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Assessing the Damage: Notes on the Life and Demise of the Statue of Darius from Susa

Shahrokh Razmjou
Ars Orientalis
Vol. 32, Medes and Persians: Reflections on Elusive Empires (2002), pp. 81-104
Published by: Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian Institution and Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4629593
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Assessing the Damage: Notes on the Life and Demise of the Statue of Darius from Susa
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Abstract

The Egyptian-made statue of Darius the Great, discovered at Susa (in Khuzistan, southwestern Iran) in 1972, has become justifiably famous and oft-illustrated. Its imposing colossal monumentality, its important multilingual inscriptions, and its rich iconography have been extensively discussed. Many questions remain, however, surrounding its eventual removal from Egypt to Iran, the circumstances of its new placement at the Gate of Darius in Susa, and most importantly the physical evidence attesting to its demise. The biography of this monument once it was moved from the Egyptian satrapal periphery to its new life in one of the royal cities of the Achaemenid imperial center is considered here. Particular emphasis is placed at once on the remarkable degree of preservation it enjoyed (in contrast to the other Achaemenid monuments on the Apadana mound at Susa) and also on the varied forms of massive damage the image sustained. Close analysis of the statue in the National Museum of Iran, Tehran, permits its condition to be interpreted with forensic precision. Results suggest that the statue of Darius was damaged through a combination of causes and motivations ranging from natural forces to multiple forms of violent human intervention. The acts of deliberate damage range across the full spectrum from random individual vandalism to injuries specifically inflicted for political reasons with calculated and informed symbolic efficiency of purpose.

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