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Monday, 22-May-2006 11:11 Email | Share | Bookmark
Naqš-i Rustam

Darius' tomb
Investiture of Narseh (293-303)
The king, the second large figure from the right
Double questrian victory monument of Bahram II
In the lower register, the king fights against another enemy
The triumph relief of Shapur I (241-272),
the most famous Sassanid rock relief
The equestrian victory of Hormizd II (303-309)
Equestrian relief of Bahram II
the Kaba
This picture shows king Bahram II (276-293).
His hands rest on his giant sword,
The investiture of king Ardašir I (224?-241).
Bahram's relief (right) is next to Ardašir's (left).
A shrine In the Rocks
Place for putting bones
Naqš-i Rustam (Nupistaš?) is situated some five kilometers northwest of Persepolis, the capital of the ancient Achaemenid empire. As is shown by a pre-Achaemenid relief and several old graves, Naqš-i Rustam was already a place of some importance when king Darius I the Great (522-486) ordered his monumental tomb to be carved into the cliff. Later, three Achaemenid tombs and Sassanid reliefs were added.
Darius' tomb is well-known for the king's "autobiography", which is contained in two inscriptions (DNa and DNb). The central thought is that he wanted to rule according to justice: "It is not my desire that a man should do harm, nor is it my desire that he goes unpunished when he does harm".
Later, similar royal rock tombs were added. Because they carry no inscriptions, they can not be identified with any certainty, but they must obviously have belonged to Darius' son and successor Xerxes (486-465), his son Artaxerxes I Makrocheir (465-424) and his grandson Darius II Nothus (423-404). Each tomb could contain 3 to 9 people. The later Achaemenid kings, Artaxerxes II Mnemon, Artaxerxes III Ochus and Darius III Codomannus (404-358, 358-338 and 336-330) were probably buried in tombs at Persepolis.

In front of the tombs is a small tower, which is known as the Ka'bah-i Zardusht (Zarathustra's ka'bah - the real ka'bah being the famous monument in Mecca). Probably, this tower was used to keep the holy fire or books (e.g., the Avesta). There was a garden near the tombs and tower.
Two kilometers south of Naqš-i Rustam the remains of an unfinished building can be seen. This may or may not have been the base of the tomb of Cambyses, which was similar in design to the tomb of his father, Cyrus the Great, at Pasargadae.
After the fall of the Achaemenid empire, Naqš-i Rustam remained important to the Persians. After 260 CE, the Sassanid king Shapur I had a monumental relief cut out in the rock, showing how he made Philippus Arabs ruler of the Roman empire and received the defeated Roman emperor Valerian. Other reliefs were added by Shapur's successors. They can be found here.
In the Middle ages, the Persians believed that the legendary hero Rustam (well-known from Firdausi's Shahname) had used the place as his dance floor, which explains the name Naqš-i Rustam, "the carvings by Rustam

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