Fascination for Persepolis
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Rapenburg 28, Leiden, the Netherlands Showing from: 20 October 2017 – 25 March 2018
Running concurrently with Nineveh: Heart of an ancient empire is a small exhibition,
Fascination for Persepolis. The city, known to the Greeks of Darius’ time (522-486 BC) as Persepolis, ‘city of the Persians’, is regarded as one of the most fascinating archaeological sites from the ancient world.
The ruins of the Persian palace complex in the south of Iran still strike visitors with awe. Many people are filled with a sense of history when they first see the huge dimensions and beauty of these monuments, rising from the Marvdasht Plain.
Since the 14th century, many Europeans have felt compelled to travel to distant Iran and capture these structures in words, drawings, and photographs. Their accounts provide compelling insights into the enduring fascination with this ancient site.
The Fascination for Persepolis exhibition focuses on the writings, drawings, engravings, photographs and objects of the European travellers, photographers, and archaeologists who visited Persepolis through the centuries. It covers the period up to the first excavations in 1931 and also includes the stories of an Iranian family that lived near the ancient city for generations. The impressive monuments and sculptures still inspire many visitors today.
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Persepolis stands on a large, rectangular terraced platform with three levels, partly carved out of solid rock. Most of the palace complex was built during the reigns of Darius I (522-486 BC) and Xerxes I (483-465 BC), although additional building took place under later kings.
The site was used mainly as a ceremonial location. During the Persian New Year (Norouz) – still celebrated in Iran around 21 March – delegations from the empire’s many nations visited the king and paid homage to him with gifts.
The complex as a whole is regarded as a crown jewel of Persian architecture, but it also displays artistic styles and techniques from other cultures, like those of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Asia Minor and Greece.
For more information about the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden see http://www.rmo.nl
Above: De Bruijn, Fourth view of Persepolis, from Travellingto Moscow,byPersia andIndia, 1711, no. 120.
Right: Portrait of Dr. Ernst Herzfeld, Field Director of the OI, University of Chicago, photographed in front of Persepolis reliefs by James Henry Breasted Jr. Feb 23, 1933