχωσίας (Alexandria of Arachosia). The Edict is a Greek version of the end of the 12th Edicts (which describes moral precepts) and the beginning of the 13th Edict (which describes the King's remorse and conversion after the war in Kalinga). This inscription does not use another language in parallel.[14] It is a plaque of limestone, which probably had belonged to a building, and its size is 45x69.5 cm.[5][10] The beginning and the end of the fragment are lacking, which suggests the inscription was original significantly longer, and may have included all fourteen of Ashoka's Edicts, as in several other locations in India. The Greek language used in the inscription is of a very high level and displays philosophical refinement. It also displays an in-depth understanding of the political language of the Hellenic world in the 3rd century BCE. This suggest the presence of a highly cultured Greek presence in Kandahar at that time.[5]

Two other inscriptions in Greek are known at Kandahar. One is a dedication by a Greek man who names himself "son of Aristonax" (3rd century BCE). The other is an elegiac composition by Sophytos son of Naratos (2nd century BCE).[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Dupree, L. (2014). Afghanistan. Princeton University Press. p. 286. ISBN 9781400858910. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  2. ^ Valeri P. Yailenko Les maximes delphiques d'Aï Khanoum et la formation de la doctrine du dharma d'Asoka Dialogues d'histoire ancienne vol.16 n°1, 1990, pp.243
  3. Jump up to:a b c Sircar, D. C. (1979). Asokan studies. p. 113.
  4. Jump up to:a b For exact translation of the Aramaic see "Asoka and the decline of the Maurya" Romilla Thapar, Oxford University Press, p.260 [1]
  5. Jump up to:a b c Une nouvelle inscription grecque d'Açoka, Schlumberger, Daniel, Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres Année 1964 Volume 108 Numéro 1 pp. 126-140 [2]
  6. ^ Scerrato, Umberto (1958). "An inscription of Aśoka discovered in Afghanistan The bilingual Greek-Aramaic of Kandahar". East and West9 (1/2): 4–6. JSTOR 29753969.
  7. ^ Kabul Museum
  8. Jump up to:a b Notes on the Kandahar Edict of Asoka, D. D. Kosambi, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 2, No. 2 (May, 1959), pp. 204-206 [3]
  9. ^ History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250, Ahmad Hasan Dani Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1999, p.398 [4]
  10. Jump up to:a b c Dupree, L. (2014). Afghanistan. Princeton University Press. p. 287. ISBN 9781400858910. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  11. ^ Indian Hist (Opt). McGraw-Hill Education (India) Pvt Limited. 2006. p. 1:183. ISBN 9780070635777. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  12. ^ Trans. by G.P. Carratelli "バーミックスを使ったメニュー~FOOD~ | ☆注目の「bamix(バーミックス)」☆". Archived from the original on 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-02-01. , see also here
  13. ^ Sircar, D. C. (1979). Asokan studies. p. 115.
  14. ^ Rome, the Greek World, and the East: Volume 1: The Roman Republic and the Augustan Revolution, Fergus Millar, Univ of North Carolina Press, 2003, p.45 [5]
  15. ^ The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek ReligionEsther Eidinow, Julia Kindt, Oxford University Press, 2015, [6]

 

 

 


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Edicts of Ashoka
(Ruled 269-232 BCE)
Regnal years
of Ashoka
Type of Edict
(and location of the inscriptions)
Geographical location
Year 8End of the Kalinga war and conversion to the "Dharma"
Year 10[1]Minor Rock EdictsRelated events:
Visit to the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya
Construction of the Mahabodhi Temple and Diamond throne in Bodh Gaya
Predication throughout India.
Dissenssions in the Sangha
Third Buddhist Council
In Indian language: Sohgaura inscription
Erection of the Pillars of Ashoka
Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription
(in Greek and AramaicKandahar)
Minor Rock Edicts in Aramaic:
Laghman InscriptionTaxila inscription
Year 11 and laterMinor Rock Edicts (n°1, n°2 and n°3)
(PangurariaMaskiPalkigundu and GavimathBahapur/SrinivaspuriBairatAhrauraGujarraSasaramRajula MandagiriYerragudiUdegolamNitturBrahmagiriSiddapurJatinga-Rameshwara)
Year 12 and later[1]Barabar Caves inscriptionsMajor Rock Edicts
Minor Pillar EdictsMajor Rock Edicts in Greek: Edicts n°12-13 (Kandahar)

