Persepolis: Khan Academy, Persepolis Historical Facts and Pictures, Persian Architecture in Photos, and More

Persepolis: Khan Academy, Persepolis Historical Facts and Pictures, Persian Architecture in Photos, and More

Khan Academy

Persepolis: The Audience Hall of Darius and Xerxes

by Dr. Jeffrey Becker. Created by Smarthistory.

Growth of the Achaemenid Empire under different kings (underlying map © Google)

By the early fifth century B.C.E. the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire ruled an estimated 44% of the human population of planet Earth. Through regional administrators the Persian kings controlled a vast territory which they constantly sought to expand. Famous for monumental architecture, Persian kings established numerous monumental centers, among those is Persepolis (today, in Iran). The great audience hall of the Persian kings Darius and Xerxes presents a visual microcosm of the Achaemenid empire—making clear, through sculptural decoration, that the Persian king ruled over all of the subjugated ambassadors and vassals (who are shown bringing tribute in an endless eternal procession).

Kylix depicting a Greek hoplite slaying a Persian inside, by the Triptolemos painter, 5th century B.C.E. (National Museums of Scotland)

Persepolis would remain an important site until it was sacked, looted, and burned under Alexander the Great of Macedon in 330 B.C.E.

Plan of Persepolis (underlying image: Oriental Institute Museum via Google Arts and Culture)

Bull Capital from Persepolis, Ap?dana, Persepolis (Fars, Iran), c. 520–465 B.C.E. (National Museum of Iran) (photo: s1ingshot)

The Ap?dana palace is a large ceremonial building, likely an audience hall with an associated portico. The audience hall itself is hypostyle in its plan, meaning that the roof of the structure is supported by columns. Ap?dana is the Persian term equivalent to the Greek hypostyle (Ancient Greek: ????????? hypóst?los). The footprint of the Ap?dana is c. 1,000 square meters; originally 72 columns, each standing to a height of 24 meters, supported the roof (only 14 columns remain standing today). The column capitals assumed the form of either twin-headed bulls (above), eagles or lions, all animals represented royal authority and kingship.

Ap?dana, Persepolis (Fars, Iran), c. 520–465 B.C.E. (photo: Alan Cordova, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

19th century reconstruction of the Ap?dana, Persepolis (Fars, Iran) by Charles Chipiez (photo: Pentocelo~commonswiki, public domain)

East stairway, Ap?dana, Persepolis (Fars. Iran), c. 520–465 B.C.E.

The Ap?dana stairs and sculptural program

The monumental stairways that approach the Ap?dana from the north and the east were adorned with registers of relief sculpture that depicted representatives of the twenty-three subject nations of the Persian empire bringing valuable gifts as tribute to the king. The sculptures form a processional scene, leading some scholars to conclude that the reliefs capture the scene of actual, annual tribute processions—perhaps on the occasion of the Persian New Year–that took place at Persepolis. The relief program of the northern stairway was perhaps completed c. 500–490 B.C.E. The two sets of stairway reliefs mirror and complement each other. Each program has a central scene of the enthroned king flanked by his attendants and guards.

even reflecting events that took place within the Ap?dana itself.

An Armenian tribute bearer carrying a metal vessel with Homa (griffin) handles, relief from the eastern stairs of the Ap?dana in Persepolis: (Fars. Iran), c. 520–465 B.C.E.   (photo: Aryamahasattva, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The relief program of the Ap?dana serves to reinforce and underscore the power of the Persian king and the breadth of his dominion. The motif of subjugated peoples contributing their wealth to the empire’s central authority serves to visually cement this political dominance. These processional scenes may have exerted influence beyond the Persian sphere, as some scholars have discussed the possibility that Persian relief sculpture from Persepolis may have influenced Athenian sculptors of the fifth century B.C.E. who were tasked with creating the Ionic frieze of the Parthenon in Athens. In any case, the Ap?dana, both as a building and as an ideological tableau, make clear and strong statements about the authority of the Persian king and present a visually unified idea of the immense Achaemenid empire.

