Il padre dell’assirologia

Nella piana di Kirmanshah, isolata dalle altre montagne si trova Bisutun chiamata nell’antichità la “sede degli dei”. A centro metri, dove occhio umano non poteva vederlo Dario, Re dei Persiani, fece scolpire un gigantesco rilievo commemorativo.

Rappresentava il sovrano seguito da due funzionari nell’atto di incatenare i re sconfitti rei di aver provocato rivolte.

Alla scena dall’alto, rappresentato dal suo simbolo, assisteva il dio Ahura Mazda.

Il rilievo alto otto metri e largo diciotto, recava tutto intorno il resoconto delle vittorie scritte in persiano, elamitico e babilonese. Passarono circa duemilatrecento anni prima che il maggiore dell’esercito inglese Henry Rawlinson, futuro padre dell’assiriologia, proprio grazie al rilievo di Dario riuscì a decifrare il cuneiforme babilonese.

Così racconta il figlio di Rawlinson in un libro che descrive le avventure in Oriente di suo padre:

”Questa roccia fu la calamita che trattenne qui mio padre per dodici lunghi anni. Sulla sua superficie si trova la famosa iscrizione cuneiforme dimenticata per duemilacinquecento anni.

Dimenticata finché egli non decise di perseverare fino a raggiungere il successo, che ottenne dopo dodici anni di continui studi, restituendo al mondo questa lingua a lungo perduta. Il suo alfabeto, la sua grammatica, il suo vocabolario, aprendo alla storia le vicende di Dario, Re dei Re”.

Rawlinson ebbe una vita avventurosa viaggiando a lungo in Oriente, dapprima come militare nella Compagnia delle Indie, in seguito come militare dell’Intelligence Service.

Nel 1843 era console a Bagdad. Nel 1856 rientrato in Inghilterra entrava in Parlamento, infine nel 1859 tornò in Oriente, a Teheran come ambasciatore.

La sua passione per gli scritti antichi nacque, quando da giovane durante un viaggio per mare conobbe il governatore di Bombay, studioso di orientalistica e filologo.

Venuto a conoscenza dell’iscrizione di Bisutun, Rawlinson la copiò a rischio della propria vita.

Dal 1835 al 1837 riuscì a trascrivere le prime duecento righe della versione persiana. Sette anni più tardi la completò, aggiungendo anche la parte elamitica.

Il testo accadico rappresentò un arduo problema, in quanto la sua posizione sulla roccia ne rendeva la visione estremamente difficoltosa, tuttavia nel 1847 Rawlinson riuscì a copiarla tutta. Aiutandosi con la lingua dell’Avesta e del sanscrito riuscì ad interpretare le parole e le forme grammaticali paleo-persiane.

La pubblicazione dell’iscrizione di Bisutun, nel 1846, fu una pietra miliare per lo studio dell’assiriologia. In seguito l’irlandese Hincks e il francese Oppert fecero luce sulle ultime particolarità della scrittura e dell’antica lingua persiana.

L’elamitico, che comprendeva centoundici segni, fu tradotto nel 1853 dal professore inglese Norris.

253 pensiero su “HENRY RAWLINSON”
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