Major Rock Edicts in Indian language:
Edicts No.1 ~ No.14
(in Kharoshthi script: ShahbazgarhiMansehra Edicts
(in Brahmi scriptKalsiGirnarSoparaSannatiYerragudiDelhi Edicts)
Major Rock Edicts 1-10, 14, Separate Edicts 1&2:
(DhauliJaugada)
Schism EdictQueen's Edict
(Sarnath Sanchi Allahabad)
Rummindei EdictNigali Sagar Edict
Year 26, 27
and 
 
 


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later[1]Major Pillar Edicts
In Indian language:
Major Pillar Edicts No.1 ~ No.7
(Allahabad pillar Delhi pillar Topra Kalan Rampurva Lauria Nandangarh Lauriya-Araraj Amaravati)

Derived inscriptions in Aramaic, on rock:
Kandahar, Edict No.7[2][3] and Pul-i-Darunteh, Edict No.5 or No.7[4]

Coordinates31°36′56.3″N 65°39′50.5″E

  1. Jump up to:a b c Yailenko,Les maximes delphiques d'Aï Khanoum et la formation de la doctrine du dhamma d'Asoka, 1990, pp.243.
  2. ^ Inscriptions of Asoka de D.C. Sircar p.30
  3. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik de Kurt A. Behrendt p.39
  4. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik de Kurt A. Behrendt p.39


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Kandahar Aramaic inscription

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Kandahar Aramaic inscription
Kandahar Aramaic inscription.jpg
Transliteration in Roman alphabet of the Aramaic inscription of Kandahar.
MaterialNatural stone.
WritingAramaic
Createdcirca 260 BCE
Period/culture3rd Century BCE
Discovered31.5493°N 65.7175°ECoordinates31.5493°N 65.7175°E
PlaceKandaharAfghanistan
Present locationKandaharAfghanistan
Kandahar Aramaic inscription is located in Afghanistan
Kandahar Aramaic inscription
 
Location of the Kandahar Aramaic inscription in Afghanistan.

The Aramaic inscription of Kandahar is an inscription on a fragment of a block of limestone (24x18 cm) discovered in the ruins of Old KandaharAfghanistan in 1963, and published in 1966 by André Dupont-Sommer. It was discovered practically at the same time as the Greek Edicts of Ashoka, which suggests that the two inscriptions were more or less conjoined. The inscription was written in Aramaic, probably by the Indian emperor Ashoka about 260 BCE. Since Aramaic was the official language of the Achaemenid Empire, which disappeared in 320 BCE with the conquests of Alexander the Great, it seems that this inscription was addressed directly to the populations of this ancient empire still present in northwestern India, or to border populations for whom Aramaic remained the language of use.[1][2]

Background[edit]

 
The inscription was discovered in the remains of the old city of Kandahar (probably the ancient Alexandria of Arachosia).

The discovery of this inscription is to be related to that of several other inscriptions in Aramaic or Greek (or both sets), written by Asoka. The most famous are the Kandahar Bilingual Inscription, written in Greek and Aramaic, or the Greek Edicts of Ashoka, also found in Kandahar. Previously, in 1915, Sir John Marshall discovered the Aramaic Inscription of Taxila, and in 1932 another inscription in Aramaic was discovered in the Laghman Valley in Pul-i-Darunteh, the Pul-i-Darunteh Aramaic inscription. Finally, another inscription, the Aramaic inscription of Laghman was also discovered in 1970.

