Stone relief showing a
Achaemenid, 5th century BC
From Palace H at Persepolis, south-west Iran
This male sphinx wears the imposing horned headdress of a divinity.
Discovered at Persepolis by Colonel John MacDonald Kinneir during
excavations in 1826. Towards the end of the reign of the Persian king Cambyses (530-522 BC) a revolt broke out. On his way to deal with the
problem, Cambyses was killed. The rebellion was eventually crushed by
Darius who became the next king. The event was commemorated on a rock-cut
relief commissioned by Darius at Bisitun. He was keen to stress his
legitimacy and founded Persepolis as a new royal centre. The most
important buildings were on a terrace of natural rock which rose above the
surrounding plain. It has been suggested that Persepolis was a ceremonial
site rather than a residential city, but little is known of the buildings
in the plain. Work on the major structures was undertaken by a wide range
of craftsmen, employed from throughout the empire, and some fifteen major
buildings were constructed on the citadel during the Achaemenid period.
Carved stone reliefs decorated the exterior façades of some of these
buildings. They were originally painted. This particular relief was
originally set up on a façade of Palace G, constructed by Ataxerxes III
(reigned 358-338 BC) but later transferred during or after his reign to
replace the original north staircase of Palace H.
Height: 82 cm
Width: 75 cm
Thickness: 9 cm