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By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Parsa, commonly known by its Greek name Persepolis, was one of the Aechemenid Empire’s five royal capitals.

Parsa was situated on a high rock terrace in modern-day southwestern Iran. Parsa was conceived as a complex for administration, and also for ceremonies such as royal festivals. Begun in the late 6th century BC by Darius I (reigned 522 – 486 BC), the complex of columned halls, palaces, gates, and a treasury continued to be extended and altered by his successors until it was sacked and burned by Alexander the Great in 330 BC.

The iconography and uniformity of the reliefs emphasized peaceful, harmonious support for the king. Archives and pictorial reliefs from Parsa show craftsmen came from Greece, Egypt, and West Asia for its construction. Surviving stone reliefs from stairs, doorways, and parapets of the palaces and halls show the king in several guises, as well as nobles, courtiers, soldiers, servants, and peoples of the empire. Also, subject peoples are shown leading animals and bringing bowls, textiles, and weapons – either as tribute, or parading the royal treasure stored at Persepolis. Vivid paint and overlaid decorations would have embellished much of the stonework, and the striking, imperial magnificence would have been completed by carpets, textiles and lavish furnishings.