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Persepolis to Host Ancient Clay Figurines


News Category: Achaemenid Dynasty

17 June 2004



An exhibition of ancient clay statues and figurines, dating from the 7th-8th millenniums BC to the Sasanid dynasty, is scheduled to be held in the museum of Persepolis, the ruined capital of the Persian Empire.

The collection is, indeed, unique and priceless, the most renowned of which is a clay figurine of a woman, figuratively dubbed “The Venus of Sohrab’s Hill”. Clay statues are arguably the most refined form of arts developed in ancient Persia, an aesthetic statement of Iranians’ social and religious beliefs and revealing the depth of their mentality. The huge number of female figurines has raised an array of questions for Iranian archaeologists, mostly dealing with the perceived sanctity of them. Some of these clay statues are believed to have been symbols or idols of fertility and love.

In addition, archaeologists believe those figurines unearthed in ancient passageways functioned as jinx-busters to enrich the harvest yield of farmers and preserve their family tree, usually dedicated to beside-the-road temples and other worship sites to improve the relations between the prayers and the objects of worship.

A huge number of these figurines are kept in the Ancient Iran Museum; however, the curators have been forced to transfer the exhibition to Persepolis Museum to accommodate all eager and impatient visitors.

Persepolis, whose ruins can now be found south of modern Iran, was the capital of the Achaemenid dynasty, after King of Kings Darius the Great (522-486 BC) was enthroned in that magnificent city. In its art and architecture, Persepolis reflected Darius's perception of himself as the leader of conglomerates of people to whom he had given a new and single identity.


The Achaemenid art and architecture found there is at once distinctive and also highly eclectic. The Achaemenids took the art forms and the cultural and religious traditions of many of the ancient Middle Eastern peoples and combined them with Iranian tradition into a single form. This Achaemenid artistic style is evident in the iconography of Persepolis, which celebrates the king and the office of the monarch.

Persepolis was later burned down by Alexander in 331 BC. Only the columns, stairways and door jambs of its great palaces survived the arson. The stairways, adorned with reliefs representing the king, his court, and delegates of his empire bringing gifts, demonstrate the might of the Persian Empire.



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