Cover Pictures


Shows a shepherd and his flock near the site of Persepolis, photographed in 2009. The Persians originated as nomadic pastoralists from the Steppes, and there are many nomadic tribes within Iran to this day - particularly in the Zagros mountains, where they move with their herd according to the seasons (with 4WD vehicles, of course).

Front Cover

This is a detail from a figure who probably was part of a frieze depicting rows of guards. The vivid colors on the perfectly-preserved embossed and glazed clay bricks show how the carved stone sculptures at Persepolis would have looked when painted. The guards were thought to be members of the 1000 special royal guards. who made up the part of the royal army known as the "Immortals" because their strength was always apparently maintained at this level. He's from Darius' winter Palace at Susa, in west en Iran not far from the border with Iraq, dated around 521-500 BC. He holds a spear firmly in both hands, and has a bow and a quiver slung over his back. There's a similar full-size panel of an almost identical guard in the British Museum. It is pretty well live size. There's a group of three in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin - giving a very good idea of the original effect. The glazed brick technique came from Babylon - see also page 21.

Perian warriors




Upper picture

Modern Tehran, capital of Iran only since 1796 - around 32 other cities have had their day as capitals! We're looking north from the top of a modern hotel towards the snow-capped Alborz range. It's November. The city today is huge - with a population of over 15 million. The whole city slopes from north (the wealthier area) to the south, which runs into the the deserts. In the suburbs there are remains of the ancient Mede foundation and Parthian capital of Rhages (Ray or Rayy).

Lower picture

Lion attacking a bull, from Persepolis, - there are mirror images of the scene on either side of the staircase leading to Darius' palace. It's an exceptionally powerful image: unfortunately we don't know what it signifies! Maybe students will have ideas. They were added during the reign of Artaxerxes III (359 - 338 BC) as he tells us in an inscription.


Back Cover

A nighttime view of the Sheik Lutfullah Mosque in Isfahan. It was built by the greatest of the Safavid shahs, Abbas I, between 1603 and 1619. It was a private place of worship - specially built for the ladies of Abbas' harem - they could get to it by a tunnel from the palace on the other side of the great square. The square (actually a huge rectangle (160 x 560 metres) was once the royal polo ground - goal posts are still visible.

Isfahan square