- Museum number
Fragment of carved limestone relief: showing a standing guardsman in Persian dress, facing left, wearing a pleated headdress, possibly made of felt, holding a spear in both hands,and wearing a strung bow with tips ending in bird's heads over his left shoulder. There is a tasselled quiver on his back. Beneath a cornice decorated with twelve-petalled rosettes. Isolated microscopic specks of Egyptian Blue pigment survive on the face of the stone near the spear tip.
- Production date
- 6thC BC-5thC BC
Height: 58.50 centimetres
Weight: 75 kilograms
Thickness: 12 centimetres
Width: 42 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Treasures travelling exhibition catalogue entry
Persian guardsman from Persepolis
6th-5th century BC
Height 58.5, width 42 cm
From Persepolis, Iran
ME 118845 Presented in 1818 by George Hamilton Gordon, the Fourth Earl of Aberdeen
Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid empire which at its greatest extent stretched from Libya to Pakistan. It was founded by Darius I (reigned 522-486 BC) but was added to over the course of the following two centuries of Achaemenid rule. Its principal monuments include a series of fortification walls enclosing rock-cut royal tombs, columned halls and other monumental buildings. The main buildings were constructed on a raised terrace and were given individual importance through careful attention to their means of access and the addition of carved and painted stone reliefs on their outer facades and doorways. These scenes typically show the king, small groups of courtiers, rows of delegations from different parts of the empire, and lines of soldiers. Many of the sculptures were buried after the destruction of the complex by Alexander in 330 BC but some areas remained above ground and were subject to more gradual collapse and weathering. This small fragment was found in 1811 but had already fallen from the north side of the Apadana. This was one of the largest and most elaborately decorated at Persepolis and was constructed in two phases between 515 and 490 BC. It shows a guardsman in Persian dress and pleated headdress, holding spear in both hands and carrying a strung bow with the tips ending in bird's heads over his left shoulder and a tasselled quiver on his back.
The cast is listed as available in the British Museum Facsimile Service 'Catalogue of Replicas from British Museum collections' (n.d.), in the series "Persia". Several isolated microscopic specks of Egyptian Blue pigment survive on the face of the stone near the spear tip and were noted during infrared imaging by Dr G. Verri on 4 February 2009. There is insufficient surviving to suggest what significance their distribution might be.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2016, 19 Mar-29 May, National Museum, Delhi, The Everlasting Flame
2013 Oct-Dec, Brunei, SOAS, 'Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination'
2009 11 Dec-2010 10 May, Madrid, Canal de Isabel II, 'Treasures of the World’s Cultures'
2009 1 May-20 Sep, Victoria, Royal BC Museum, 'Treasures of the World's Cultures'
2006 7 Mar-11 Jun, Barcelona, Fundacion La Caixa, 'L'imperi Oblidat'
2005-2006 Sept-Jan, BM, 'Forgotten Empire'
1995-2005 17 Nov-5 Dec, BM, G52/IRAN/wall.
Probably displayed in the first Iranian Room, 1937/38.
Probably displayed in the Assyrian Transept (west wall), 1865-1937/38.
Probably displayed in the Grand Central Saloon, middle shelf in recess on the left side of the gallery; presumably corresponding to one described in the Synopsis as "Fragments of two bas-reliefs ... representing two soldiers wearing long dresses", autumn 1831-1865.
- Incomplete; face darkened by touching; light brown lichen-like accretion along the upper portion.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Obtained at Persepolis in 1811 and presented by the 4th Earl of Aberdeen in 1818. See Trustee's standing committee minutes and xerox of donor's letter from 'Letters in Antiquities'.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 92 (exhibition number)