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A RECONSIDERATION OF THE ICONOGRAPHY OF THE TRIUMPHAL RELIEFS OF SHAPUR I

by RICCIARDI, RYAN ANN

Abstract (Summary)
The second Sasanian king, Shapur I, 240/2-272 CE, erected a series of triumphal monuments in southwestern Iran, the most famous of which are the rock cut reliefs depicting his victories over the Roman emperors Gordian III, Philip the Arab, and Valerian. The identification of the emperors has largely been based on their position in the reliefs and Shapur's own description of his interactions with the Romans in the Kaa'ba-i Zardusht inscription. Here Shapur records his exploits in the West and indicates that he captured over 130,000 Romans. Some of these may have been engineers and architects, since the city plan and palace decoration of Shapur's prized city, Bishapur, indicate strong artistic influence from the west. I propose a new chronological order for the five triumphal reliefs of Shapur I, reconsider the extent of Roman influence in Sasanid Persian iconography, and present new interpretations of several subsidiary figures. There is clear Roman influence on Shapur's triumphal reliefs: while the Sasanians identified fellow Persians by attribute rather than portraiture, one can detect a gradually increasing focus on the portraiture of the emperors portrayed in the reliefs. Furthermore, the victory figure who crowns Shapur, while known prior to Sasanian interaction with the Romans, has been presented in a new form. Instead of the clothed Nike figure, Shapur's artists use an Eros, previously absent from victory monuments.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:roman imperial east sasanian empire rock cut reliefs shapur i

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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