Illustrated introduction to Ancient Persia, £8.99
Length: 102.000 cm
Width: 60.000 cm
Gift of Sir Gore Ouseley
On loan to
Stone relief from the Apadana (audience hall) at Persepolis
Achaemenid Persian, 6th-5th century BC
From Persepolis, south-west Iran
This broken relief from the Persian royal capital Persepolis depicts a row of so-called Susian guards. They are very similar to figures formed from moulded glazed bricks from the city of Susa. They may represent the 'immortals' who made up the king's personal bodyguard
Towards the end of the reign of the Persian king Cambyses (530-522 BC) a revolt broke out. On his way to deal with the problem, Cambyses was accidentally killed. The rebellion was eventually crushed by a group of seven conspirators and one of them, Darius, became the next king. He was keen to stress his legitimacy and founded Persepolis as a new royal centre. His successors Xerxes, Artaxerxes I and Artaxerxes III continued to build at Persepolis.
The most important structures were built on a terrace of natural rock which rose above the surrounding plain. Remains of some fifteen major buildings survive, including the Apadana or audience hall.
This relief comes from the north side of the east wing of the Apadana, where the figures decorated a staircase. The reliefs originally showed the enthroned Persian king in the centre, while towards him moved processions of tribute bearers representing twenty-three different subject peoples.
Persepolis was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)