This gallery focuses on the four great, late powers of the Near East: the Achaemenid Persian, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian empires.
Achaemenid Persian arts (ca. 559–331 B.C.) are represented by fine metal vessels, jewelry, and architectural reliefs from Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the empire. The Seleucid (331–138 B.C.) and Parthian empires (247 B.C.–A.D. 224) were characterized by a hybrid culture that incorporated both Near Eastern and Greek elements in works of art such as ceramic and metal rhytons, jewelry, and distinctive sculpture from the city of Palmyra. Works of art of the succeeding Sasanian empire (A.D. 224–651) demonstrate connections between Iran, Central Asia, and China through royal iconography and luxury works in silver, silk, and gold. Further glimpses of exchange along the Silk Road are offered by votive panels from Bactria and a rare caftan of the eighth century from the Caucasus region.