Persepolis
Iran, Shekvetili

Persepolis is located 60 km north of Shiraz, about 900 km south of Tehran. Silent, abandoned in the open air - this is how distant ruins testify to the former greatness of the powerful Persian kings. The ruins of Persepolis that have survived to this day, despite their size, give only a very weak idea of the magnificence and wealth of this ancient royal residence. Much becomes clear from the description of the Greek historian Plutarch: he writes that Alexander the Great, who conquered Persepolis in 330 BC. e., it took 10,000 mules and 5,000 camels to take out all the treasures. These riches belonged to the Achaemenid dynasty, and Persepolis was one of their three capitals. The city was founded by Darius the Great at the very beginning of his reign, in 552 BC, and lived there every year only in spring and autumn. The king and his associates spent the summer in the hills of Ecbatana, and the winter in Susa. Under subsequent rulers, Persepolis increased in size, but, in the end, shortly before the campaign of Alexander the Great, it was destroyed by fire. There is a version that Alexander himself set fire to the city, taking revenge on the Persians for the looted Acropolis of Athens. But, on the other hand, there is no evidence to support this assumption. Archaeological excavations in Persepolis began in 1931, and the royal residence on a limestone platform adjacent to the slope of the mountain was cleared. The platform covers an area of 448 X 297 meters and is equipped with a well-designed water supply network of canals and underground structures. One can guess that the whole design was thought out with the same thoroughness. The wide staircase leading to the construction confirms this assumption: even the riders could use the stairs. An inscription at the top of the staircase-entrance indicates that the hall was built under the successor of King Darius Xerxes I. This inscription, like many others, is made in three languages: Elamite, Babylonian and Ancient Persian. But on some walls there are inscriptions of a different kind. Here are scratched the names of visitors who visited this place much later. Among them is the name of Morton Stanley, year I860. He was a Herald Tribune journalist and made a name for himself when he tracked down Dr. Livingstone in Africa. Persepolis was designed specifically for representative royal ceremonies. The tsar, his family and retinues, of course, had private chambers, but the most important role was given to reception rooms, especially the audience hall (apanade) of Darius the Great, with a ceiling height of 18 meters. In terms of plan, it had the shape of a square with a side length of 61 meters, the columns stood in six rows, there was enough space for 10,000 people. Xerxes' throne room, known as the Column Hall, was even more anapada, the length of its sides was 70 meters). Limestone prevailed in these buildings, but at one time there were also wooden columns and wooden roofs, as well as many decorations: bright colors, exquisite stove, gold, silver, ivory and marble. But the glory of Persepolis is still alive in the sculptures that still remain. The long relief friezes on the walls and stairs depict human processions. Of course, these are representatives of noble families and strangers who arrived at an audience with the tsar or take part in festivities, while at the same time passing tribute to the ruler. On approach to the audience hall of Darius, you can admire the identical figures of the left-sided and right-sided images on different walls. On one of the stairs there are 23 reliefs, where many subjects of the Achaemenid empire are represented. In private chambers, smaller in size, the private side of life is more revealed. There are portraits of royal servants who serve towels and incense to bathe and fan away flies. In 331 BC Persepolis was captured by Alexander the Great, the beautiful palaces that stood on the royal platform were burned, which, obviously, should have symbolized the end of the Achaemenid empire. According to Plutarch, to transport the wealth that Alexander had plundered in the city, it took 10 thousand pairs of mules and 5 thousand camels. During the Sassanids, instead of Persepolis, Istakhr (Tehte-Taus), located a few kilometers to the northeast, became the capital.

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