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Persepolis Historical Facts and Pictures

Situated 70 kilometers northeast from Shiraz city in Iran, the Persepolis was once the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Now among one of the World Heritage Centers, Persepolis literally means “city of Persians”.

Persepolis Map

Persepolis Map

Persepolis Photos



Now in a ruined condition, this historical structure exhibits Achaemenid architectural style.  This 40 ft. high and 100 ft. wide complex is occupied with multiple halls, a wide terrace, corridors and a symmetrical stairway leading to the top.  The stairway delineates various literal and metaphorical relief scenes. The terrace displays inscriptions that prove Darius the great was the initiator of building this historical complex.

Persepolis Images

Persepolis Pictures


The wide terrace comprises a number of gigantic ruined buildings, composed of grey dark marble. These ruins, now known as Takht e Jamshid, were known as Chehel Minar (the 40 pillars) in the thirteenth century. Three catacombs of rock are located behind the Takht-e-Jamshid.

Perspolis Chehel Minar

Takht e Jamshid

Interiors of Persepolis

The complex contains various halls and chambers inside its structure that include the Hall of Apadana, Tachar, Hadish, Talar-i-Takht, Darwazeh-i-Mellal, the Khazaneh, and Naksh-e-Rustam. The most spectacular hall of the complex, the Apadana Hall, comprising 36 columns is also the largest hall within the structure. The structure was built with square based fluted columns and mud brick walls. Tachar was the private chamber of Darius the great. The later addition Hardish was the private chamber of emperor Xerexes the Great. Tala-i-Takht, comprising 100 columns, served as the hall of throne.  The royal treasury or Khazaneh is preserved in a palace complex that was later developed by Artaxerexes III. The Naksh-e-Rustam is occupied with the tombs of the kings.

Persepolis Darwazeh-i-Mellal

Persepolis Hall of Apadana

Persepolis Naksh-e-Rustam

Persepolis Tachar

The site of Persepolis is an embodiment of past grandeur. Although in a ruined state today this majestic structure still has no equivalence and represents a distinct quality of an ancient civilization.

Quick Info

Founded: 6th century BCE
Periods: Achaemenid Empire
Cultures: Persian
Location and Address: Fars Province, Iran
Type: Settlement
Condition: In ruins
Attributes: UNESCO World Heritage Site

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University of Chicago

Oblique aerial view of the terrace of Persepolis from the northwest, taken during an aerial survey expedition in Iran.

View of the eastern stairway and columns of the Apadana (Audience Hall) at Persepolis, Iran, 5th century B.C.

Winged sphinx from the Palace of Darius, Persepolis, Iran, 5th century B.C

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Persian Architecture in Photos: Reliefs of Persepolis

By IFP Editorial Staff

January 2, 2020

The reliefs that adorn the ancient palaces of Persepolis are considered to be among the most prominent remaining antiquities in the world.

Extensive study is required to discover the secrets of considerable quantity and quality of the ancient complex’ reliefs.

Up to this date, however, no valid stylistic analysis on them has been published.

What follows are Fars News Agency’s photos of Persepolis reliefs:

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More Photos from my site in Pinterest

Ing’s comments

“Persepolis would remain an important site until it was sacked, looted, and burned under Alexander the Great of Macedon in 330 B.C.E.” Khan Academy  

I was very impressed with the construction of Persepolis, especially the artwork created.  I can imagine how busy the workers, artists, architectures and others who were involved in building this monument must have been.  Undoubtedly there was a big ceremony for the opening of the beautiful and unique complex.  Music in the air, and entertainment performed, with laughter and happy conversations making Persepolis come alive for the festive occasion.    

As I studied Persepolis History and discovered that it was burned and destroyed by Alexander the Great of Macedon.  It is sad that humans learn to fight and destroy others in order to gain power and wealth from looting.  This is the same as the Burmese (Myanmar) king burning and looting Ayutthaya, the second capital of Siam (Thailand) in 1767. 

