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Sasanian Rock Reliefs

Ardašir I at Firuzabad. Photo Marco Prins.
Ardašir I
The Sasanian were the last native dynasty to rule Persia before the Arab conquest. Their reign lasted from 224 to 651. On this page, you will find links to their famous rock reliefs, which are beautiful, dynamic and almost expressionist works of art. They are also individualistic: the kings can be identified by their crowns. The reliefs can be found on several places in Iran. On this page, you will find pictures from Naqš-i Rustam, Bishapur, Taq-e Bostan, Naqš-e Rajab, and Firuzabad. A remarkable aspect is that they are nearly always near a source of water.

(Numbers correspond to Louis Vanden Berghe, Reliefs rupestres de l' Iran ancien, 1983 Brussels, Table XII)

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Investiture of Ardašir I from Naqš-i Rustam. Photo Jona Lendering,
Investiture of Ardašir I (from Naqš-i Rustam)

Ardašir I (224-241)

  1. Equestrian victory Firuzabad
    • (defeat of Artabanus V)
  2. Investiture Firuzabad
  3. Investiture Naqš-e Radjab
  4. Investiture relief Naqš-i Rustam
    • (defeat of Artabanus V)
  5. Victory relief Salmas

Shapur's triumph at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins.
Triumph relief of Shapur I (Bishapur)

Shapur I (241-272)

  1. Investiture Naqš-i Radjab
  2. Equestrian relief Naqš-e Radjab
  3. Triumph relief Naqš-i Rustam
  4. Triumph relief at Darabgird
  5. Investiture relief Bishapur
    • (defeat of Gordian III and Philip)
  6. Triumph relief Bishapur
    • (defeat of Gordian III, Philip, and Valerian)
  7. Victory relief Bishapur
Audience relief of Bahram II, relief (relief from Naqš-i Rustam. Photo Marco Prins.
Audience relief of Bahram II (relief from Naqš-i Rustam)

Bahram I (273-276)

  1. Investiture relief Bishapur
    • (defeat of unknown enemy)

Bahram II (276-293)

  1. Audience relief Naqš-i Rustam
  2. Audience relief at Sarab-i Bahram
  3. Family scene at Sarab-i Qandil
  4. Family scene at Barm-e Dilak
  5. King and dignitary at Barm-e Dilak
  6. King at Guyum
  7. Arabian envoys relief Bishapur
  8. Fight against lions at Sar Mashhad
  9. Equestrian victory relief Naqš-i Rustam
    • (defeat of unknown Roman enemy)
  10. Double equestrian victory relief Naqš-i Rustam
    • (defeat of unknown enemy)
  11. Kartir relief Naqš-e Radjab
  12. Kartir relief Naqš-i Rustam

Unfinished victory relief of king Shapur II at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins.
Victory relief of king Shapur II at Bishapur

Narseh (293-303)

  1. Investiture Naqš-i Rustam

Hormizd II (303-309)

  1. Equestrian victory Naqš-i Rustam
    • (defeat of king Papak of Armenia?)

Shapur II (309-379)

  1. Throne relief Naqš-i Rustam (extremely damaged)
  2. Suppression of a revolt Bishapur
  3. Investiture relief Taq-e Bostan

Investiture of Khusrau II and equestrian relief at Taq-e Bostan. Photo Marco Prins.
Investiture of Khusrau II
(Taq-e Bostan)

Ardashir III (379-383) or Shapur III (383-388)

  1. Investiture relief Taq-e Bostan

Khusrau II 'the victorious' (590-628)

  1. Investiture relief Taq-e Bostan
  2. King on horse Taq-e Bostan
  3. Boar hunt at Taq-e Bostan
  4. Stag hunt at Taq-e Bostan


  1. Representation of Anahita at Darabgird
  2. Destroyed relief at Rey
  3. Lion at Naqš-i Rustam
  4. Unfinished relief at Behistun

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