Persepolis was rediscovered in A.D 1620, after being hidden by its own ruins since 330 B.C. Many people came to visit Persepolis in the next centuries, but the excavation of the ruins did not begin until 1931 when the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago sponsored the excavation of the ancient site. The first excavation was conducted by Ernst Herzfeld and Friedrich Krefter which led to the onsite reconstruction of the ‘Harem’. In 1932 and 1937 the oriental Institute excavated two low mounds south-east of Persepolis, The first mound contained four levels of prehistoric houses dated from about 4000 B.C.
On the first floor some of the walls were preserved well and on them were huge yellow and red geometric wall paintings, on the floor there were knives, cooking pots that still contained the bones of meat that was being cooked, along with beautiful and sophisticated hand-painted pottery. Because the main level of the house was preserved so well, it suggests that the settlement had been abandoned. The Second mound was comprised of earlier remains from about 4600 B.C, nothing of significance was found.
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Shortly afterwards In 1934, Erich F. Schmidt took charge, he continued very large-scale excavations until 1939 when his excavations were stopped suddenly at the outbreak of World War two in Europe.
Over this eight-year period, excavation worked not only in the centre of Persepolis but also on a number of another site that was within a radius of 10km
The Persian Expedition worked in the royal centre of Persepolis and also at a number of sites that fell within a radius of 10 km. During the last years of excavating, the University Museum in Philadelphia, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston had joined the Oriental Institute in order to cope with the huge excavation.
The Iranian Archaeological Service continued the excavation and restoration of Persepolis after the war.
The Construction of Persepolis started under the ruling of Darius the great between 520 and 330 B.C. Darius constructed the monumental stairway, The Triple Portal, his private palace, as well as beginning the Apadana and the treasure when he died in 486 B.C. His work continued under the control of his son Xerxes I until 465 B.C.
He finished his father’s work on the Apadana and also constructing the structure which is known as haren, as well as beginning the work on the Throne Hall.
It was possibly built to serve as a ceremonial and spiritual capital of the Persian Empire, but there is no evidence to make it factual.
Persia was very wealthy and this was evident because of the architectural embellishments throughout Persepolis. An inscription was found in Persepolis which translates as “And Ahuramazda was of such a mind, together with all the other gods, that this fortress (should) be built. And (so) I built it. And I built it secure and beautiful and adequate, just as I was intending to.”
The many buildings which make up Persepolis are on an artificial terrace about 300 metres long and 450 meters wide, between 10 and 20 meters above ground level. It belongs to the first building phase of the city, which is usually dated to 518-490. The Apadana and the Treasury belonging to the same period.
The Treasury belongs to the earliest building phase of Persepolis; the treasury was in the south-east part of Persepolis. The gold, silver and other treasure weapons and supplies were stored in the treasury along with the tribute sent by kings and their subjects on New Year’s Day each year.
The Largest and arguably most magnificent building in Persepolis is the Apadana.
Its main use was to host enormous receptions for the kings. There were seventy-two columns holding up the huge platforms, each column was 20 metres tall. Two elaborate staircases on the north and east give access to the Apadana. There are Rows of beautiful reliefs showing scenes from festivals and celebrations. The principal face of the building in the centre shows eight guards presenting a royal inscription. On either end, there is a lion-mauling bull which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. On the back wall forming the base of the Apadana is a bas-relief representing the procession of the twenty-three subject nations of the empire.
The artworks in the walls of the Apadana are hand carved with the background cut away. This gives the impression of real-life figures; this idea of carving was derived from Greek art.
Persian rooms were characteristically square, giving the great hall no exception. It was a vast throne room of over 61 metres high and 10.5 metres square, the stone columns had moulded bases and the great hall of 100 columns Xerxes hall must have been one of the most impressive in the ancient world, each of its one hundred stone columns where forts feet high and brightly painted that’s acted as brackets to help support the gigantic beams of imported wood, which were also hand-painted. The columns had bell-shaped bases which are foreign to Hellenic art; no Greek column is as tall as the Achaemenian column complex, which is unique in ancient architecture.
You reach the terrace by a monumental double staircase called The Tripylon staircase which is 6.7 metres wide and has beautiful stonework reliefs at its side; it displays sculpted figures in three parts, each part separated by ribbons of stonework carved with patterns of rosettes.
The artworks in the walls of the Apadana are hand carved with the background cut away, giving the impression of real-life figures, having cylindrical volume, this idea of carving was derived from Greek art.
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