There are wars in every part of the world, especially now, between Russia and Ukraine.  Putin still behaves in a similar way to aggressive leaders of past civilizations.  His greediness makes him forget humanity.  Ukraine is being destroyed by Putin’s bombs. Ukrainian civilians and soldiers have been killed by the thousands.  Putin is sending his Russian soldiers to be killed in even greater numbers.  I do not see the sense of Putin’s behave.  He is the only one causing all this destruction and no one on earth can do anything about it.  I can hardly believe that such a human still exists in this 21st century.  Where is the UN organization and the individual countries that call themselves developed and civilized.  Putin has been able to cultivate, gather power, and wealth, for himself for more than 20 years.  No one in Russia can oppose Putin if they think differently to him.  Those who oppose him will be jailed or killed. 

In the United States, Trump who considered himself a good friend of Putin and Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea, has similar hunger for absolute power and wealth.  This also may apply to some Republican law makers in Congress obey and follow Trump.  Even if Trump does not regain the presidency, these Republican lawmakers can still take the presidency, and gain sufficient control of the government to destroy American democracy forever.  

Do we vote for the price of food in super markets or for freedom to keep democracy for the country and for future generations?

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Monday, December 5, 2022

A Brief History of the Ancient Ruins of Ayutthaya in Thailand

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Afar: 11 Lost Cities, and Atlas Obscura: 14 Lesser-Known Ancient Sites

Afar: 11 Lost Cities, and Atlas Obscura: 14 Lesser-Known Ancient Sites

11 Lost Cities You Can Actually Visit

Rediscover these abandoned cities by traveling to see their ruins, where you can readily imagine their lost-to-time structures and civilizations.


Jen Rose Smith

More from Afar

The carvings and palace of Persepolis were rediscovered in the 20th century. Photo by Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock.

When the lost city of Kweneng, South Africa, was discovered, it wasn’t because someone found a fossil there or excavated it with a shovel. Instead, archaeologist Karim Sadr relied on LiDAR technology, which uses lasers to measure distance, to create detailed images of the surrounding Suikerbosrand hills, where Tswana-speaking people first built stone settlements in the 15th century.

It was a slow process that spanned more than two years, sort of a digital version of clearing vines from a hidden temple. Sadr pored over the data looking for patterns beneath the area’s thick brush. Rounded shapes emerged on the black-and-white LiDAR images, helping to reconstruct the lives of families who lived in the stone homesteads, herded cattle, and created ash heaps (typically the remainders of feasts) to flaunt their wealth. While scientists had long believed that the hills held a series of small, lost-to-time communities, Sadr’s finds extended far beyond the aboveground ruins already visible on the site. “There was no real ‘eureka’ moment,” said Sadr, “but it seems that one day I was looking at a collection of villages and the next day I saw a city.”

Cities such as Kweneng are forgotten for a variety of reasons, and their remains have always exerted a powerful draw on inquisitive travelers. While Kweneng’s visitor infrastructure isn’t quite as developed yet, there are plenty of other rediscovered cities to visit. Whether you’re among the dusty palaces at Xanadu or walking along ancient Troy’s battlements, you can channel your inner explorer while visiting these ruins, whose cultural breadth and evocativeness show how enduring lost cities can be.

Persepolis, Iran

Achaemenid Empire kings fortified a natural stone terrace into an imposing platform when they founded Persepolis in the 6th century B.C.E., leveraging the landscape to awe-inspiring effect and military advantage. After centuries in the sand, the delicate carvings, inscriptions, and palaces of Persepolis were excavated in the 20th century. Apadana Palace dominates the oldest part of the site, where travelers will see 13 of the original 72 towering stone columns—the only survivors of a 331 B.C.E. attack by Alexander the Great. If you travel to Iran, we recommend booking through a tour operator like Intrepid, which can help facilitate visas.

The architectural wonder of Petra is one of Jordan’s main attractions. Photo by Yongyut/Shutterstock.

Petra, Jordan

The entrance to Petra is designed for maximum impact, leading visitors from a shadowy gorge to views of soaring, tangerine-colored rock. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Petra was carved by Nabateans (who likely established it as the capital city in the 4th century B.C.E.) and is Jordan’s star attraction. It’s still easy enough to find solitude in the now-uninhabited desert site. Ditch the tour groups by climbing a steep pathway to the High Place of Sacrifice; its pair of monumental obelisks are believed to represent Nabatean gods.

