A dust storm was blowing north from the Iraqi desert and everything was drenched in a thick brown smog. We were all very tired and we wandered from the main road up towards the huge vertical mountainside where the rock carving is.
Looks like an angel carved in the rock.
First glimpse of it, part-way up that cliff.
The carving dates from about 521 BC and is located high up on a cliff overlooking the ancient royal road from Babylon to Ecbatana, the Median capital.
It shows the Persian King Darius receiving chained captives. The image is surrounded by cuneiform script in three languages; Elamite, Akkadian and Old Persian. It tells the story of a revolt led by one of the Magi, Gautama, who claimed to be King Cambyses's younger brother. Gaumata was killed within a few months by Darius, who made himself king after fighting ninteen other revolts in the provinces in that year. The rock carving shows rows of captives representing the different peoples and territories who had revolted and who Darius had finally defeated.
The text was intended to pronounce and justify Darius’ authority. In doing so Darius appealed to Mazdean religious principles of good and evil, truth and falsehood and he refers many times to Ahura Mazda. At the top of the carving is a Fravohar: symbol of the Mazdaean and Zoroastrian faiths.
This was the first time I had seen an original Fravohar.
The symbol has a beardy man with wings. The beardy man represents wisdom, to which we should aspire. The raised right hand of the beardy man represents his reverence for God (Ahura Mazda). The wings, with three rows of feathers, represent the freedom rewarded to those who follow the right and threefold path of ‘good thoughts, good words, good deeds’. The ring around his waist represents the eternal nature of the soul. Two strings attached to the ring represent the forces of good and evil.
Below the cliffs there is an old caravanserai. It was a really big one. Unfortunately it was locked :-(
After that we got a ride back into Kermanshah and went and had a tasy breakfast at a posh hotel. Then we went to look at some more rock carvings. These ones from about AD363 and AD590 I think; the Sassanian period of Iranian history.