Page:Discovery and Decipherment of the Trilingual Cuneiform Inscriptions.djvu/22
inscription at Behistun was not included in this collection; but even it adds little of importance except with reference to the revolt of the Magian impostor. The publication of this inscription by Major Rawlinson, in 1846, marks the successful termination of the task of deciphering the first column, and a complete mastery over the Old Persian language had then been obtained.
It was correctly supposed that the other two columns contained translations of the same Persian text; and the knowledge now acquired of the latter could not but afford an invaluable key to unlock the difficulties of the others. The decipherment of the inscriptions in the second column was attended by even less interest than the first. The language was ascertained to be Scythic, but nothing was found written in it except what was already known from the Persian. It, however, gave rise to a very heated controversy as to who the people were by whom it was spoken, which for a time enlivened an otherwise extremely dull subject. The decipherment of the third column, however, at length led to very important consequences that amply compensated for all previous disappointments. It was clearly recognised that the writing closely resembled inscriptions found on bricks that had been picked up from time to time on the site of Babylon; and hence the third column received, even in the beginning of the inquiry, the distinctive name of the 'BabylonianColumn.' Only very few specimens of these unilingual inscriptions in the Babylonian character were collected during the first half of the century, and no progress was made in their decipherment. Meanwhile, however,