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Achaemenid art


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The official sculpture of the Persian empire was made in a style which owed much to Mesopotamian forerunners, and like them tended to the glorification of the ruler. The Median, Persian, Babylonian, Sardian, Egyptian, and Ionian artisans who worked on the great palace complexes subordinated any indigenous traits to an international style devised to articulate the ideology of Achaemenid kings.

Only a few sculptured reliefs are preserved from Pasargadae, the city of Cyrus 1. Darius I is shown triumphant over a prostrate usurper in the Bisitun relief, while Ahuramazda hovers above. A colossal statue of Darius in Egyptian granite found at Susa presents problems: was it originally made for an Egyptian setting, or was it commissioned for Darius' Susan palace? The tombs of Darius and his successors at Naqs̆‐i Rustam show a royal personage on a platform borne by personifications of the lands of the empire. The façades of the apadana at Persepolis showed the king granting an audience to an official, ranks of tribute‐bearers and courtiers, and lions attacking bulls. The theme of royal victory occurs in reliefs representing struggles between royal heroes and mythical beasts, motifs which are often repeated on seal‐stones.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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