The Aramaic inscription of Kandahar is an inscription in "Indo-Aramaic" alternating Indian language and Aramaic language, but using only the Aramaic script, the Aramaic parts translating the Indian parts transcribed in the Aramaic alphabet.[1] It does not explicitly refer to Ashoka in the fragment that was found, but the place of discovery, the style of writing, the vocabulary used, allows to link the inscription to the other Ashoka inscriptions known in the region.[2]

Content of the inscription[edit]

This inscription is usually interpreted as a version of a passage from Major Pillar Edict n°7.[3][4]

The word SHYTY which appears several times corresponds to the Middle Indian word Sahite (Sanskrit Sahitam), meaning "in agreement with", "according to ...", and which allows to introduce a quote, in this case here Indian words found in the Ashoka Edits.[2] Many of these Indian words, transcribed here phonetically in Aramaic, are indeed identifiable, and otherwise exist only in Major Pillar Edict n°7 of Ashoka, in the same order of use : 'NWPTYPTY' corresponds to the Indian word anuppatipatiya (without order, in disorder), and 'NWPTYP ...' to anuppatipamme. Y'NYHYK'NY .... corresponds to yani hi kanici and is the first word of this edict.[2]

There are also several words in the Aramaic language, the role of which would be to explain the meaning of the Indian words and phrases mentioned: the word WK'N "and now", WYHWTRYWN "they have grown, and they will grow", PTYSTY "obedience" ....[2]

This inscription, in spite of its partial and often obscure character, seems to be a translation or a line-by-line commentary of elements of Major Pillar Edict n°7.[2] A more extensive analysis with photographs was published in the Asian Journal.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up to:a b A new Aramaic inscription of Asoka found in the Laghman Valley (Afghanistan), André Dupont-Sommer Proceedings of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1970 114-1 p.173
  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f A new Aramaic inscription of Asoka discovered in Kandahar (Afghanistan) Dupont-Sommer, André Records of the sessions of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1966 110-3 pp.440-451
  3. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik by Kurt A. Behrendt p.39
  4. ^ "A third fragment found in Kandahar (Kandahar III) is a passage from the seventh pillar edict of which the text of Origin in Mgadh is translated into groups of words in Aramaic "Session Reports - Academy of Inscriptions & belles-lettres 2007, p.1400
  5. ^ "An Indo-Aramaic Inscription of Asoka from Kandahar", by Emile Benveniste and André Dupont-Sommer, Journal Asiatique, T. ccliv 1966, pp.437-465.


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Aramaic Inscription of Taxila

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Aramaic Inscription of Taxila
Sirkap Aramaic inscription 4th century BC.jpg
Aramaic inscription of Taxila.
MaterialPortion of octagonal marble pillar.
WritingAramaic
Createdcirca 260 BCE
Period/culture3rd Century BCE
Discovered33.7561N 72.8292E
PlaceSirkapTaxilaPakistan
Present locationTaxila MuseumPakistan
Aramaic Inscription of Taxila is located in Pakistan
Aramaic Inscription of Taxila
 
Location of the Aramaic Inscription of Taxila.

The Aramaic Inscription of Taxila 'is an inscription on a piece of marble, originally belonging to an octagonal column, discovered by Sir John Marshall in 1915 at TaxilaPakistan. The inscription is written in Aramaic, probably by the Indian emperor Ashoka around 260 BCE, and often categorized as one of the Minor Rock Edicts.[1] Since Aramaic was the official language of the Achaemenid empire, which disappeared in 330 BCE with the conquests of Alexander the Great, it seems that this inscription was addressed directly to the populations of this ancient empire still present in northwestern India, or to border populations for which Aramaic remained the normal communication language.[2]

Related inscriptions[edit]

The discovery of this inscription was followed by that of several other inscriptions in Aramaic or Greek (or both), written by Asoka. The most famous are the Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription, written in Greek and Aramaic, or the Kandahar Greek Edict of Ashoka, also found in Kandahar. In 1932 another inscription in Aramaic was discovered in the Laghman Valley at Pul-i-Darunteh, then in 1963 an inscription in "Indo-Aramaic" alternating the Indian language and the Aramaic language, but using only the Aramaic script, the Aramaic parts translating the Indian parts transcribed in the Aramaic alphabet, also found in Kandahar. Finally, another inscription was found in Laghman, the Aramaic Inscription of Laghman.[2]

Text of the inscription[edit]

The text of the inscription is very fragmentary, but it has been established that it contains twice, lines 9 and 12, the mention of MR'N PRYDRŠ ("our lord Priyadasi"), the characteristic title used by Ashoka.:[1][3]

 

1 ... ... ... ... ut ... ...
2 l kmyrty l ...
3 kynvta l ...
4 ak zv shkynvta ...
5 v labvhy huh ...
6 hvptykhty znh ...
7 zk bhvvnrh ...
8 hvbshtv rzy hut ...
mram Prydr ...
10 am ....... lkvth ...
11 vap bnvhy ...

