The Palace of Darius at Susa


The Palace of Darius at  Susa – By Jean Perrot
The Palace of Darius at Susa: Residence of Achaemenid Persia, by Jean Perrot

Summary

The palace complex of the Persian King Darius I, the Great (522-486 BCE), provides unique evidence of the sophistication of Achaemenid architecture and construction. This palace, built 2500 years ago in western Iran, lay at the centre of the Persian Empire that stretched from the Nile and the Aegean to the Indus Valley. First rediscovered in 1851, the Palace of Darius was partly excavated over the next century but it was only field research between 1969 and 1979 by the noted French archaeologist Jean Perrot which revealed the site’s full dimension and complexity. Its bull-headed capitals, enamel friezes of richly-clad archers holding spears, figures of noble lions and winged monsters, introduced a new iconography into the ancient Persian world. The discovery and excavation of the palace, which this book records, thus casts a new light on the beginnings of the Achaemenid period. Edited by the distinguished scholar of ancient Persia, John Curtis, the lavishly illustrated volume is a work of seminal importance for the understanding of ancient Persia, likely to be radically altered by Perrot’s research and findings.

Publisher

I.B.Tauris in association with Iran Heritage Foundation. It can be purchased here.

Author

A former Director of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Jean Perrot (1920-2012) is an archaeologist and scholar who led the Délégation Archéologique Française en Iran (DAFI) which made many important Achaemenid discoveries in Iran between 1968 and 1979. John Curtis is Keeper of Special Middle Eastern Projects at the British Museum.

Reviews

‘King Darius’ Palace at Susa is perhaps the least well known yet the most important of the Achaemenid Persian palaces, less perhaps for its remains on the ground than for its architecture and treasures which are to be seen in Teheran and notably in the Louvre. French exploration of Susa, which began in 1885/6, continues. This magisterial volume, the translation of the French edition of 2010, brings together at last a comprehensive account of the architectural remains and the finds, from various scholarly hands. It is a major resource and, with its lavish illustration, a joy to handle and read.’
Sir John Boardman, FBA, Emeritus Lincoln Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford
‘This lavishly illustrated volume on Darius I’s palace at Susa is not only of utmost importance for the specialist in Near EasternArchaeology. With its chapters on the history of Elam in Achaemenid times, and on the royal builder himself, it is also an indispensable tool for historians of Pre-Islamic Persia. Its comprehensive account of the French excavations provides key insights into European encounters with Iran as well into the history of scholarship.’
Josef Wiesehöfer, Professor of Ancient History, Kiel University
‘This sumptuous volume provides a richly illustrated, authoritative survey of the key structures and many individual objects found at Susa that can be said to have contributed so much to the advancement of Achaemenid studies, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century. Above all, students of the evolution of early Achaemenid art and architecture will find this multi-authored volume to be essential reading.’
David Stronach, OBE, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of California, Berkeley

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Foreword
  3. List of Events in the Achaemenid Period
  4. Genealogical Table of the Achaemenid Dynasty
  5. Susa and Elam in the Achaemenid Empire
  6. Darius: The Great King
  7. The Discoverers of the Palace of Susa
  8. The Franco-Iranian Programme (1969-1979)
  9. The Geophysical Survey of the Achaemenid Foundations
  10. The Archaeological Data
  11. Restoration, reconstruction
  12. The Egyptian Statue of Darius
  13. The Main Achaemenid Inscriptions of Susa
  14. The Fired Arts
  15. Decorative Arts at Susa during the Persian Period
  16. Other Works of Darius and his Successors
  17. The Susa and Iranian and Middle-Eastern Architecture
  18. Darius in his Time
  19. Appendix: The Inscriptions of Darius at Bisitun
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