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Persepolis: Tripylon


Eastern gate of the Tripylon. Photo Jona Lendering.
Eastern gate of the Tripylon
Persepolis (Old Persian Pārsa, modern Takht-e Jamshid): Greek name of one of the capitals of the ancient Achaemenid empire, founded by the great king Darius (522-486 BCE). There were several satellite sites, like Naqš-i Rustam and Takht-e Rostam.
  
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The Tripylon ("triple gate") of Persepolis can be found between the Apadana and the Hall of Hundred Columns. This suggests that it was built after the completion of these two buildings, but this is no more than a speculation. Other scholars argue for an earlier date.

However this may be, the building consists of a central room with approaches to the north (to the Apadana), east (Hall of hundred columns) and south (palace of Xerxes and "palace D"). 

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Southern gate of the Tripylon. Photo Marco Prins.
Eastern gate of the Tripylon

The three gates were decorated. In the eastern gate, we can see the king sitting on his throne, attended by the crown prince. The southern and northern gates showed the king with an attendant, leaving the building. Both representations are well-known; parallels can be seen in a/o the Palace of Xerxes and the Hall of Hundred Columns.

Several scholars argue that the Tripylon was in fact a meeting place, where the king could receive his advisers They call it the Council hall. Others stress that it is just a monumental corridor between three buildings. The fact that there is sufficient room between the gates to host several people, is not really decisive; the interior of the Gate of All Nations is also pretty spacious, and this does not mean that it served as a meeting place.

Head of a lamassu from the Tripylon. National Archaeological Museum, Tehran (Iran). Photo Jona Lendering.
Head of a lamassu from the Tripylon (National Museum, Tehran)

The capitals of the four columns in the hall represented a man's head with a bull's body. These mythological beings are called lamassu's and originated in Babylonia and Assyria. The Persians adopted them and we can see them in Persepolis in the Gate of All Nations. The general idea behind lamassu's is that they warded off evil; therefore, they are usually placed in a gate. This might suggest that the Tripylon was a gate too (and not a Council Hall), but these lamassu's served as capitals, which is unusual.

To the north of the building is a flight of stairs, decorated with guardsmen. If you descend the stairs, you're close to the Eastern stairs of the Apadana.

A satellite photo can be found here.

The staircase north of the Tripylon. Photo Marco Prins. The staircase north of the Tripylon, detail. Photo Marco Prins. The staircase north of the Tripylon, detail. Photo Marco Prins. The staircase north of the Tripylon, detail. Photo Marco Prins.
The staircase north of the Tripylon The staircase north of the Tripylon, detail The staircase north of the Tripylon, detail The staircase north of the Tripylon, detail
Ahuramazda on the Eastern Gate of the Tripylon. Photo Jona Lendering. A staircase of the Tripylon. Photo Marco Prins. The Tripylon. Photo Jona Lendering. The Tripylon from the west. Photo Jona Lendering.
Ahuramazda on the Eastern Gate A staircase of the Tripylon (National Archaeological Museum, Tehran) The Tripylon from the south The Tripylon from the west

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© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 13 June 2010
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