National Geographic : 1968 Jan
Wealth accumulated by Persia was vast, and it was lavished on Persepolis. Cedar brought from Lebanon was carved and inlaid with silver and gold. Tapestries covered the walls; fluted columns topped with bulls and griffins supported lofty ceilings. There were palaces, treasuries, storehouses, and stables. Alexander, encouraged by his drunken col leagues, burned the palaces of Xerxes in re venge against that Persian king, who had fired Athens 150 years before (pages 34-5). In spite of this epic act of vandalism, Per sepolis impressed us as retaining more of its original splendor than any other city on Alex ander's route (pages 36-7). The exquisite bas reliefs are as crisp today as when they were first chiseled in stone. Soldiers march across the walls in precise formation. Bulls and lions fight in stylized fury. And on the grand stair case of the Apadana, or audience hall, the people of the ancient Persian provinces bring their offerings in silent tribute. Surely Alexander studied these reliefs with as much interest as we did. Half the peoples represented were already subjugated. Two distant regions-Ethiopia and Somalia-he would never see. But more lay ahead. To win all Persia, he would have to conquer each one. His greatest efforts were still to come. Alexander Stalks the King of Kings In the spring of 330 Alexander marched north to Hamadan. His object: the capture of Darius himself. But the Persian king fled east ward through the Caspian Gates, a pass over the Elburz Mountains (map, page 11). The Macedonian pursued him, averaging an ex traordinary 36 miles a day. When he caught up with the straggling Persian baggage train, he found Darius dead, murdered by his own disillusioned generals. King of Persia at last, Alexander marched to Zadracarta, now Gor gan, to assume not only the title but the pomp of an Oriental monarch.