I came across a relief at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City that was taken from Persepolis. It depicted two men carrying gifts–a lamb and a loaf of bread–to the Persian king Darius. After 2500 years, it’s not in great shape. I didn’t take a picture of it, but here’s a picture of part of the same relief.
You might be thinking, “Hey! I thought this blog was about the Bible, not ancient art.” And you would be right. Persia was one of the many empires that dominated Ancient Israel in Biblical times. Here’s a super brief overview of the empires: Assyria–> Babylon–> Persia–> Greece–> Rome.
Persepolis was supposedly chosen by Cyrus (yep, the same one who’s all over the book of Isaiah). Two kings later, the palace complex was constructed under Darius, the guy who threw Daniel into the lions’ den. Of course, Daniel lived at Persepolis and as one of Darius’ officials. Both Ezra and Nehemiah lived at Persepolis under Artaxerxes I who reigned there and sent both of them to Jerusalem at different times, 458 and 445 BC, respectively.
The complex itself is amazing. It’s in ruins today, but very impressive ruins! Check out the wikipedia article and some pictures. You can just picture Ezra and Nehemiah walking among the pillars of the palace and thinking about the plight of Judah.