Achaemenian and Sassanian Persian holy archaeological
site 7 km northwest of Persepolis, Ne Rostam is a sort
of "Valley of Kings", dominated by tall ocher-colored
cliffs, cracked and wrinkled by the wind through the
ages. The Achaemenian and Sassanian kings were
forgotten in Islamic times and no mention of the
Achaemenian kings is made by Ferdowsi in his
Shahnameh. Popular superstition linked the rock
carvings to the popular hero Rostam, who was so strong
that no feat was beyond him. Naqsh-e Rostam means
literally the Picture of Rostam.
On the mountain side in Naqsh-e Rostam, the
Achaemenian necropolis consists of four hypogea, or
rock tombs cut into the cliff sides. These date from
the 5th and 4th centuries BC and the most famous is
the tomb of Darius I the Great (reigned 552- 486 BC).
From left to right the four rock tombs cut high into
the Kuh-e Hossein are dedicated to Artaxerxes I,
Darius the Great, Xerxes, Darius II. Visitors now have
access to the earliest, that of Darius I, though the
hieratic solemnity of the tombs demands that they be
seen only from afar.
Darius was the first
King who chose the site of his tomb, having it carved
out of the solid rock face here.. All the tombs are
uniform in plan (in the form of a cross) following the
pattern laid down by Darius before his death.
His tomb, clearly modeled on the buildings at
Persepolis and Susa, as a concession to the Egyptian
spirit of satrapy (after the conquest and subjugation
of Egypt by him), and similar to former in its
portico, columns, capitals and other details, served
as the prototype for the later Achaemenian tombs cut
into the same rocks facing the rising sun,
corresponding to the west bank of the Nile.
In the tomb of Dariusthe Great, there is a long
inscription in cuneiform script, the main part of
which is in adoration of Ahura. Mazda, the remainder
giving an account of the religious and moral beliefs
of Darius the Great.
In all the tombs there can be seen the Achaemenian
kihg's figure, seated on the throne, in the state of
adoration. Behind him stand the king's closer
courtiers, and the throne is borne by the
representatives of the vanquished nations, who bear it
upon their hands and shoulders. Facing the king,
carvings representing Foruhar (or Farvahar) and
the sacred fire are to be seen.