Ardaxšīr & Ohrmazd at Naqš-e Rostam (ANRm-a&b)

This is the earliest inscription and perhaps the shortest left by the founder of the Sasanian dynasty. The inscription matches that which appears on his coinage, with the addition of the mention of his father, Pābag. There are coins which portray Ardaxšīr and Pābag who carry the title of MLKA (Šāh). There are two inscriptions on the investiture scene at Naqš-e Rostam, one on the horse of Ardaxšīr which is longer and identifies him, while another shorter inscription appears on the horse of Ohrmazd. One point of interest is the use of Zeus in the Greek version instead of Ohrmazd which would be a continuation of the tradition in the Parthian period. 

For the study of the inscription and the relief the following sources are of importance:

  • Back, M. Die Sassanidischen Staatsinschriften, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1978, p. 281.
  • Canali De Rossi, F. (ed.), Iscrizioni dello Estremo Oriente Greco. Un repertorio. Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, Bd. 65, Bonn:  Dr. Rudolf Habelt, 2004.
  • Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum, Part III: Pahlavi Inscriptions, ed. W.B. Henning, 1957.
  • Ph. Gignoux, Glossaire des inscriptions pehlevies et parthes, Corpus Inscr. Iran., Suppl. Ser., vol. 1, London, 1972.
  • Lincoln, B. “ČEHR,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. E. Yarshater, 1990.
  • Luschey, H. “Ardaxšīr I ii. Rock reliefs,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. E. Yarshater, 2011.
  • Sims-Williams, N. “Baga,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. E. Yarshater, 2011.


MP (ANRm-a) by Touraj Daryaee
ptkry ZNE mzdysn bgy ’rthštr MLKAn MLKA ’yl’n MNW ctry MN yzd’n BRH bgy p’pky MLKA

pahikar ēn mazdēsn bay Ardaxšīr šāhān šāh Ērān kē čihr az yazdān pus bay Pābag šāh

“This is the image of the Mazda-worshipping lord, Ardaxšīr, king of kings of the Iranians, whose lineage is from the gods, son of the lord, king Pābag”


Greek Version by Emmanuel Keyvān

(ANRm-a & b)

τοῦτο τὸ [π]ρόσω[π]οִνִ Μασδάσνου

θεοῦ Ἀρταִ[ξάρου, βα]σִ[ιλ]έִως βִαִσιλέων

Ἀριανῶνִ, [ἐκ γ]έִνִοִυִς θεῶν, υἱοῦ

θεοῦ Παπά[κου] βα[σιλ]έωִ[ς].


MP (ANRm-b)
ptkry ZNE ’whrmzdy bgy


pahikar ēn Ohrmazd bay

“This is the image of the Lord, Ohrmazd”

Greek Version by


τοῦτִο τὸ Διὸς θεοῦ