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Bisotun in Kermanshah features remains from Median (678 -549 BC), Achaemenid (550-330 BC), Parthian (247 BC–224 CE), Sassanid (226-651 CE), Ilkhanid (1256–1335), Timurid (1370-1507) and Safavid (1501–1736) eras. 

The most important feature of Bisotun is an inscription written in three languages, Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian, and attributed to Darius the Great (550-486 BC). The inscription contains a brief autobiography of Darius I and recounts the events after the death of Cyrus the Great (576-530 BC), before telling the story of the battles he waged from 521 BC to 520 BC against the governors, who rebelled against him, and the story of  how he reestablished the Achaemenid Empire.

The 3-meter-high and 5.5-meter-wide Darius relief at the site depicts the Achaemenid king with a bow in one hand standing with his foot on the chest of a figure believed to be Gaumata, a Median magus who usurped the throne and ruled for a year before being defeated by Darius. Two figures holding bows and spears stand to the left of Darius and nine figures with bound hands and ropes around their necks stand to his right, and are believed to represent the nations conquered by the Achaemenid king. The relief initially had eight bound captives and after defeating the Scythians, a ninth figure was added to the scene. Darius's beard, which is a separate stone block attached with iron pins, was also added to the scene at a later date.

There is a Faravahar symbol floating above the heads of the captives in the relief, which appears to be giving blessing to Darius. Faravahar is a winged disk with a male upper body and which has become the definitive symbol of Zoroastrianism.

In one of the lines of the inscription Darius leaves words of advice for generations to come: 

“You who shall hereafter see this tablet, which I have written, or these sculptures, do not destroy them, but preserve them so long as you live!”

Bisotun includes several other works belonging to different eras including the ruins of a Sassanid palace, a bridge with Sassanid foundations, Ilkhanid and Safavid Caravansaries and Timurid era clay ovens.

Bisotun includes three other reliefs. The first is the relief of Parthian king Mithridates II (124-88 BC), which has been severely damaged but once had an inscription in Greek above the scene depicting Mithridates and four noblemen. The second relief is the victory of Parthian king Godarz (Gotarzes) II (38-51 CE) over Mithridates II, which showed two horsemen and an angle with an accompanying inscription in Greek. The third is an endowment inscription by Safavid Sheikh Ali Khan Zangeneh (1669-1691).

Farhad Tarash, which means carved by Farhad in the Persian language, is a 180-meter-long and 33-meter-high slab believed to have been prepared for a relief but which was never  used. 

Bisotun is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.


  • Address

    Bisotun Township, Western Side of Sarab