behistun

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.

While I was in Persia and Media, again a second time the Babylonians became rebellious from me. One man named Arkha, an Armenian, son of Haldita — he rose up in Babylon. A district named Dubala — from there he thus lied to the people: “I am Nebuchadrezzar the son of Nabonidus.” Thereupon the Babylonian people became rebellious from me, (and) went over to that Arkha. He seized Babylon; he became king in Babylon.
—  Darius the Great, Behistun Inscription

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

Bisutun Inscription (Behistun Inscription) is a multi-lingual inscription located on Mount Bisutun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran.

Authored by Darius the Great sometime between his coronation as king of the Persian Empire in the summer of 522 BC and his death in autumn of 486 BC, the inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a later form of Akkadian). In effect, then, the inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script.

The inscription is approximately 15 metres high by 25 metres wide and 100 metres up a limestone cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana, respectively). The Old Persian text contains 414 lines in five columns; the Elamite text includes 593 lines in eight columns, and the Babylonian text is in 112 lines.

The monument suffered some damage from Allied soldiers using it for target practice in World War II, during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.


In 1999, Iranian archeologists began the documentation and assessment of damages to the site incurred during the 20th century. Malieh Mehdiabadi, who was project manager for the effort, described a photogrammetric process by which two-dimensional photos were taken of the inscriptions using two cameras and later transmuted into 3-D images.

In recent years, Iranian archaeologists have been undertaking conservation works. The site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.

In 2012, the Bisotun Cultural Heritage Center organized an international effort to re-examine the inscription.

The site covers an area of 116 hectares. Archeological evidence indicates that this region became a human shelter 40,000 years ago. There are 18 historical monuments other than the inscription of Darius the Great in the Behistun complex that have been registered in the Iranian national list of historical sites.

Sources:
Tasnim News | Photos
wikipedia | Behistun Inscription

Photo gallery: Bisutun Inscription – Iranian Rosetta Stone from 522BC in a 116 hectar UNESCO World Heritage Site Bisutun Inscription (Behistun Inscription) is a multi-lingual inscription located on Mount Bisutun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western 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

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.