Inscriptional Pahlavi Script #41/100: A Journey Through 100 Writing Systems of the World

Inscriptional Pahlavi Script: Unraveling the Ancient Enigma

Inscriptional Pahlavi script character chart

Script type: Inscriptional Pahlavi is an abjad writing system, where only consonants are represented, and vowels are typically indicated through diacritical marks. It is a derivative of the Aramaic script and holds immense historical significance.

Writing direction: The Inscriptional Pahlavi script is written from right to left, following the tradition of most ancient Middle Eastern scripts.

Creator and invention time: The script is believed to have been created during the 3rd century CE, during the reign of the Sasanian Empire, which encompassed much of present-day Iran and surrounding regions. However, it is essential to note that the script evolved gradually over time.

Time period of use: The Inscriptional Pahlavi script reached its zenith of usage during the Sasanian Empire, from the 3rd to the 7th century CE. It was primarily employed for monumental inscriptions on stone, metal, and other durable materials.

Population and current usage: As an ancient script, the Inscriptional Pahlavi is no longer in active use. However, its impact on the history and development of the Persian language and culture is profound.

Usage area: Geographically, the Inscriptional Pahlavi script was predominantly used within the territories of the Sasanian Empire, which covered a vast area stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to present-day Iran and parts of Central Asia.

Languages associated with the script: The Inscriptional Pahlavi script was used primarily to write Middle Persian, also known as Pahlavi, which was the official language of the Sasanian Empire. Middle Persian was the administrative and literary language of the empire, influencing later forms of Persian.

Interesting Facts:

  1. A Royal Script: Inscriptional Pahlavi was primarily employed in monumental inscriptions to commemorate royal decrees, religious dedications, and significant events during the Sasanian Empire.
  2. Influence of Zoroastrianism: The script was closely associated with Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the Sasanian Empire. Many inscriptions contained religious invocations and praises for the Zoroastrian deities.
  3. Legacy in Modern Persian: Despite its disuse, the Inscriptional Pahlavi script played a vital role in the evolution of the Persian language. It contributed to the development of Naskh and Nastaʿlīq scripts, which are predecessors to the modern Persian script.
  4. Deciphering the Past: The study and decipherment of Inscriptional Pahlavi have provided valuable insights into the history, culture, and language of the Sasanian Empire.
  5. Carved in Stone: The surviving inscriptions in the Inscriptional Pahlavi script are often found on large stone structures and rock faces, attesting to their monumental significance.

The Inscriptional Pahlavi script stands as a testament to the grandeur and legacy of the Sasanian Empire, preserving the records of a flourishing civilization that once thrived in ancient Persia. Although its active use has long passed, the script remains an enigmatic window into the past, offering a glimpse of the majestic empire and its profound influence on the course of history. As modern scholars continue to unravel its secrets, Inscriptional Pahlavi remains an enduring symbol of cultural heritage and linguistic exploration.

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