Monday, February 13, 2006

Original Design of Destroyed Staircase at Persepolis Unravelled

LONDON, February 13, 2006 (CAIS) -- For the first time, an archeological team in Persepolis Historical Site found out the original design of one of the destroyed staircases of Persepolis. This design reveals the construction of staircase of the G-palace which is located behind Darius the Great' Palace.
“There is a destroyed staircase in the southern part of Persepolis in the southern yard of Darius’ Palace which leads to a hill. The design of the staircase was in accordance with that of the Darius' Palace which indicates that this staircase must have been constructed with a new palace at the time of Ardeshir III (Artaxerxes). The destroyed staircase was connecting the new palace with of Darius' Palace; nothing has remained from that palace today", said Afshin Yazdani, archeologist in Persepolis and head of excavation team of G-Palace staircase.
"For an unknown reason, this staircase was moved to the south of Darius’ Palace during the Post-Achaemenid era,” Yazdani added.
This staircase was constructed between 359-335 BC and was one of the most last constructions of Persepolis prior to to collapse of Achaemenid Empire by Alexander II, the Macedonian warlord in 333 BC.
“The staircase of G-palace is very similar to that of Darius’ Palace, the only difference between them is that while in Darius’ Palace the staircase leads to the terrace of the palace through two landings; in the staircase of G-palace you should pass two small wings which were constructed vertically in front of the terrace to reach to the landings” added Yazdani.
However, the decoration of the staircases are not similar to the rest of Persepolis, especially, the reliefs showing Median and Persian dignitaries are not as sophisticated as the Darius’ Palace decoration.
“It was late professor Erich Schmidt of Chicago University who presented the design of the plan of this staircase for the first time. His investigation of Persepolis were reported in three enormous, comprehensive volumes. However, although his approach was organised and meticulously noted where he had fond almost every fragment of the palace, but he made some errors with his reconstruction. In some places he has designed six stairs for this staircase, while somewhere else in his book he has considered eleven stairs for the entrance gate and central courtyard of Darius’ Palace. Nevertheless, the exact plan of this staircase was identified during the archeological excavations near Xerxes Palace which led to the discovery of broken blocks,” explained Yazdani about the plan of G-palace staircase.
Studies on this staircase revealed that the small wings led to the staircase landings through seven stairs and then 11 stairs connected the landings to the terrace. This way the total number of stairs reached 18 and the number of Median and Persian reliefs on the walls of this staircase was 136 to begin with making the staircase of the G-palace the biggest staircase of Persepolis Palace Complex.
Persepolis Palace Complex is one of the most prominent and splendid historical sites of ancient world which dates back to the Achaemenid dynastic era (648 BC–330 BC). The exact date of the construction of Persepolis is not known, but it is assumed that Darius the Great began working on the 33-acre terrace with its underground drainage system between 518 and 516 BC, so Persepolis palace to be built over as the ceremonial capital of Persian Empire.
However, Persepolis and its magestic halls and residential palaces perished in flames when Alexander II conquered and looted the terrace in 335 BC. Persepolis was surrendered by its garrison commander without a fight to prevent any massacre by the invaders. However, after taking the terrace, Alexander turned loos his Greek and Macedonian soldiers on the lower city. For an entire day they murdered the men, carried off the women and plundered the houses.
According to historical accounts he removed 270 tons of gold-coins and 1200 tons of silver casts from Susa; and from Persepolis total of 5,500 tons of silver which carried away on 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels.


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