Biblical Archaeology Review 42:4, July/August 2016

Strata: Picturing Persepolis

BAR July/August 2016 cover

Once a resplendent city, now a deserted ruin—Persepolis rests at the base of Kuh-e Rahmat (“Mountain of Mercy”) in southwest Iran.

Persepolis was a major center of the Persian empire. The city was originally constructed by Darius I—with additions by his son Xerxes I and grandson Artaxerxes I and later by Artaxerxes III. The four ruled from 521 to 424 and from 358 to 338 B.C.E. as part of the Achaemenid Persian dynasty. Although Persepolis is not mentioned by name in the Bible, it does appear in 2 Maccabees. The account tells of how Antiochus Epiphanes enters Persepolis to gain control of the city but is defeated and forced to retreat (2 Maccabees 9:2). Additionally, Xerxes I—one of the builders of Persepolis—appears in the Biblical Book of Esther, where he is called King Ahasuerus.

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