Art & Images

Archaeological Discoveries at Susa

The progress of oriental archaeology leads us from one surprise to another. Year after year discoveries are made in rapid succession, which we watch with breathless interest as they transform and elucidate some chapter in the history of those primitive civilizations from which our own is in part derived. Following the discoveries made in ChaldÃ"a, Assyria, and PhÅ"nicia, another region of the East now takes its turn in throwing light on the past--the country of Elam, or Susiana, a region hitherto almost unknown to us, although in the earliest ages of the world it played an important part. The ruins of Susa, situated at the north of Ahwaz, form a number of immense tells which cover an extent of four and a half to six square miles on both banks of the river Kerkha. The plain, which is dominated by these majestic mounds as far as the banks of the Karun, stretches far to the north, where it is bounded by the Bakhtiyari mountains. Southward it extends to the Arvand river (also known as Shatt) and Lower ChaldÃ"a.

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Painted vessel with bridge-spout

Early Iron Age, about 1000-800 BC. Probably from Tepe Sialk, central Iran. This type of painted pottery is a local central Iranian variation of the Grey Ware typical of sites of this period in northern Iran. In the early centuries of the first millennium BC new forms of a type of pottery called Late Western Grey Ware emerged. This bridge-spouted vessel is typical. Similar jars with long spouts are known earlier, but now have the addition of a bridge between the rim and the spout. The popularity of bridge-spouted jars in pottery is probably a reflection of the widespread use of sheet-metal versions during this period in Iran.

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Persian Soldiers

Part of a Wall of Persepolis, near Shiraz. From the 5th Cent. BC. (ca. 520's BCE)

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Silver bowl with applied gold figures

Achaemenid Persian, about 5th-4th century BC. This silver bowl is decorated with applied gold sheet cutouts. It dates to a period when vessels of precious metal became widespread. While a variety of styles and forms are found throughout the Achaemenid empire, because of its great size, there is also a recognizably Achaemenid style, perhaps promoted outside Iran by satraps (provincial governors) and other representatives of the Persian court. Large silver dishes and pourers (rhyta) are the best-known types yet others included hemispherical drinking cups such as this; a plain gold cup of the same shape forms part of the Oxus treasure.

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Silver Beaker

Amlash culture, about 1400-900 BC. From north-west Iran. This silver beaker belongs to the so-called Amlash culture of Gilan province in north-west Iran... This was one of the most distinctive Iranian cultures of the late second and early first millennia BC. The beaker probably came from the region of Marlik Tepe. Here, in one of the richest cemeteries of the region, fifty three intact tombs were excavated in 1961-62. Vessels similar to this one were found there, and indeed gold and silver beakers with concave sides formed a prominent part of the material from the cemetery. The decoration on this beaker consists of horses flanking a stylized tree on the upper register, and winged lions attacking rams on the lower: both friezes are defined by herring-bone and guilloche.

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Painted jar

Bronze Age, around 2000 BC. Acquired in Nahavand, said to be from Tepe Giyan, western Iran. During the third - early second millennium BC, as in other periods, different regional styles characterized pottery made in south-west, western, northern and south-east Iran. These seem to reflect flourishing regional areas. This is an example of a vessel which belongs to a long sequence of monochrome pottery found at sites such as Tepe Giyan and Godin Tepe.

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Bronze fitting in the form of a seated figure

Elamite, about 1450-1200 BC. From south-west Iran. This bronze figure was originally fitted onto a larger object such as a piece of furniture, hence the two rivet holes for attachment through the tail-liker projection. It was obtained in south-west Iran, near the ancient town-site of Tang-e Sarvak. The form and appearance of the figure indicates that it should be dated to the fourteenth or thirteenth centuries BC. The hair style is very similar to that of terracotta figurines from Susa, of similar date.

