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blocks were purposely cut of different shapes and sizes, and were fitted together

according to a plan which contemplated strength and solidity. The outside of the wall,

which was in the lowest part twenty feet in height, was smooth and perpendicular. The

ground plan was a rectangle, the dimensions of which have been given in the preceding

chapter.1 On the north side, however, the native rock of the mountain spur, against which

the platform abuts, was used as a part of the substructure, and this end of the wall is

set at an angle to the other sides of eighty degrees instead of the right angle, which

measures the remaining corners. The surface of the wall is purposely broken at intervals

with certain angular projections and recesses, after the same style noticed in the

basement stories of the palaces at Babylon and Nineveh.

The platform consists of a series of terraces, three of which are still seen. The lowest

of these is on the south side. It has an elevation of twenty feet, is eight hundred feet

in length and one hundred and eighty feet wide. The northern terrace has much greater

dimensions, being thirty- five feet high, and having a breadth of about five hundred and

fifty feet. The central terrace is still more grand, being forty-five feet in height. The

length and breadth, however, are no greater than that of the northern elevation, being

respectively seven hundred and seventy and four hundred feet. It was upon this central

terrace that the palace proper was reared.

The ascent to the great platform was made by a system of staircases so massive and grand

as to excite just wonder, even at the present. The broadest and noblest of these ascents

is on the west side of the elevation near its northern end. The stairs composing the

flight are of solid stone. They are of two sets, and are built at right- angles to the

wall of the platform. At the first landing they diverge to the right and left, and then

converge to a common landing on the upper level. The steps are very broad and low, being

no more than three or four inches in height. Modern travelers ride up and down them

without difficulty,

l See Book Sixth, p.316.

the breadth of the flight being sufficient to allow of ten horsemen abreast. The ancient

world has bequeathed to the modern no other example of a stairway so massive, so simple,

so grand, so enduring.

The second ascent is on the north front of the second terrace leading to the summit. It

consists of four flights of steps, two of them being central, and the other two distant

about sixty feet on either side. The width of this second flight is sixteen feet, and the

entire length of the staircase two hundred and twelve feet. The ascent is as gentle as in

the flight on the western front of the lower platform described above, the elevation being

at the rate of thirty-one steps in ten feet, or a little less than four inches to the


The chief difference between the two stair-cases is that the lower one on the west is

perfectly plain, being composed of broad slabs of hewn stone laid with a solidity of

adjustment which time has been unable to disturb. The faces of the second stairway,

however, are covered with sculptures; the most interesting of any found among the relics

of Persian greatness. One of the chief of these works is a relief of a lion devouring a

bull, the figures being executed with great spirit. At the observer's left as he ascends

the steps are eight colossal Persian guards, who stand sentry over the approach to their

royal master. They are armed with spear and sword and shield, and are executed in a style

worthy of the chisels of Greece. Another row of smaller figures, carrying the bow and

quiver, stand in another part of the ascent, and though less striking, are equally

artistic. Further on, the wall was divided into three horizontal bands, each of which was

occupied with an array of figures. Those in the upper band are nearly destroyed, but in

the lower two divisions the sense of the work can be easily made out. In the middle band a

large number of subject peoples are bringing (by their representatives) their tribute to

the great king; while in the lower band the courtiers and officers of the monarch,

arranged in rank according to their several dignities, are conducting the ceremonial of

the court. In three different