Ciudad Perdida, a forest city in Colombia, takes five days to reach. Photo by Scott Biales/Shutterstock.

Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

Founded in the 9th century, this forest city developed a unique architectural plan of stone pathways, plazas, and houses over centuries, but dense jungle swallowed them shortly after the arrival of Europeans. The five-day trek to Ciudad Perdida (the only way to get there) is an adventure in and of itself. Brave the steep, muddy trail to reach ceremonial terraces and to meet Colombia’s indigenous Kogi and Wiwa people, who are some of the site’s modern-day guardians and live in the region.

Pompeii’s Temple of Apollo. Photo by Bahdanovich Alena/Shutterstock.

Pompeii and Herculaneum, Italy

Billowing ash from Mount Vesuvius dimmed the sky above Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 C.E., then buried the cities for nearly 17 centuries. While history this ancient often requires leaps of imagination, the tragic past remains eerily vivid here. Take a transporting walk through the cities, which are about a 20-minute drive apart, to see brilliant frescoes, visit the site of an ancient brothel, see the petrified bodies, and pay your respects in the Temple of Apollo.

The Palace of the Minoans in Knossos. Photo by Constantinos Iliopoulos/Shutterstock.

Knossos, Greece

The Minoan palace at Knossos was already ancient when Homer wrote his Odyssey, and it has myth and history layered into its Bronze Age foundations. Archaeologist Arthur Evans began excavations of the site on Crete in 1900; he linked his findings of the remains of the palace to the mythological labyrinth where the minotaur—a half-man, half-bull born to a Cretan queen—lurked in darkness. While that story remains unproven, travelers can judge the creature’s legendary origins for themselves when visiting the palace’s east wing, which is adorned with a fresco that depicts three figures and a giant vaulting bull.

The Caana complex is the tallest structure in Belize. Photo by PRLLL/Shutterstock.

Caracol, Belize

Trees curl around Caracol’s stone pyramids, which the Belize jungle overtook after residents abandoned the site in the 11th century. Its architectural achievements are impressive even by modern standards: Caana, the temple complex at the heart of Caracol, remains the tallest structure in the country at 141 feet, and archaeologists believe the Maya metropolis would have dwarfed the area of today’s Belize City. Rediscovered in 1938, Caracol draws far fewer visitors than nearby Tikal—plan an early-morning visit and you might have it to yourself.

The remnant fortifications of Machu Picchu were found in 1911. Photo by Cezary Wojikowski/Shutterstock.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Carved high in the Andes, Machu Picchu was a fitting sanctuary for the Inca, who honored the turbulent gods of the mountains. Emptied by the fall of the Inca Empire in the 16th century, the gorgeous synthesis of peaks and fortifications have drawn adventurers to Peru since the citadel was rediscovered in 1911. Journey to Machu Picchu by footpath, bus, or luxury train, then trek to the neighboring peak of Huayna Picchu for classic views across the main site.

An archaeologist used Homer’s “Iliad” to find Troy in 1870. Photo by Lillac/Shutterstock.

Troy, Turkey

A dramatic setting for the ancient world’s most consequential love triangle, Troy has a 4,000-year history that merges with myth near Turkey’s Aegean coast. Discovering Troy was a driving passion for Heinrich Schliemann, an archaeologist who used Homer’s Iliad like a treasure map and found the site in 1870. After you walk through the ancient fortifications and palaces here, see the troves they once held in the Troy Museum, which opened in October with interactive exhibits highlighting gleaming jewelry, marble statues, and other treasures.

Ubar was untouched in the middle of the Arabian peninsula for nearly 1,000 years. Photo by Damian Ryszawy/Shutterstock.

Ubar, Oman

As camels laden with frankincense crossed the Empty Quarter of the Arabian peninsula, travelers gathered for dates and gossip at trading posts deep in the desert. Lost to the blowing sand for nearly 1,000 years, Ubar is one such site; it was found in 1992 using images taken from space. Located on the southernmost edge of Oman, Ubar is two hours inland from the Arabian Sea city of Salalah. Make the trip to see stone walls and fortifications that are rising from the dusty ground as excavations proceed.

