Shiraz > Persepolis > Shiraz
This morning I noticed that the fabric of my pillow was covered with images of the Disney character Mickey Mouse. In this trip I have seen images of American cartoon characters in many places. Perhaps these characters were introduced before the revolution and still retain their popularity.
Today we visited one of the highlights of this trip: Persepolis. It is about 40 miles north of Shiraz. This vast ruin, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on a hillside on the edge of a fertile plain. It was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenian Empire (ca. 550-330 BCE) but was burned down by the soldiers of Alexander the Great perhaps during his drunken victory party. Even in ruin the remaining gigantic columns, statues, capitals and reliefs show the high degree of cultural and technical accomplishment attained by the advanced Achaemenian civilization.
The keen observation and amazing skill of the artisans who must have spent years to build this carving-filled palace is evident. Especially their depiction of animals and of the legendary griffins is remarkable. One of many treasures is a relief of a procession of subjects bearing gifts to the king from all over his empire. One of the gifts is a mother lion and her cubs. The distress and concern of the mother lion for her cubs are shown in the gaping of her mouth and turning of her neck as she looked back at them. What a powerful description. I felt as if I could hear her sad roar echoing in the magnificent ruin from over 2,500 years.