If I say that Persepolis has moved to this URL, you will understand that you have come across a new installment of the highly irregular and highly irrelevant series called Moving Livius.Org. Actually, it’s the last installment, because I’ve now moved all html-pages away from the /a/-directory, which means that html-pages and jpg-files are now separated. I can now move forward to a content management system and leave behind a website that is essentially still running on 1994 software.
It is fitting that Persepolis receives this place of honor, because it is one of the most splendid places in the world. It is of course a matter of taste, but I think most people will agree that it is more impressive than, for example, Palmyra, Petra, or Lepcis Magna.
Persepolis is actually part of a larger archaeological complex that also includes Naqš-i Rustam, Naqš-e Rajab, Istakhr, and the little-known Takht-e Rostam. The best way to visit it, if you are a tourist, is to do those sites in the early morning; Naqš-i Rustam takes about two hours, Naqš-e Rajab half an hour, while the two other sites can be used to have a picknick. They are not of the greatest importance and you may in fact ignore them without having the idea that you’ve lost very much.
After lunch, go to Persepolis itself. In the afternoon, especially after, say, half past four, the light will be softer. A first introduction takes about four hours. Then you’ve seen most buildings and understand the site.
Now the big trick: you must return the next day. Until ten o’clock, the light will be fine, and because you now know the site, you can really appreciate it. At half past ten, you want to be away anyhow, because the tourist buses from Shiraz will arrive by that time. During my two last visits, we took a hotel in the Persepolis compound itself, which was perfect.
Of course you can stay longer, but this double visit will for most tourists be sufficient. For a specialist, however, there will always be something new to discover. Personally, I am increasingly interested in the Hellenistic objects found in and near Persepolis. Of course, Alexander did not destroy it all: that would be impossible with ancient technology. The Palace of Darius, for example, has survived pretty well. The main symbols of the Achaemenid court ritual, the Apadana and the Treasury, were what Alexander destroyed. In the museums, you will find several Hellenistic objects.
Anyhow, if you haven’t been in Persepolis, you should go to Iran. The Iranians will welcome you, as they have done for centuries. So my last picture today is a drawing by Cornelis de Bruijn, one of the first westerners to visit the site (and a fellow-Amsterdammer). The new webpages are here.