Shapur I's inscription at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht

Shapur I's Ka'ba-ye Zartosht inscription, also referred to as The Great Inscription of Shapur I,[1][2] ŠKZ,[3] SKZ,[1] or Res Gestae Divi Saporis (RGDS),[1][3] refers to an important trilingual inscription made during the reign of the Persian Sasanian king Shapur I (r240–270) after his victories over the Romans.[3] The inscription is carved on the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht, a stone quadrangular and stepped structure located in Naqsh-e Rustam, an ancient necropolis located northwest of Persepolis, in today's Fars Province, Iran.[3] The inscription dates to c. 262.[1]

The inscription is written in Middle Persian, Parthian, and Greek,[1][3] containing 35, 30, and 70 lines, respectively. The Middle Persian variant is partially damaged, while the Greek and Parthian versions are better survived, although they are not exactly the same as the Middle Persian text. In this inscription, Shapur introduces himself, mentions his genealogy, enumerates the provinces of his empire, describes his campaigns against the Roman Empire and talks about the fire temples he built.[3] The inscription is considered the most important inscription from the Sasanian era.

The relevant passage enumerating the territories part of Shapur I's empire :[1][3][4]

...[I] am ruler of Ērānshahr, and I possess the lands of [provinces; Greek ethne]: Pars [Persis], Pahlav (Parthia), Huzestan (Khuzestan), Meshan (i.e. Maishan, Mesene), Asorestan (Mesopotamia), Nod-Ardakhshiragan (i.e. Adiabene), Arbayistan [Arabia], Adurbadagan [i.e. Atropatene, ’twrp'tkn], Armenia [Armin, ’lmny], Iberia [Wiruzān/Wručān, wlwc'n, i.e., K'art'li], Segan [Machelonia i.e. Mingrelia], Arran ['ld'nm, i.e., Caucasian Albania], Balasagan, up to the Caucasus mountains [Kafkōf] and the Gates of Albania/of the Alans, and all of the mountain chain of Pareshwar/Padishkwar[gar], Mad (i.e. Media), Gurgan (i.e. Hyrcania), Merv (i.e. Margiana), Harey (i.e. Herat, "Aria") and all of Abarshahr, Kerman (Kirman), Seistan (Sakastan), Turgistan/Turan, Makuran, Pardan/Paradene, Hind [India i.e. Sind], the Kushanshahr up to Peshawar/Pashkibur, and up to Kashgar[ia], Sogdiana/Sogdia and to the mountains of Tashkent (Chach), and on the other side of the sea, Oman (i.e. Mazonshahr).

In the inscription, Shapur I mentions his victories over Gordian III, Philip the Arab and Valerian.[3] He relates that Gordian departed from Antioch and was killed in a decisive battle at Misiche in 242/4 on the border of Sasanian-ruled Mesopotamia. Shapur mentions that Misiche was subsequently renamed Misiche-Peroz-Shapur, which translates as "Misiche-(where)-Shapur-is-victorious".[3] In relation to Philip the Arab; Shapur mentions that negotiations in 244 resulted in Philip being forced to pay 500,000 denarii to the Sasanians.[3] In addition, the Romans promised that they would surrender Armenia to Shapur. However, Shapur relates that the Philip the Arab didn't keep his promise and tried to reinvade Armenia.[3] As a result, another battle was fought in 252-256 at Barbalissos, against a 60,000-strong Roman army.[3] Shapur was victorious, and he mentions that he captured 36 Roman cities.[3] Shapur also mentions his major victory at the Battle of Edessa, which resulted in Valerian being captured by the Sasanian ruler, "along with the Praefectus Praetorio, senators, and chiefs of the army".[3] He furthermore relates that Roman captives were settled in the province of Pars (i.e. Persis).[3] The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity notes that this particular part of the inscription, where Shapur mentions the capture of Valerian and his deeds in general, is reminiscent of the "Persian epic tradition".[3]

In the following part of the inscription, Shapur mentions the Zoroastrian sacred fires he established under his rule to honor each member of the royal family.[3] He also mentions detail of "sacrifices and ceremonies".[3] The final part of the inscription contains valuable content about the Sasanian administration as well as the courtiers and nobles during the lifetimes of Papak, Ardashir I in addition to Shapur I himself.[3]

Naqsh-e rostam
Ka'ba-ye Zartosht
Ka'ba-ye Zartosht 33
The inscriptions


  1. ^ a b c d e f Rapp 2014, p. 28.
  2. ^ Yarshater 1983, p. 126.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Daryaee 2018, pp. 1294-1295.
  4. ^ Wiesehöfer 2001, p. 184.


