After coming to the throne of Persia in 522 BC Darius united the war-torn country in a series of battles that defeated nine imposter kings. To celebrate and memorialize his achievement Darius had a marvelous monument carved on the Behistun Rock, a sheer edifice rising to a height of 1700 feet. Once the artists were done, they cut away the stone steps that reached the monument so that none should deface it.
Centuries passed and mankind lost the ability to read the wedge-shaped cuneiform writing on the monument. Many tried to decipher the symbols without success, hoping to match what the Frenchman Champollon had done with Egyptian hieroglyphics. Finally, in 1835, a young British officer named Henry Rawlinson took up the challenge, little knowing he was embarking on a memorable voyage of discovery, one of the great adventures of science.