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Relief of Persian Guard

In 559 B.C., King Cyrus the Great of Persia (modern Iran) established an empire that would eventually become the largest in the ancient world. By the time Alexander the Great of Macedonia conquered the Persian Empire in 330 B.C., it controlled an area encompassing Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Mesopotamia, Iran, and India. The Persian monarchs ruled from vast complexes at Persepolis and Pasargadae in southern Iran, hiring skilled artists from throughout the world to adorn their palaces with objects like those displayed here.

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