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Achaemenid Glazed Brick Relief Panel

Glazed brick relief panel - Achaemenid Persian, late 6th century BC From Susa, south-west Iran. From the palace of Darius I, ruler of the largest empire in antiquity. This panel is made of polychrome glazed bricks which were found by French excavators scattered in a courtyard of the palace built by the Persian king Darius I (522-486 BC). At least 18 figures have been restored and this example is on permanent loan to The British Museum from the Musée du Louvre, Paris. It was part of a larger frieze depicting rows of guards, perhaps the 'immortals' who made up the king's personal bodyguard. The arrangement of the figures may have been similar to the rows of sculptured guards carved in relief at Persepolis. According to a foundation inscription at Susa, the craftsmen who made the brick panels came from Babylonia where there had been a tradition of this sort of architectural decoration.

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Stone relief showing a sphinx

Achaemenid Persian, 5th century BC. From Palace H at Persepolis, south-west Iran. A guardian deity, originally protecting the royal Persian god. This male sphinx wears the imposing horned headdress of a divinity. Discovered at Persepolis by Colonel John MacDonald Kinneir during excavations in 1826, it was originally one of a pair flanking the winged disc figure of Ahura-Mazda, a god adopted as the Persian royal deity by Darius I (522-486 BC).

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Cast silver statuette from the Oxus treasure

Achaemenid Persian, 5th-4th century BC. From the region of Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan. This statuette is part of the Oxus treasure, the most important collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period. The treasure, probably from a temple on the banks of the river Oxus, dates mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC.

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Stone relief showing a charioteer

Achaemenid Persian, 5th century BC. From Persepolis, south-west Iran. This relief of a charioteer driving his horse comes from the great Achaemenid Persian centre of Persepolis. It was excavated in July 1811 by Robert Gordon who was part of a diplomatic mission to Iran led by Sir Gore Ouseley, British Ambassador to Persia from 1811 to 1814. It originally decorated a staircase on the east wing of the north side of the Apadana or audience hall. This structure, with an adjoining series of private palaces and their ancillary buildings, was built on the western side of a large artificial terrace on the edge of the Marv Dasht plain. To the east lay the many-columned Treasury with adjacent storerooms, offices and barracks. The Apadana reliefs show delegations from many parts of the Persian Empire bringing tribute and gifts.

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Stone relief from the Apadana

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.

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Stone relief from Persepolis showing a servant

Achaemenid Persian, 4th century BC From Persepolis, south-west Iran. A servant in the royal court of Persia. This relief from Persepolis shows a servant wearing so-called Median dress: a distinctive knee-length tunic, tightly fitting trousers and a cap with ear-flaps and neck-guard. This is different from the usual Persian costume of a long pleated dress. He also wears the akinakes, or typical Achaemenid short sword.

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Silver Persian Pin

Silver pin. Persian. Tapering form with flattened head. 500 B.C.

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Bronze Persian Bowl

Bronze bowl. Persian repousse bowl in the form of an open lotus flower. 5th century B.C. Achaemenid.

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Fravahr

Fravahr an old Iranian religious sign, from Persepolis (ca. 520 BCE)

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The Guardian Angel

A famous statue from the palace of Cyrus in Pasargadae. (ca. 530 BCE)

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Part of a hoard of silver currency

Median, buried in the 6th century BC. From Tepe Nush-i Jan, western Iran. This group of silver objects is probably the most important find at the Median site of Tepe Nush-i Jan. They were packed inside a bronze bowl and buried in the floor. Although the hoard was probably buried in the late seventh century BC, some of the items are very much older. The spiral beads and pendant probably date from the end of the third or beginning of the second millennium BC, suggesting that they had been found by Iron Age grave-robbers and were about to be recycled as scrap for their metal value.

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Blue chalcedony cylinder seal

Achaemenid, about 6th-4th century BC. From Kirmanshah, Iran. This seal shows the varied foreign influences on the art of the Achaemenid Persian empire. The Persians had, at first, no clearly defined art of their own, but they made use of foreign craftsmen and expertise and welded the disparate traditions of their immense empire into a coherent and distinctive style. Greek and Egyptian motifs were particularly popular. Here is a representation of a falcon, perhaps the Egyptian god Horus, beside an incense burner. Along the border runs the Egyptian wedjat eye or 'Eye of Horus', a symbol of perfection. The winged goat is typical of Achaemenid art.

