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Glory of Ancient Persia from My Point of View (Page 1)

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All photographs of this album by Sohail Forouzan-sepehr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.  Using any photograph is only permitted by referring full-name of the photographer & the website as: "
Photograph taken by Sohail Forouzan-sepehr"

4-8 June 2007, Homa Hotel (5*), Shiraz, Iran

(Also Persepolis, Pasargadae, Firuzabad, Kazerun)

Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab


1. In the bosom of a low rocky hill (Hossein mountain) some 6 kilometres northwest of Persepolis, the mighty kings of ancient Persia built a great necropolis known today as "Naqsh-e Rostam" (= "the Picture of Rostam"), from the Sassanian carvings below the tombs, which were thought to represent the mythical hero Rostam. The original name of this burial place is lost forever. From right to left you can see in this panoramic shot, four rock-hewn tombs of Xerxes (Khashayarsha in Persian), Darius the Great, Artaxerxes I (Ardeshir I in Persian) & Darius II, respectively.

4. An unfinished carving between the tombs of Xerxes and Darius the Great

5. Narses (Nersi in Persian), the 7th king (293-302 AD) of Sassanid dynasty and the son of Shapur I receives the sovereignty ring from Anahita (pre-Zoroastrian goddess and Zoroastrian angel of royalty, water, and fertility).

2 & 3. Tomb of Xerxes, the 4th king (486-465 BC) of Achaemenian dynasty, son of Darius the Great and Atossa (daughter of Cyrus the Great). Ascending the throne upon the death of his father, he subdued a rebellion in Egypt, and then spent three years preparing a great fleet and army to punish the Greeks for aiding the Ionian cities in 498 BC and for their victory over the Persians at Marathon in 490 BC. The Greek historian Herodotus gives as the combined strength of Xerxes’ land and naval forces the incredible total of 2,641,610 warriors, but it was probably between 200,000 and 300,000. [from Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2007]

6. Tomb of Darius I the Great (522-486 BC),

son of the Persian noble Hystaspes, and a member of a royal Persian family, the Achaemenids, one of the greatest rulers of the Achaemenid dynasty, who was noted for his administrative genius and for his great building projects. In 522 BC, on the death of King Cambyses, a group of Magian priests tried to give the throne to one of their number, the usurper Gaumata; he pretended to be Smerdis (Bardia in Persian), the murdered brother of Cambyses II. In 522 BC, Darius defeated Gaumata and was chosen as the king of Persia.

7.1. A rock relief below the tomb of Darius the Great representing the war between Bahram II, Sassanid king (276–293 AD) and his enemies.

8. The surrender of Valerian (Publius Licinius Valerianus, Roman emperor from 253 to 260 AD) to the Sassanid king (241-272 AD) of Persia, Sapor I (Shapur in Persian).

9. Below the tomb attributed to Artaxerxes I a double panel relief was carved , the upper part of which has been almost destroyed and the lower shows the triumph of Hormizd II (recognizable by his crown which was shaped as an eagle carrying a pearl in its beak) over a mounted foe. Hormizd II (Hormoz or Hormozd in Persian) was the son and successor of Narses. Here he is represented on horseback, charging at full gallop and unhorsing with a long lance an enemy who wears a plumed helmet adorned with the family insignia of Papak, the governor of Georgia. Behind the king his standard bearer carries a banner consisting of a lance topped by a horizontal bar adorned with two highly decorated tassel-like globes and three strips of fabric waving in the wind.

7.2. Bahram II profile from his coin (photo courtesy, Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite). Numerous southern Persian rock sculptures depict Bahram wearing his winged crown, and several include his queen. Because female portraits are rare in Sasanian art, she is thought to have been a major dynastic personage.

10. Tomb of Artaxerxes I (Ardeshir in Persian),

Achaemenid king of Persia (465–425 BC).

He was surnamed in Greek Macrocheir (=Longhand) and in Latin Longimanus. A younger son of Xerxes and Amestris, he was raised to the throne by the commander of the guard, Artabanus (Ardavan), who had murdered Xerxes. A few months later, Artaxerxes slew Artabanus in a hand-to-hand fight. His reign, though generally peaceful, was disturbed by several insurrections, the first of which was the revolt of his brother the satrap of Bactria. More dangerous was the rebellion of Egypt under Inaros, who received assistance from the Athenians. Achaemenid rule in Egypt was restored by Megabyzus, satrap of Syria, after a prolonged struggle (460–454 BC). In 448 BC fighting between the Achaemenids and the Athenians ended, and in the Samian and Peloponnesian wars Artaxerxes remained neutral; toward the Jews he pursued a tolerant policy. His building inscriptions at Persepolis record the completion of the throne hall of his father. [from Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite]

11. Another rock relief representing the war between Bahram II, Sassanid king (276–293 AD) and his enemies.

12. Tomb of Darius II, original name Ochus (Vahuka in Persian), Achaemenid king of Persia (423–404 BC). The son of Artaxerxes I by a Babylonian concubine, he seized the throne from his half-brother Secydianus (Sogdianus in Persian), whom he then executed. Ochus, who had previously been satrap of Hyrcania, adopted the name of Darius on his accession; he was also known as Nothus (=Bastard) by Greeks.

