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Photographer's Note

There are some indications that the site of Persepolis was already a government's center under Cyrus the Great (559-530) and his son Cambyses II (530-522), but there are no archaeological traces of this older phase. However this may be, it seems as if Darius 'invented' Persepolis as the splendid seat of the government of the Achaemenid empire and as its center for receptions and festivals. The wealth of Persia was to be visible in every aspect of its construction. Persepolis was a showcase.

The eastern stairs of the Apadana at Persepolis show a procession of people bringing tribute to the Achaemenid king. The reliefs were made in the last years of the sixth century, and probably executed by Yaunβ artists. We are allowed to identify the king with Darius the Great (522-486), but the relief is also an idealization: the king who receives the presents is not a particular individual, but embodies Persian rule.

On four places, we can see the struggle between a bull and a lion. This is a very ancient Iranian motif, known from the fourth millennium BCE, and therefore belonging to the age before the invasion of the Indo-Iranians (the "Aryans").
lion: It symbolizes (probably) eternity. In the zodiac, Taurus rises when Leo sets, and vice versa. The same message is more or less implied in the representation of the sun. It is an excellent theme for this place. The people who visited the Apadana offered tribute to the great king and received presents in return.

bull: This reciprocity strengthened the ties between the ruler and the subjects, and contributed to the continuation of the empire. In fact, the Achaemenid Empire was not to last for ever: in 330, the soldiers of Alexander the Great destroyed Persepolis, and the last king Darius III Codomannus was killed. It is fitting that the relief that symbolizes eternity has survived.

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Additional Photos by Hamid Sedghinejad (h_sedghi) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 27 W: 36 N: 126] (880)
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