ART IN IRAN iii. Achaemenid Art and Architecture

No work of architecture or art can be attributed with certainty to an Achaemenid earlier than Cyrus the Great. Only a cylinder seal, now lost, but several times used on later bullae at Persepolis, can possibly have belonged to an older member of the family.


ART IN IRAN, History of

iii. Achaemenid Art and Architecture

The time of Cyrus the Great.

The genealogy of the Achaemenid family which has been accepted by most scholars follows Cyrus’ cylinder inscription from Babylon, combined with Darius’ rock inscription from Bīsotūn; a “Kuraš, king of Parsumaš,” mentioned by Assurbanipal, was added to this picture by E. F. Weidner (Archiv für Orientforschung 7, 1931 32, pp. 2, pp. 1ff.; see also ACHAEMENID DYNASTY). Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian empire, would in this reconstruction be the great great grandson of Achaimenes, the second of his name. There are, however, at least, two more possible reconstructions: H. Winckler in 1889 (Untersuchungen zur altorientalischen Geschichte, Leipzig, 1928) pointed out that Cyrus himself does not mention Achaimenes. He has been followed by G. Cameron, P. de Miroschedji (forthcoming) and, most detailed, J. Wiesehöfer, who conclude that Cyrus was not an Achaemenid at all; Darius only pretended to be his relative and consequently must have falsified all the inscriptions at Pasargadae where Cyrus is proclaimed “descendant of Achaimenes” (Kent, Old Persian, p. 116). The third possibility is offered by the long genealogy given by Herodotus (7.11.2); here Cyrus again appears as an Achaemenid, the third of his name; thus all the inscriptions contain correct, albeit shortened genealogies (H. H. Schaeder, OLZ 41, 1938, pp. 105 ff., followed by W. Eilers, P. Calmeyer, W. Nagel). Fortunately, the date of only a few of the buildings and reliefs of the period is involved in this discussion.

No work of architecture or art can be attributed with certainty to an Achaemenid earlier than Cyrus the Great. Only a cylinder seal, now lost, but several times used on later bullae at Persepolis, can possibly have belonged to an older member of the family: it bears the inscription “Kuruš, the Anzanite son of Teïspes,” and a combat scene in the style of the latest Elamite or proto Achaemenid seals (see above); the owner may have been Cyrus’ grandfather as crown prince, or an unknown prince of the same family, as ancient Mesopotamian civilization seals were often reused long after their owner’s death (even royal ones, e.g., that of Ibi Sin of Ur in an Old Assyrian colony).

With the monuments of Pasargadae we are for the first time within the realm of history. On the basis of written sources E. Herzfeld was able to identify the site of Mašhad e Morḡāb with Pasargadae (Pasargadae, Inaugural Dissertation, Berlin, 1907, pp. 7ff.); from other Greek sources we know that it was founded by Cyrus the Great to commemorate his victory over Astyages at that place, and bilingual and trilingual, inscriptions point to Cyrus as the owner and builder of the three palaces (Figure 34). The significance of the inscriptions would be the same, even if they were actually written in the time of Darius I. Moreover, the building technique of all the main constructions at Pasargadae is definitely pre Persepolitan, as shown by C. Nylander and D. Stronach; the strong Ionian influence makes a date after the capture of the Lydian kingdom plausible. This is also the case with the buildings without inscriptions: the fortress “Taḵt e Mādar e Solaymān” which apparently was left unfinished for a long time after Cyrus; the two plinths in the “Sacred Precinct” west of the palaces, but in the center of the fortified city area (Stronach, Pasargadae, pp. 138 ff.; cf. fig. 3) probably once crowned by fire “altars” (more correctly: hearths, i.e., Greek eskhárai); and the tomb, which until a few years ago was venerated as that of Solomon’s mother and formerly used as a mosque (W. Kleiss, AMI 12, 1979, pp. 281ff., pl. 44); G. F. Grotefend’s identification of it with the Greek descriptions of Cyrus’s tomb has at times been questioned (A. Demandt, Archäologischer Anzeiger, 1968, pp. 520f.), but has now been convincingly defended by D. Stronach (op. cit., pp. 24ff.), who was the first to notice a raised disc in the center of the gable in the form of two concentric rosettes. This symbol was first noticed in the seventeenth century by J. A. Mandelslo (A. Sh. Shahbazi apud P. Calmeyer, ZA 70, 1980, pp. 299 n. 12) and has been explained as the sun disc, several times connected with the name of Cyrus, and as a further Ionian element (H. von Gall, AMI 12, 1979, pp. 271ff., pls. 39ff.).

The “Zendān e Solaymān,” a tower shaped, enigmatic structure, forms an exact counterpart of the “Kaʿba ye Zardošt” at Naqš e Rostam, with elements inherited both from Urartian (D. Stronach, JNES 26, 1967, pp. 278ff.) and Ionian art (A. Demandt, op. cit.; C. Nylander, Ionians in Pasargadae, Uppsala, 1970, pp. 139ff.). A small fragment of an inscription found there has so far been of little use; it may contain the word Ku u ša, in which case it must be later than the capture of Ethiopia by Darius.

