Bisntun Behistun, or BagliMan, a ruined town of Persia, in the province of Irak-Ajemi, in lat. 34° 18'N., lon. 47° 30' E., 17 m. E. of Kermanshah. It is noted for a precipitous rock, anciently known as Mount Bagistanus, which on one side rises perpendicularly to the height of 1,700 ft. Diodorus relates that Semi-ramis encamped near this rock, and caused the lower part to be smoothed away and an inscription engraved upon it in her honor. No trace of any such inscription now exists; but the rock contains cuneiform inscriptions engraved upon it by the Persian king Darius Hystaspisj about 516 B. C. The principal inseription is in three languages, Persian, Babylonian, and Scythic; its interpretation has been accomplished by Sir Henry Rawlinson. It is on the face of the rock, at an elevation of 300 it. from the ground. Great labor was required to lit the rock for the purpose. Where the stone was defective pieces were let in and Listened with molten lead; so carefully was this done that the inserted pieces can now be detected only by careful scrutiny. After the inscriptions had been engraved, a silicious coating was applied to preserve them from the action of the elements. This coating is harder than the rock itself.
In places where it has been washed away, it lies in flakes at the foot of the precipice. In other places, where the rock has been honeycombed beneath, the varnish still adheres to the broken surface, and preserves with distinctness the forms of the characters. The Persian copy is contained in five main columns, four of which have each from 92 to 96 lines, the fifth 35 lines. It sets forth the hereditary right of Darius to the throne, tracing his genealogy for eight generations; recounts the provinces of his empire; and tells how he triumphed over various rebels who uprose against him during the first four years of his reign. The monarch himself is pictorially represented, armed with a bow, his foot upon the prostrate figure of a man, while nine rebels chained together by the neck stand humbly before him. The Behistun inscription is one of the most notable works of the kind. (See Cuneiform Inscriptions).