Xanadu is surrounded by grasslands in every direction. Photo by beibaoke/Shutterstock.

Xanadu, China

Kublai Khan ruled his empire from the city of Xanadu, surrounded by a grassland steppe that stretched to the horizon in every direction. Located about five hours northwest of Beijing, this is where Mongolian and Han cultures mingled, and travelers debated philosophy in gracious palaces and gardens. Find the remains of that cosmopolitan capital in Xanadu’s excavated temples, stone walls, and tombs, which were abandoned to the windy plains in the 15th century.

The La Danta pyramid towers above the Guatemalan forests. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

El Mirador, Guatemala

Only an adventurous few will reach the ancient Maya city of El Mirador, which dates back to 1,000 B.C.E. and is shrouded by the largest tropical forest north of the Amazon. There are only two ways to get here: Charter a helicopter or trek two days from the road’s end at the village of Carmelita. Make the journey to El Mirador to climb La Danta, a towering pyramid whose crest swells above the surrounding canopy.

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14 Lesser-Known Ancient Sites Worth Building a Trip Around

Check out Atlas Obscura readers’ favorite archaeological wonders.

Atlas Obscura

  • Eric Grundhauser

Read when you’ve got time to spare.

More from Atlas Obscura

The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento (including the more contemporary “fallen” Icarus statue by the Polish artist Igor Mitoraj) is just one of the world’s incredible ruin sites. Photo credit: Andrea Schaffer / CC BY 2.0.

The ruins of an ancient city, temple, or necropolis are often the centerpieces of an adventurous trip: Stonehenge, Chichen Itza, the Great Pyramids. And there are other, perhaps lesser-known (depending on who you ask, of course) sites that are every bit as spectacular and worth planning an itinerary around. These places can let you walk in the footsteps of ancient people—sometimes without the crowds—to get a sense of the depth and richness of human history that you can’t get from any book or film. Atlas Obscura asked readers in their community forums to share their favorite ruins and archaeological sites. Any one of these places could be the focus of your next adventure.

Check out some of the submissions below, and if you have a favorite ruin or archaeological site that more people should know about, head over to the forums and keep the conversation going!

Photo credit: Teomancimit/CC BY-SA 3.0.

Göbekli Tepe

?anl?urfa, Turkey

“I’ve seen quite a few ruins around the world. I’m always in awe of rock-cut structures such as Petra in Jordan, the churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia, and Geghard Monastery in Armenia. But in my mind, nothing in the world can compare with the carved stone structures at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. We’re so used to using the pyramids or Stonehenge as our standard for ancient, but these ruins rewrite history. Göbekli Tepe has been dated to 10,000 B.C., and it would be almost 7,500 more years before the pyramids were built! We are closer now to the construction of the pyramids (4,500 years) than between the pyramids and Göbekli Tepe. The large carved stones would be buried and lost near 7,000 B.C. The age, the scale, the state of civilization at that time (pre-farming) … it’s all absolutely mind-boggling and truly without peer anywhere else on the planet (so far!).” MITFlunkie

Photo credit: McKay Savage/CC BY 2.0.

Moray Ruins

Maras, Peru

“I was awestruck visiting Moray in Peru, a sunken terrace extending down over 30 meters. Much less crowded than Machu Picchu and just as impressive!” vb9923

Photo credit: Jos Dielis/CC BY 2.0.

Valley of the Temples

Agrigento, Italy

“Feels like being in Greece!” elokyrmse

Photo credit: katiebordner/CC BY 2.0.

La Ciudad Perdida

Magdalena, Colombia

“Reached only after a grueling five-day trek through the Colombian jungle, it’s almost 1,000 years older than Machu Piccu and was built by the indigenous people who lived in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It was abandoned after the Spanish conquest and only rediscovered in the 1970s.” vb9923

Photo credit: MM/Public Domain.