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Bronze axe-head

Luristan culture, 10th-7th centuries BC. From Luristan, western Iran... The style of this cast bronze axe-head links it to the region of Luristan in western Iran. Bronzes of this kind were plundere d from the cemeteries and shrines of the area from the 1920s onwards. Many of the graves were rich in bronzes, and even the poorest male graves appear to have contained a few weapons.

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Bronze harness ring

Luristan culture, 10th-7th century BC. From Luristan, western Iran. This object is among a variety of elaborate metal horse-trappings produced and used in Luristan. Such wheel-shaped pieces, of which many survive, probably served as ornaments for the horse's headstall. They are decorated at the top either with the complete figure of a moufflon or more commonly, as here, just with the head of a moufflon flanked by other beasts.

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Bronze horse-bit with decorated cheek-pieces

Early Iron Age, about 10th-7th centuries BC. From Luristan, western Iran. The region of Luristan in western Iran saw a rich tradition of bronze production in the early part of the first millennium BC. Virtually all the bronzes that have survived come from plundered cemeteries of stone-built graves in the region. These mostly date from between about 1000 and 700 BC. At a number of sites, bronzes were also deposited in shrines.

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Bronze pin decorated with an image of a goddess

Luristan culture, 10th-7th century BC. From western Iran. Elaborately decorated bronze pins of this kind are linked stylistically to the rich metalworking tradition of the region of Luristan in the mountains of western Iran. Virtually all the surviving bronzes come from plundered cemeteries of stone-built graves. These vary considerably in date, but predominantly belong early in the first millennium BC. At a number of sites, bronzes were also deposited in shrines.

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Cast silver statuette of a bearded man

From the Oxus treasure Achaemenid Persian, 5th-4th century BC. From the region of Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan. This statuette is part of the Oxus treasure, the most important collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period. The treasure, probably from a temple on the banks of the river Oxus, dates mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC.

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Chalcedony pendant

Elamite, 12th century BC. From south-west Iran. A gift from the Elamite king to his daughter. This is a pendant of pale blue chalcedony, pierced for suspension. It is carved with an inscription in Elamite which reads: 'I, Shilhak-Inshushinak, enlarger of the kingdom, this jasper from [the land of] Puralish I took. What I painstakingly made I placed here, and to Bar-Uli, my beloved daughter, I gave [it].'

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Ceremonial gold scabbard from the Oxus treasure

Achaemenid Persian, 5th-4th century BC. From the region of Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan. This scabbard is part of the Oxus treasure, the most important collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period. The treasure, probably from a temple on the banks of the river Oxus, dates mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC.

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Ancient Persia

Persian Arts has a very ancient history and tradition. It's attracted not only in Asia and Europe but also around the Globe. Persian Arts spread in different fields like Architecture, Calligraphy, Carpets, Cinema, Music, Painting and Different types of Crafts. In Iran, as in all Islamic societies, art favors the non-representational, the derivative and the stylized rather than the figurative, the innovative and the true-to-life. Accurate representation of the human form has never been a part of traditional Islamic art, and though portraiture is not forbidden by Shiite Islam, it never really caught on in Iran until the introduction of the camera.

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Choqa Zanbil

The well-preserved ziggurat, or pyramid, at Choqa Zanbil, is by far the best preserved and most dramatic example of Elamite architecture extant... It was built at Dur Untashi, a city near Susa, by Untash-gal, King of Elam, circa 1250 BC.

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Persian Helmet

Lost during the Olympia campaign in Greece, 490 B.C. (Olympia Museum). The inscription added by the Greeks indicates that it ended as booty dedicated to the gods. The helmet style is Assyrian.

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Gold Warrior Coin

Gold coin. Achaemenid daric showing a warrior, perhaps based on Elam model.

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Achaemenid gold plaque from the Oxus Treasure

A Persian magus carries the barsom - the sacred twigs associated with priesthood.

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A torque pair with lion-head terminals

Some of the cloisonne inlays survive. Achaemenid grave at Susa, 4th c. B.C. (Paris: Louvre). 20 cm.

