The Dashing Persian Army
Pictures and text in the following pages are from "The Persian Army, 560-330 BC" by Nick Sekunda with drawings by Simon Chew, Osprey Publishing Ltd. London SW3.
"When Alexander defeated Darius III at the battle of Issus in 333 BC" writes Nick Sekunda, he appointed Abdalonymus as the king of Sidon. The King subsequently commisioned what is now known as the "Alexander Sarcophagus". It shows on various friezes Persians and Macedonians in combat at Issus.
Sekunda adds that the Sarcophagus can be used with a second historical monument known as the "Alexander Mosaic" from Pompaii to piece together details of robes and colours.
In the pictures that follow, Simon Chew has used the above historical monuments as a basis of reconstructing military robes and their colours.
In the pages that follow you will see a profussion of purple and safron worn by the Persian army. Sekunda & Chew report that "true 'sea-purple' extracted from the murex shell, was the most expensive dye known in antiquity. Its value led the Persian kings to hoard purple cloth and to distribute it munificently as a mark of their power".
After purple they write " the most valuable luxury dye was saffron. This was harvested by hand from the three rust red pistils inside the petals of the crocus blossom. These then have to be carefully toasted dry. Properly dried, saffron will keep for a century. After purple the most commonly found colour to use for battle robes was saffron." The crocus occurs spontaneously in Iran and its cultivation has been recorded in a number of Iranian provinces. Saffron as a dye and food colouring still constitutes an export earing commodity for Iran.
The Dashing Persians as depicted by Simon Chew
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