13. A shot of Hussein Mountain (Hossein Kooh)

14. Another shot of the rocky hill


15 & 16. A rock relief of Bahram II and his royal family carved on another older Elamites relief dated to the 3rd millennium BC. You can see King Bahram in the middle and his queen and princes in the left. The only survivor Elamite figure from about 4 thousand years ago can be seen in the very right part of the relief.

17. Another shot of the Elamite-Sassanid rock relief from a different point of view.

18 & 19.1. Ardashir I, king of Persia (224-241 AD), founder of the Sassanid dynasty and grandson of Sassan, for whom the dynasty was named, on horseback receives the sovereignty ring from the symbol of Ahura Mazda (the supreme creator god, meaning "Wise Lord") while their enemies (i.e. Ahriman or devil, the enemy of Ahura Mazda and Artabanus V who was defeated by Ardashir) are being trampled under the hoofs of their horses. Ardashir's father (Papak or Babak) made himself ruler of a district in Persia as vassal of the Arsacid king of Parthia. After his father's death in 212 AD, Ardashir took over the district, killed his brothers, warred against neighbouring vassals, and, in 224 AD, finally defeated the king of Parthia, Artabanus V (reigned about 213-24 AD), at the Battle of Hormuz. Ardashir then assumed the title of "king of kings" and tried to rebuild a unified Persian empire after the model of the ancient Achaemenids. He made Zoroastrianism the national religion, built a new capital at Ctesiphon on the Tigris River.

19.2. Ardashir I profile from his coin (photo courtesy, Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite)

20 & 21. Two another shots of the rocky hill

22. A panoramic view of Naqsh-e Rostam

23. Tomb of Darius II

24. Just one another shot there

25. Another shot of Darius II tomb

26. "Kaaba of Zoroaster", a 7x7x12.5m cubic building dated probably to the Cyrus the Great era. Nobody exactly knows what was its function, but some scholars believe it was a shrine, a tomb, a library, a treasury, or even an ancient observatory. There is a similar building in Pasargadae.

27. Kaaba of Zoroaster from a different point of view

28. Another shot of Kaaba of Zoroaster

29. Hossein Kooh

30. A panoramic view of Naqsh-e Rostam

31. Tomb of Artaxerxes I

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32. Some 3 kilometres north of Persepolis there is a grotto-like open cavity inside the hillside of Rahmat mountain (Mountain of Mercy, in Persian: Kooh-e Rahmat or formerly Kooh-e Mehr) known as "Naqsh-e Rajab", bearing on its walls four rock-relief from Sassanid era.

33. The rocks near Naqsh-e Rajab

34. Another shot from that place

35. Ardashir I (224-241 AD), founder of the Sassanid dynasty receives the sovereignty ring from the symbol of Ahura Mazda (for more information about them refer to the caption of Figs 18 & 19.1. Between them are two figures shown on small scale. One is Prince Bahram, Ardashir's grandson; the other is Izad Bahram, pre-Zoroastrian god or Zoroastrian angel of warriors, who appears In the Hellenistic guise as Heracles. Behind the King stand a senior official with a fly whisk and Prince Shapur, the heir to the throne. Behind Ahura Mazda stand the Queen and her attendant, both making the gesture of reverence.

36. To the right of Ardashir's investiture is carved the investiture of Shapur I by the symbol of Ahura Mazda. Both of them are on horseback, and the King receives the diadem ring of kingship from Ahura Mazda. The relief is badly damaged but in workmanship is superb.

37. The bust of Kartir, great priest ("Mubad e Mubadan" in Persian) of the early Sassanian era, accompanied by a long inscription in Middle Persian (Pahlavi language) which describes the priest's rise to power during the time of Bahram II (274-294 AD).


38. A shot from the rocks near Naqsh-e Rajab

39. The fourth relief is carved on the left wall of the grotto and shows Shapur I on horseback followed by his royal family members and highest dignitaries of the state, all standing. A trilingual inscription on Shapur's horse identifies him, but his attendant can only be recognized from their insignia adorning their hats.

40. A natural sunshade and three stone bench in Naqsh-e Rajab

41. Another shot from the rocks near Naqsh-e Rajab

42. A panoramic view of the cliffs right of Naqsh-e Rajab

43. Tourists relaxing on the stone bench in the right corner of Naqsh-e Rajab under a natural cliff sunshade.

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