Sarab-e Qandil, Iran

Sarab-e-Qandil near Kazerun, Iran
Sarab-e-Qandil near Kazerun, Iran

Bahram II was one of the early kings of Sassanian Iran and ruled from 274–293 AD. Unfortunately, he wasn’t one of the most militarily gifted monarchs to sit on the Persian throne. His reign was eventful, yes, but for all the wrong reasons. For one, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Carus was a constant pain for Bahram and his kingdom, nabbing Armenia and large parts of Mesopotamia from the Sassanian monarch. He also had to deal with his pesky brother, Hormizd II who revolted against his brother. It seems that being a successful warrior was not in the stars for Bahram.

Despite this, Bahram was a great commissioner of monuments dedicated to, well, himself. Take Sarab-e Qandil for example. One of at least 10 monuments funded by him that we know about, Sarab-e Qandil, lies in the desert not too far from the city of Kazerun, Iran.

There are three characters in the relief: the king, a woman believed to be his wife (and not a goddess) and a prince believed to be his son, the future Bahram III. The woman, we’ll call her wifey, in this particular relief is shown giving a flower to the king (unlike the similar Barm-e Dilak near Shiraz, where the opposite seems to be occurring). Both wifey and the prince also appear to be showing the king both love and respect.

Being in a relatively isolated area, the relief is quite well preserved, not suffering the defacement of other similar ones that were defaced by iconoclastic Arabs after the conquest of Iran. It is almost as if this particular monument was meant to proclaim the might and glory of the Sassanian Empire, despite the defeats of Bahram II. This is probably the legacy that Bahram II wanted to leave behind.

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