In the area of the palaces (Figure 34) D. Stronach excavated several watercourses, a bridge, and two pavilions; the three main buildings, baptized P (“Pfeiler”), S (“Saule”) and R (“Relief”) by E. Herzfeld, are much better understood now: the most important find was that of the stone substructure of a throne in the southern portico of P, which we may now, confidently, call the residential palace; furthermore, the throne gives a raison d'être for its ground plan, the huge portico, and the non symmetrical doorways (P. Calmeyer, ZA 70, 1980, pp. 300ff.). The reliefs, a king and an attendant standing on either side of each door, are iconographically and stylistically counterparts of those in the Persepolis tačara. According to many scholars the inscriptions “by Cyrus” on those reliefs are actually later than Cyrus, so the reliefs must be dated on the basis of their own features (Farkas, Achaemenid Sculpture; Stronach, Pasargadae, pp. 93ff.; E. Porada in Highlights of Persian Art, ed. R. Ettinghausen and E. Yarshater, Boulder, 1979, pp. 69ff.; and others). Only W. Nagel (MDOG 111, 1979, pp. 82ff.) explains the style by assuming two sculptor’s schools, one at Bīsotūn and another, working first at Pasargadae, much ahead of its time, and then at Persepolis. It is beyond doubt, however, that the inscriptions correctly identify the owner of this palace as Cyrus, to be venerated on occasion of the royal investiture (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 3.1) by all his successors.

The southernmost “palace” R, with the famous winged genius (Figure 35), can be compared with the monumental gates at Persepolis and Susa (Stronach, op. cit., pp. 44ff.). That is also the case with the reliefs in the main doorways: winged bulls in the southeast—facing the outer world—and probably bulls with human faces facing the palaces (Herzfeld’s drawings: P. Calmeyer, AMI 14, 1981, pp. 27ff.). The only extant relief, the four winged genius, combines Elamite garments and a Syrian/Egyptian crown (R. D. Barnett, Mélanges de l'Université Saint Joseph 45, Beirut, 1969, pp. 416ff.); it faces inwards (Stronach, op. cit., p. 48 n. 34), and must, together with its counterparts in the other side doors, have protected the king or his statue within the building.

Palace S is the most difficult building to understand. There is no trace of a podium of a throne, and it is hard to imagine one in the midst of a hall open to all sides. On the other hand, the sculptures suggest a highly representational function: The main door, leading to the northeastern main facade, again in the form of a wide portico, was guarded by human figures and the side doors by mythical creatures, facing outwards as usual; the back door shows feet of bulls and men, as if going from the main hall into the southwestern (smaller) porch. The columns were crowned by protomai of lion dragons and perhaps horses (P. Calmeyer, AMI 14, 1981, pp. 31ff. The originals were believed to be lost but some have now been found in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and will be published by R. Merhav). All these sculptures are definitely pre Persepolitan in style and Babylonian/Assyrian in iconography (Farkas, op. cit., pp. 10ff.). In this building, on the way between gate and throne portico, gifts to the king may have been solemnly deposited.

The architecture and the sculpture of this period have been shown to be highly eclectic: The use of different kinds of stone, the false windows, and the quadrangular tower came from Urartu; the multicolumn halls from Urartu via Media; the porticos attached to these halls in many variations (perhaps better called “stoai”), the bases and shafts of the columns from Greece; and the form of the “altars” from Media. Oriental types are perhaps seen in the monumental gates (without stoai) and tents. In iconography Elamite, Syrian, and Babylonian/Assyrian prototypes have been cited; workmanship and style of the reliefs are (with the exception of those of palace P) more Neo Babylonian than anything else.

Aside from Pasargadae it is only at Borazjān, 50 km from Bandar e Būšehr (Bushire), that relics of a palace or pavilion in Cyrus’ style have been found (A. A. Sarfarāz, Bastan Chenassi va Honar e Iran 7/8, 1971 , pp. 22 ff.). From the “cylinder inscription” (11.33 34) we know that Cyrus “brought back the gods … to their places and made them enter their eternal abodes,” i.e., among other places, to Susa and the land Gutium. Of this building activity nothing has been found yet. Bibliography: Pending. See in print ed., EIr. II/6, London and New York, 1986, p. 572.

