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Taq Bostan, which literally means the ‘Arch of the Garden’ in the Persian language, is a site famous for its Sassanid (224-651 CE) rock reliefs. Located five kilometers from Kermanshah and at the heart of the Zagros Mountain, the site contains some of the best preserved reliefs from the Sassanid era. The site includes scenes such as the investitures of Ardashir II (reigned from 379–383 CE), Shapur III (reigned from 383–388 CE), and Khosrow II (570-628 CE).
The Ardashir II relief shows the king standing on top a bearded figure believed to have been Roman emperor Julian the Apostate (330-363 CE), receiving the ring of kingship from Ahura Mazda- which means ‘Wise Lord’ or ‘Lord of Wisdom’ in Avestan language and is the supreme deity worshiped in the Zoroastrian religion. A fourth figure attributed to Mithra, the Persian divinity of light, stands holding a series of scared twigs.
The second relief, which is located in a man-made cave carved in the form of an iwan (three-sided, vaulted hall, open at one end), shows two kings believed to be Shapur III standing next to his father Shapur II (309-379 CE) the conqueror who defeated the Romans. An inscription, which reads “This is the figure of Mazda-worshipping Lord Shapur, the king of kings of Iran and Aniran, whose race is from the Gods. Son of Mazda-worshipping Lord Shapur, the king of kings of Iran and Aniran, whose race is from the Gods, grandson of Lord Hormizd, the king of kings,” identifies this relief as the relief of Shapur III.
However, due to the shape of his crown experts say that this is in fact a relief of Ardashir II standing next to his brother Shapur II and that the relief was later usurped by Shapur III.
A third man-made iwan at the site contains reliefs showing the investiture of the last great Sassanid king Khosrow II. To his right stands Ahura Mazda offering him the ring of kingship and to his left stands the water goddess Anahita holding a small jar of water and offering Khosrow II another ring.
There is also a relief of Khosrow II in full battle gear mounted on his favorite horse, the legendary black Stallion Shabdiz, which means midnight and was reputed to be the fastest horse in the world. Khosrow II is seen holding a lance in this relief.
Taq Bostan has not been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site yet.
Kermanshah Kermanshah Province