The word of “Zazana” in the Behistun Inscription

During his reign (549-485 B.C.), in Eastern Kurdistan Darius the Great, near the city of Kirmanshan, now called “Behistun”, wrote a text in ancient Persian in Ilami and Aqadi on a tablet. This word, which is now called “behistun” originally comes from the word “bagastana”. It means “place of God” in ancient languages. The Persian […]

The word of “Zazana” in the Behistun Inscription
The word of “Zazana” in the Behistun Inscription
  • Yayınlanma15 June 2023 13:23
  • Güncelleme16 June 2023 07:14

During his reign (549-485 B.C.), in Eastern Kurdistan Darius the Great, near the city of Kirmanshan, now called “Behistun”, wrote a text in ancient Persian in Ilami and Aqadi on a tablet. This word, which is now called “behistun” originally comes from the word “bagastana”. It means “place of God” in ancient languages. The Persian text consists of 414 lines in 5 columns, the text from Ilami consists of 593 lines in 8 columns, and the text from Aqadi consists of 112 lines.

For the first time, an English army officer named Rawlinson Henry (1810-1895) worked on this book for three years, and in 1835 he translated the Persian text. Then, a team under his leadership worked on the work and translated Ilami and Aqadi texts.

In the first column, the ninth paragraph, the 92nd line of the Persian text, there is a word that has been transcribed in three ways: “Zazặna“, “Za-iz-za-an” and “Za-za-an-nu“. I translated that paragraph with the help of Macid Kurdistani. [i].

The paragraph:

Shah Daryush says: After she drove me to Babylon. Before I reached Babylon, there is a city on the Euphrates called Zazặna. There, this Nid’it-Beer, who describes yourself as a nebkedrçer, came with an army to fight me. Then we fought. Ahuramazda kindly helped me. Thanks to Ahuramazda, I seriously defeated the army of Nid’it-Bier. Those who were left threw themselves into the water. The water took all of them with it. Two days have passed since the month of Enamek when we fought.

According to historians, this conflict happened on December 13, 522 BC.

Linguist Roland G. Kent (1877-1952) wrote the word like this “Zazặna” and says: “It is a city above Babylon, on the river Euphrates.” [1] According to the pronunciation of the Ilami language “Za-za-an-nu” and in the Aqadi language written as “Za-iz-za-an”. Macid Kurdistani said that this word is called “Zazane” in Persian today. According to another source: “Zâzâna: a city near Babylon, side of the Euphrates.” [2] Babylon is located below Baghdad near the Persian Gulf.

Today, the pronunciation of the word “Zaza” is used for the Kurdish group and it is not the same word that appears in the Behistun Inscription. In particular, the sound of “a” pronounced after the sound of “z” is most likely (ع) the ‘eyn’ of the Arabic alphabet, and its pronunciation is as “زاعزاعن” (za’za’nni). In the Arabic-Turkish dictionary of Arif Erkanî called El-Beyan, “زاع” means “separation; quit”. In Arabic, there is the word “زعزاع” (ze’za’) which means “strong wind”. The word “al-zaziyye” as a topographical name means “hill, mound, hard place”. It is possible there was a word in ancient languages like Aqadi, it was transferred to Hebrew, and from there to Arabic.

It is clear that the word in the Behistun Inscription is a name of a city at that time. It is not the name of a group or a nation, or an ethnic name. There is no relationship with the name “Zaza” that the Kurdish group has today. If there had been a group or a nation called Zaza in history, it would have been mentioned somewhere in this period of about 2500 years. But some people want to separate the Zaza Kurds from Kurds saying, “The Persian king Darius mentioned Zazas in his book in B.C.” Dersim (Tunceli), and Eleziz (Elazig), are called ‘Zazana.” They even published a simple magazine called Zazặna. But this idea has no basis. There is no relationship of Zazặna which was destroyed at that time between Dersim and Eleziz. And the Euphrates begins above the Kurdistan and flows to the Persian Gulf. The shore of the Euphrates which mentioned, is also close to the Persian Golf.

For the first time, Evliya Celebi (1611-1678) wrote the word “Zaza” as a propositional phrase. That word is used by a Kurdish group that calls themselves “Kurd” (Kird) and their language is “Kurdish” (Kirdi). First, he says “ekrad-i Zaza”, then he says “ashiret-i zaza”. The root of the word “Zaza” is probably from the word “Zawazan” (plural of upland), which is mentioned in many Arabic sources for the mountainous region of northern Kurdistan.

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[i] The master’s degree of Macid is in old Iranian languages. Thank you very much for his help.

Bibliography

[1] Roland G. Kent, Old Persian – Grammar Texts Lexicon, American Oriental Society, New Fiaven, Connecticut, 1950, p. 211

[2] The Sculptures and Inscription of Darius The Great on The Rock of Behistun in Persia – A New Collation of The Persian, Susian and Babylonian Texts With English Translations, Etc., 1907, p. 219

This news was translated by Yonca Sarsilmaz