Tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae
|Location||Fars Province, Iran|
|Founded||6th century BCE|
|Archaeologists||Ali Sami, David Stronach, Ernst Herzfeld,|
|Criteria||i, ii, iii, iv|
|Designated||2004 (28th session)|
Pasargadae (from Ancient Greek: Πασαργάδαι from Persian: Pāsārgād), capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great who had issued its construction (559–530 BC) and also the location of his tomb, was a city in ancient Persia, located near the city of Shiraz (in Pasargad County) and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- 1 History
- 2 Archaeology
- 3 Sivand Dam controversy
- 4 In culture
- 5 Gallery
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
Cyrus the Great began building the capital in 546 BCE or later; it was unfinished when he died in battle, in 530 or 529 BCE. The remains of the tomb of Cyrus' son and successor, Cambyses II, have been found in Pasargadae, near the fortress of Toll-e Takht, and identified in 2006. as well as the tomb of Cyrus's father Cambyses I. Pasargadae remained the capital of the Achaemenid empire until Cambyses II moved it to Susa; later, Darius founded another in Persepolis. The archaeological site covers 1.6 square kilometres and includes a structure commonly believed to be the mausoleum of Cyrus, the fortress of Toll-e Takht sitting on top of a nearby hill, and the remains of two royal palaces and gardens. Pasargadae Persian Garden provide the earliest known example of the Persian chahar bagh, or fourfold garden design (see Persian Gardens).
Recent research on Pasargadae’s structural engineering has shown that Achaemenid engineers built the city to withstand a severe earthquake, what would today be classified as 7.0 on the Richter magnitude scale.
Tomb of Cyrus the Great
The most important monument in Pasargadae is the tomb of Cyrus the Great. It has six broad steps leading to the sepulchre, the chamber of which measures 3.17 m long by 2.11 m wide by 2.11 m high and has a low and narrow entrance. Though there is no firm evidence identifying the tomb as that of Cyrus, Greek historians tell that Alexander believed it was. When Alexander looted and destroyed Persepolis, he paid a visit to the tomb of Cyrus. Arrian, writing in the second century AD, recorded that Alexander commanded Aristobulus, one of his warriors, to enter the monument. Inside he found a golden bed, a table set with drinking vessels, a gold coffin, some ornaments studded with precious stones and an inscription on the tomb. No trace of any such inscription survives, and there is considerable disagreement to the exact wording of the text. Strabo reports that it read:
Passer-by, I am Cyrus, who gave the Persians an empire, and was king of Asia.
Grudge me not therefore this monument.
Another variation, as documented in Persia: The Immortal Kingdom, is:
O man, whoever thou art, from wheresoever thou cometh, for I know you shall come, I am Cyrus, who founded the empire of the Persians.
Grudge me not, therefore, this little earth that covers my body.
The design of Cyrus' tomb is credited to Mesopotamian or Elamite ziggurats, but the cella is usually attributed to Urartu tombs of an earlier period. In particular, the tomb at Pasargadae has almost exactly the same dimensions as the tomb of Alyattes II, father of the Lydian King Croesus; however, some have refused the claim (according to Herodotus, Croesus was spared by Cyrus during the conquest of Lydia, and became a member of Cyrus' court). The main decoration on the tomb is a rosette design over the door within the gable. In general, the art and architecture found at Pasargadae exemplified the Persian synthesis of various traditions, drawing on precedents from Elam, Babylon, Assyria, and ancient Egypt, with the addition of some Anatolian influences.
Toll-e Takht meaning "Throne Hill" is a Citadel at the northeastern end of Pasargadae probably built during the reign of Achaemenid Persian king Cyrus the Great, though it may be older than the Persian Empire itself. The citadel also contains the tomb of Cambyses II. The citadel was not fit together with mortar, but with stone clamps. Unlike Persepolis which was abandoned at the end of the Persian Empire. Pasargadae and the Toll-e Takht remained important cities until they were finally abandoned at around 200 BC. Large coin hoardes suggest that the inhabitants fled in panic and may mean the site was destroyed by humans, and the inhabitants were unable to return and recover their possessions. There is no evidence for war in Persia at that moment, but there is a reference to Bactrian troops at the End of Seleucus Chronicle.
Prison of Solomon
The Zendan-e Soleiman meaning "Prison of Solomon" is a limestone monument near the residencial palace at Pasargadae. An identical monument has been found at Naqsh-e Rustam (the Ka'ba-e Zartosht), and it is a reasonable assumption that the function of the two buildings is identical. It has been assumed that they were used to keep the holy fire, but the absence of a chimney at Ka'ba-e Zartosht does not support this interpretation. An alternative is that this is where the sacred texts of the Avesta were stored, but many modern scholars think that in the Achaemenid age, the sacred texts were learned by heart. A popular theory is that the Prison of Solomon was a tomb, probably for Cambyses I (not to be confused with his famous grandson: Cambyses II). It was given this name by the Persian locals so that the invading Arabs wouldn't destroy it, along with this they also named the Tomb of Cyrus as the "Tomb of Solomons mother".
