The palace complex with audience hall (apadana) built by King Darius I in his capital of Susa was richly decorated. During excavations in the area of the eastern gate of the palace numerous fragments of brick with coloured glazes were discovered, with which it was possible to reconstruct as a long line of royal guards. The precise original location of this mural decoration could not, however, be ascertained. This section of the brick relief, reconstructed from fragments, shows a lightly armed soldier (with bow, quiver and spear), one of the 'ten thousand immortals', with his costly kit, including the robe with ornamental appliqué, a cap with broad woven rim, laced shoes and jewellery (ear¬rings and armbands). The relief can be seen as illustrating the description by the Greek historian Herodotus: 'Of these ten thousand chosen Persians the general was Hydames the son of Hydarnes; and these Persians were called "immortals", because, if any one of them made the number incomplete, being overcome either by death or disease, another man was chosen to take his place, and they were never either more or fewer than ten thousand. Now of all the nations, the Persians showed the greatest splendour of ornament and were themselves the best men. They had equipment such as has been mentioned, and besides this they were conspicuous among the rest for great quantity of gold freely used.' Beneath the glaze, the individual moulded bricks are made of a coarse-grained quartz body consisting of partly sharp-edged quartz grains in a white matrix. Formally, the glaze technique is the same as that used in Late Babylonian brick reliefs.


  • Title: Relief of a Spear-Carrier
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 546 BCE - 482 BCE
  • Location: Susa, Iran
  • Physical Dimensions: w1.2 x h1.83 cm
  • Type: Relief
  • Medium: Quartz body with coloured glaze
  • Inv. no.: VA 14647
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-815718
  • External link: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Olaf M. Teßmer || Text © Scala Publishers / Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Ralf-B. Wartke
  • Collection: Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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