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by - August 28 2010

Persepolis is Persia's archaeological jewel. It was started by Darius I in 518BC and was extended by Xerces and his successors before eventually being destroyed by Alexander the Great. Cyrus the Great, liberator of Israel and founder of the Empire apparently lived somewhere else.

Unlike Pompeii and Ephesus, Persepolis was not a city but a network of grand palaces. There are no utilitarian structures like theatres, libraries, and temples. Instead everything is about the glory of the king.

Unlike Roman ruins, which are usually primarily constructed from bare stone, almost every surface in Persepolis is an intricate relief depicting some scene with an interesting meaning. Many of the reliefs depicted conquered nations bringing gifts of tribute to the great emperor. 28 different groups were depicted, including Greeks, Ethiopians, Romans, Assyrians, and Europeans.

It was easy to find influences from Greeks and Egyptians. There were plenty of sphinxes, but with a distinctively Persian twist. Similarly the pillars with bulls at their tops were very similar to those I had seen in Ephesus. The site itself was crushingly hot, even though we had left at 8am to avoid the worst of the heat.

After Persepolis proper, we visited the necropolis, where the tombs of the kings were placed high on the cliff faces. Again it was easy to see Egyptian influence, including mummification of kings.

I'm now going to be hanging out in Shiraz for a few days, before I fly to Jordan on the 31st.