Edit Blog Post
Published: March 17th 2009
I didn’t realise there was a hot shower in the hotel until the third morning… I was leaving for my next destination in an hour, it was winter and I didn’t want to get the towel wet whilst drying off. That’s a hard thing to achieve! So I wipe my body with my hand to minimise the water hitting the towel. Than tentatively wipe with the towel making sure I’m not sticking to the one area. After that I hang the towel up whilst packing my backpack. The reason for this is that if it is damp than the towel (now compressed in my backpack for hours) will smell till the next wash and wiping with a smelly towel makes a shower almost useless. What has that got to do with Persepolis? Nothing! Accept that that’s the predicament I had after my brilliant day’s excursion to one of the world’s great ancient sites.
The Persian Empire is one of the forgotten world empires. For some reason common knowledge has Romans, Greeks even the Mayans and Inca’s are more commonly known now? (There is no statistics to prove this just an assumption.)
Persia was the first real world superpower dominating areas
From the back view
from India to the far north of the European Danube. Persepolis was built by Darius I and was used as a ceremonial and religious centre for the God Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian God (explained in next blog.) With the main capital in Shush (explained in a future blog).
Known as the Achaemenid people they created paved roads from one side to the other and the world’s first postal service with relay horses delivering mail from the furthest points of the empire in around 15 days. Eventually like with all superpowers the raine was to be challenged and it was the Greeks who put their hands up.
Rebelling Greeks made Darius invade the mainland and in 490BC, his army was defeated. He died 4 years later and his son Xerxes (pronounced - Zerkseas, which has to be one of the worlds great names.) took over to lose in a sea battle in Salamis, Greece in 480BC, this would be the start of a changing of the guard.
By the time 331BC came around Alexander the Great arrived and defeated the dwindling Persian army of Darius III. Alexander the Great, the Greek (Your not going to get any of
teh steps up
that Macedonian crap from me) than spent a few months here with his winning army. And despatched the contents from the Treasury. At the time it was one of the richest in the world. It is reported that Alexander used 3000 camels and mules to transport it back home.
Whilst this was happening a good ole fashion piss up happened and it is from this moment evidence of Persepolis’ last days became unclear. Persepolis was burnt to the ground either deliberately in retaliation from what happened in Greece years before or an accident by drunken partiers.
And it was this story that has captured me for almost all my life. Since watching a documentary about 12 years ago by BBC’s Michael Wood on Alexander the Great. I have always wanted to come here. So as I walked up the grand staircase I was imagining the trumpeters above marking my arrival. Than thinking of the cities last moments before the Greeks came in.
The steps are only small increases so the Persians in their long robes could walk up gracefully. At the top of the stairs, the next stop is Xerxes gateway or Gate of all Nations. Guarded
by two bull like figures even in its ruined state it is an imposing scene as they tower over you with every step. It’s easy to imagine the importance of this place.
Next up was Apadana Palace and Staircase. The palace basically is just a series of giant columns but there’s enough to let the imagination get going again. Geez it would have been good getting drunk here after years of fighting wars. Maybe being in Iran and no drink got me into imagining drunken parties?
On the staircases, Iran’s most spectacular sight - bas reliefs (these are in a way engraved images telling a story on marbelled walls) With these staircases the story it tells is how grand the ceremonies would have been and how powerful the empire was. Persians in long robes and showing 23 delegates baring gifts and paying tribute to the king. There’s Ethiopians, Indians, Arabs etc. It is very detailed with animals like sheep, camels coming along too.
What is interesting is that in most reliefs around the site, there is Darius on his thrown and Xerxes behind him both held up by 28 interlinking representatives of the union of nations. Also
with most things that Xerxes built he would inscribe similar things like ‘… was started by Darius and completed by Xerxes and implores God to protect it from ‘famine, lies and earthquakes.’ The museum has tablets inscribed with Xerxes telling everyone how the Gods chose him to be the best at everything. Man if someone proclaimed I am great at this and that we’d all think ‘what a wanker!’
That leads me to Hadish, which was a palace, finished by Xerxes. The palace had wooden columns and it was here where the fire that makes such an epic story most likely begun. The fact Xerxes put Athens to the torch adds to the theory.
After walking through the flattened Treasury it is up to the Tombs of Artaxerxes II and I (not as good a name as Xerxes is it?) Both in the mountain looking down at the city, II is better. To the side a bit, he had learned from the previous attempts of his ancestors. I have not been to Egypt but it made me think of what it would be like to be there.
The walk between the tombs is a chance to look
down and let the imagination go again. What the ceremonies would have been like? Looking out in the distance for the Greeks are immerging from the horizon, the panic, the drunken celebrations, and the fire and than the city being left to burn to what it is now.
The final site before walking back through the Gate of All Nations is an unfinished gate called the Unfinished Gate, which gives a chance to see how they constructed their monuments. It probably was unfinished because the Greeks came in before it could be completed.
Persepolis was the main reason to come to Iran and it was conquered on the third day. With knowledge of the history, I appreciated it and think there is enough detail here to keep the ruined out individual satisfied. One of the great things about this site is that in winter there is hardly anyone here. I counted roughly 30 people in the 3 hours I spent here and one foreigner… me.
It is interesting to think that if this site were somewhere else in the world it would not have cost a lousy 5000 rials (80c Australian). It’s worth $20. It’s rare to
walk out of a ruined site and feel completely satisfied and happy. Persepolis is one of those places.
Tot: 0.093s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 9; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0166s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb