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Iranian Imperial Guards, The Immortals Keeping Watch Over World Museums


News Category:

Achaemenian Dynasty - Cultural

14 February 2004 




 Achaemenid  Immortals from Susa

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 Immortals period to 1979 Iranian Revolution

(Click to enlarge)

The Persepolis imperial Guards, the Immortals stand guard at the world’s major museums. They stand for the Iranians steadfastness and Aryan blood, keeping close watch for thousands of year over the largest Iranian heritage which lies on the foothills of the Rahmat mountain near Shiraz, the capital of the southern province of Fars.

The Europeans, in particular the Orientalists, were drawn to the Iranian cultural and historical heritage as the archaeologists began explorations in Iran, specially in the 1800s.

The Persepolis was among places highly attractive to many Orientalists and foreign archaeologists. Built some six centuries B.C., the elaborate complex was at times a prodigious, royal palace and at times a sprawling ruin. Many globe trotters such as Marco Polo visited the site and wrote about it in their memoirs, thus drawing ever more people towards it.

Then a number of foreign archaeologists began transferring parts of the Persepolis to their own countries under this pretext that Iranians lacked the ability to preserve them. Parts of the Persepolis walls and columns accounted for a considerable volume of the shipments.

They ended up in major world museums like the British Museum, Louvre, Metropolitan Museum and the Oriental Institute in the University of Chicago.

In its Iran’s past hall, the British Museum holds some valuable pieces of the Apadana palace in the Persepolis. The entrance to the hall is decorated with a relief from the Achaemenid palace in Susa, showing in mosaic an Achaemenid imperial Immortal guard. A few small pieces from the Apadana palace walls depicting imperial guards feature in its pre-Islamic period showcase.

Parts of the Apadana wall feature on the Iranian section of the Louvre. Iran’s treasury at the Metropolitan holds a relief of a Mede soldier and a slave carrying presents. The slab measures 64.8x86.5 and is believed to be taken from the Persepolis.

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago is in possession of a cow head detached from a Persepolis column. It was taken to the institute by its archaeologists for restoration but was never returned. It is among the most precious Persepolis pieces held in museums abroad.

These are just a small number of relics from the Iranian cultural and historical treasury which now decorate museums worldwide.

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