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Discovered by chance on December 24, 1972, the Statue of Darius has become the most famous monument of all the excavations at Susa. Today it is exhibited at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. Found without a head (its preserved height is 2.46 m), it must have measured close to 3 m tall when complete.
Located against the south wall of the western passage of the Darius Gate, the statue is not at its original location. It was brought back from Egypt by Xerxes, who no doubt had another, symmetrical statue made to stand against the other wall. The rare clues as to the existence of this second statue, in local limestone, are previous discoveries of four fragments: two of a pleated robe, with an inscription attributable to Xerxes; a foot; and the lower part of a bearded face sculpted in the round to the same scale. The Statue of Darius is therefore not the only monument in the round in Achaemenid art. Some even think that there were four statues flanking the two passages through the Gate, a hypothesis that is summed up by O.W. Muscarella (1992).
The Statue of Darius most certainly originated in Egypt, as indicated by analysis of the stone, a grauwacke from Wadi Hammamat, which crosses the desert between Coptos on the Nile and Quseir on the Red Sea. Egypt was also its initial destination. Darius had this monument made to stand in Egypt, as many of the inscriptions on the statue announce. It might have been located halfway between the western Nile and the Bitter Lakes close to the Temple of Atum (Yoyotte 2010).
The Statue of Darius exhibited at the National Museum of Iran
Archives de la Maison Archéologie & Ethnologie, René-Ginouvès, JP_V03
© Mission de Suse. Délégation archéologique française en Iran / Jean Perrot