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Persian or Persepolitan Architecture

ruins, feet, persepolis, steps, found, principal, miles and persia

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PERSIAN or PERSEPOLITAN ARCHITECTURE, is that style of building employed by the ancient Persians; it is called Persepolitan from Persepolis, the capital of Persia, where also are found the principal remains of this style. The Persian architecture bears some resemblance to that of India and Egypt in general character, but differs from it considerably in matters of' detail. In all three places we meet with excavated tombs and sepulchral chambers hewn out of the perpendicular thee of the rock ; yet beyond the circumstance of their position and method of formation, we find little in common between those of Persepolis and the other countries : in the latter, the excavations are usually- of very great extent, and consist of one or more passages lead ing into a large number of different apartments ; whereas those of Persia are very shallow, and consist mainly of an architectural flicade or portico, richly adorned with sculpture and other embellishments. Such are those at Naksh-i Rustam ; also the torch of Darius, at the foot of Mount Rachmed. near the ancient Araxes. Another similarity is to be found in their massive proportions; and although in the works of Persia there is less real massiveness than in those of Egypt, yet the similarity of appearance points to a common origin. The pyramidal inclination of their walls is another indication of the same fact; and great resemblance in this point and in others may be observed in their porticos ur propylica, which, besides the pyramidal form ()I' the erec tion, present us with the same description of entablature which, in the ruins of Persepolis as well as in those of Egypt, consist of a lofty crowning hollow or concave member, orna mented with vertical ribs or leaves, and in both cases termi nated with a large fillet. The sculpture of the two countries is also of character, stiff and formal, and, together with the arrow-headed characters which are found equally in both styles, presents a very fair argument in favour of their rela tionship.

The principal ruins of this style, as we have before men tioned, are to be found in Persepolis, in the great plain of Merdasht or Istakh• ; but others are also existing at Shapur, where they cover an area of six miles in circumference, amidst rocks and precipices, many of which are decorated with sculpture. At Moorghab, forty-nine miles north-east of lstakhr, are other extensive ruins, amongst which a ruin, called by the natives Musjed-i-Madre-Solyman, is remark able, being considered by some as the tomb of Cyrus the Great. Somew h it nearer to the ruins of Persepolis are the

Ntiksh•i-1:41), and the Naksh•i-hoostan, both of which are supposed to he the tombs of regal personages. The ruins of the neighln sl ()f I ntd are very extensive, occu pying a space of about 17 miles by about half the distance : other ruins at 1>arabgherd, and many in other places, (4' some of which we shall attempt to give a short descrip tion, and as the ruins of Persepolis are amongst the most re markable and bet ter-known examples, we proceed with their description These ruins are situated in the plains of Merdasht, at the fold of the 111Inmutin of Kuliraj-met, and stand upon an ele vated terrace or platform, formed by surface of the rock. The plattin in is in the shape of a parallelogram, but somewhat irregular in its ()Milne, which follows the pro liir the rock ; its dimensions are on the south thee SO2! feet, on the mirth 920, and on the west 1,425. ()n each of these sides the terrace is elevated above the general sini"ave elf the NOIT011Odillg country, tuft on the east side the moun tain rises above it ; the vertical height of the three sides varies from 1-1 to •0 feet, the faces being of gigantic sy in re blocks of a dark-grey marble, beautifully poi shed, and fitted to each other with the greatest exactness without the aid of cement. l'he surface of the platform is not on the same level th•iughenit, those parts which were covered with buildings being somewhat elevated above the rest. On the west side, which may be considered the principal one, and at a spot about midway between the centre and the north-west ang!e. is the approach, which consists of two flights of steps in odu rary directions, which return again to the upper land ing-plaee. The height of the plat form at this place is about 20 feet. and the flight on the north side consists cif 55, and that on the south of 53 steps, the risers measuring 4 inches, and the threads ; the tt idth of the flights is 25 feet 7 invites. and the distance between them at the base 42 feet. The steps are cut (nit Of immense masses of solid Marble, sufficiently large to coupe se font 10 to 1• steps. The half spare at the top of the first flight is 51 feet 4 inches l)etween Of- flights, and that at the top of the upper flight 75 feet ; the upper Rights two separated ()mil the lower by it wall.

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