Firuzabad, Sarvestan, Bishapur

Firuzabad, Sarvestan, Bishapur

Sassanid archaeological landscapes of the Fars region

Located in the southeast of the Iranian province of Fars, the eight deposits are divided into three geographical areas: Firuzabad, Bishapur and Sarvestan. The fortified structures, palaces and remains date back to the early and late days of the Sassanid Empire, which swept through the region between AD 224 and 658. The sites include the first capital of the founder of the dynasty, Ardacher Babakan, as well as the city and architectural structures of his successor, King Shapur I. This archaeological landscape, based on optimal exploitation of natural topography, is the witness to the influence of the Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and Roman art, which had a significant impact on the architecture of the Islamic period.

The Sassanid archaeological landscape of the Fars region is influenced by Achaemenid and Parthian cultural and ritual traditions and refers to their architectural and artistic approaches. This is illustrated by the carving techniques of the reliefs at Firuzabad and Bishapur, and the sculpture of Shapur at Tang-e Chogan. Also, especially in Bishapur, the influences of the encounter with Roman art and architecture are well reflected. The Sassanid urban plan inspired urbanism throughout the region up to the Islamic period, and the Sarvestan monument shows how the Sassanid architectural language continued to be used in the early Islamic period.

The region bears witness to the early Sassanid civilization and its contribution to the spread and establishment of Zoroastrianism. The location of the first two dominant Sassanid cities is proof of the legitimacy and hierarchy of power, as well as ritual ceremonies.

The Sasanian archaeological landscape represents a very effective system of land use and strategic use of natural topography in the creation of the first cultural centers of the Sasanian civilization. Using local building materials and based on the optimal use of the surrounding natural resources, such as mountains, plains and rivers, a diverse set of urban structures, castles, buildings, bas-reliefs and other relevant monuments has been configured in the landscape. Water management plays a fundamental role in the founding of monuments.

Qaleh Dokhtar, the palace of Ardacher and Sarvestan, despite having suffered earthquakes in the past and being subject to visible processes of deterioration, can be considered authentic in terms of their form and design. The vault of the main portico (iwan) of the Ardacher Palace in Firuzabad has been partially reconstructed with concrete and stone cladding.

After the fall of the Parthian Empire, the Sassanids seized power by founding a new Persian empire: the Sassanids, those who ruled Persia from the fall of the Parthians until the Arab invasion in 636. The term Sassanid derives from “Sassan”, the priest of the temple of Anahita (the goddess of water) in Istakhr, a city of Fars, which at that time was part of the Parthian Empire. Babak, his son, governor of the city, takes advantage of the succession war between the pretenders to the throne, rebels and proclaims himself king of Persia. Ardacher I (Artaxerxes), who succeeded his father (Xerxes), expanded his reign to neighboring provinces. Artaban IV, the last Parthian king, started a war against him. However, Ardacher, having defeated him, began to conquer the rest of the Iranian and Mesopotamian provinces and was crowned Shahanshah (King of Kings) in Ctesiphon in AD 226. His son Shapur I came to the throne in 241 AD. and continued its expansion strategy with objectives eastward toward Afghanistan and the Asian steppes, and westward toward the Mediterranean and the Roman borders.

Bishapur, the ancient capital of the Sassanid Empire, was built with the help of Roman soldiers captured in the Battle of Edessa between the Roman Emperor Valerian and the Sassanid King Shapur in 260 AD. A little further from the city of Bishapur, on both banks of the Chogan River, we will be amazed by the six large bas-reliefs on the rocky coast where the Sassanid emperors carved their victories.

The Ardacher and Tang-e Chogan bas-reliefs largely retain their authentic state, despite the transformation of the terrain due to agricultural activities. In general, most of the components retain their authentic aspects as they were in Sassanian times.

The Sassanid castle of Sarvestan, is one of the main castles of the Sassanid period. Sarvestan was the hunting palace of Bahram Gur, Sassanid king, who went there to hunt zebras of the region (before the desertification of the Iranian plateau). The hunting palace dates from the 5th century AD. and it is an excellent example to understand the techniques of construction of the dome. The architecture of this palace is a good example to understand the construction techniques of the dome on logs, the transition from a square base to a circular shape. The Bahram hunting lodge has all these elements.


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