Lotus symbol HOME Lion devouring Bull - Persian zodiac symbol of nowruz (New Year)
Lotus symbolDID YOU KNOW?
The lion devouring the bull. This is an artistic representation of the ancient zodiac at the time of the Spring Equinox, which is also Persian New Year. The Persian emperors celebrated New Year by feasting and receiving tribute at Persepolis, the Spring Palace. To this day Persians celebrate New Year (Nowruz) at the Spring Equinox.

Persepolis (Takht-e-Jamshid) photos

Takht-e-Jamshid (Persepolis) was founded in 512BC by Darius the Great, and added-to over the next 150 years until it was captured from Darius III and burned to the ground by Alexander in 331 BC. It was one of the wonders of the world.

Persepolis is simply Greek for “Persian City”. It was started decades before the Parthenon (490BC), and all the workers were paid (no slave labor). Workers were employed from all over the empire to build it. It is today a UNESCO World heritage site. Some great 3D reconstructions of Persepolis are at Persepolis3D.com

You may freely use and copy these photos provided you credit "H Lee / Jamshid.gb.com" wherever they are shown.

Persepolis Panorama
Panorama of Persepolis taken from the tomb of Artaxerxes III (Ardashir), facing South West. The Gate of All Nations is at the distant right
Tribute Bearers
Click to enlarge - The gift-bearing delegations from the nations of the Persian Empire.
source: The Authoritative Guide to Persepolis by A. Shapur Shahbazi & "Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia "   by  J. E Curtis and N. Tallis
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Gateway of All Nations The Gate of All Nations (Karibu Gateway)

Everyone who entered Persepolis came through this gate.  It had 2 exits, one that led towards the Apadana audience hall, and the other to "Army Street" and probably barracks. Delegations waited here before being allowed to continue to the Apadana audience hall. A chief usher sat on a bench which was exactly the right height to see into the audience hall. The creatures depicted are karibus, winged chimeras of man and bull. They are supernatural guardians, the cherubim of the Bible. They also feature in older Assyrian art, and are a deep-rooted icon of Mesopotamian culture.
Gateway of All Nations The Gate of All Nations (Karibu Gateway)
Stanley the explorer leaves graffiti in 1870 Stanley - the famous explorer - leaves graffiti on the Gate of All Nations in 1870
Graffiti left by 19th and 20th century visitors Graffiti by visitors defacing the Gate of All Nations. Some notable examples: Niebuhr, 1765 (Danish scholar), Malcolm, 1800 & 1810 (British envoy to Persia), Jones Brydges, 1809 (British ambassador to Tehran), De Gobineau (French minister), and H. M. Stanley - see above. Persepolis has been defaced by visitors for thousands of years. The Sasanian king Shapur II (AD 309-379) left an inscription to announce he ate lunch in Persepolis! The emir Adud al-Dawla also left an Arabic inscription in the 900s AD. He then raided the Tachara for items to use in his own palace. These have now been returned.
source: The Authoritative Guide to Persepolis by A. Shapur Shahbazi 
Persepolis Persepolis, looking past a homa towards the Palace of Darius (Tachara)
Persepolis Persepolis, looking past the unfinished gate to the Hall of 100 Columns
The Avenue The avenue leading to the entrance to Persepolis, with its switch-back double staircase
Platform of Persepolis hewn from irregular blocks The platform of Persepolis hewn from irregular blocks of stone
Palace of Darius The Palace of Darius or Tachara.

The figures are Persian Immortals - elite soldiers. At either side and in the center are inscriptions, the left in Babylonian, the center in Old Persian, and the right in Elamite. This palace was begin by Darius and finished by his son, Xerxes.
homas An unfinished capitol of homa birds.

Homas are a chimera of an eagle and a lion, and are another ancient icon of Mesopotamian culture. Sometimes called Huma, Bulah, Kumay or Umay, these creatures feature in Iranian, Turkish, Indian and Arabic traditions.
They are sometimes confused with the mythical Simorgh bird of the Shahnameh and Iranian folklore.

The curved forms remind me of sculptures by Barbara Hepworth
Lions and bulls Lions, bulls and lotus flowers.

These are recurring elements throughout Persepolis. The lions and bulls representing the ancient zodiac, together they represent the spring equinox which is Persian New Year (Nowruz).

The 12-petaled lotus flower appears to be a symbol of purity or truth.
The hand of friendship Power by friendship: a Median usher leads a delegation.

All over Persepolis there are clear gestures of friendship. The Persians could not control their huge empire by might alone. They used satrapies - provinces - governed in many cases by local kings. This is why Darius referred to himself as "King of Kings."
Immortal An Immortal

The Immortals were an elite regiment of soldiers.
Servants Servants or priests bringing supplies or sacrifices.
A decorated scabbard A decorated scabbard
Persian Nobles Persian nobles
Cuneiform writing Cuneiform inscription

Known in Farsi as "mikhi" (nails) as it resembles the impression of woodworking nails in clay.

One of the oldest scripts, it originated some 4,000 years BC and was normally written using a trimmed reed making impressions in clay tablets.
Tomb of Artaxerxes (Ardashir) Tomb or Artaxerxes III (Ardashir) carved into the Mountain of Mercy above Persepolis.
Spear and arrow tips Bronze spear tip and arrow tips
Ashes from Alexander's fire Ashes from Alexander's burning of Persepolis
Water pipes Clay pipes for conducting water

We tend to think of such things as Roman in origin, but in fact clay pipes go back to around 4000BC, long before the Persians.
Trumpet Bronze trumpet
Murder Audience Relief found in the treasury, depicting Xerxes and his murderers... for more information click here.

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Bull Capitol Bull capitol from Persepolis

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Lion capitol Lion capitol from Persepolis

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Karibu Capitol Karibu capitol from Persepolis

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Penelope Greek statue in white marble, assumed to represent Penelope (the wife of Odysseus), found in Persepolis. She is in "Classical" Greek style, dated to mid 5th century BC, presumably transported from Greece to Persepolis.

Source: "Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia "   by  J. E Curtis and N. Tallis


Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Female nude sculpture Unfinished statue of ?female nude

Found tucked behind the museum at Persepolis. I have no other information about this, but its natural style and Rodin-like hands are very different from the formal art elsewhere in Persepolis.

Ancient Persian photos from other places:

Karibu tiles from Susa From Susa: Glazed bricks depicting Karibus

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Immortal from Susa From Susa: Glazed bricks depicting an Immortal

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Darius the Pharaoh From Susa: Darius the Great as Pharaoh of Egypt

Carved in gray granite quarried from Wadi Hammamat in Eastern Egypt, this statue records that it was made in Egypt on the orders of Darius, probably for a temple in Heliopolis. Representations of the different nations in the Persian empire are labelled with heiroglyphs, along with Hapi, the Egyptian god of the Nile river. It was probably brought to Susa by Xerxes.
Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran. Source: "Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia "   by  J. E Curtis and N. Tallis
Swan Bowl Bowl decorated with swan heads

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Horse bit Horse tack - bit

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Bull from Chogha-Zanbil From Chogha-Zanbil: A bull sculpture

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran
Decorated drinking cup A bronze drinking cup

Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran