The palaces of Ancient Persia are the richest ever known to man. There’s a wonderful documentary about it linked below.
When one reads descriptions about it, it’s hard to grasp the splendor. For instance, walls and roofs were incredibly thick to protect from the sweltering sun (roofs up to three feet thick in Susa, where temps reach 140 degrees F in the summer months!), and windows are described as low and small. But was it dark? Not at all! (In the palace, anyway.) The stone they used was polished to such a sheen that it was like a mirror and reflected all the light that came in.
Mosaics were everywhere, and the colors—wow. I always thought about these parts of the world as being nothing but shades of tan and bronze, but in truth theirs was a world of vivid hues. They were, of course, famed for their textiles and tapestries, which incorporated every shade one could imagine.
The palace at Persepolis (which is the one most successfully excavated) had a famed Hall of a Thousand Mirrors were the king presided on his throne. The mirrors were in fact the highly polished stone columns mentioned above. The ceilings, soaring high above, were wood embedded with precious gems. Everything was gilded in gold and silver. (Again, I recommend this YouTube video of the documentary.)
The book of Esther also gives us a fabulous description of the wealth in the part where the king’s feast is described. Couches of gold and silver (trays, plates, dinnerware, and cups would have been of the same), blue tapestries . . . ah yes.
The common folk of Persia obviously didn’t live in such splendor, but for those with royal blood, it was the way of life. Can you imagine?
(Painting – representation of Persepolis by T. Chipiez; photo of gold bowl with lion imagery dated to the Achmaemenid empire)