Ancient bas-relief discovered near Persepolis

September 12, 2021 - 21:57

TEHRAN – An ancient bas-relief carving has been discovered in Naqsh-e Rajab near the UNESCO-designated Persepolis in southern Iran.

The bas-relief, which bears an inscription in Pahlavi script, is associated with the tomb of a Zoroastrian individual believed to be a citizen of Istakhr, which was once a royal residence for Sassanid kings of Persia, ILNA reported on Sunday.

The tomb is a kind of tiny stone pit called Dakhmak which was extensively used near Istakhr and the surrounding Marvdasht plain.

The archaeological site known as Naqsh-e Rajab is just three kilometers north of the ruins of Persepolis, along the road to the Sasanian city Istakhr. The name means something like "The carvings of Rajab". The carvings referred to were made by the two first Sasanian kings, Ardashir I (r.224-241) and Shapur I (r.241-272).

Istakhr is deeply rooted in history with a human occupation dating back to the fourth millennium BC, and the site was certainly occupied in the Bronze Age, by the Achaemenids, by the Seleucids (who used it as a mint town), and by the Parthians.

The city, which had strong walls, repulsed the first Arab attack in c.644, but was captured and sacked in c.650. Although the site was not really abandoned, most people moved to Shiraz (which was founded in 684). Once, as an Islamic town, it was enclosed by fortification walls with rounded towers.

Today, Istakhr is nothing but a plain full of sherds, scattered architectural remains, and a few ruins. The walled-in area measured 1,400 x 650 meters and was surrounded by a ditch that was connected to the river Pulvar.

Under the Sasanians, Iranian art experienced a general renaissance. Architecture often took grandiose proportions, such as the palaces at Ctesiphon, Firouzabad, and Saravan.

Amongst the most characteristic and striking relics of the Sassanids are rock sculptures carved on abrupt limestone cliffs, for example at Shapur (Bishapour), Naqsh-e Rostam, and Naqsh-e Rajab. Metalwork and gem engraving became highly sophisticated.


Leave a Comment