Stoneworking Techniques at Persepolis from Quarry to the Terrace

Document Type : Review Article


Persepolis World Heritage Site, Shiraz, Iran


Masonry materials for the colossal monumental structures of Persepolis, the awe-inspiring architectural complex from the Achaemenid period, would be sourced from the surrounding mountains that occasionally lie up to 40 km away. Several techniques were involved in splitting stone from quarry masses. Once split, stonecutters would choose where in the structure and for what purpose each block befitted. At times, impurities were detected in blocks either before splitting or during rough cutting at the quarry site, or after final dressing on the construction site, viz. the Terrace. Apart from those for quarrying, Achaemenian masons applied several other techniques as part of setting, attaching and dressing processes on the construction site. Some blocks bear marks that were made by stonecutters and have thus been categorized as stonecutter’s marks. Yet, there are other related symbols that are instead connected with specific techniques used by masons for setting in place and holding together separate stone blocks. The present work addresses problems the stonecutters had to tackle while selecting blocks for using in the structures on the Terrace, and placing them atop each other during the construction process.


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