Bibliography : The generally accepted genealogy was first outlined by P. Cauer, “Achaimenidai,” in Pauly-Wissowa, I/I, 1883, cols. 200 ff.; the different interpretations are most fully treated by J. Wiesehofer, Der Aufstand Gaumātas und die Anfänge Dareios’ I, Habelts Dissertationsdruck 13, Bonn, 1978, pp. 179 ff., with good bibliography; cf. W. Eilers, Kyros, Beiträge zur Namensforschung 15, 1964, pp. 180 ff.; idem, Indogermanische Forschungen 79, 1974, pp. 54 ff.; P. Calmeyer, AMI, N.F. 7. 1974, p. 49 n. 3; 9, 1976, pp. 89 f.; W. Nagel, “Herrscher,” in RIA IV, 1972-75, pp. 354 ff. The Cyrus seal will be published together with other impressions, a few in proto-Achaemenid, mostly in Early Achaemenid style, by M. Cool Root. R. T. Hallock in Seals and Sealings in the Ancient Near East, ed. McG. Gibson and R. D. Biggs, Malibu, 1977, p. 127, no. 93; the drawing in W. Hinz, Darius und die Perser [I], Baden-Baden, 1976, pp. 52 ff., fig. 17. is probably not quite correct; the photograph fig. 16 is excellent. Less optimistic about our knowledge of the earliest Persians and their immigrations than Hinz and R. Ghirshman (Village perse-achémenide, MDAFI 26, Paris, 1954; idem, Terrasses sacrees de Bard-è Néchandeh et de Masjid-i Solaiman, MDAFI 45, Paris, 1976) are some recent articles: L. D. Levine, Iran 12, 1974, pp. 106 ff.; D. Stronach, Iraq 36, 1974, pp.239ff; P. de Miroschedji, CDAFI 12, 1981, pp. 35 ff., 149 ff.; idem, RA 76, 1982, pp. 51 ff. (on glyptics); idem, ZA (forthcoming; rather late date of settlement in Fars); P. R. S. Moorey, Iran 20, 1982, pp. 81 ff. (on metalwork); P. Briant, Iranica Antiqua 19, 1984, pp.7I ff., esp. 78 ff.

D. Stronach, Pasargadae. A Report on the Excavations Conducted by the British Institute of Persian Studies from 1961 to 1963, Oxford, 1978, is a final publication of all the monuments on the site. The former excavations, by E. Herzfeld and ʿAlīl Sāmī, have been published only insufficiently or not at all; E. Herzfeld, AMI 1, 1929, pp. 1 ff.; cf. F. Krefter, AMI 12, 1979, pp. 15 f.; Ali-Sami, Pasargadae. The Oldest Imperial Capital of Iran, tr. R. N. Sharp, Shiraz, 1956; idem, Gozarešhā-ye bāstān-šenāsī 4, 1960, pp. 1 ff. The intricate discussion concerning the date of the Pasargadae inscriptions, the invention of the Persian script and the meaning of § 70 of the Bīsotun inscription (DB 4.88.92), cannot be presented here. Most important for the chronology of the buildings and the reliefs is C. Nylander’s refutation of an alleged earlier phase of buildings R and S on account of the royal titles (“Who wrote the Inscriptions at Pasargadae,” Orientalia Suecana 16, 1967, esp. pp. 162 f). The argument by W. Hinz, ZDMG 93. 1939, p. 380 about the late form of the Old Persian sign that divides the words is still worth considering, but his reconstruction of Darius’ name in an inscription (ZDMG 109, 1959, pp. 117f., together with R. Borger) has been refuted: G. Cameron, Iran 5, 1967, p. 9; I. Gershevitch in A. Farkas, Achaemenid Sculpture, Leiden, 1974, p. 17 n. 52; cf. Stronach, Pasargadae, pp. 99 f. Another fragment probably belongs to a statue of Darius (ibid., p. 101, pl. 83b). The related question of the date of the reliefs in Palace P and their relation to Greek art is crucial for our understanding of the development of Achaemenian style and has been hotly debated for a long time: it was first raised by A. Moortgat, Mitteilungen der altorientalischen Gesellschaft 2, 1, Berlin, 1926, pp. 1 ff. The first to argue a late date was H. Frankfort, The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient, Harmondsworth, 1954, pp. 217, 226 f., recently followed by A. Farkas, op. cit., pp. 14 ff. (with a critical review of the debate) and D. Stronach, op. cit., pp. 93 ff.; idem in Camb. Hist. Iran II, 1985. pp. 845 f. They have been contradicted by C. Nylander, Ionians in Pasargadae, Uppsala. 1970, pp. 122 ff., and M. C. Root, The King and Kingship, pp. 51 ff., 285 ff. The most important observation in the recent discussion is probably that of toothed chisel marks in the portico of Palace P. (Stronach, op. cit., pp. 90 f., 99 f., pl.87c, d). Nylander (op. cit.) was the first to use evidence based on the social role of Greek artists and the technical progress in Achaemenian stone work as well as architectural typology (cf. M. Roaf, “Texts about the Sculptures and Sculptors at Persepolis,” Iran 18, 1980, pp. 65 ff.; T. C. Young, “Thoughts on the Architecture of Hasanlu IV,” Iranica Antiqua 6, 1966, pp. 48 ff; H. v. Gall, Gnomon 44, 1972, p. 705; idem. “Das persische Konigszelt und die Hallenarchitektur in Iran und Griechenland,” In Festschrift für Frank Brommer , Mainz, 1977, pp. 119 ff).

The time of Cambyses and Bardiya.

