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Achaemenian Art
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Achaemenian art was born in a small kingdom whose ruler, Cyrus, claimed descent from Achaemenes. He established the dynasty that included eleven sovereigns, overthrew the government in Babylon and included a large territory from the Indus to Upper Egypt. The Achaemenids made the error of crossing the Hellespont and fighting with the Greeks who fought back and conquered them under Alexander the Great. Achaemenian art had its beginnings in the small city of Ashur, which is no longer in existence. There were monuments in the other cities of Babylon, Thebes and Athens. Persian art survived in the ruins of castles and palaces in royal cities; Pasargadae, Persepolis and Susa show such characteristics as the grouping of buildings that are separate but built in the same area. Persepolis exemplifies this arrangement. The Achaemenians used the Greek idea of porticoes, as well as the Oriental idea of a court with long halls and living units surrounding the court. Ornamentation was an important part of the architecture, with large stone animals, carvings that are reminiscent of the Assyrian war reliefs, the army in its ceremonial garb and so forth. The architects designed capitals that crown the columns, an idea original to their civilization. There was little sculpture done except for the animals previously mentioned. Metal work was their primary contribution. They designed exquisite plates, goblets and other dishes of gold and silver. They also made beautiful jewelry, bracelets, earrings and daggers. Although the Achaemenians did borrow ideas from other cultures, their art is an important part of art history.
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