Location & Neighbouring Sites
(Please also see map below)
Naqsh-e Rustam, or Naqsh-i Rostam, is a historical site located about 7 km north of Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid) in Pars (Fars) province, Iran. The site runs along the base of the Hajiabad Naqsh-e Rustam mountain, which in turn lies to the north of the Marv Dasht plain.
Naqsh-e Rustam lies in the heartland of ancient Persia. To the north-east of this region is the ancient capital of King Cyrus, Pasargadae (locally called Madar-e Suleiman / Soleyman after a Muslim shrine). Pasargadae is located in the Dasht-e Morghab, meaning the plain of Murghab. The dasht is an alluvial valley plain of the River Morghab and is located just south of Qaderabad. It may be of interest to note that River Morghab or Murghab is a name shared with a river and town in the north-eastern Pamir region of Tajikistan.
To the south of Naqsh-e Rustam lies the later Achaemenian capital of Persepolis.
In-between Persepolis and Pasargadae lies another ancient Persian capital Istakhr, also known as Takht-e Tavus meaning the Peacock Throne.
|Satellite relief map of the Marv Dasht (large green area) valley plains and Persian historical sites. Brown areas are surrounding hills|
click to see a larger map
The site consists of:
1. Remnants of a circa 1000 BCE superimposed stone relief thought to be from the Elamite period,
2. Open-air fire altars 6th-5th century BCE Achaemenian era,
3. Four tombs of Achaemenian Kings (522 - 404 BCE) carved into the side of a stone hill,
4. An Achaemenian era stone building called Kaba-e Zarthosht (also spelt Kaba-i Zartosht or Ka'bah-i Zardusht, meaning Enclosure of Zoroaster, and
5. Stone reliefs from the Sassanid period (226 - 309 CE) carved into the hill's stone face.
When the Achaemenian king Darius I (the Great) decided to have his tomb carved into the side of the hill, the site had already been used by the Elamites - presumably Elamite royalty. While Darius' tomb has supporting inscriptions the other tombs do not have any inscriptions.
There is another set of Sassanian reliefs at Naqsh-e Rajab, a site located two kilometres south across the the Marv Dasht valley plain.
Site Map & Views
|Approach to Naqsh-e Rustam looking West of Northwest|
|Naqsh-e Rustam tombs|
|Naqsh-e Rustam site map. Adapted from the map at Livius|
|View of the tombs at Naqsh-e Rustam|
Tomb #4, Darius II? in foreground. Tomb #2, Xerxes? in background. Kaba to right
[Image: youngrobv (Rob & Ale) at flickr]
|View of the tombs at Naqsh-e Rustam. From right to left:|
Tomb #1 Darius I the Great. Tomb #3 Artaxerxes I. Tomb #4 Darius II
Oldest Elamite Relief & Origin of the Site Name
|Sassanian relief of King Bahram II (276-293 CE) holding an audience carved over an Elamite carving from c 1000 BCE|
|Close up of the Elamite with the forward pointing hat|
The Sassanian relief of Bahram II holding an audience has been carved over an older image dated to around 1000 BCE and thought to be from the Elamite period. The most complete of the Elamite craving remnants lies to the extreme right of the Sassanian relief and depicts a man standing. Among the features that sets this image apart from the Sassanian and Achaemenian figures is the forward pointing hat and the long dress-like garment, clothing that is quite different from that worn by the Achaemenians and Sassanians.
Some of the literature state that the portrait of the man is said to be the reason why locals gave the site its name, Naqsh-e Rustam, meaning Portrait of Rustam, erroneously believing that the man with the forward pointing hat depicted in the relief was the mythical hero Rustam (cf. Shahnameh). However, it is far more likely that some of the other more imposing images depicting victory scenes and subjugated foes were the ones ascribed to Rustam by the local population.
Naming sites in the area after mythical kings and heroes appears to be a local tradition. The palace complex at nearby Persepolis was similarly called Takht-e Jamshid, meaning the throne or palace of the mythical king Jamshid.
The relief showing the Elamite man is part of a larger mural that was superimposed by a relief depicting the Sassanian king Bahram II (276-293 BCE). The mural of Behram II giving an audience was carved next to a relief depicting King Ardeshir I.
The Elamite, Bahram and Ardeshir reliefs are at the west-side left-hand corner of the site, and are set apart from the tombs and other relief carvings.
Image Galleries: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago - CAIS - Presttun.org 1 - Presttun.org 2 - Flickr (Rob & Ale)
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