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Ancient Persian Architecture( with audio)

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Laura McPherson

on 16 January 2015

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Transcript of Ancient Persian Architecture( with audio)

Ancient Persian Architecture
Rise of the Persians
In 539 BC, Cyrus marched triumphantly into the ancient city of Babylon. After this victory, he set the standard of the benevolent conqueror by issuing the Cyrus Cylinder.
Cyrus the Great
Darius was the greatest of all the Persian kings. He extended the empires borders into India and Europe, yet he also fought two wars with the Greeks which were disastrous.
Son of Cyrus the Great
Darius the Great 518-490
The Great Stairway
The terrace wall of Persepolis
King Darius: If you think, "I fear no one else," then protect the Persians. Because when the Persians are protected, their happiness will remain unbroken, and the favor of Ahuramazda will come down upon the royal house.
Artist’s rendition- Audience Hall
Plan of Persepolis
Xerxes’s Throne room was known as the Hall of Hundred Columns Persepolis
Room of 100 columns-Audience Hall
Types of Columns, Persepolis 6th to the 5th Century B.C.
Horse Head Capital
71/2' wide 12' high  This column capitol, in the form of two bulls, supported a wooden beam that was the main structural support for the roof.

Each one of the 40' columns was topped by a capital such as this one. You can get a sense of the size of the capital by the doorways on either side of it 
Bull Column Capital
Another fierce creature: a statue of a lion, now in the Archaeological Museum of Tehran
Giving tribute
Part of the door of the Apadana - probably. Actually, it comes as a surprise that the entrance of the Apadana could be opened and closed; it is entirely without parallel.
procession on the stairway
Ancient Mesopotamia
521-465 BC This sculpture of the Apadana represents 23 subject nations. They are bringing gifts in exchange for art and ideas. Situated on a high plateau, the heavily fortified complex of royal buildings stood on a wide platform overlooking the plain.
An inscription. The remainder of the palace is, compared to the palace of Darius, badly damaged. A likely explanation is that it received a special treatment when the Macedonian king Alexander the Great destroyed Persepolis in 330. His men were especially interested in the palace of the man who had once sacked Athens.
This relief of the great king leaving the palace shows an example of the destruction of Persepolis by Alexander the Great. Some of these damages from the right are partly due to natural causes, but the face has been destroyed with a hammer, and someone must have made a great effort to create a hole near the king's ear.
Guards of the palace
A Pair of winged human-headed lions beneath a
winged disk, from the Palace of Darius at Susa.
Now held at The Louvre, Paris.
Tombs were built into the side of a cliff
Darius the Great’s tomb
This slide is one
that could be on a
Darius died in the final weeks of November 486 B.C., following an illness at about the age of 64. His coffin was buried at Naqš-i Rustam
Darius had at least 18 children. His successor was the oldest son of his first wife, Atossa, making Xerxes a grandson of Cyrus the Great.
Darius (born 550 bc—died 486), king of Persia in 522–486 bc, one of the greatest rulers of the Achaemenid dynasty, who was noted for his administrative genius and for his great building projects.

Darius attempted several times to conquer Greece; his fleet was destroyed by a storm in 492, and the Athenians defeated his army at Marathon in 490.
It was most likely the main hall of the kings. The columns reached 20m high and had complex capitals in the shape of bulls or lions. Here, the great king received the tribute from all the nations in the Achaemenid Empire, and gave presents in return.
Access to the hall is given by two monumental stairways, on the north and on the east.

These are decorated by reliefs, showing delegates of the 23 subject nations of the Persian Empire paying tribute to Darius I, who is represented seated centrally.
The site includes a 125,000 square meter terrace, partly artificially constructed and partly cut out of a mountain, with its east side leaning on Kuh-e Rahmet ("the Mountain of Mercy").

Around 519 BC, construction of a broad stairway was begun. The stairway was planned to be the main entrance to the terrace 20 meters above the ground.

The dual stairway, known as the Persepolitan stairway, was built in symmetrically on the western side of the Great Wall. The 111 steps were 6.9 meters wide with treads of 31 centimeters and rises of 10 centimeters.

East stairway with Gate of Xerxes at right- his palace was twice the size of Darius’s palace
The initial main entrance of the palace complex was located on the south wall of the terrace supporting the palaces. Xerxes changed it, adding a monumental stairway on the west side leading to that gate upstairs.

The function of the gate was not only to allow the entry of the visitors, but was also to separate the people according to their social importance.

Gate of Nations
The gate was a square hypostyle hall with 3 doors. The few nobles and princes allowed to enter the royal palace were directed through the south door
The 4 columns are well preserved and supported a 18.5 meters high roof.
The columns are ionian stylized, erected on inversed bell shapes, their top consisted
in stylized palm trees. The walls were decorated with 2 giant bulls on the west, and 2 giant lamassus .
Cyrus the Great
Persian Architecture
The cylinder praises Cyrus the great and recognizes his lineage. The Babylonian king is denounced and announces Cyrus is the king.
He was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.
- See more at: http://www.iranchamber.com/history/cyrus/cyrus.php#sthash.eBIZyGl5.dpuf
Columns can be an architectural support- the posts of the post and lintel system. At Persepolis, columns consist of 3 main parts- a lower base, the vertical shaft, and a capital on top.
The bull is also an architectural metaphor for the position of the king as the head of state.
Persian reliefs depict tributes and offerings presented to the ruler. This distinction is consistent with the political style of the Persians. The Persian empire was administered in an orderly and tolerant way.
You can bet this is on your first exam!
Could be on a slide test
Could be on a test
You would recognize them as Persian columns because of the animal capitals
What were these sculptures called
in Mesopotamia?


1. What are the Lamassu?
2. Describe the Stairway of Nations?
3. What is the hall of 100 columns?
4. Describe Persepolis.
5. Who defeated the Persians as payback for the sacking of Athens?
6. How are the columns different in Persia from those in Egypt?

Architecture of Persepolis
Note: you can discern that these are Persian
columns by the capitals.
Full transcript