PERSIAN ART. The history of Persian art falls into two main divisions: that before and that after the advent of Mohammedanism. 111 the earliest period the civilization and art bore a great resemblance to the Babylonian and Ehun ite. The palaces, rock-cut sculptures, and images of gods closely resembled those of neighboring na tions. These monuments, however, at Susa and elsewhere, were swept away by the invasion of the Iranian tribes toward the eighth century B.C., in their two divisions of Sledes and Per sians.
AlEDES AND PERSIANS. Ecbatana and Pasar ginhe and the rock-cut altars on several mountain summits show that the new art was quite differ ent from the old. It had no temples, only altars in the open air, with some slight protection. Its palaces, as indicated by l'olybius's description of that of Cyaxares at Ecbatana, were built of wood covered with metal, brilliant and light, a great contrast to the heavy brick architecture of the Babylonians. The conquests of Cyrus and his successors led to radical modifications; the archi tectural features, sculptural and decorative meth ods, were adopted from Lydia and the rest of Asia Minor and from Egypt; stone replaced wood and metal; sculpture in relief, in stone and glazed tiles, was copied, both in style and sub ject. from Babylonia and Assyria, and thus we
find sporadic resemblances even to archaic Ionian Greek art, due to borrowing from a common source. But the Persians adhered to their open air architecture, to their large, light palace halls, amid all these transformations.
A most original compound, the keynote to this style, is what is termed the Persepolitan column, found also in great perfection at Susa. It is extremely slender, its height being thirteen times its diameter, and has numerous channel ing,. It was also far more widely spaced than the Egyptian, as it supported a wood instead of a stone superstructure—a feature Hellenic and not Egyptian. Its capital is the most compli cated devised in the history of ancient architec ture, being usually in three superposed stories, the lower taken from Egypt, the middle from Assyria, the upper being two bulls back to back. These columns appear to have supported wooden beams, an idea also borrowed, apparently. from the Greeks. The size and magnificence of the monuments increased with the expansion of the empire, but, after culminating under Darius (see PERSEPOLIS), had been waning for over a century when Alexander conquered Persia.