Naqsh-e Rustam is one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring ancient sites of the Achaemenid Empire, consisting of the colossal tombs of Persian kings dating back to the first millennium BC. It stands as a lasting memory of a once powerful empire that ruled over a significant portion of the ancient world.
Naqsh-e Rustam (meaning Throne of Rustam) is located approximately 5 km (3 miles) to the northwest of Persepolis, the capital of the former Achaemenid (Persian) Empire in present day in Iran. Engraved on the façade of a mountain range considered sacred in the Elamite periods are the rock-cut tombs of Achaemenid rulers and their families dating to the 4 th and 5 th centuries BC, as well as richly decorated reliefs carved by the Sasanians in the 3 rd century AD. In addition to being a royal necropolis, Naqsh-e Rustam became a major ceremonial center for the Sasanians until the 7 th century AD. iran tour
king Shapur I on horseback, with the Roman Emperor Valerian bowing to him in submission, and Philip the Arab (an earlier emperor who paid Shapur tribute) holding Shapur’s horse, while the dead Emperor Gordian III, killed in battle, lies beneath it (other identifications have been suggested). This commemorates the Battle of Edessa in 260 AD, when Valerian became the only Roman Emperor who was captured as a prisoner of war, a lasting humiliation for the Romans. The placing of these reliefs clearly suggests the Sassanid intention to link themselves with the glories of the earlier Achaemenid Empire.
The Naqsh-e Rustam site was already in use prior to the arrival of the Achaemenids, as evidenced in one pre-Achaemenid (possibly Elamite) relief and a number of old graves. Although this relief has been carved over by a Sasanian relief, a portrait of a man with a forward pointing hat and a long dress-like garment (clothing not typical of the Achaemenids and Sasanians) can still be discerned on the extreme right of the later relief. According to some sources, it was this figure that locals associated with the mythical hero of the Shahnameh writings in the “book of the kings”, named Rustam, hence the name of the site. iran tour