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British Museum - Ancient Iran (Room 52)

The Rahim Irvani Gallery 3000 BC "" AD 651. Iran was a major centre of ancient culture. It was rich in valuable natural resources, especially metals, and played an important role in the development of ancient Middle Eastern civilisation and trade. Room 52 highlights these ancient interconnections and the rise of distinctive local cultures, such as in Luristan, during the age of migrations after about 1400 BC.

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Persepolis Photo Gallery

Persepolis: The magnificent palace complex at Persepolis was founded by Darius the Great around 518 B.C. Conceived to be the seat of government for the Achaemenian kings and a center for receptions and ceremonial festivities. The palaces were looted and burned by Alexander the Great in 331-330 B.C. The ruins were not excavated until the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago sponsored an archaeological expedition under the supervision of Professor Ernst Herzfeld from 1931 to 1934, and Erich F. Schmidt from 1934 to 1939.

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Naqsh-e Rustam

Naqsh-e Rustam: is an archaeological site located about 3 km northwest of Persepolis. Naqsh-e Rustam, contains seven tombs which belongs to Achaemenian kings. One of those is expressly declared in its inscriptions to be the tomb of Darius I. In addition to tombs, there are also seven gigantic rock carvings in Naqsh-e Rustam, below the tombs, belonging to the Sassanid kings.

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Shushtar - Ancient Hydro Engineering Exhibition

Shushtar: the old name of Shushtar, Achaemenian times. The name itself, Shushtar, is connected with the name of another ancient city, Susa, and means "greater (or better) than Shush". During the Sassanian era, it was an island city on the Karun river and selected to become the winter capital. The river was channelled to form a moat around the city. Several rivers nearby are conducive to the extension of agriculture; the cultivation of sugar cane, the main crop, dates back to 226 CE. When the Sassanian Shah Shapur I defeated the Roman emperor Valerian, he ordered the captive Roman soldiers to build a vast bridge and dam stretching over 550 metres, known as the Band-e Qaisar ("Caesar's bridge") which is now mostly destroyed. Irrigation system for agricultural, urban and industrial purposes, comprising dams (Shadurvan, Gargar, Mahi Bazan, Khak, Lashkar, Ayyar, Qir), water distribution dikes, manually dug channels (Dariun), aqueducts and water-mills are now remained.

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Dezful

Dezful: Dezful (Dezh-pol, Persian: Fortress Bridge) a city in the Khuzestan province. Dezful is 6000 years old, but the most famous ancient structure of the city is a bridge that dates back to 300 BCE.The bridge was built during shapur I and it is the oldest full functioning bridge in the world. When the Roman Empire Valerian was defeated in Battle of Edessa, remain of his captured army was used to finish the bridge. It's believed that the bridge was made over the ruin of a much older bridge, built during Elamite dynasties.

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Susa (Shushan)

Susa: also called Shushan , Greek Susiane , modern Shush, capital of Elam (Susiana) and administrative capital of the Achaemenian king Darius I the great and his successors from 522 BC. Susa is one of the oldest cities in the world. Excavations have established that people were living at the acropolis in 5000 BCE. This gallery contains images of the Royal Hill (Apadana Palace).

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Anahita Temple

Anahita, or Nahid, was a major deity in the Persia. She was the protector of water and the goddess of beauty, fertility and fecundity. The Anahita Temple is the name of one of two archaeological sites in Iran popularly thought to have been attributed to the ancient deity Anahita. The larger and more widely known of the two is located at KangÃ-var in Kermanshah Province. The other is located at Bishapur. The remains at Kangavar reveal an edifice that is Hellenistic in character, and yet display Persian architectural designs. The plinth's enormous dimensions for example, which measure just over 200m on a side, and its megalithic foundations, which echo Achaemenid stone platforms, "constitute Persian elements". This is thought to be corroborated by the "two lateral stairways that ascend the massive stone platform recalling Achaemenid traditions". In the first half of the first century AD the Greek geographer, Isidore of Charax, was the first to mention the Temple in his book, refering to it as the "Temple of Artemis".

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Takht-e-Soleyman

The archaeological site of Takht-e- Soleyman (the Throne of Solomon) is considered to be one of the most ancient sites, located in North Western Iran. The ruins of Takht-e- Soleyman lie in a broad and remote mountain valley between cities of Zanjan and Tekab. The site includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary partly rebuilt in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) period (13th century) as well as a temple of the Sassanid period dedicated to Anahita.There is a lake with floor springs in the region.