In the plain between Persepolis and Naqš e Rostam there is an unfinished structure known as “Taḵt e Rostam” or “Taḵt e Gohar” (Stronach, op. cit., pp. 302ff.). E. Herzfeld interpreted it as the tomb of Cambyses II/III, a nearly exact copy of that of Cyrus. Inside, two secondary, small burials were excavated (F. Krefter, AMI 12, 1979, p. 24). It was restored recently by G. Tilia, and close to it the remains of an unfinished palace of Pasargadae type were found. The two structures have exactly the same orientation (A. B. Tilia, Studies and Restorations at Persepolis and Other Sites of Fārs II, Rome, 1978, pp. 73ff.). Cambyses, however, seems to have been buried correctly after his corpse had been “brought to Persia” (Ctesias apud Photius 37b.15f.): presumably to Pasargadae where a tomb for him must have been prepared. Are the remains at “Dašt e Gohar” those of the capital of Bardiya?

Darius I: Phase A (Bīsotūn).

The rock relief at Bīsotūn (Diodorus: Bagistana) is the most minutely dated and most thoroughly interpreted Achaemenian monument. Eleven of its fourteen figures are identified by captions: Darius himself, Gaumāta, eight gentile kings who rebelled during Darius’ first year and a ruler of the “Scythians with pointed hats” whom Darius captured in his third year; this last event is recorded in an additional paragraph of the inscription, so the other events must have taken place earlier. The order in which figures, captions, and the four versions of the Bīsotūn inscription were carved has been clarified by Luschey and Trümpelmann. W. Nagel has argued that the second last figure, named Frāda by the caption, because of his Elamite garment, must originally have been intended to represent Attamaïta and have been added to the original eight kings after the second year. However, in DB 4.2 31 (par. 52) Frāda is one of the Nine Pretenders (the number nine may have a magical significance: C. Nylander apud Root, op. cit., p. 201 n. 55; cf. also the nine kings on the Oxus sheath: Figure 46) and there was no rock left to carve the rope connecting Araka with Frāda. The two figures behind Darius, without captions, have been interpreted as Hystaspes and Arsames, wearing royal diadems (W. Nagel in RIA IV, pp. 358, 365). Similarly ornamented crowns (mitrai), however, are worn by attendants and guards in the tačara (A. B. Tilia, op. cit., pp. 63ff. figs. 10 12). The eclectic nature of the relief has been stressed by Root (op. cit., pp. 196ff.); it contains elements known from Sar e Pol and Assyrian reliefs as well as from Late Elamite Weapon bearers and the Urartian divine figure in the winged disc (P. Calmeyer, Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 94, 1979, pp. 362ff., fig. 12). Near the palace in Babylon there stood a copy of the relief (or part of it) in smaller size with the long text (or part of it) on its back (Figure 36).

Bibliography: The basic publication of the rock relief is H. Luschey, “Studien zu dem Darius-Relief von Bisotun,” AMI, N.F. 1, 1968, pp. 63 ff. For the chronology of reliefs and inscriptions: L. Trumpelmann, Archäologischer Anzeiger, 1967, pp. 281 ff.; W. Hinz, AMI, N.F. 1, 1968, pp. 95 ff.; H. Luschey in Fifth Congress of Iranian Art and Archaeology, Tehran, 1972, pp. 295 ff.; W. Nagel in Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Achdmenidenzeit und ihr Fortleben, AMI Erganzungsband 10, Berlin, 1983, pp. 182 ff. Style: Luschey, op. cit.; A. Farkas, Achaemenid Sculpture, Leiden, 1974, pp. 30 ff.; eadem in Camb. Hist. Iran II, 1985, pp. 828 ff. Prototypes: P. Calmeyer in La civilisation de Mari, XVe rencontre assyriologique Internationale, ed. J. Kupper, Paris, 1967, pp. 168 ff.; M. C. Root, The King and Kingship in Achaemenid Art, Acta Iranica 19, Leiden, 1967, pp. 58 ff., 182 ff. Copy in Babylon: U. Seidl, AMI, N.F. 9, 1976, pp. 125 ff.

Darius I: Phase B.

Probably the work at the Persepolis terrace had already started in Darius’ first years (E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis I, p. 39); the earliest dateable monument, however, is the inscription on the southern terrace wall (Figure 37): in the Elamite version of it (DPg) Darius tells that he built “this fortress where none had been built before;” in the Old Persian version (DPe) he calls it a “house” (viθam); the enumeration of peoples is similar to that of Bīsotūn (P. Calmeyer, AMI 15, 1982, pp. 122, 124ff.) and definitely predates the Saka campaign. The earliest entrance was probably close to the inscriptions, another one further to the east (no. 5 on Figure 37); they were closed later (A. B. Tilia, “The Terrace Wall of Persepolis,” in Studies and Restorations at Persepolis and Other Sites of Fārs II, Rome, 1978, pp. 3ff.). On the way to the palaces there is a second terrace wall with reliefs of Median guardsmen, unfinished and partly destroyed by the building of Xerxes’ “Harem” (Schmidt, op. cit., p. 61, fig. 23, pp. 260f. figs. 111f.; P. Calmeyer, Iran 18, 1980, p. 59, pl. IIIa), apparently the oldest reliefs at Persepolis. In the area of the palaces, the tačara (Figure 37: “Darius’ Palace”) must have been the first building to be constructed. Three reliefs of the “royal hero” from the private rooms are more archaic than the others (Schmidt, op. cit., p. 226 n. 37, pls. 144 146) and related to the Bīsotūn style (H. Luschey, AMI, N.F. 1, 1968, pp. 89f.).

