Artists working independently of patrons in Shiraz workshops probably produced the most progressive paintings in mid-sixteenth century Persia. This arrangement encouraged greater artistic freedom within the inherently restrictive manuscript format. This leaf illustrates Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), one of the heroes in Firdawsi's Shah Nama, subduing the Africans. Despite the fanciful composition, the scene depicts in realistic detail battles as they were actually fought throughout sixteenth century Islam. Although the conquest of Alexander destroyed the ancient Achaemenid empire, it launched a long period of intense commercial relations between the Middle East and the Mediterranean world, trade that subsequent Persian empires would eventually dominate.