A new exhibition at the Oriental Institute will give visitors a rare glimpse inside the ancient city of Persepolis. “Persepolis: Images of an Empire,” which opens Oct. 13, includes archival photographs and a new multimedia presentation that document an astounding imperial complex of palaces constructed by the Persian kings Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes I and III, who ruled between 522 and 338 B.C. in present-day southwest Iran.
These Persian kings were the greatest powers in the ancient world, ruling the entire Middle East and battling for supremacy against their rivals, the Greeks. This half-century conflict, culminating in battles with Alexander the Great, has been the subject of popular interest in films such as “300.”
The tremendous political and economic power of the Persian kings was expressed by the scale of the architecture at Persepolis, especially the monumental audience halls where grand stairways were decorated with finely carved images of people from throughout the kingdom carrying precious gifts to their Persian overlords.