Persepolis - Ancient Center of Power, Iran
The Achaemenid Empire, established as one of the first great world powers more than 2500 years ago, united many diverse peoples under one crown. Its 28 nations were not treated as suppressed vassals, but as more or less equal partners. Their king, Darius I the Great, made Persepolis his capital. Today, its foundations, scattered columns and fragments of walls give testimony in stone to his astonishingly modern concept of the state. They also provide a glimpse into the ingenious construction methods of the ancient Persian master builders. Marble columns soar twenty meters into the sky. They once supported the throne room’s massive roof, made of cedar-tree trunks and designed by Greek and Lydian engineers. Hundreds of stone masons joined enormous blocks with millimeter-precision, carved awe-inspiring figures for the portals and walls, and immortalized all the peoples of the multi-ethnic empire in reliefs of amazing detail. For decades, officials meticulously recorded all events and transactions occurring throughout the realm and archived them in a great library of unfired clay tablets. This treasure trove survived the centuries and has only recently been translated and evaluated. But the vision of Darius only lasted 200 years - the armies of Alexander the Great burned Persepolis to the ground in 331 BC.