The date of the beginning of the work at Susa is not known; the oldest inscription is probably DSm, written on bricks, i.e., on walls, long after the foundation of the terrace (for the date see P. Calmeyer, AMI 15, 1982, pp. 124ff.). The same technique, employing glazed bricks, was used for the reliefs adorning the wall of the residence and the apadāna (Figure 38, Figure 39), decorated with ornaments, plants, lions, griffons, and human headed lions (R. de Mecquenem, MDAFI 30, Paris, 1947, pp. 47ff.; A. Farkas, Achaemenid Sculpture, Leiden, 1974, pp. 38ff.); among these reliefs, only the famous guardsmen (Figure 38) can be shown to belong to the earliest stage: the vertical folds of the dresses are not hanging down in the central axis of the figure, but nearer to the left leg, which is put forward; this feature becomes somewhat accentuated if the figure is seen from its left or right side (Figure 38: count the squares on the left or middle figure). This is never a feature on later reliefs of standing Persians, and it is found only once more, namely on the Palace P reliefs at Pasargadae (see above), which by the criterion belong to the same phase (P. Calmeyer, AMI 14, 1981, pp. 40f., pls. 4f.). At Susa, at least the western courtyard of the palace of Elamite type must have been completed at this time (Figure 37; J. Perrot in 150 Jahre Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Mainz, 1981, pp. 79ff., pl. 37).

Darius I: Phase C.

The foundation tablets under the apadāna of Persepolis (Figure 37) and from Hamadān (DPh and DH) both mention the “Sakas beyond Sogdia” and Lydia as the confines of the empire, which suggests a date after the Saka campaign (ca. 513 B.C.) and perhaps at the beginning of the Ionian revolt (AMI 15, 1982, pp. 123ff.). In the apadāna foundation deposits, coins only of a Lydian type (“Croeseïds”) were found: The darics were issued later. The building itself was finished only in the time of Xerxes (XPg: on the walls of the apadāna towers). The statue from Susa with the people’s representatives in Egyptian style (D. Stronach et al., CDAFI 4, 1974, pp. 61ff., 73ff., 161ff., 181ff.) has also been dated to the beginning of the Ionian revolt (W. Hinz, AMI, N.F. 8, 1975, pp. 118ff.; Figure 40).

Darius’ tomb in the rock of Naqš e Rostam (DNa: between the Saka campaign and the Ionian revolt is not much older). According to Ctesias (apud Photius 38a, 38 44) the king’s parents were killed when visiting the tomb, so probably the work started earlier in his reign; however, the elegant style of the slim figures in the relief is different from the stiff, half archaic movement in phase B.

The only other monuments completed by Darius himself were the Treasury and the tačara, his private palace (Figure 37) as shown by numerous small inscriptions. Two of the monuments, in the main doorway, depict Xerxes as crown prince: His outfit is exactly like that of his father (XPk; Schmidt, op. cit., p. 223, pls. 126, 138f.; E. Benveniste, JA 239, 1951, pp. 261ff.; P. Calmeyer, AMI, N.F. 9, 1976, pp. 80f.). It is with good reason that these reliefs can be classified as “Classic Achaemenian” art (E. Porada in Camb. Hist. Iran II, pp. 793ff.): They served, stylistically as well as iconographically, as prototypes for the court art of Darius’ successors.

Xerxes I.

The son and former co regent of Darius carefully explains in his inscriptions that he completed his father’s work at Van (XV), added the southern staircase to the tačara (XPc), the towers to the apadāna (XPg) and the monumental gate (XPa; the last two after their plans had been changed: Figure 37); in the hadiš, his private palace, he devoted one of the reliefs and an inscription (DPbH according to A. Sh. Shahbazi, Corp. Inscr. Iran. , pp. 12ff.) to his father. At a later stage, he apparently did not feel obliged to mention his father’s buildings any more: on the foundation tablets of the Harem and on the staircases of the apadāna. A pattern emerges in which the staircase with its reliefs and inscriptions is always the last part to be completed; this is also true for the staircase of the main entrance where the clamps used, according to C. Nylander’s findings (Ionians in Pasargadae, p. 9), are of a definitely late type.

The style of the reliefs continues that of Darius’ last, “classic,” phase; especially in Xerxes’ later works, there is a tendency towards larger and heavier proportions and more volume of the figures. Iconographically, there are also some changes: Xerxes has given up the guardsmen in the doorways and has introduced the topic of Persian and Median servants with gifts or food climbing the staircases (Figure 41). The most important composition, that of the apadāna facades, is also completely new: Only the topic of a foreign delegation bringing gifts to the king was adopted from the Assyrians; the reliefs, depicting rulers, court, and ruling class, are used at Persepolis to present an elaborate picture of the empire.

On cylinder seals, the Bīsotūn motif, the king triumphant, was shown in a more specific way: the king (in one case a nobleman) victorious over one nation. Greek hoplitai are the victims on a seal used probably during Xerxes’ time both in the treasury and by the owners of houses outside of the terrace (Figure 42); the type is still current in the time of Artaxerxes (III?) (E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis II, p. 29, pl. 9, no. 28, with other examples; M. C. Root, The King and Kingship, pp. 182ff.).

