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Persepolis, Iran

Photo: Relief sculpture in Persepolis, Iran

The ancient city of Persepolis in modern-day Iran was one of four capitals of the sprawling Persian Empire. Built beginning around 520 B.C., the city was a showcase for the empire's staggering wealth, with grand architecture, extravagant works of silver and gold, and extensive relief sculptures such as this one portraying envoys with offerings for the king.

The height of Persian rule lasted from about 550 B.C. until 330 B.C., when Alexander the Great overthrew the ruling Archaemenid dynasty and burned Persepolis to the ground.

Photograph by James Blair

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