Some Observations on the Representation of the Divine and Numinous in Persepolitan Glyptic

Recorded: February 19, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium

by Mark Garrison (Trinity University) and Emma Petersen (University of California, Los Angeles)

Some Observations on the Representation of the Divine and Numinous in Persepolitan Glyptic

The texts and seals (preserved as impressions) from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, 509–493 BCE, have revealed new perspectives on various issues surrounding the much-debated questions of religion and the representation of the divine in the early Achaemenid Persian period. This paper will highlight two topics. The first concerns a long-standing interest of scholarship in the study of the religions of ancient western Asia, namely, the nature of the relationship between the king and the divine. The second explores a millennium-old tradition of the representation of the divine and numinous on the backs of animals and fantastical creatures, what we term, within the context of Persepolitan glyptic, “pedestal creatures.” A commonality that emerges in both topics is the critical role played by the visual heritage of the Neo-Assyrian period in the representation of kingship and the divine in the early Achaemenid period.