According to Herodotus, Darius “coined money out of gold refined to an extreme purity” (4.166), but we do not know whether he ever abandoned the “Croeseïd” type of lion and bull which he employed in the foundation deposits of the apadāna. If he did, he must have introduced the type showing the king half length which we know so well from early cylinder seals. The characteristic figures on Achaemenid coins, the running “archers” (in three different designs), were introduced either in Darius’ last years or, more probably, by Xerxes (S. P. Noe, Numismatic Notes and Monographs 139, 1956, pp. 25ff.; E. S. G. Robinson, NC 18, 1958, pp. 187ff.; P. Calmeyer, AMI 12, 1979. pp. 303ff.; M. C. Root, op. cit., pp. 116ff.).

Artaxerxes I to Artaxerxes III.

After the reign of Xerxes I, no new form or idea of any kind was introduced into the architecture and art of the Achaemenid court. While in Greece and especially in Achaemenian Anatolia artistic space, syntaxis of forms, and realism developed rapidly, at Susa, Babylon, Ecbatana, and Persepolis the masons and sculptors repeated the topics and forms of the classic phases: Darius C and Xerxes. From this moment onwards, imperial art had but one message: the rulership of the Achaemenids was to be the same forever.

It is therefore difficult, often impossible, to distinguish styles within the art of the later six generations of Achaemenids. Even when there is a sequence of well preserved monuments, as in the case of the royal tombs, these tend to be a series of replicas: Only the rock coffins seem to be adapted to the number of members of the royal family; all the reliefs display the same order and extension of the empire, regardless of the real development (in vivid contrast to the constant changes during the first three generations: P. Calmeyer, AMI 15, 1982, pp. 105ff., 170ff.). The tombs are therefore less well dated than is commonly assumed (idem and W. Kleiss, AMI, N.F. 8, 1975, pp. 81ff., 88ff., 94ff., 110ff.; Figure 43).

A small, elegant palace of the apadāna type was built by one of the three kings named Artaxerxes at Susa outside of the royal terrace (“basileia”), where fragments of fine painting and reliefs have been found (A. Labrousse and R. Boucharlat, CDAFI 2, 1974, pp. 61ff.). An unknown king built an excellent, large palace at Jīn Jān (Čīn ū Čīn), opposite Kūrāngūn (K. Atarashi and K. Horiuchi, Fahlian I. The Excavations at Tape Suruvan, Tokyo, 1963). Artaxerxes II repaired the main apadāna at Susa and built three other palaces (inscriptions A2Sd; A2Sc). Artaxerxes III added staircases to an unknown palace at Susa and to the tačara (Figure 44). At Babylon a rather irregular building has been excavated, containing fragments of excellent painted brick decoration (Farkas, op. cit., pp. 37ff.).

There are, perhaps, two exceptions to this uniformity: Among the dated works of Artaxerxes I (Hundred column hall, Tripylon, Palace H: all at Persepolis) we find a group of reliefs of the highest quality, perhaps products of the same workshop, in a soft style and rich in details, in spite of the small size of the figures (for the facade H: A. B. Tilia, Studies and Restorations, pp. 265ff.; idem apud Farkas, op. cit., pp. 132ff.; for the date of the Tripylon: P. Calmeyer, AMI, N.F. 9, 1976, pp. 71ff., pls. 18f.; idem, ibid., 15, 1982, pp. 139ff., pls. 20 24; M. Roaf, Iran 21, 1983). On tomb VI as well as on Artaxerxes III’s staircase to the tačara we find a crude style with clumsy proportions, sharp lines, and archaizing details. Perhaps we may recognize here products of two workshops, of the mid fifth and of the mid fourth centuries B.C. A considerable change must have taken place on the Persepolis terrace: The above mentioned works of Artaxerxes I were left unfinished to a greater extent than usual (A. B. Tilia, East and West 19, 1969, pp. 9ff.); apparently the place remained in this state up to Artaxerxes III or his predecessor, when it was used mainly for royal burials (unfinished tomb VIII; W. Kleiss and P. Calmeyer, AMI, N.F. 8, 1975, pp. 81ff.; then tombs V and VI), probably following an ancient Babylonian custom (see on the “Old Palace” P. Calmeyer, ibid., pp. 107ff.).

