Sasanian Rock Reliefs

The Sasanians 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 and dynamic, yes almost expressionist works of art. They are also individualistic: the kings can be identified by their crowns. A remarkable aspect is that they are nearly always near a source of water.

Investiture of Ardašir I (from Naqš-e Rustam)

The Sasanian reliefs can be found on several places in Iran. On this page, you will find pictures from Barm-e Dilak, Bishapur, Firuzabad, Guyum, ;Naqš-e Rajab, Naqš-e Rustam, Salmas, Sarab-e Bahram, Sarab-e Qandil, and Taq-e Bostan. The numbers correspond to Louis Vanden Berghe, Reliefs rupestres de l' Iran ancien, 1983 Brussels, Table XII.

Sasanian Rock Reliefs

Ardašir I (224-241)

  1. Equestrian victory Firuzabad (defeat of Artabanus IV)
  2. Investiture Firuzabad
  3. Investiture Naqš-e Rajab
  4. Investiture relief Naqš-e Rustam (defeat of Artabanus IV)
  5. Victory relief Salmas

Shapur I (241-272)

  1. Triumph of Shapur I at Naqš-e Rustam
    Investiture Naqš-e Rajab
  2. Equestrian relief Naqš-e Rajab
  3. Triumph relief Naqš-e Rustam (defeat of Philip and Valerian)
  4. Triumph relief at Darabgird (defeat of Gordian III, Philip, and Valerian)
  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

Bahram I (273-276)

  1. Investiture relief Bishapur (defeat of unknown enemy)

Bahram II (276-293)

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

Narseh (293-303)

  1. Investiture Naqš-e Rustam

Hormizd II (303-309)

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

Shapur II (309-379)

  1. Investiture of Shapur II at Taq-e Bostan
    Throne relief Naqš-e Rustam (extremely damaged)
  2. Suppression of a revolt Bishapur
  3. Investiture relief Taq-e Bostan (defeat of Julianus Apostata)

Ardašir 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-e Rustam
  4. Unfinished relief at Behistun

The small relief of Bishapur.