  • Daryaee, Touraj (2018). "Res Gestae Divi Saporis". In Nicholson, Oliver. The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-866277-8.
  • Rapp, Stephen H. (2014). The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-1472425522.
  • Wiesehöfer, Josef (2001). Ancient Persia. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1860646751.
  • Yarshater, E. (1983). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanid Periods, Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521200929.

External links


Anīrân (Modern Persian, انیران) or Anērān (Middle Persian, 𐭠𐭭𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭) is an ethno-linguistic term that signifies "non-Iranian" or "non-Iran" (non-Aryan). Thus, in a general sense, 'Aniran' signifies lands where Iranian languages are not spoken. In a pejorative sense, it denotes "a political and religious enemy of Iran and Zoroastrianism."The term 'Aniran' derives from Middle Persian anērān, Pahlavi ʼnyrʼn, an antonym of ērān that in turn denoted either the people or the Sasanian Empire. However, "in Zoroastrian literature and possibly in Sasanian political thought as well, the term has also a markedly religious connotation. An anēr person is not merely non-Iranian, but specifically non-Zoroastrian; and anēr designates also worshipers of the dēws ("demons") or adherents of other religions." In these texts of the ninth to twelfth century, "Arabs and Turks are called anēr, as are Muslims generally, the latter in a veiled manner."

Ardashir I

Ardashir I or Ardeshir I (Middle Persian 𐭠𐭥𐭲𐭧𐭱𐭲𐭥 , New Persian: اردشیر بابکان, Ardashir-e Bābakān), also known as Ardashir the Unifier (180–242 AD), was the founder of the Sasanian Empire. He was also Ardashir V of the dynasty of the Kings of Persis, until he founded the new empire. After defeating the last Parthian shahanshah Artabanus V on the Hormozdgan plain in 224, he overthrew the Parthian dynasty and established the Sasanian dynasty. Afterwards, Ardashir called himself "shahanshah" and began conquering the land that he called Iran.There are various historical reports about Ardashir's lineage and ancestry. According to Al-Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings, Ardashir was son of Papak, son of Sasan. Another narrative that exists in Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan and Ferdowsi's Shahnameh also states it says that Ardashir was born from the marriage of Sasan, a descendant of Darius III, with the daughter of Papak, a local governor in Pars.

According to Al-Tabari's report, Ardashir was born in the outskirts of Istakhr, Pars. Al-Tabari adds that Ardashir was sent to the lord of Fort Darabgard when he was seven years old. After the lord's death, Ardashir succeeded him and became the commander of Fort Darabgard. Al-Tabari continues that afterward, Papak overthrew the local Persian shah named Gochihr and appointed his son, Shapur, instead of him. According to Al-Tabari's report, Shapur and his father, Papak, suddenly died and Ardashir became the ruler of Pars. Tension rose between Ardashir and the Parthian empire and eventually on April 28, 224, Ardashir faced the army of Artabanus V in the Hormozdgan plain and Artabanus, the Parthian shahanshah, was killed during the battle.

According to the royal reports, it was Papak who overthrew Gochihr, the local Persian shah, and appointed his son, Shapur, instead of him; Ardashir refused to accept Shapur's appointment and removed his brother and whosoever stood against him and then minted coins with his face drawn on and his father, Papak's behind. It is probable that the determining role that is stated about Ardashir in leading the rebellion against the central government is the product of the later historical studies. Papak had probably united most of Pars under his rule by then.

Ardashir had an outstanding role in developing the royal ideology. He tried to show himself as a worshiper of Mazda related to god and possessing khvarenah. The claim of the legitimacy of his reign as a rightful newcomer from the line of the mythical Iranian shahs and the propagations attributed to Ardashir against the legitimacy and role of the Parthians in the Iranian history sequence show the valuable place that the Achaemenid legacy had in the minds of the first Sasanian shahanshahs; though the current belief is that the Sasanians did not know much about the Achaemenids and their status. On the other hand, some historians believe that the first Sasanian shahanshahs were familiar with the Achaemenids and their succeeding shahanshahs deliberately turned to the Kayanians. They knowingly ignored the Achaemenids in order to attribute their past to the Kayanians; and that was where they applied holy historiography.