Bibliography: Most of the literature is not devoted to distinct periods, but to sites. The first volume of E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis I-III, Oriental Institute Publications 68-70, Chicago, 1953, 1957, 1970, contains the best account of the Achaemenids’ building activity, the second volume the most reliable information on sealing (cf. E. Porada, JNES 20, 1961, pp. 66 ff.) and small finds; the third is devoted to the royal tombs, also those at Naqs-e Rostam, and their iconography. Later excavations: Akbar Tajwīdī, Dāmestanīha-ye novīn dar bāra-ye honar wa bāstān-šenāsī-e ʿaṣr-e Haḵāmanešī, bar bonyād-e kavošhā-ye panj-sāla-ye Taḵt-e Jamšīd. Salha-ye 2527-2532 Š. [šāhānšāhī], Tehran, 2535 [= 1355 Š./I975]. Architecture: F. Krefter, Persepolis. Rekonstruktionen, Teheraner Forschungen 3, Berlin. 1971; idem, AMI, N.F. I, 1968, pp. 99 ff.; D. Stronach, “The Evolution of the Early Iranian Fire Temple,” Acta Iranica 25, Leiden, 1985, pp. 605 ff. The most important observations after Herzfeld and Schmidt have been made by G. and A. B. Tilia, (Studies and Restorations at Persepolis and Other Sites of Pars I, Rome, 1972), especially on technique and on the “Treasury reliefs” having originally been part of the apadana facades; its date: E. Porada in Studies in Classical Art and Archaeology. A Tribute to P. H. von Blanckenhagen, Locust Valley, 1979, pp. 37 ff., pis. VII-IX. The chance finds at Ecbatana of several bases are mostly unpublished, e.g., an excellent griffin capital; a local museum is in preparation. For a bull’s head see L. Vanden Berghe, Archéologie de I'lran Ancien, Leiden, 1959, pp. 110, 190, pl. 137d; cf. P. Calmeyer in RIA IV, pp. 64 ff. s.v. Hamadan. The new excavations at Susa, directed by J. Perrot, are not yet fully published: Syria 48, 1971, pp. 36 ff.; JA 260, 1972, pp. 235 ff., 241 ff., 247 ff., 253 ff. (the statue). CDAFI 2, 1972, pp. 13 ff.; 4, 1974, pp. 15 ff.; 10, 1979, pp. 19 ff. For the iconography: M. C. Root, The King and Kingship in Achaemenid Art, Acta Iranica 19, Leiden, 1979; P. Calmeyer, OLZ 79, 1984, pp. 66 ff.; idem, Iran 18, 1980, pp. 55 ff.; idem, AMI 15, 1982, pp. 105 ff. Style: H. Frankfort, AJA 50, 1946, pp. 6 ff.; A. Farkas, Achaemenid Sculpture, Leiden, 1974; H. Luschey, Iranica Antiqua 2, 1975, pp. 113 ff.; M.Roaf, Iran 21, 1983. Inscriptions: Corp. Inscr. Iran. I/I, Portfolio 1, Old Persian Inscriptions of the Persepolis Platform, ed. A. Sh. Shahbazi, London, 1985. Of considerable relevance for questions of chronology is the depiction of the headdress, especially the royal kidaris: H. von Gall, AMI, N. F. 7, 1974, pp. 145 ff.

Geographical Range of the Achaemenid Style; Applied Arts.

Outside of the capitals Susa, Babylon, Ecbatana, and Persepolis, the court style was propagated mainly by metalwork (by way of mutual presents?), and by gold and silver coins. The latter, the famous darics and sigloi, had been introduced rather late (see above: Xerxes), after minting had been invented in Lydia; hoards of sigloi from eastern Anatolia, Egypt, and Palestine show the range of their value as means of exchange; two hoards from central Mesopotamia (E. S. G. Robinson, Iraq 12, 1950, pp. 44ff.; G. K. Jenkins, British Museum Quarterly 28, 1964, pp. 88ff. on sigloi mixed with cut silver (“Hacksilber”) and similar pieces in the Kabul Museum show that the eastern half of the empire continued with this Median/Assyrian form of payment (Nūš e Jān: A. D. H. Bivar, Iran 9, 1971, pp. 97ff.). If silver vessels and jewelry could be cut into pieces to provide small change (Robinson, op. cit.), sets of plate as well must have served as “gifts,” on a more sumptuous level, as depicted on the apadāna facades (G. Walser, Die Völkerschaften auf den Reliefs von Persepolis, Teheraner Forschungen 2, Berlin, 1966). In this form the court style reached the most distant provinces. The treasure of the Oxus in the east, Tell al Masḵuta in Egypt, and a find of silver vessels from the vicinity of Uşak (Ankara Museum, unpublished; perhaps the material in The Metropolitan Museum, New York, belongs to the same hoard: D. von Bothmer, Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres. Comptes rendus, 1981, pp. 194ff.) bear witness to this as well as the finds from Thracian tombs; jewelry hoards have been found in Vouni (Cyprus), Sardis, and Akhalgari (Caucasus). The Greeks regarded possession of such tableware (Herodotus 7.190, 9.80) and of personal ornaments (idem, 8.83, 9.80) as characteristic of the empire’s upper class (Schmidt, Persepolis II, p. 165). Many of these luxury goods were produced locally: votive plaques on the Oxus (Figure 45) and a bottle with Ionian style decoration in western Anatolia can not have traveled far; a local workshop is portrayed in the Petosiris tomb in Egypt. Carved ivories represent a third class of objects in pure court style that have been found in Egypt (R. A. Stucky, Antike Kunst 28, 1985, pp. 7ff.).

