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Head of a Spearman
Head of a Spearman

Photo credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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This fragment depicts a bearded profile head of a Persian guardsman wearing a feathered headdress. A tongue motif is on the bevelled edge above the head. It is from a frieze on the Apadana in the city of Persepolis, located 30 miles northwest of Shiraz in the southwest Iranian province of Fars. The fragment is thought to have come from the north façade of the Apadana, a magnificent building that was often used for royal receptions. It was at the heart of the Achaemenid Empire, which was founded by Darius I in 515 BC and flourished for 200 years until defeat at the Battle of Issus by Alexander the Great and his Macedonian troops in 333 BC. It was only in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that the city of Persepolis and the art and architecture of the Achaemenid Empire was rediscovered.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts



Head of a Spearman


5th C BC


limestone relief


H 26.1 x W 24.1 x D 7.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased from Spink & Co., 1947

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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