Rekonstruktion der Säulenordnung von Persepolis

According F. Krefter, E. Schmidt, F. Herzfeld, A. Sami

Persepolis, the Norooz-city of the newborn world power Persia, is one of the
largest building ventures of the antiquity. The multinational political structure of the Achaemenides contributes to the concentration of the potentials of schools with different tradition and artistic profile into a uniform creative focus. Nobody is able to say whether Darius, the builder, wanted to promote an international style for its audience city!?...
The versatility of the factors leads however not to an eclecticism, but calls to life a syncretic cultural monument of a marvellous unity, unequalled effect as symbol of power, and with an exhilarating aesthetic radiation, overwhelming even as world of ruins.
Which faith or which nationality the architects who had planned Persepolis also belonged to, they knew unquestionably the Heraion on Samos and the Artemision on Ephesos thoroughly, if they did not even learn their profession there, for which many historical sources provide certification.
In the architectural program of Parsa and particularly in the column order merge Ionian (Aeolian) Assyro-Babylonian and local Persian influences. Whereby, if one takes a composite capital exactly under the magnifying glass, they could find --with a little daring courage!--the contribution of the Egyptian plant columns, too. In difference to the Greek orders though, which are in their nature nothing else but an allegory of the fight of strength against weight, the artistic philosophy of the Persepolis order
does not rest on the laws of the "Stütze-Last Problem" (support load problem).
Mythic shapes radiating a celestial strength carry the powerful architrave here directly on their backs without any trouble at a height of nearly 20 meters (Apadana).
The absence of an ecchinus filled with delicate tension and an energy back-up in the shank (entasis), as well as the small differences between lower and upper diameters of the columns shooting perpendicularly upwards mediate a quasi gothic weightlessness of the architecture. Hans Janzen would call that a style of "Antiponderosen".
In this sense, the order of Persepolis represents an argument a priori crowned with victory. If the Greek order is a system in development, then Persepolis is a beauty created for ever.
The (clay?) model, which stood before the masters in the Achaemenid capital, consisted of a limited number of elements combined in a strictly defined pattern. The column, made of bituminous limestone from the nearby mountain Rachmat and which shines after polishing black, stands on a bell-shaped basis with four ornamental samples chiselled into reliefs, or on a cascaded one, plus Torus and Astragal. It towers as a fluted shank (36, 40, 48, 52 flutes, always divisable by four), blossoms up into a composite part, (in my opinion, only then present if an axis is to be accentuated--Apadana, Tripylon, throne hall building), and ends with a protomen group, which--besides its symbolic and evil-repelling role--is also the most important constructional element of the Persepolis transverse beam capital, exactly reconstructed already by Friedrich Krefter.
Here is to be noted that the virtual model-reconstruction of one of the four columns of the GATE OF ALL COUNTRIES would not have been realizable without his inestimable work "Persepolis Rekonstruktionen".
Shortly said, each pair of daemonic creatures, in which the column momentum ends represents a crotch of a tree developed further up to indiscernibility carrying across a thick piece of wood (length 2,6m--Apadana), and whose function consists of passing into the vertical column axis the weight of the broad three-part architrave lying on it. This is an elegant solution of the statics problem, which was developed particularly for Persepolis.

The stone columns are divided by Krefter into three main groups:

A) columns with bell-shaped basis, shank and simple protomen capital,
B) columns with bell-shaped basis, shank and composite protomen capital,
C) columns with cascaded basis, shank and composite protomen capital.

Four motives are known for the protomen capitals: bull, lion monster with horns, Lamassu (human-headed winged bull) and gryphon. The bull occurs most frequently. This basic symbol of Achaemenid power occurs in combination with all main groups enumerated above.
The lion monster with horns, a beautiful group with an accentuated daemonic vibrancy, is found in the eastern entrance hall of the Apadana and in the secondary entrance halls of the Tripylon (Gate of the kings).
This motive carries a very special message. We encounter the head of this mystic creature as element also with the throne found in the rock graves in Naqsh-i Rustam and on the shoulders of the monster (Ariman?) defeated in the duel of the king at the entrance of the harems of Xerxes.
The Lamassu protomen occurs in the entrance hall of the throne hall and on the Gate of the kings. The gryphon capital was excavated by Ali Sami in the year 1953. Their regulation is still unsettled. The bull and the Lamassu motiv occur also as gate body sculptures with small detail deviations as compared to the protomen. The elaboration of the first one is substantially preciser due to the closer point of view.
The complicated composite part, prepared (developed) in Persepolis and repeated in Susa earns an own specification.
The designations A and B were consciously chosen the same as in the designs of Pascal Costé--an acknowledgment of his pioneering work done in the middle of the 19. Century. He first maintained a description--although not completely accurate--of the column order.
The element (B), an advancement of basic patterns of the late hethitic-asyric tradition from the 8. Century BC (Zincirli Sakçegözü, late Khorshabat), described by R. Naumann and E. Akurgal, represents a dropping leaves wreath with bead-and-reel staff. This motive appears as detail also in the rock graves of Naqsh-i Rustam (at the top of the throne the king stands on) and as the rosette-shaped stone anchor, in which the heavy wood gates of Persepolis stand (Gate of all countries, Harem).
The bead-and-reel staff (b) is the only repeating part of the composite group and serves optically as a kind of link interconnecting the basic figures.
The next element (A), a beautiful plastic carrying in itself the spirit of the Egyptian plant column, is most likely a virtuose further development of the standing leaves wreath known, too, from the late hethitic art (Zincirli).
The composite part is crowned by an elegant combination of eight symmetrical volutes each ending in the characteristic twelf-leafed rosette filling the orthostatic reliefs of Persepolis with springful freshness.
Stone-turned hanging gardens of Semiramis!
Depending upon their positions in the entire architectural complex proportional enlargements or reductions of the columns as a whole are permissible, but without deviation from the strictly given combination pattern. A program implemented 200 years long without visible changes not repeated anywhere outside of its historical period.
The virtual model of the column order developed in 3D-Studio-MAX is implemented with Low Polygon Modeling. It was necessarily to sacrifice some insignificant details for reasons of resources economy (the model should be animatable on PC basis) and because the main motivation for this work is to serve as basis for further reconstructions and visualisations. These details were anyway not visible to the subject and the aggressor entering the impressing portal of the gate of all countries.
Despite this technically motivated sacrificing of some details, it can be maintained that the computer reconstruction is an almost accurate image of a column with bell-shaped basis and composite bull-protomen capital.

Wien 27.03. 2003
I. E. Iliev