Stone reliefs from many western centers, most notably Daskyleion, Lycia, and Sidon, are more or less of Greek workmanship, but the motives are sometimes influenced by the classical Achaemenid art (H. Borchhardt, Istanbuler Mitteilungen 18, 1968, pp. 1ff.; F. J. Tritsch, Journal of Hellenic Studies 62, 1942, pp. 39ff.; A. Sh. Shahbazi, The Irano Lycian Monuments, Tehran, 1973; I. Kleemann, Der Sairapensarkophag von Sidon, Istanbuler Forschungen 20, Berlin, 1958; V. v. Graeve, Der Alexandersarkophag und seine Werkstatt, ibid., 28, Berlin, 1970). The only monumental relief in true Achaemenid court style in Anatolia was found near Mersin (E. Laroche and M. A. Davesne, Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres. Comptes rendus, 1981, pp. 356ff., fig. 2): a procession of cup bearers.

Similarly, the coins of cities, satraps, and local rulers are more Greek than anything else. On account of their style, many cylinder seals and most of the stamp seals and finger rings are, with good reason, called “Greco Persian.” Artaxerxes III and his satraps imitated Athenian coins (O. Mørkholm and A. F. Shore, NC 7, 14, 1974, pp. 1ff.). Towards the end of the empire, the treasury at Persepolis contained coins only of Greek cities, mostly from Athens; an obviously late Achaemenian gold sheath from the Oxus sanctuary (Figure 46) shows a blend of Greek fourth century style and archaizing, pseudo Assyrian details.

Bibliography: Apart from the above mentioned articles (“Xerxes”) only the Greek and Phoenician coins have been studied in detail: D. Schlumberger, L'argent grec dans l'empire achemenide in MDAFA 14, Paris, 1953; further literature, a general survey, and especially the problems of the non-coined currency: A. D. H. Bivar in Camb. Hist. Iran II, Cambridge, 1985, pp.610 ff., 914 f. Metalwork: C. D Curtis, Jewelry and Goldwork, Sardis 13, Rome, 1925; J. I. Smirnov, Der Schat: van Achalgori, Tiflis, 1934; O. M. Dalton, The Treasure of the Oxus, London, 1926; 3rd ed., London, 1964; H. Luschey, Die Phiale, Bleicherode, 1939; idem, Archäologischer Anzeiger, 1938, pp. 760 ff.; H. Frankfort, JNES 9, 1950, pp. 111 f.; G. Bussagli, East and West 7, 1956, pp. 41 ff.; P. Amandry, Antike Kuns t 1, 1958, pp. 1 ff.; 2, 1959, pp. 38 ff.; O. W. Muscarella, “Excavated and Unexcavated Achaemenian Art,” in Ancient Persia: The Art of an Empire, ed. D. Schmandt-Besserat, Malibu, 1980, pp. 23 ff.; P. R. S. Moorey in Camb. Hist. Iran II, Cambridge, 1985, pp. 856 ff., 927 ff. Influence on Thrace: Fr. Fischer and H. Luschey in Beiträge zur Altertumskunde Kleinasiens. Festschrift für K. Bittel, Mainz, 1983, pp. 191 ff., 313 ff.

Concluding remark. Achaemenid art was developed in a relatively short time; it was then kept, without any intentional change, as a symbolical expression of Achaemenid rule. With the exception of metalwork, it did not reach very far beyond modern Iran. Sometimes the style, more often the motives, have been revived, especially in Sasanian architecture and in late Qajar and modern (Pahlavi) decoration.

Bibliography: Most of the general outlines of Achaemenian art and architecture are thoroughly outdated by the special studies quoted above, with the exception of the outstanding work by E. Herzfeld, Iran in the Ancient East London, 1941; only the most recent accounts should be used: H. Luschey in Die Griechen und ihre Nachbarn, ed. K. Schefold (Propylaen Kunstgeschichte I). Berlin, 1967, pp. 291 ff.; P. Amiet in Acta Iranica1, Leiden, 1974, pp. 163 ff.; P. Amandry in Mélanges offerts à K. Michalowski, Warsaw, 1966, pp. 233 ff.; E. Porada in Camb. Hist. Iran II. Cambridge, 1985. pp. 793 ff. A. Farkas, “Is there Anything Persian in Persian Art?” in Ancient Persia: The Art of an Empire, ed. D. Schmandt-Besserat, Malibu, 1980, pp. 15 ff., and P. R. S. Moorey, “The Iranian Contribution to Achaemenid Culture,” Iran 23, 1985, pp. 21 ff. discuss the specifically Iranian contribution to Achaemenid art and : culture. See also E. Porada, The Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University 8, 1976, pp. 67 ff. esp. 77 ff.; L. Vanden Berghe, B. de Wulf, and E. Haerinck, Bibliographie analytique de I'archéologie de I'lrān ancien, Leiden, 1979; P. Calmeyer, AMI (annually from N.F. 7, 1974); Studia Iranica. Supplement (annually, Leiden, 1978-); I. Luschey-Schmeisser and D. Metzler in Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Achämenidenzeit und ihr Fortleben, ed. H. Koch and D. N. Mackenzie (AMI Ergänzungsband X), Berlin, 1983, pp. 267 ff., 289 ff.

(P. Calmeyer)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 6, pp. 569-580