In order to remark his victories, Ardashir carved petroglyphs in Firuzabad (the city of Gor or Ardashir-Khwarrah), Naqsh-e Rajab and Naqsh-e Rustam. In his petroglyph in Naqsh-e Rustam, Ardashir and Ahura Mazda are opposite to each other on horsebacks and the corpses of Artabanus and Ahriman are visualized under the nails of the horses of Ardashir and Ahura Mazda. It can be deduced from the picture that Ardashir assumed or wished for others to assume that his rule over the land that was called "Iran" in the inscriptions was designated by the lord. The word "Iran" was previously used in Avesta and as "the name of the mythical land of the Aryans". In Ardashir's period, the title "Iran" was chosen for the region under the Sasanian rule. The idea of "Iran" was accepted for both the Zoroastrian and non-Zoroastrian societies in the whole kingdom and the Iranians' collective memory continued and lived on in the various stages and different layers of the Iranian society until the modern period today. What is clear is that the concept of "Iran" previously had a religious application and then ended up creating its political face and the concept of a geographical collection of lands.


Bānbishn was a Middle Persian title meaning "queen", and was held by royal women in Sasanian Iran who were the king's daughters and sisters, and also by the consorts of the Sasanian princes that ruled parts of the country as governors. The full version of the title was bānbishnān bānbishn ("Queen of Queens").

Battle of Edessa

The Battle of Edessa took place between the armies of the Roman Empire under the command of Emperor Valerian and Sassanid forces under Shahanshah (King of the Kings) Shapur I in 260. The Roman army was defeated and captured in its entirety by the Persian forces; for the first time in Rome's military history their emperor was taken prisoner. As such, the battle is generally viewed as one of the worst disasters in Roman military history.


Circesium (Classical Syriac: ܩܪܩܣܝܢ‎ Qerqesīn), known in Arabic as al-Qarqisiya, was a Roman fortress city near the junction of the Euphrates and Khabur rivers, located at the empire's eastern frontier with the Sasanian Empire. It was later conquered by the Muslim Arabs in the 7th century and was often a point of contention between various Muslim states due to its strategic location between Syria and Iraq. The modern town of al-Busayra corresponds with the site of Circesium.

Ka'ba-ye Zartosht

Ka'ba-ye Zartosht is the name of a stone quadrangular and stepped structure in the Naqsh-e Rustam compound beside Zangiabad village in Marvdasht county in Fars, Iran. The Naqsh-e Rustam compound incorporates memorials of the Elamites, the Achaemenids and the Sassanians in itself in addition to the mentioned structure.

The Ka'ba-ye Zartosht is 46 metres (151 ft) from the mountain, situated exactly opposite Darius II's mausoleum. It is rectangular and has only one entrance door. The material of the structure is white limestone. It is about 12 metres (39 ft) high, or 14.12 metres (46.3 ft) if including the triple stairs, and each side of its base is about 7.30 metres (24.0 ft) long. Its entrance door leads to the chamber inside via a thirty-stair stone stairway. The stone pieces are rectangular and are simply placed on top of each other, without the use of mortar; the sizes of the stones varies from 0.48 by 2.10 by 2.90 metres (1 ft 7 in by 6 ft 11 in by 9 ft 6 in) to 0.56 by 1.08 by 1.10 metres (1 ft 10 in by 3 ft 7 in by 3 ft 7 in), and they are connected to each other by dovetail joints. The structure was built in the Achaemenid era and there is no information of the name of the structure in that era. It was called Bon-Khanak in the Sassanian era; the local name of the structure was Kornaykhaneh or Naggarekhaneh; and the phrase Ka'ba-ye Zartosht has been used for the structure since the fourteenth century, into the contemporary era.

