The Achaemenid rulers of Persia (modern Iran) established an empire that lasted from 559 B.C.E. until it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.E. By that time, the Persian Empire controlled an area extending from Egypt through present-day Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey into India. The Achaemenid kings built huge palace complexes at Persepolis and Pasargadae in southern Iran and hired craftsmen from throughout the world to decorate them with sculpture and reliefs.
This fragment shows the upper body of a palace guard holding a round shield in one hand; in his other hand, now lost, he held a spear. His hair and beard are elaborately curled, and he wears a tall, fluted hat. Behind him is the hand of another guard with a shield and spear.