12 Imran Prydrsh ...

— Transliteration in the Western Alphabet of the Aramaic Inscription of Taxila, Sircar.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up to:a b Asoka by Radhakumud Mookerji p.275
  2. Jump up to:a b A new Aramaic inscription of Asoka found in the Laghman Valley (Afghanistan), André Dupont-Sommer Proceedings of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1970 114-1 p.173
  3. ^ A new Aramaic inscription of Asoka discovered in Kandahar (Afghanistan), Dupont-Sommer, André, Records of the sessions of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1966 110-3 p.448
  4. ^ Select Inscriptions Bearing On Indian History and Civilization Vol.1 of Sircar, Dines Chandra pp.78-79


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Aramaic Inscription of Laghman

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Aramaic inscription of Laghman
Aramaic inscription of Laghman.jpg
Aramaic inscription of Laghman
MaterialNatural stone.
WritingAramaic
Createdcirca 260 BCE
Period/culture3rd Century BCE
Discovered34.5846°N 70.1834°ECoordinates34.5846°N 70.1834°E
PlaceLaghman ProvinceAfghanistan
Present locationLaghman ProvinceAfghanistan
Aramaic Inscription of Laghman is located in Afghanistan
Aramaic Inscription of Laghman
 
Location of the Aramaic inscription of Laghman
 
Laghman valley.

The Aramaic inscription of Laghman, also called the Laghman II inscription, is an inscription on a slab of natural rock in the area of LaghmânAfghanistan, written in Aramaic by the Indian emperor Ashoka about 260 BCE, and often categorized as one of Minor Rock Edicts of Ashoka.[1][2] This inscription was published in 1970 by André Dupont-Sommer. Since Aramaic was an official language of the Achaemenid Empire, and reverted to being just its vernacular tongue in 320 BCE with the conquests of Alexander the Great, it seems that this inscription was addressed directly to the populations of this ancient empire still present in northwestern India, or to border populations for whom Aramaic remained the language used in everyday life.[3]

Epigraphical context[edit]

The discovery of this inscription follows that of several other inscriptions in Aramaic or Greek (individually, or both languages together), written by Asoka. The most famous are the Kandahar Bilingual Inscription, written in Greek and Aramaic, or the Greek Edicts of Ashoka, also found in Kandahar. Previously, in 1915, Sir John Marshall had discovered the Aramaic Inscription of Taxila, and in 1932 another inscription in Aramaic was discovered in the Laghman Valley in Pul-i-Darunteh, also called "Laghman I", the Aramaic inscription of Pul-i-Darunteh, then in 1963 an "Indo-Aramaic" inscription alternating Indian Prakrit and the Aramaic language, but using only Aramaic characters, with the Aramaic parts translating the Indian parts transcribed in the Aramaic alphabet, was also discovered in Kandahar: the Aramaic Inscription of Kandahar.[3]

The inscription[edit]

The text of the Aramaic Inscription of Laghman has been transliterated into the Roman alphabet and translated as follows:[3]

BŠNT 10 | ḤZY | PRYDRŠ MLK' | RQ DḤ'

MH MṢD BRYWT KWRY
MN ŠRYRYN DWDY MH 'BD RYQ QŠTN
200 ZNH TMH TDMR ŠMH ZNH 'RH' KNPTY SHTY
GNT' YTRY 120 TRT' TNH 100 'L' 80
'M W'ŠW DYN'

In the year 10, behold, the king Priyadasi expelled vanity from among prosperous men,
friends of that which is vain, friends of those who fish fish creatures.
At 200 "bows", there is over there the place called Tadmor.
This is the KNPTY road, that is to say (the road) of the Garden:
more than 120 ("bow"). At TRT', here: 100. Above: 80.

