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Naqš-i Rustam


The first relief of Bahram II. Photo Marco Prins. Naqš-i Rustam: archaeological site in Fars (Iran), best known for its Achaemenid tombs and Sasanian rock reliefs.
   
History Photos

First Relief of Bahram II 

The Iranian king Bahram II (276-293) was not the strongest ruler of the Sasanian dynasty. Having lost a war against the Roman emperor Carus, he accepted the loss of Armenia and Mesopotamia; he had some difficulty in suppressing a revolt by his brother Hormizd II; and he lost power to the Zoroastrian high priest Kartir. Still, Bahram II left no less than ten rock reliefs, three of them in Naqš-i Rustam.

One of them shows an audience. Bahram's hands rest on his giant sword, showing that he is the man in charge of the kingdom. From the right, three imperial grandees show their devotion to the king. On the left, three people with diademslook at Bahram, together with two others, among whom we can discern the high priest Kartir. (He can be recognized from his badge.)
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
The first relief of Bahram II. Photo Marco Prins.
Bahram I (273-276), Shapur I (241-272), and Ardašir (224-241)

The three diademed people are probably identical to Bahram's relatives Bahram I (273-276), Shapur I (241-272), and Ardašir (224-241), the founder of the dynasty. Probably Bahram II needed to show himself with his ancestors, and with his sword so prominently displayed, because his position was hardly secure at all. This may also be the reason why he ordered this relief to be cut into the rock close to the Investiture Relief of Ardašir.

This relief was cut into the rock over an older, Elamite relief.

Literature

Louis Vanden Berghe, Reliefs rupestres de l' Iran ancien (1983 Brussels), #63.

The first relief of Bahram II. Photo Marco Prins. The first relief of Bahram II. Photo Marco Prins. The first relief of Bahram II. Photo Marco Prins.
Bahram's relief (right) is next to Ardašir's (left) Three grandees; the man to the left is probably Kartir One of the courtiers. The badge on his cap is not known from another relief.

History Photos
Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 15 Nov. 2009
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