Naqsh-e Rustam archaeological site near Persepolis, Iran
International Archaeology Day
Naqsh-e Rostam is an ancient necropolis carved into the mountains of south-west Iran, a reminder of one of ancient Persia’s earliest civilisations. A necropolis is a complex of tombs and burial plots, literally translated as a ‘city of the dead’. This one, close to the city of Shiraz, houses the tombs of four Achaemenid kings (you can see three of them here), marked by rock reliefs carved high above the ground into the cliff face.
One of the tombs is identified as the resting place of Darius I, aka Darius the Great, and the others are believed to be the tombs of Darius’ son, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II, leaders during the Achaemenid dynasty from 522-330 BCE. Naqsh-e Rostam is also home to relief carvings depicting kings of the later Sassanian Empire, the last Iranian empire before the Muslim conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries. Only a few hundred yards away is the archaeological site known as Naqsh-e Rajab, with more rock carvings depicting three Sassanid kings and a high priest.
While these civilisations have disappeared, what they created endures as a permanent record of human history, to be interpreted by today’s archaeologists. On the third Saturday of every October, we pause to celebrate and recognise the contributions of archaeologists to our understanding of the past, on International Archaeology Day.