Old Persian

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Related to Old Persian: Avestan
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Old Persian


one of the ancient languages of the Iranian group. Old Persian is known from cuneiform inscriptions dating from the time of the Achaemenid dynasty (558-330 B.C.). The largest collection of inscriptions was preserved from the period when Darius I (522-486 B.C.) and Xerxes I (486-465 B.C.) ruled. Old Persian was spoken in southwestern Iran.

Phonetically, Old Persian is characterized by oppositions based on vowel length. The grammatical structure ot Old Persian, which possessed a well-developed system of inflectional forms, is similar to that of Avestan and Sanskrit. Distinctions were made between masculine, feminine, and neuter genders; singular, dual, and plural number; and nominative, accusative, genitivedative, locative, ablative, instrumental, and vocative cases. The verb system consisted of active and middle voices; indicative, imperative, optative, and subjunctive moods; present, imperfect, aorist, and perfect tenses.


Oranskii, I. M.Vvedenie v iranskuiu filologiiu. Moscow, 1960.
Oranskii, I. M.Iranskie iazyki. Moscow, 1963.
Bartholomae, C.Altiranisches Wörterbuch, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1961.
Brandenstein, W., and M. Mayrhofer.Handbuch des Altpersischen. Wiesbaden, 1964.
Kent, R.Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, 2nd ed. New Haven, 1953.
Meillet, A.Grammaire du vieux perse, 2nd ed. Paris, 1931.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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