Persepolis and Necropolis
Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC). It is situated in the plains of Marvdasht, encircled by southern Zagros mountains of Iran. Modern day Shiraz is situated 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of the ruins of Persepolis.
The earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BC. It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.
The complex is raised high on a walled platform, with five "palaces" or halls of varying size, and grand entrances. The function of Persepolis remains quite unclear. It was not one of the largest cities in Persia, let alone the rest of the empire, but appears to have been a grand ceremonial complex that was only occupied seasonally. It is still not entirely clear where the king's private quarters actually were.
Until recent challenges, most archaeologists held that it was especially used for celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, held at the spring equinox, and still an important annual festivity in modern Iran. The Iranian nobility and the tributary parts of the empire came to present gifts to the king, as represented in the stairway reliefs.
The complex was taken by the army of Alexander the Great in 330 BC, and soon after the wooden parts were completely destroyed by fire, very likely deliberately.
Naqsh-e Rostam is an ancient archeological site and necropolis located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, in Fars Province, Iran. A collection of ancient Iranian rock reliefs are cut into the face of the mountain and the mountain contains the final resting place of four Achaemenid kings notably king Darius the Great and his son, Xerxes.
The necropolis of the Achaemenid dynasty (c. 550–330 BC) has with four large tombs cut high into the cliff face. These have mainly architectural decoration, but the facades include large panels over the doorways, each very similar in content, with figures of the king being invested by a god, above a zone with rows of smaller figures bearing tribute, with soldiers and officials.
Well below the Achaemenid tombs, near ground level, are rock reliefs with large figures of Sassanian kings, some meeting gods, others in combat. The most famous shows the Sassanian king Shapur I on horseback, with the Roman Emperor Valerian bowing to him in submission. This commemorates the Battle of Edessa in AD 260, when Valerian became the only Roman Emperor who was captured as a prisoner of war, a lasting humiliation for the Romans.
Philip the Arab (an earlier emperor who paid Shapur tribute) holds Shapur's horse, while the dead Emperor Gordian III, killed in battle, lies beneath it.
The placing of these reliefs clearly suggests the Sassanid intention to link themselves with the glories of the earlier Achaemenid Empire.