PALACE OF SHAPUR I, Ctesiphon, Iraq
The son and successor of Artaxerxes, Shapur I, built a great palace at Ctesiphon, the capital his father had established near modern day Baghdad in Iraq. The central feature of Shapur’s palace was the monumental iwan, or brick audience hall, covered by a vault (here, a deep arch over an oblong space) that came almost to a point of more than 100 feet above the ground. A series of horizontal bands made up of blind arcades (a series of arches without openings, applied as wall decoration) divide the facade to the left and right of the iwan.
The New Persian empire (Sasanian) endured more than 400 years, until the Arabs drove the Sasanians out of Mesopotamia in 636 CE, just four years after the death of Muhammad. But the prestige of Sasanian art and architecture outlasted the empire. A thousand years after Shapur built his palace at Ctesiphon, Islamic architects still considered its soaring iwan as the standing for judging their own engineering feats.