The founder of the Sasanian dynasty, Ardashir I (226-242 CE), had this relief carved at Naqsh-e Rustam in Iran, where earlier Persian dynasties had commemorated their kingship and exploits. The relief shows Ardashir mounted on his horse on the left, with his hair tied up and covered by a silken wrap to form a ball, symbol of Iranian monarchs. The Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda, on the right, also mounted, hands Ardashir a ring symbolizing his divine sanction for Ardashir’s rule as king. Beneath Ahura Mazda’s horse, the body of the evil god Ahriman is being trampled, while Ardashir’s enemy Artabanus, whom he had defeated to become king, is being trampled beneath Ardashir’s horse. The relief thus proclaims Ardashir’s victory over his enemy and asserts his claim to be ruling in accordance with divine mandate. It also communicates the ultimate victory of good over evil, a central concept of Zoroastrian belief. The fact that the figure of the king is almost as large as the figure of the god suggests that the king has almost divine status, as well as divine favor. The standing figure on the left is usually interpreted as an attendant.
The inscription shows Ardashir I’s coronation ceremony in which he receives his kingship seal from Ahura Mazda (or Hormozd) and Ahura Mazda appoints him as the Shahanshah of Ērānshahr. Ardashir I and Ahuramazda are both on horseback, facing each other. In this scene, Ardashir receives the kingship ring from Ahuramazda. The man behind Ardashir on the left side of the relief, is his companion his name is Kartir. Ardashir’s horse is trampling Artabanus V, the last king of Parthian Empire also Ahuram Mazda horse is trampling the devils dead body.
There’s an inscription on Ardashir’s horse in three languages: Middle Persian, Parthian and Greek. The inscription reads as “This is the figure of Mazdaworshiper, the lord Ardashir, Shahanshah of Iran, whose lineage is from Gods, the son of the lord Papak, the king”. There’s also another inscription on Ahuramazda’s horse in aforementioned languages. The Greek version of this inscription reads as “This is the figure of the God Zeus”, whereas the Middle Persian version reads as “This is the figure of the God Ahuramazda”.
This inscription seems to be the oldest inscription from the Sasanian period. Above the Ahura Mazda’s figure, there’s another three small inscriptions in the aforementioned languages with same content, which reads as “This is Ahura Mazda’s (bagh) figure”.