Heracles rock relief at Behistun, Province of Kermanshah, Iran.

According to its Greek inscription, the rock relief representing Heracles at Behistun was carved in 148 BCE , being dedicated to a local Seleucid governor. After the collapse of the first Persian Empire following the Macedonian invasion, following the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek dynasty of the Seleucids (from Seleukos, former general of Alexander) were the main rulers of the western part of the Iranian plate. The Seleucids were dominating the cities and the main commercial roads, but failed to impose their power in the rural lands. However, their artistic influence began to penetrate the Iranian plate and will remain for centuries, through the Parthian then the Sasanian dynasties. The presence of a statue showing Heracles there testifies such artistic influence, as for the often seen Greek inscriptions or representations of Nike in the later carved rock relieves all over the country.

A religious syncretism occurred in Iran soon after the beginning of the Seleucid dynasty, seen Heracles assimilated with the old Iranian divinity of power Verethragna. In this relief, Heracles is shown in a languorous attitude, laying naked on the skin of a lion (probably the Nemean lion he killed in his 12 labours) , holding a bowl, under the shadow of an Olive tree. His traditional wood bludgeon and elbow lay near him. If the topic is typically Greek, either the fashion and carving technique reveal the relief was carved by some Iranian artist, unfamiliar with the greek iconography. The main reason was probably because it was not a royal relief but one of a local person. (source)

Photo courtesy & taken by dynamosquito.

Heracles rock relief at Behistun Province of Kermanshah, Iran
According to its Greek inscription, the rock relief representing Heracles at Behistun was carved in 148 BCE , being dedicated to a local Seleucid governor. After the collapse of the first Persian Empire following the Macedonian invasion, following the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek dynasty of the Seleucids (from Seleukos, former general of Alexander) were the main rulers of the western part of the Iranian plate. The Seleucids were dominating the cities and the main commercial roads, but failed to impose their power in the rural lands. However, their artistic influence began to penetrate the Iranian plate and will remain for centuries, through the Parthian then the sasanian dynasties. The presence of a statue showing Heracles there testify of such artistic influence, as for the often seen Greek inscriptions or representations of Nike in the later carved rock relieves all over the country.

A religious syncretism occurred in Iran soon after the beginning of the Seleucid dynasty, seen Heracles assimilated with the old Iranian divinity of power Verethragna. In this relief, Heracles is shown in a languorous attitude, laying naked on the skin of a lion (probably the Nemean lion he killed in his 12 labours) , holding a bowl, under the shadow of an Olive tree. His traditional wood bludgeon and elbow lay near him. If the topic is typically Greek, either The fashion and carving technique reveal the relief was carved by some Iranian artist, unfamiliar with the greek iconography. The main reason was probably because it was not a royal relief but one of a local person.

Taken in Behistun, Province of Kermanshah, Iran

A giant frame left empty probably by king Khosrow II at Behistun. Although unfinished tehn not carved, such frame supposed to host a rock relief gives us many information on how surfaces were planed and prepared before being carved…

Taken at behistun, province of Kermanshah, Iran.

Lower photo by dynamosquito

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As Iran builds up to its presidential elections in the coming weeks, consider that the land wasn’t always Islamic. Almost a thousand years before even the inception of Islam, Darius the Great ruled Babylon, Iran’s predecessor. This is his legacy: the Behistun Inscription. There is no easy path up to it, with only a small ledge to stand on. But approaching the stone is not integral to its purpose. The achievements of the Great King are carved into the very face of the lands he owned. He is irrevocably connected with the landscape: despite revolutions, uprisings, and wars, Darius is immortal. He has remained for thousands of years, and will remain for thousands more. Iran’s next president will be fleeting, the quarrels of religious conflict in the area just seconds in the span of Darius’ eternal achievements. He watches, perpetually triumphant over his fallen kingdom.

Man used to be powerful.

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