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Persepolis reliefs, British Museum

These large slabs were made from a mould cast directly from carvings at the Palace of Persepolis, central Iran, in the 1890s. Rather than removing large sections of decorative sculpture, archaeologists chose to make plaster copies – no small feat, given the scale of these reliefs.

The impression of the carvings here (from the north side of the Apadana, audience hall) show some of the peoples of The Persian Empire, processing towards the king. They remind us of the monumental splendour of the site and the power of the Persian state in 500 BC that could summon people from all parts of the empire to pay homage.

Given subsequent damage to the carvings at the site, these casts are also a reminder of what the original carvings looked like in the late 1800s.

You can see them in Gallery 52 of the British Museum