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Bishapur


Bishapur, relief V. Photo Jona Lendering.
Bishapur, relief V
Bishapur: important Sasanian city in Iran, founded by king Shapur I, and built by Roman POWs.
    
History Castle City Palace "Temple" Cave
Relief I Relief II Relief III Relief IV Relief V Relief VI

Relief V

The fifth Sasanian rock relief at Bishapur -chronologically, the fourth- is a classical representation of an investiture, this time of king Bahram I (273-296). There is a close parallel to the relief of the Investiture of Ardašir I at Naqš-i Rustam and the Investiture of Shapur I at Naqš-i Rajab.
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Bishapur, relief V. Photo Jona Lendering.
Relief V (left) and VI (right)

The scene is typical.
From the left, the supreme god Ahuramazda approaches the king and gives him the ring of power, the cydaris. There is a diadem tied to it. To the right, we see Bahram accepting the cydaris.

Bahram's reign was the beginning of an era of Sasanian weakness. Under Shapur I, the Persians had defeated the armies of Rome, but in 283, the emperor Carus invaded Mesopotamia and even captured the important city Ctesiphon. Immediately after Bahram's dead, the Persians ceded territories in the west to buy peace. It comes as a surprise, therefore, to see Bahram represented as a conqueror, with a defeated enemy underneath his horse.

Map of Bishapur's reliefs. Design Jona Lendering
The six reliefs in the Tang-e Chowgan

However, it is likely that the dead man did not belong to the original design. A likely explanation is that that king Narseh (293-303) added the figure of the defeated enemy after a victory in the east; he certainly added an inscription to the orginal monument.

Like two other monuments on the north bank of the Tang-e Chowgan, the fifth relief is also damaged by the aqueduct that used to be there. It was removed in the 1970s.

Literature

Louis Vanden Berghe, Reliefs rupestres de l' Iran ancien (1983 Brussels), #62.

Relief 5 at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins. Relief 5 at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins.
Crown of Bahram I. Bishapur. Photo Jona Lendering.
Ahuramazda (Hormuzd) Bahram I Bahram I
Ahuramazda at Bishapur, relief V. Photo Jona Lendering. Relief 5 at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins. Relief 5 at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins.
Ahuramazda A dead enemy Narseh's inscription

History Castle City Palace "Temple" Cave
Relief I Relief II Relief III Relief IV Relief V Relief VI
Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 7 Dec. 2009
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other