Naqsh-e Rustam id an ancient necropolis located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, in Fars Province, Iran. In Naghsh-e Rostam we can see four tombs and one building from Achaemenid dynasty with a group of ancient Iranian rock reliefs cut into the cliff, from Sassanid density; the last important relief is from Elam dynasty and it dates back to 1000 BC.


Naqsh-e Rostam is an archaeological site located about 6 km northwest of Persepolis. The place is visible for several kilometers. It would be 2,400 years old.
It is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
These are four cruciform tombs of ancient Achaemenid kings (550-330 BC), flanked by cliffs, and bearing three registers of bas-reliefs. The interior of the tombs is inaccessible.
According to inscriptions, these tombs would be those of Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II.
 

 


One of the tombs, according to the inscriptions, would be the tomb of Darius I. It is the only one to carry a trilingual inscription (old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian) which makes it possible to identify it.

The other three tombs standing next to that of Darius I, which would be those of Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II, do not bear any inscription to identify them with certainty.

In the mountain, behind Persepolis, there are two other similar tombs, probably belonging to Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III, as well as an unfinished tomb which could be that of Arses, or more surely of Darius III, the last of the Achaemenid line who was overthrown by Alexander the Great.

In addition to the tombs, there are also seven very large bas-reliefs in the rock of Naqsh-e Rostam, under the tombs, sculptures commissioned by the Sassanid kings (224-651 BC).

Facing the rock is the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht, a Zoroastrian monument.
At the end of the site are two small altars of fire.




This place is called Næqš-e Rostam that means "The portrait of Rostam" because the Persians thought that the Sassanid bas-reliefs under the tombs represented Rostam, a mythical Persian hero.

A long time ago in Persia lived a legendary hero by the name of Rostam. On three occasions, while camping in the desert with his faithful stallion Rakhsh, he received during his sleep the visit of a terrible dragon who lived between the dunes. Twice his horse tried in vain to warn him: before Rostam woke up, the monster had fled.

Saught by his master, Rakhsh did not dare to warn, but the dragon appeared a third time, determined to devour Rostam ...

The facade of the cross-shaped tombs is pierced in the center of an opening, behind which the burial chamber is located.
The middle horizontal section is decorated with columns with capitals.

On the upper part we see the king represented on a pedestal with three levels, facing Ahuramazda, the central deity of the ancient Mazdean religion, and a sacred fire also raised, supported by the vanquished nations. Ahuramazda is figured in the form of a winged god, the wings being perfectly horizontal.

The bas-reliefs

On the same cliff as the tombs are carved eight sassy bas-reliefs.
 


The first represents the investiture of Ardeshir I: he is here represented on horseback as well as the god Ahura Mazda who presents him the crown. Under the hooves of their horses we can see the forms of their enemies, Artaban V, the last Parthian king, and Ahriman, the god of Evil.

The second bas-relief depicts Bahram II surrounded by members of his family and dignitaries. This relief itself covers a relief of Elamite style dating probably from the 17th century BC.

The third bas-relief under the tomb of Darius, shows an equestrian fight of Bahram II.

Then come two superimposed reliefs: the upper one, badly preserved, represents Shapur II leaning on his sword. Down below, Hormizd II disarms an enemy with a spear.

The sixth bas-relief commemorates Shapur I's victories over the Romans: the figure on his knees before Shapur is Emperor Philip the Arab, while behind him stands the Emperor Valerian, taken prisoner in Edessa in 260.

The seventh bas-relief, dated from the reign of Bahram II, shows fights on horseback arranged in two registers separated by a horizontal line.

Equestrian Combat of Horzmid II

 

 

The Kaabah-e Zatosht

In front of the Achaemenid tombs stands a stone square tower, called Kaabah-e Zartosht, or "Zoroaster Cube".
This building is the replica of the tower of Pasargades.
It was part of a larger religious group of raw brick, now extinct.


Built in the 5th or 4th century BC At the foot of the sacred cliff, this Achaemenid religious monument worked until the 3rd century AD, perhaps even until the Islamization of Persia.

Around 270 the Sassanid king Shapur I had a trilingual inscription (Greek, Parthish pahlavi, Sassanid pahlavi) engraved on one of his walls, summarizing the great deeds of his reign, called the Res Gestae Divi Saporis.

The walls on three sides have niches that look like windows. A door in the fourth side gave access to the single room of the tower. Against the north facade, a staircase of thirty steps gives access to the only square interior room.