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This map shows the regions of the world where Old Persian was commonly spoken (red circle). Old Persian came from the Iranian sub-branch of the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European languages. Old Persian itself gave rise to two branches. The first branch split away fairly early into Sogdian and Pahlavi (Pahlavi is also called "Middle Iranian"). Both of these ancient tongues later died out. The second branch developed into Middle Persian, which in turn gave rise to Pashto, Baluchi, Kurdish, Modern Persian, which is also known as Farsi, and the minor language of Tajik spoken on the borders of Afghanistan and China.

Old Persian is preserved in only a few cuneiform inscriptions recording the deeds of King Darius (522-486 BCE) and King Xerxes (486-466 BCE). The most extensive of these is a trilingual monument written in Old Persian, Assyrian, and Elamite; the latter two languages are non-Indo-European. This helpful monument was found carved in the side of a mountain at Behistan near the city of Kirmanshah; it shows Darius with nine shackled chieftains and contains many columns of text.

Daniel M. Short originally created this map and the other Indo-European language charts for his website at http://www.danshort.com/. I reproduce these images here with the author's permission, but they are copyrighted by Daniel Short as of 2002. These charts should not be reproduced or reused without Mr. Short's approval. You may contact him at danshort@gte.net for more information. These images are not public domain.


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Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler 1998-2018. Permission is granted for non-profit, educational, and student reproduction. Last updated April 24, 2018. Contact: kwheeler@cn.edu Please e-mail corrections, suggestions, or comments to help me improve this site. Click here for credits, thanks, and additional copyright information.