11 April 2009
Gate of the castle
In the first quarter of the third century CE, the Sasanian dynasty overthrew the Parthian Arsacids, who had until then been ruling an empire that consisted of what is now Iran, Iraq, and parts of Afghanistan. The first Sasanian king, Ardašir, celebrated his victory with a splendid relief near his castle. Soon, a second relief was added, which commemorated his capture of the Parthian Empire, Ctesiphon.
South of these monuments, the conqueror founded a large, circular city, which he called Ardašir Khureh, “fame of Ardašir” (satellite photo; map). His palace is one of the most delightful monuments in Iran, certainly worth a day trip from Shiraz. (Make sure you have good shoes when you decide to climb to the castle.)
30 August 2008
Investiture of Ardašir I (from Naqš-i Rustam)
The Sasanian Rock Reliefs belong to the most beautiful monuments I have ever seen in Iran. Unlike Achaemenid court art, which is dignified and static, Sasanian art is dynamic and almost expressionist. And where the Achaemenids wanted to express that their monarchy was eternal and therefore refrained from individualism, the Sasanian sculptors show us particular kings and noblemen, who can be identified from their crowns and badges.
The reliefs can be found on several places in Iran: for example, in Bishapur, Sarab-i Bahram, Taq-e Bostan, Barm-e Dilak, Naqš-e Rajab, Guyum, Firuzabad, and especially Naqš-i Rustam. The standard book on the subject is Louis Vanden Berghe’s Reliefs rupestres de l’ Iran ancien (1983 Brussels).