Persepolis, Tomb of Artaxerxes III


Persepolis (Old Persian Pârsa, modern Takht-e Jamshid): Greek name of one of the capitals of the ancient Achaemenid Empire, founded by king Darius the Great (r.522-486 BCE). There were several satellite sites, Naqš-e Rustam and Takht-e Rustam.

Tobb of Artaxerxes III Ochus

Tomb of Artaxerxes III

There are six finished Achaemenid royal tombs. Four of them have been discovered at Naqš-e Rustam and two at Persepolis. The four at Naqš-e Rustam belong to Darius I the Great, Xerxes, Artaxerxes I Makrocheir, and Darius II Nothus. The Persepolis tombs, which appear to be younger, must belong to the next two kings, Artaxerxes II Mnemon (r.404-358) and Artaxerxes III Ochus (r.358-338).

Artaxerxes III

The tomb on this webpage (map #10) is usually attributed to Artaxerxes III, although it may in fact be that of king Artaxerxes II Mnemon. If the sarcophagus indeed belonged to the third Artaxerxes, the burial room may also have served as last resting place of Artaxerxes IV Arses and Darius III Codomannus, because they never received a proper burial.

As is customary, the relief on the upper part of the tomb (#27 on the Vandenberghe List) shows the king sacrificing to the eternal, sacred fire and the supreme god Ahuramazda. The ruler is standing on a platform that is carried by people that represent the subject nations. It is a copy of the upper tier of the tomb of Darius the Great at Naqš-e Rustam, but it is less accurate than the copy that graces the tomb of Artaxerxes II Mnemon, in which the inscription has also been copied.

The lower part contains the entrance to the tomb itself - there is a sarcophagus - and some minor figures, which resemble those on the tomb of Artaxerxes II Mnemon.

The capitals of the pilasters of this tomb are especially well-preserved, They show bulls carrying the roof. The same design was applied in the palaces and audience halls of Persepolis. It is interesting to note that the motif of "carrying" is repeated on the upper level, where people carry the platform with the king.