Done with Wasu The Judge

— Translation by André Dupont-Sommer [3]

Interpretations[edit]

 
The Laghman Valley was a compulsory stop on the main trade route from India to Palmyra.

The translation is slightly incomplete but brings some valuable indications. It first mentions the propagation of moral rules, which Ashoka will call "Dharma" in his Edicts of Ashoka, consisting of the abandonment of vanity and respect for the life of the people and animals (here, urging people to give up fishing).[3][2]

 
The word "Tadmor" in the Laghman inscription (top, right to left), compared to "Tadmor" in the Imperial Aramaic script (middle), and in the modern Hebrew script (bottom).

Then, according to semitologist André Dupont-Sommer, who made a detailed analysis of the script observed in multiple rock inscriptions in the Laghman valley as well as in other Aramaic inscriptions of Ashoka,[4] the inscription mentions the city of Tadmor (Tdmr in the Aramaic script in the inscription, ie Palmyra), destination of the great commercial road leading from India to the Mediterranean basin, located at a distance of 3800 km. According to the reading of Dupont-Sommer, Palmyra is separated by two hundreds "bows" from Laghman. In the inscription, the word used to indicate bow is "QŠTN", and Dupont-Sommer asserted that it is an Aramaic word denoting a unit to measure a distance of 15 to 20 kilometres, which could represent a day on the road for an archer.[3] Other distances are then given, which makes it possible to interpret Laghman's inscription as a kind of information terminal on the main trade route with the West.[3][5]

Franz Altheim and Ruth Altheim-Stiehl read three hundred instead of two hundred bows; they equated it with the Vedic unit of measurement yojona, c. 12 kilometres, which would result in a number close to the actual 3800 kilometres distance between Laghman and Palmyra.[6] The linguist Helmut Humbach criticized the reading of Dupont-Sommer and considered his claims regarding the distance to have no validation.[7]

Another issue is that the Aramaic alphabet, the letters "r" and "d" share an identical character.[8] Jean de Menasce read the city's name "Trmd" and identified it with Termez on the Oxus river.[9] Linguist Franz Rosenthal also contested the reading of Dupont-Sommer and considered that the inscription refers to an estate called "Trmr".[10] Historian Bratindra Nath Mukherjee rejected the readings of both Dupont-Sommer and de Menasce; he contested the large value attributed to "bow", considering it a small unit. The historian also rejected the reading of Tdmr and Trmd as referring to a city; in the view of Mukherjee, the name, whether Tdmr or Trmd refers to the rock on which the inscription was carved itself.[9][11]

The Aramaic Inscription of Laghman is the oldest of the known Ashoka inscriptions, with the Kandahar Bilingual Inscription, both dated to the year 10 of Ashoka's reign.[3]

Another Aramaic inscription, almost identical, was discovered nearby in the Laghman Valley, and published in 1974.[12]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Kaizer, Ted (2017). "Trajectories of Hellenism at Tadmor-Palmyra and Dura-Europos". In Chrubasik, Boris; King, Daniel (eds.). Hellenism and the Local Communities of the Eastern Mediterranean: 400 BCE-250 CE. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-192-52819-3.
  • MacDowall, David w.; Taddei, Maurizio (1978). "The Early Historic Period: Achaemenids and Greeks". In Allchin, Frank Raymond; Hammond, Norman (eds.). The Archaeology of Afghanistan from Earliest Times to the Timurid Period. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-120-50440-4.
  • Mukherjee, Bratindra Nath (2000) [1984]. Studies in Aramaic Edicts of Aśoka (2 ed.). Kolkata: Indian Museum. OCLC 62327000.
  • Rosenthal, Franz (1978). "The Second Laghmân Inscription". Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies. Israel Exploration Society. 14: H.L. Ginsberg Volume. ISSN 0071-108X.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nakamura, Hajime (1987). Indian Buddhism: A Survey with Bibliographical Notes. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 349. ISBN 9788120802728.
  2. Jump up to:a b Behrendt, Kurt A. (2004). Handbuch der Orientalistik. BRILL. p. 39. ISBN 9004135952.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h A new Aramaic inscription of Asoka found in the Laghman Valley (Afghanistan), André Dupont-Sommer Proceedings of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1970 114-1 pp.158-173
  4. ^ Script of the Laghman Valley Fig 3
  5. ^ The Silk Road Encyclopedia. Seoul Selection. 2016. p. 991. ISBN 9781624120763.
  6. ^ Kaizer 2017, p. 33, 34.
  7. ^ MacDowall & Taddei 1978, p. 192.
  8. ^ Kaizer 2017, p. 34.
  9. Jump up to:a b Mukherjee 2000, p. 11.
  10. ^ Rosenthal 1978, p. 99.
  11. ^ Kaizer 2017, p. 33,34.
  12. ^ Essenism and Buddhism, Dupont-Sommer, André, Proceedings of the sessions of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1980 124-4 pp.698-715 p.707