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Hegmataneh (Ecbatana)

The historic Hegmataneh or Ecbatana is located within the boundaries of the modern city of Hamedan and covers an area of 30 hectares. Hegmataneh in historic classical sources had named as the capital of the first Iranian dynastic empire, the Medes (728-550 BCE). It later became one of the main seats of their successors, the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE), though Persepolis near Shiraz was considered the centre of the throne, Ecbatana was considered a strategic place. The city continued to kept its' importance during the following dynasties, the Parthians (248 BCE-224 CE) and Sasanids (224""651 CE).

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Ancient City of Goor (Gur)

Ancient city of Goor also Gour or Gur is located 100km south of Shiraz, Fars Province, next to city of Firooz Abad. The city is believed to be founded during Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE). It was encircled by Alexander, but because of its robust fortification and dedicated defenders he couldn't be able to surrender the city; then ordered to submerge the city by diverting nearby river to low area of city turn it into a lake. After centuries, Ardashir Babakan, the founder of Sasanid dynasty (224""651 CE), ordered to dig a channel and discharged the lake, then rebuilt the city as his capital. During Arabs' invasion (651 CE), the city again destroyed and after about 3 centuries, a new city which is now called Firooz Abad, was built just next to ruins of the original city by Daylamiain Dynasty.

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Passargad

Passargad (Passargadae): The first capital of the Persian Empire. The construction of the capital city by Cyrus the Great, begun around 546 BCE. Passargad remained the Persian capital until Darius began assembling another in Persepolis. The most important monument in Passargad is undoubtedly the tomb of Cyrus the Great. It has six broad steps leading to the sepulcher, the chamber of which measures 3.17 m x 2.11 m x 2.11 m, and has a low and narrow entrance.

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Palace of Cyrus Stone Relief

Stone relief from doorway of Cyrus' palace at Pasargadae A winged figure, probably a protective spirit of the royal household. The crown resembles a Near Eastern figure that wards off evil spirits.

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Winged Creatures from Persepolis

Relief of winged creatures at the gate of Persepolis. Probably derived from Babylonian supernatural beings who guard the entrances to sacred places, and perhaps Babylonia is also the source for reconstituting the AchÃ"menid dynasty in terms of sacral kingship.

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Stone relief from palace of Persopolis

This typical Persian motif draws it wings and central ring from Egyptian and Mesopotamian prototypes. Traditional view is that the figure represents Ahura Mazda

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Persepolis Bull's Head

Bull's head carving from column capital at Persepolis.

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Griffin's head from column at Persopolis

May reflect a borrowing a Mesopotamian political symbolism.

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Persepolis Lion's head

Lion's head from top of a column at Persepolis.

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Soldiers from Persepolis

Relief of soldiers from Persepolis with wicker shields. 6th c. B.C. (East Berlin: Pergamum Museum).

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Head from a statue of an archer

From the walls of the palace at Persepolis. Typical AchÃ"menid aesthetic interest in repeated patterns.

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Soldiers from the Ten Thousand Immortals

Glazed tile relief showing soldiers from the Ten Thousand Immortals. This imperial guard was an elite force made up of trustworthy ethnic Persians. From the Achaemenid winter palace at Susa, Elam. 520-500 B.C. (Paris: Louvre)

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Glazed tile relief from Palace at Susa

Glazed tile relief originally from the Persian winter palace at Susa, capital of Elam. 520-500 B.C. (Paris: Louvre). Another imperial guard. The light military dress was designed for offensive combat, to rush out to address crises within the far-flung Persian Empire.

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Immortal infantry - Lancer and Archer

Frieze of glazed tiles showing Immortal infantry. A lancer and archer.

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Tomb of Cyrus the Great (c. 550-529)

Near his palace at PasargadÃ". Cyrus, founder of the Persian Empire, won independence from the Media and expanded his control to Mesopotamia. He drew from Mesopotamia some ideological elements for a reconstructed monarchy. Tombs are above ground to prevent the corpse's being defiled.

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