Alexander, the Macedonian king, is often called "the great". This is because he conquered many lands and peoples, not because he was a great guy. 

If you had any doubts about that, a visit to the ruins of Persepolis would put you straight. Alexander plundered Darius I's great royal complex of Parsa -- as it was then known -- taking away 3000 camel-loads of jewellery. What he couldn't take, he torched.

The remains of the site were abandoned and eventually almost completely covered in sand, with only the tallest columns visible. It wasn't until the 20th century that a new wave of plundering could begin when the ruins were rediscovered. This time there was less left to take.

The Iranians, not having the necessary expertise in archaeology, called on Europeans for help. The deal was they could take away stonework or pottery, but not any gold or precious stones. Next time you're in the Louvre or the British Museum, look out for items from Persepolis and spare a thought for the Iranian people whose heritage you're admiring.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke good English. (All of the above is from him -- paraphrased by me -- to you, dear reader.) He pointed out a lot of the detail that can still be seen in the bas-relief sculptures, despite the widespread damage to the structures overall.  You can identify the representatives of the many nations that were subjects of the Persian empire by the style of their robes and headgear. They are depicted paying homage to Darius and offering gifts from their own regions.

We visited on an extremely hot day, suitably clad in wide-brimmed hats, long trousers and long sleeves. In our group there were three Austrians, two Luxemburgers, a guy from Hong Kong, and us.

In a way it's rather a sad, desolate site, an echo of an age long past. You just have to imagine the splendour of the place before Alexander rode through. 

Alexander the Git!

(Sent from my tablet device)

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