Corinth, Greece

“On my first visit to Greece in 1985 I explored the Acrocorinth, or Upper Corinth. Like the Acropolis in Athens, it was the formation overlooking the city. Unlike the Acropolis it was nearly deserted and basically open. I don’t remember if anyone else was even there, but sheep were roaming among the ruins. It made me feel how travelers to Greece in the 18th century must have felt in the then-village of Athens. I’ve been to Greece a number of times since, and driven by on my way to my family’s hometown, but haven’t been back. I’m afraid it would be less wild now.” gjg64

Photo credit: Bradley Weber/CC BY 2.0.

Ostia Antica

Rome, Italy

“After watching a documentary about the ancient port of Rome we decided to visit Ostia before leaving our two-week visit to Italy. Wow! Our first impression was how we had the site almost to ourselves. It was as if the port was sleeping and awaiting our arrival. Far more intimate than sites like Pompei with an amazing forum and arena and enormous mosaics still in the process of restoration. Magical!” Bob_L

Photo credit: Tours in Croatia/CC BY 2.0.

Diocletian’s Palace

Split, Croatia

“Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia, was a pretty awesome place. And there was a flower show inside!” bowmancheryl

Photo credit: Arian Zwegers/CC BY 2.0.

Uxmal Pyramid

Yucatán, Mexico

“It’s great to read about so many incredible ruins in Mexico, one of my favorite places to visit. During a trip to the Yucatán, we skipped Chichen Itza to explore some of the lesser-known sites. Uxmal was by far the most impressive. Wandering about this magical place, virtually alone, we could feel something indescribable, a spirit from the past perhaps. It’s something I can still feel today.” michwillshea

Photo credit: yeowatzup/CC BY 2.0.

Volubilis Archaeological Site

Meknes, Morocco

“Volubilis, Morocco. The ruins of the Roman city were amazing to explore. An earthquake in the 18th century destroyed many of the buildings, and it’s now a preserved archaeological site. Considered to be one of the most remote cities of the Roman Empire.” clantongraphics

Photo credit: Continentaleurope/CC BY-SA 4.0.

?a?ar Qim


“More ancient than Stonehenge. Older than the Pyramids of Giza. It’s ?a?ar Qim, among the oldest of structures. Mysterious? Yes, to us, as are the pyramids and Stonehenge. But were they mysterious to the people who built them and hung out there? Contemplating all of this as you walk and explore and imagine is the best part of being there.” penelopeashe

Photo credit: Steven dosRemedios/CC BY-ND 2.0.

Copán Ruins

Copán Department, Honduras

“It’s hard to pick, but I think I’d have to go with Copán in Honduras. It’s not the most vertically impressive Mesoamerican site I’ve been to (that would have to be Tikal) and it doesn’t have the best setting (I’d vote for Palenque), but it has some of the most amazing carvings—detailed, baroque, and full of meaning. There’s even a stairway covered in Mayan hieroglyphs. The site museum is also off the charts. You enter by descending into a reproduction of a gateway into the underworld, and the centerpiece is a reproduction of a beautiful red temple they found buried under later works. Go early in the day and the morning squawks and flights of scarlet macaws in the jungle trees will make it even more magical.” aeddubh

Photo credit: Jim Greenhill, U.S. Army/Public Domain.

Ruins of Jerash

Jerash, Jordan

“It’s the most intact Roman city outside of Italy. And because of its location, it is also partly Greek, Byzantine, and Nabatean. It was a crossroads and ancient artifacts from many cultures ave been found there. We had the place mostly to ourselves when we were there.” — BrettElliott

Photo credit: Kroelleboelle/CC BY-SA 3.0.

Norba Ruins

Lazio, Italy

“When wandering the Italian countryside, we randomly came upon the ruins of the Latium town of Norba, which was destroyed in 82 B.C. by Lucius Cornelius Sulla when he marched on Rome.” wynoochie

Photo credit: David Taylor/CC BY 2.0.

Gran Quivira

New Mexico

“I love ruins! I have visited sites all over—Asia, Middle East, Central/South America, Africa—my favorites are in Israel. But I have a great fondness for the ruins I visited earliest in my life, in New Mexico, especially Gran Quivira.” jedwardboring

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