Various views and interpretations have been proposed about the application of the chamber, but none of them could be accepted with certainty: some consider the tower a fire temple and a fireplace, and believe that it was used for igniting and worshiping the holy fire, while another group rejects this view and considers it the mausoleum of one of the Achaemenid shahs or grandees, due to its similarity to the Tomb of Cyrus and some mausoleums of Lycia and Caria. Some other Iranian scholars believe the stone chamber to be a structure for the safekeeping of royal documents and holy or religious books; however, the chamber of Ka'ba-ye Zartosht is too small for this purpose. Other less noticed theories, such as its being a temple for the goddess Anahita or a solar calendar, have also been mentioned.

Three inscriptions have been written in the three languages Sassanian Middle Persian, Arsacid Middle Persian and Greek on the Northern, Southern and Eastern walls of the tower, in the Sassanian era. One of them belongs to Shapur I the Sassanian, and the other to the priest Kartir. According to Walter Henning, "These inscriptions are the most important historical documents from the Sassanian era." The Ka'ba-ye Zartosht is a beautiful structure: its proportions, lines and external beauty are based on well-executed architectural principles.Currently, the structure is part of the Naqsh-e Rustam compound and owned by the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran.


Khwarranzem (Middle Persian: Xwar(r)ānzēm) was a 3rd-century Sasanian queen (banbishn), who became a high-ranking figure within the Sasanian family.

List of Parthian and Sasanian inscriptions

This is a list of Parthian and Sasanian inscription, which include remaining official inscriptions on rocks, as well as minor ones written on bricks, metal, wood, hide, papyri, and gems. Their significance is in the areas of linguistics, history, and study of religion in Persia. Some of the inscriptions are lost and are known only through tradition.

Early royal Sasanian inscriptions were trilingual: Middle Persian (in Inscriptional Pahlavi), Parthian (in Inscriptional Parthian) and Greek. Since the rule of Narseh, Greek was omitted. Book Pahlavi script replaced Inscriptional Pahlavi in late Middle Persian inscriptions.


Padishkhwārgar was a Sasanian province in Late Antiquity, which almost corresponded to the present-day provinces of Mazandaran and Gilan. The province bordered Adurbadagan and Balasagan in the west, Gurgan in the east, and Spahan in south. The main cities of the province was Amol and Rasht.

The province functioned as some kind of vassal kingdom, being mostly ruled by princes from different royal families, who bore the title of Padashwargarshah ("Shah of Padishkhwargar").

Pahlavi scripts

Pahlavi or Pahlevi is a particular, exclusively written form of various Middle Iranian languages. The essential characteristics of Pahlavi are

the use of a specific Aramaic-derived script;

the high incidence of Aramaic words used as heterograms (called hozwārishn, "archaisms").Pahlavi compositions have been found for the dialects/ethnolects of Parthia, Persis, Sogdiana, Scythia, and Khotan. Independent of the variant for which the Pahlavi system was used, the written form of that language only qualifies as Pahlavi when it has the characteristics noted above.

Pahlavi is then an admixture of

written Imperial Aramaic, from which Pahlavi derives its script, logograms, and some of its vocabulary.

spoken Middle Iranian, from which Pahlavi derives its terminations, symbol rules, and most of its vocabulary.Pahlavi may thus be defined as a system of writing applied to (but not unique for) a specific language group, but with critical features alien to that language group. It has the characteristics of a distinct language, but is not one. It is an exclusively written system, but much Pahlavi literature remains essentially an oral literature committed to writing and so retains many of the characteristics of oral composition.

Res Gestae (disambiguation)

Res Gestae is Latin term meaning "things done", and may refer to:

Res gestae, a legal term in American jurisprudence and English lawThe term appears in titles of works recording the accomplishments of certain people, including:

Res Gestae Divi Augusti, the funerary inscription of the Roman emperor Augustus

Various other "Res Gestae" inscriptions scattered across the former Roman Empire

Res Gestae Divi Saporis, a name given by some Western scholars to the Shapur I's inscription at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht

"Res gestae of Darius", sometimes used to refer to the Behistun Inscription

Res gestae Saxonicae sive annalium libri tres, or The Deeds of the Saxons

Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis or Res gestae Alexandri Magni, a work translated by Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius

Spahan (province)

Spahan, also known as Parthau was a Sasanian province in Late Antiquity, that lay within central Iran, almost corresponding to the present-day Isfahan Province in Iran.

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