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Pul-i-Darunteh Aramaic inscription

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Pul-i-Darunteh Aramaic inscription
Lampaka inscription.jpg
Pul-i-Darunteh Aramaic inscription
MaterialNatural stone.
WritingAramaic
Createdcirca 260 BCE
Period/culture3rd Century BCE
Discovered34.5846°N 70.1834°ECoordinates34.5846°N 70.1834°E
PlacePul-i-Darunteh, Laghman ProvinceAfghanistan
Present locationPul-i-Darunteh, Laghman ProvinceAfghanistan
Pul-i-Darunteh Aramaic inscription is located in Afghanistan
Pul-i-Darunteh Aramaic inscription
 
Location of the Aramaic inscription of Pul-i-Darunteh.
 
Lampaka valley, Laghman Province.

The Pul-i-Darunteh Aramaic inscription, also called Aramaic inscription of Lampaka, or Laghman I inscription, is an inscription on a rock in the valley of Laghman ("Lampaka" being the transcription in Sanskrit of "Laghman"), Afghanistan, written in Aramaic by the Indian emperor Ashoka around 260 BCE. It was discovered in 1932 at a place called Pul-i-Darunteh. Since Aramaic was the official language of the Achaemenid Empire, which disappeared in 320 BCE with the conquests of Alexander the Great, it seems that this inscription was addressed directly to the populations of this ancient empire still present in northwestern India, or to border populations for whom Aramaic remained the language of use.[1]

Background[edit]

The discovery of this inscription follows that of several other inscriptions in Aramaic or Greek (or both together), written by Asoka. The most famous is the Bilingual Kandahar Inscription, written in Greek and Aramaic, or the Greek Edicts of Ashoka, also found in Kandahar. Earlier, in 1915, Sir John Marshall had discovered the Aramaic Inscription of Taxila. In 1956, another inscription was discovered in the Laghman Valley about thirty kilometers away, the Aramaic Inscription of Laghman. Then in 1963 an inscription in "Indo-Aramaic" alternating the Indian Prakrit language and the Aramaic language, but using only the Aramaic script, the Aramaic parts translating the Indian parts transcribed in the Aramaic alphabet, was also found in Kandahar. This is the Aramaic Inscription of Kandahar.[1]

Content of the inscription[edit]

The inscription is incomplete. However, the place of discovery, the style of the writing, the vocabulary used, makes it possible to link the inscription to the other Ashoka inscriptions known in the region. In the light of other inscriptions, it has been found that the Pul-i-Darunteh inscription consists of a juxtaposition of Indian and Aramaic languages, all in Aramaic script, and the latter representing translations of the first.[2] This inscription is generally interpreted as a translation of a passage of the Major Pillar Edicts n°5 or n°7,[3] although others have proposed to categorize it among the Minor Rock Edicts of Ashoka.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up to:a b A new Aramaic inscription of Asoka found in the Laghman Valley (Afghanistan), André Dupont-Sommer Proceedings of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1970 114-1 p.173
  2. ^ Essenism and Buddhism, Dupont-Sommer, André, Proceedings of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres Year 1980 124-4 pp.698-715 p.706
  3. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik by Kurt A. Behrendt [https: //books.google.com/books?id=C9_vbgkzUSkC&pg=PA39 p.39]
  4. ^ Inscriptions of Asoka from DC Sircar p.33


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