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Friday, 19-May-2006 14:23 Email | Share | Bookmark
Persepolis - Part 3

Eastern stairs
show a procession of people bringing tribute to the Persian king
show a procession of people bringing tribute to the King
The camel. Notice the little bell
The presents that the inhabitants of the Greek towns
These people are probably Gandarans
representations of all kinds of Persian dignitaries, horsemen,
eight soldiers and the Ahuramazda
These men offers a lion's cub to the great king
This Armenian carries the other present for the king
a beautiful metal vessel with griffin handles
The presents they are offer are two bowls and a Bactrian
The Babylonians offer shallow bowls and a garment with a netted
The Lydian with the two phials
the only European nations that belonged to the Persian empire
An Indian carrying gold
the nations of the west (Yaunâ, Carians, Arabs, Libyans, and Nub
without caps or turbans. Perhaps, this struck the Persians as od
the struggle between a bull and a lion
The Apadana or Audience Hall of Persepolis . It belongs to the oldest building phase of Persepolis, the great design by king Darius I the Great (522-486). Here, the great king received the tribute from all the nations in the Achaemenid Empire, and gave presents in return. The gifts he received, were stored in the Treasury
The original relief of the northern stairs shows king Darius on his throne, crown prince Xerxes next to him, two incense burners, and an important official, probably Pharnaces. He salutes the king, and announces the arrival of the tribute carriers, who are also represented on the wall near the stairs. This relief is now in the Archaeological Museum of Tehran; more pictures can be found here.
The gift exchange mechanism was one of the central elements in the Persian royal ideology, and the Apadana was, therefore, one of the most important symbols of the great king's power. It is no coincidence that Alexander the Great, in 330, selected the Apadana and the Treasury to be destroyed, together with the Palace of Xerxes. This columns has several black burning traces. The roof of the Apadana had been made of precious kinds of wood. When the site was excavated, the archaeologists discovered a layer of 30 to 60 centimeters of burnt cedar, ebony, and teak wood
The Hall, the largest and probably most beautiful of the buildings at Persepolis, could contain hundreds, probably thousands, of people at the same time. The seventy-two columns which supported the roof (6x6 inside the hall, the remainder in three porticoes) were twenty-five meters high.
Today, only thirteen columns are standing, but in the sixteenth century, there were forty. Back then, the ruin was called Tchilminar, "forty columns". In 1704, Cornelis de Bruijn, the first professional artist to visit the site and make drawings for scholars, saw that there were storks' nests on top of the columns.
On top of the columns were capitals, consisting of two heads of strong animals like bulls or lions. Between the two heads was the place where the wooden beams could rest. (An ancient representation of these capitals, cut in a rock, can be found here.) This aggressive lion, once part of the capital of a column in the eastern portico, still shows traces of red paint in the throat - although one needs excellent eyes to see them.
In the Apadana, a little box was discovered that contained two silver and two golden plates with an identical inscription, which is now known as DPh. They say that Ahuramazda gave Darius was a kingdom "from the Sacae who are beyond Sogdia to Nubia, and from Sind to Lydia".
There were two main entrances, in the north and in the east. These are the eastern stairs, beautifully decorated with representations of all nations in the Achaemenid Empire.
When people came to pay tribute, perhaps during the Now Ruz (new year) festival, they saw on the stairs representations of themselves. At the entrance, on top of the stairs, were guardsmen, and they were represented too. They are soldiers, but are dressed like civilians. Their sticks indicate that they are officers.

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