This part of the complex, called Palace P by the excavators at Pasargadae, is often believed to be the residential palace of Cyrus the Great. It shares close parallels to the Apadana of Persepolis, though a difference is that the palace at Pasargadae has an oblong plan, while the palaces in Persepolis are always square. This has led some to believe the palace was incomplete when Cyrus died and the project was then abandoned by Cyrus's successor Cambyses II. Similar to a relief of Xerxes from Persepolis and the Tachara palace, a relief that showed two men can be seen: the king is leaving the room, followed by a servant. Traces of plaster have been found, in various colors like red, white, and blue. The white stones used to make the columns of the palace have the remarkable physical quality that they will always feel cold.
The residential palace has an inscription (CMa) in Old Persian cuneiform script, which mentions that this building was made by king Cyrus. Because this type of writing was designed in 521, during the reign of Darius I it was used for the first time in the Behistun Inscription, which also states that this "Aryan script" was designed especially for the purpose so the text in Pasargadae must have been added by Darius I the Great. Probably, this king, an usurper, tried to show continuity with the founder of the Persian Empire by stressing that they belonged to the same Achaemenid family.
The excavators of Pasargadae have recognised this part of the complex as a reception hall. The white column they reerected is more than 13 meters high, which gives an indication of the size of the building. The black capitals resembled bulls, griffins, lions, and horses. The first three of these types are also known from Persepolis. On both sides of the entrance of the audience hall is a remarkable, damaged relief. On both sides, we can see the feet of two figures. They are walking like human beings, but they are not human. One man has the tail of fish, another one has bull's legs, and there's someone with bird's claws. Only the fourth one seems to have normal feet. The fish man is also known from Babylonia and Assyria, and is probably identical to Ea or Oannes, who is mentioned by Berossus of Babylon. In his Babyloniaca, he tells how after the Creation, Oannes taught humankind all kinds of useful knowledge. He is one of the "seven sages" of the ancient Near East. Small figurines of the fishman were often used as protective talismans, but the reliefs in the audience hall are unusually large.
Like the Gate of all Nations at Persepolis this gate might have had statues of Lamassu's though there is no evidence left. The gate also contains the famous winged relief of Cyrus. The great gate would have been quite large and would definitely have amazed the nomads of the region who were used to living in small tents. The ancient Iranian name for the gate would have been "paradaiza", "something surrounded by a wall", which led to the English word "paradise".
Pasargadae was first archaeologically explored by the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld in 1905, and in one excavation season in 1928, together with his assistant Friedrich Krefter. Since 1946, the original documents, notebooks, photographs, fragments of wall paintings and pottery from the early excavations are preserved in the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC. After Herzfeld, Sir Aurel Stein completed a site plan for Pasargadae in 1934. In 1935, Erich F. Schmidt produced a series of aerial photographs of the entire complex.
From 1949 to 1955, an Iranian team led by Ali Sami worked there. A British Institute of Persian Studies team led by David Stronach resumed excavation from 1961 to 1963. It was during the 1960s that a pot-hoard known as the Pasargadae Treasure was excavated near the foundations of 'Pavilion B' at the site. Dating to the 5th-4th centuries BC, the treasure consists of ornate Achaemenid jewellery made from gold and precious gems and is now housed in the National Museum of Iran and the British Museum. After a gap, work was resumed by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization and the Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée of the University of Lyon in 2000.
Sivand Dam controversy
There has been growing concern regarding the proposed Sivand Dam, named after the nearby town of Sivand. Despite planning that has stretched over 10 years, Iran's own Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization was not aware of the broader areas of flooding during much of this time.
Its placement between both the ruins of Pasargadae and Persepolis has many archaeologists and Iranians worried that the dam will flood these UNESCO World Heritage sites, although scientists involved with the construction say this is not obvious because the sites sit above the planned waterline. Of the two sites, Pasargadae is the one considered the most threatened. Experts agree that planning of future dam projects in Iran merit earlier examination of the risks to cultural resource properties.
Of broadly shared concern to archaeologists is the effect of the increase in humidity caused by the lake. All agree that humidity created by it will speed up the destruction of Pasargadae, yet experts from the Ministry of Energy believe it could be partially compensated by controlling the water level of the reservoir.
Construction of the dam began April 19, 2007.
In 1930, the Brazilian poet Manuel Bandeira published a poem called "Vou-me embora pra Pasárgada" ("I will go away to Pasargadae" in Portuguese), in a book entitled Libertinagem. It tells the story of a man who wants to go to Pasargadae, described in the poem as a utopian city. This poem has become one of the Portuguese language's classics.
The following is an extract, in the original then in a translation:
Vou‐me embora pra Pasárgada
Vou-me embora pra Pasárgada
I will go away to Pasargadae
I will go away to Pasargadae
The "prison of Solomon", another part of the ruined compound, which may be the tomb of Cambyses I
- 2,500 year celebration of Iran's monarchy
- Achaemenid architecture
- Cities of the ancient Near East
- Cyrus The Great
- History of Iran
- Iranian architecture
- Tang-e Bolaghi
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