I was writing my book on Alexander the Great when I visited Iran for the first time. We had already visited Susa and our next stop was Shiraz, which we wanted to use as base to visit Persepolis, Pasargadae, and the Persian Gate (near modern Yasuj). We planned to visit Bishapur, but it was not our priority. The splendid reliefs and the remains of the city, therefore, were a complete surprise. Next years, I visited the place two times, better prepared.
The only thing that is unique at Bishapur is, of course, the cave with Shapur’s statue (which may have been the king’s tomb); Sasanian walls, rock reliefs, and palaces can be seen on other sites in Iran. Yet, the place is dear to me, and I was disappointed that the museum was closed for some time. It has a small collection, but it really adds something to the ruins – and I do not mean the shade that the visitor so desperately needs in Bishapur.
Today, however, we found it reopened. The small room has been replaced with a very big one, which still smelt of fresh paint. The explanatory signs are, for the time being, only in Farsi, and the displays are a bit too large. Some of them are still waiting to be filled with objects. The collection can still grow, and I expect that this will happen pretty soon, because excavation was resumed about three months ago. So far, there are no spectacular results and the Ramadan – or Ramezan, as the Iranians say – intervened, but the archaeologists will return, and the museum will no doubt benefit.