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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 377 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PERSIAN ARCHITECTURE The origin of Persian architecture must be sought for in that of the two earlier dynasties,—the Assyrian and Median, to whose empire the Persian monarchy succeeded by conquest in 56o B.C. From the former, it borrowed the raised platform on which their palaces were built, the broad flights of steps leading up to them and the wingedhowever, to show that it was of the simplest kind, and consisted of a central hall, the roof of which was carried by two rows of stone columns, 30 ft. high, and porticoes in antis on two if not on three sides. The great platform, also at Pasargadae, known as the Takht-i-Suleiman, or throne of Solomon, covered an area of about 40,000 sq. ft., and is remarkable for the beauty of its masonry and the large stones of which it is built. These are all sunk round the edge, being the earliest example of what is known as " drafted masonry," which at Jerusalem and I-Iebron gives so magnificent an effect to the great walls of the temple enclosures. No remains have ever been traced on this platform of the palace which it was probably built to support. We pass on therefore to Persepolis, the most important of the Persian cities, if we may judge by the remains still existing there. Here, as at Pasargadae, builders availed themsehes of a natural rocky platform, at the foot of a range of hills, which they raised in parts and enclosed with a stone wall. Here the masonry is not drafted, and the stones are not always laid in horizontal courses, but they are shaped and fitted to one another with the greatest accuracy, and are secured by metal clamps. The plan (fig. II) shows the general configuration of the platform on which the palaces of Persepolis are built, which covered an area of about I,600,00o sq. ft. The principal approach to it was at the north-west end, up a magnificent flight of steps (A) with a double ramp, the steps being 22 ft. wide, with a tread of 15 in. and a rise of 4, so that they could be ascended by horses. The first building opposite this staircase was the entrance gateway or propylaea (B), a square hall, with four columns carrying the roof and with portals in the front and rear flanked by winged bulls. The earliest palace on the platform (D) is that which was built by Darius, 521 B.C. It was rectangular on plan, raised on a platform approached by two flights of steps, and consisted of an entrance portico of eight columns, in two rows of four placed in antis, between square chambers, in which were probably staircases leading to the roof. This portico led to the great hall, square on plan, whose roof was carried by sixteen columns in four rows. This hall was lighted by two windows on each side of the central doorway, all of which, being in stone, still exist, the lintels and jambs of both doors and windows being monolithic. The walls between these features, having been built in unburnt brick, or in rubble masonry with clay mortar, have long since disappeared. There were other rooms on each side of the hall and an open court in the rear. The bases of the columns of the portico still remain in situ, as also one of the antae in solid masonry; and as these in their relative position and height are in exact accordance with those ((~~^^ II ~ I n Jl;~l~'~ near Persepolis. represented on the tomb of Darius (fig. 12) and other tombs carved in the rock near Persepolis (q.v.), there is no difficulty in forming a fairly accurate conjectural restoration of the same. In the representation of this palace, as shown on the tomb, and above the portico, has been sculptured the great throne of Darius, on which he sat, rendering adoration to the Sun god. All the other palaces on the site, built or added to by various monarchs and at different periods, preserve very much the same plan, consisting always of a great square hall, the roof of which was carried by columns, with one or more porticoes round, and smaller rooms and courts in the rear. In one of the palaces (G) the roof was carried by too columns in ten rows of ten each. The most important building, however, and one which from its extent, height and magnificence, is one of the most stupendous works of antiquity, is the great palace of Xerxes (C), which, though it consists only of a great central hall and three porticoes, covered an area of over too,000 sq. ft., greater than any European cathedral, those of Milan and St Peter's at Rome alone excepted. It was built on a platform raised in ft. above the terrace and approached by four flights of steps on the north side, the principal entrance. The columns of the porticoes and of the great hall were 65 ft. high, including base and capital. In the east and west porticoes the capitals consist only of the double bull or griffin; the cross corbels on their backs, similar to those shown on the tomb of Darius, have disappeared, being probably in wood. In the north or entranceportico, and in the great hall, the capitals are of a much more elaborated nature, as under the double capital was a composition of Ionic capitals set on end, and below that the calix and pendant leaves of the lotus plant. It can only be supposed that Xerxes, thinking the columns of the east portico required more decoration, instructed his architects to add some to those of the entrance portico and hall, and that they copied some of the spoils brought from Branchidae and others from Egypt. Fig. 13 shows the plan of the palace according to the researches of Mr Weld Blundell, who found the traces of the walls surrounding the great hall and of the square chambers at the angles, and also proved that the lines of the drains as shown in Coste's and Texier's plans were incorrect. M. Dieulafoy also traced the existence of walls enclosing the Apadana at Susa from the paving of the hall and the portico which stopped on the lines of the wall. The plan of I^ ^I Rain Water _ • • • • t ® • • as • • b • • Is ^I • • I N • • . .• • • • 1^ ^I • • I • ® • • • • c • • I ti • • i • ® • • • ; • d • • I I I. 0241 2 • • • • • • i,! e/%! • • • • • • IIIIIII!Ilillllllll IIIIIIIIIIIIPIIIII llli!IIIIIIII!lill IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII 5,0 '05 2 5P '40 150 spofeet From R. P. Spiers's Architecture, East and West. the palace at Susa was similar to that of the palace of Xerxes, except that on the side facing the garden facing south the apadana or throne room was left open. M. Dieulafoy's discoveries at Susa of the frieze of archers, the frieze of the lions, and other decorations of the walls flanking the staircase, all executed in bright coloured enamels on concrete blocks, revealed the exceptional beauty of the decoration both externally and internally applied to the Persian palaces. The only other monumental works of Persian architecture are the tombs; to those cut in the solid rock, of which there are some examples, we have already referred. The most ancient tomb is that erected to Cyrus the Elder at Pasargadae, and consists of a small shrine or cella in masonry raised on a series of steps, inspired (according to Fergusson) by the ziggurat or terrace-temples of Assyria, but on a small scale. The tomb was surrounded on three sides by porticoes of columns. There are two other tombs, one at Persepolis and one at Pasargadae—small square towers with an entrance opening high up on one side, sunk panels in the stone, and a dentil cornice, copied from early Ionian buildings. (R. P. S.)
End of Article: PERSIAN

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