Relief depicting the symbolic coming of spring at Norwuz with the sun (lion) feasting on the moon (bull). Norwuz, the beginning of the Persian calendar’s new year, marked the Equinox and had Zoroastrian connections.
Persepolis’ status as a historical wonder was acclaimed in 1979 by UNESCO’s recognition of it as a World Heritage Site, one of three acknowledged in Iran in that year. Since then the home of the Aryans has chalked up 14 more World Heritage listings and a number of others are under consideration.
Persepolis, or city of the Persians, is about 50 km from storied Shiraz, capital of Fars Province. It is believed the site was chosen by one of history’s greatest figures, the fabled Cyrus the Great, as the Archaemenid Empire capital in the sixth century BC, but that Darius 1, the third king in that empire, another ruler known as “Great”, oversaw most of the significant construction. Development continued until yet another “Great”, Alexander, arrived on the scene from Greece in 334 BC putting paid to the Persian Empire.
Apadana Hall relief depicting Median and Persian soldiers. Each soldiers’ clothing and style is subtly different denoting their subject nation.
As if the scale and setting of Persepolis weren’t remarkable enough the extent of engineering and artistic skill and craftsmanship is awe inspiring. Most spectacular are the many hundreds of metres of exquisite wall reliefs depicting ceremonial aspects of life such as envoys from across the Empire bearing gifts for the ruler, their attire and offerings identifying their origins, and representations of religious symbolism. In more recent times, early last century, visiting “sculptors” have unfortunately added their bit. Latter-day strict security may make such vandalism more difficult.
German speaking graffiti artist’s work.
But a British soldier and an errant diplomat got in earlier.
Persepolis’ grand setting on a plain backed by spectacular mountains.
The designers and engineers of the Archaemenid Empire obviously didn’t have to work within the limitations of today’s mantra of “on time and on budget”.