Colossal bull head capital in Apadana palace: unity of nations

Western museums are proud to have the remains of Achaemenid art. They consider the civilized works of Achaemenid princes as noble and outstanding examples of ancient art and human heritage. Among them, the works of Apadana Palace are more impressive in their beauty and elegance. The Louvre Museum of Paris is now a place to keep some of the works of the Apadana Palace. Bull’s head, an example of the Achaemenid art, in this museum.

The bull’s head was part of the magnificent Apadana palace. The column seen in the Louvre is one of the thirty-six columns that supported the high ceiling of Darius the Great’s palace. Skilled architects and masters created this palace. So, if we consider it as a sign of the unity of nations 2500 years ago, under the rule of Achaemenids, it is not fair from the mind.

Darius the Great made the city of Susa his administrative capital. He built a palace that today’s researchers and archaeologists call the most magnificent building in Persepolis: A square palace with three porches, four towers, and numerous guard rooms. All these were symbols and signs of the greatness of the Achaemenid Empire. The construction of Apadana Palace took a long time and was finally completed during the reign of Xerxes.

The headstone of the Apadana palace was built in 510 BC. This headstone was found in archeological excavations between 1884 and 1886 with the help of Jane and Marcel Dieulafoy. It was taken to the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The two-headed bull head of the Louvre shows two bulls standing on opposite sides. The details of the figures and the capitals have been done with skilfull art, giving it a natural and live complexion. The two-headed bulls have their legs folded under their body, and the animal’s horns are prominent and aggressive. The ears are long and have a surprising proportion to the body. The base of the capital is made with circular knots and twists separated by a rectangular cylinder. The pillars are so firmly configured that they support the heavy body of the ox. Circular flowers can be seen on the columns; thus, a beautiful visual form has been given to the work. The tiny circular reliefs cover part of the body of two cows as if a tightly woven garment covers a part of the animal’s body. As we mentioned earlier, what stands out most when looking at this work is the astonishing size of the two cow heads. There is not the slightest difference between the two cows. It is as if they were made in the same format. This kind of subtlety and construction art is surprising and shows the artistic elegance of its creators.

There were 20 capitals in Apadana Palace in 1619 AD (we know this from the reports of European travelers who came to Iran), but over time, some fell, and now there are 13 capitals left.

Some visitors’ harmful writings now damage some of the remaining headstones in Persepolis. Still, the Louvre Museum’s headstone is kept with utmost care and vigilance! Some of us do this with our historical heritage, and foreigners hold such respect and value!

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June 14, 2024