King David’s Shop

14 March 2009
The relief at Dukkan-e Daud

The relief at Dukkan-e Daud

Every day, about 4,000 Iranian pilgrims heading for Kerbala cross the Iraqi frontier at Qasr-e Shirin. They will probably not notice this little relief at Dukkan-e Daud, “David’s Shop”. It shows a Magian or a Zoroastrian priest, and can be found immediately below a Late Achaemenid tomb. The relief appears to be unfinished and I would not be surprised if a fire altar was part of the original design.

Few Iranian monuments will be cared for so much, because the local population believes that the relief represents King David. There may indeed have been a King David in this area, a Jewish smith with several disciples, who may or may not have been buried over here. That’s the story I read about this relief. Others say that the famous king mentioned in the Bible and Quran found his final resting place over here. However that may be, many people have preferred to be buried below the rock, close to this King David, and women present their babies to the ancient tomb.

David’s Shop is about three kilometers east of Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, a bit south of the main road from Qasr-e Shirin to Kermanshah. The relief is included as #18 in Louis Vanden Berghe’s Reliefs rupestres de l’Iran ancien (1984).