This panel is made of polychrome glazed bricks which were found by French excavators scattered in a courtyard of the palace built by the Persian king Darius I (522-486 BC). At least 18 figures have been restored and this example is on permanent loan to The British Museum from the Musée du Louvre, Paris. It was part of a larger frieze depicting rows of guards, perhaps the 'immortals' who made up the king's personal bodyguard. The arrangement of the figures may have been similar to the rows of sculptured guards carved in relief at Persepolis. According to a foundation inscription at Susa, the craftsmen who made the brick panels came from Babylonia where there had been a tradition of this sort of architectural decoration.
Linked to the city of Sardis in western Anatolia by a 'royal road', Susa was the most important administrative centre of the Achaemenid Persian empire and the court probably spent at least part of each year there. Darius undertook much building at the site. Amongst his most impressive projects was the Apadana or audience hall and an adjoining palace where this panel was discovered.