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Xerxes (Khashayarshah) and Artaxerxes (Ardeshier Deraz Dast) Discovered to be the same Kins !!!
Submitted by Anaidis - firstname.lastname@example.org - 14 May 1996
More than enough research data now exists that supports the fact that Xerxes and Artaxerxes were indeed the same king. But the conspiracy to establish that they were two different kings is a research nightmare. Before dismissing this idea as totally and incredibly ridiculous, however, you must first travel to Persepolis to see for yourself the truth. That is, at your regional Library!
There is enough evidence in the ruins of Persepolis alone which has evaded the ancient conspirators to prove these two kings were the same person. You see, Persepolis has "pictures" (that is, reliefs) of the "three" kings who were involved with building the city: Darius I, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes. Don't worry, you can't compare the faces of Xerxes and Artaxerxes because they have all been carefully chiseled off to prevent that. But there is a subtle comparison they missed! It's the famous hand of Artaxerxes, Longimanus! Artaxerxes' right hand was longer than his left one, and this was so unusual it became his trademark and namesake: "Artaxerxes, LONGIMANUS" (longimanus = Latin for "long hand.")
A very famous relief at Persepolis showing Darius seated on the throne followed by his son "Xerxes" shows Xerxes with his right hand turned vertically in order to show off his already famous hand for posterity for all to see. This specific relief (which is in most books on Persepolis) shows the back of Xerxes' hand. Of course, in order to show both sides of this hand, this identical scene was depicted from left-to-right which displays the palm side of his hand. Quite a clever idea if I must say so myself. Many people don't realize the real inspiration for duplicating this scene from both sides, however, was simply to show both sides of this king's unusual hand.
If you can find a picture of the relief showing the palm side, however, you will see that the hand was carved in great detail, with all the palm creases, etc. and you'll also notice, by comparison, that it is clearly larger than his left! It looks uncanny once you start to look closely and compare. Of course, it is because of this unusual hand that Xerxes later became known as "Artaxerxes, Longimanus" after changing his name locally to Artaxerxes upon becoming king of Persia (which was a common practice among the Persian kings for some reason). Of course, there is lots of other data, but this is the most startling and direct as well as easiest to access in library books of Persepolis. (Be sure to look in the Iranian Art section as well as the historical and archaeological sections; most of the best pictures I've seen are in the Iranian Art section.)
Why did Xerxes try to become two kings and how? Very briefly, it started with another conspiracy by Persian Magi who put an imposter on the throne in place of Smerdis, a son of Cyrus and brother to Cambyses II. After Cambyses died, this imposter was exposed and dethroned by Darius I who usurped the Persian throne. Darius was not a direct descendant of Cyrus, but his younger son, Xerxes (via his wife, Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus) was. It took Darius two years to bring the empire under control but not without making Xerxes, the legitimate heir to Cyrus, his own appointed successor and co-ruler.
One way Darius did this was through massive building campaigns which prominently displayed Xerxes in a equal position next to himself with some buildings specifically named after Xerxes. Darius apparently began building at Persepolis perhaps four years after he came to the throne, displaying Xerxes prominently beside himself as usual, but in his sixth year was killed and beheaded by the Athenians in the Battle of Marathon (a fact the Greeks later attempted to suppress historically). Because of this insult, Xerxes invaded Greece with a vengeance and sacked Athens, destroying many of their temples, but suffered an embarrassing naval defeat by the Athenians in the Battle of Salamis after which he fled back to Persia, a king despised and in shame. He conspired to evade this international shame and possible assasination attempts by the Greeks by faking his death and assuming the new identity of "Artaxerxes."
Getting back to Persepolis: Because of his untimely death, Darius was not able to finish his building work at Persepolis which was completed by his son, Xerxes. But because of the Persian custom for the Persian kings to assume a new name upon becoming king, the city was finished under Xerxes` new name: Artaxerxes. As Xerxes had already appeared in reliefs as "Xerxes" with Darius, it now appeared that there were three kings at Persepolis, when in fact there are only two. Xerxes' dual identity and these confusing reliefs (after cleverly changing some building inscriptions) helped Xerxes/Artaxerxes pull of this conspiracy of claiming he was a different king.
The conspiracy, which was designed to fool the Greeks was masterminded by Themistocles (an influential Greek statesman who had defected to Persia) who circulated the now-famous letter stating that he was defecting to Artaxerxes the "son" of Xerxes, now presumed by all to have recently died. At the same time, propaganda was circulated by the Persian Court that Xerxes was killed by his oldest son and heir, Darius, who in turn was killed by his "younger brother," Artaxerxes, who after avenging his father's death, was now legitimately on the throne as king. Very clever, but very superficial in hindsight. Of course, this Darius was not killed and still followed his father (Xerxes/Artaxerxes) on the throne as Darius II. Needless to say, the Greeks never really caught on though there was lots of confusion.
Because of all the reliefs at Persepolis which generally exposed the conspiracy on close examination, the city was kept a secret from the Greeks until Alexander, the Great discovered it when he conquered Persia. In the meantime, a series of involved schemes to change Greek, Persian, Babylonian and Biblical history to cover up for the phantom 21-year reign of Xerxes prevailed and as a result has distorted the chronology of the Persian period by 82 years, which only now with the help of computerized electronic eclipse canons and much research can be effectively be reconstructed.
But the easiest way to be convinced is just to check out Xerxes' right hand (both sides) at Pesepolis.
If you're still not convinced, email me at Anaidis@prodigy.com and I'll tell you what other tell-tale secrets to look for in the reliefs at Persepolis and you can become an "armchair archaeologist" at your regional library for a while. It's fun! But check out the hand first, you'll be amazed!