Pasargadae the capital of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (559-530 BC) and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and is today an archaeological site
Archaeological site
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved , and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record.Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a 'site' can vary widely,...

 and one of Iran's UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...



The construction of the capital city by Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, begun in 546 BCE or later, was left unfinished after Cyrus died in battle in 530 or 529 BCE. The tomb of Cyrus' son and successor, Cambyses II, also has been found in Pasargadae. The remains of his tomb, located near the fortress of Toll-e Takht, were identified in 2006.

Pasargadae remained the Persian capital until Cambyses II moved it to Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

; later, Darius founded another in Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

. The archaeological site covers 1.6 square kilometres and includes a structure commonly believed to be the mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

 of Cyrus, the fortress of Toll-e Takht sitting on top of a nearby hill, and the remains of two royal palaces and gardens. Pasargad Persian Garden provide the earliest known example of the Persian chahar bagh, or fourfold garden design (see Persian Gardens
Persian Gardens
The tradition and style in the garden design of Persian gardens has influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond. The gardens of the Alhambra show the influence of Persian Garden philosophy and style in a Moorish Palace scale from the era of Al-Andalus in Spain...


Recent research on Pasargadae’s structural engineering
Earthquake engineering
Earthquake engineering is the scientific field concerned with protecting society, the natural and the man-made environment from earthquakes by limiting the seismic risk to socio-economically acceptable levels...

 has shown that Achaemenid engineers constructed the city to withstand a severe earthquake, what would today be classified as 7.0 on the Richter magnitude scale
Richter magnitude scale
The expression Richter magnitude scale refers to a number of ways to assign a single number to quantify the energy contained in an earthquake....

. The foundations are classified as having a base isolation
Base isolation
Base isolation, also known as seismic base isolation or base isolation system, is one of the most popular means of protecting a structure against earthquake forces...

 design, much like what is presently used in countries for the construction of facilities - such as nuclear power plants - that require insulation from the effects of seismic activity.

Tomb of Cyrus

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 us that Alexander III of Macedon believed it was. When Alexander looted and destroyed Persepolis, he paid a visit to the tomb of Cyrus. Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

, writing in the second century of the common era, 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
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 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
A cella or naos , is the inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture, or a shop facing the street in domestic Roman architecture...

 is usually attributed to Urartu
Urartu , corresponding to Ararat or Kingdom of Van was an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland....

 tombs of an earlier period. In particular, the tomb at Pasargadae has almost exactly the same dimensions as the tomb of Alyattes II
Alyattes II
Alyattes, king of Lydia , considered to be the founder of the Lydian empire, was the son of Sadyattes, of the house of the Mermnadae....

, father of the Lydian King Croesus
Croesus was the king of Lydia from 560 to 547 BC until his defeat by the Persians. The fall of Croesus made a profound impact on the Hellenes, providing a fixed point in their calendar. "By the fifth century at least," J.A.S...

; however, some have refused the claim (according to Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, 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
Rosette (design)
A rosette is a round, stylized flower design, used extensively in sculptural objects from antiquity. Appearing in Mesopotamia and used to decorate the funeral stele in Ancient Greece...

 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
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

, Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, and ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, with the addition of some Anatolian influences.

During the Islamic conquest of Iran, the Arab armies came upon the tomb and planned to destroy it, considering it to be in violation of the tenets of Islam. The caretakers of the grave managed to convince the Arab command that the tomb was not built to honor Cyrus but instead housed the mother of King Solomon, thus sparing it from destruction. As a result, the inscription in the tomb was replaced by a verse of the Qur'an, and the tomb became known as Qabr-e Madar-e Sulaiman, or the tomb of the mother of Solomon. It is still widely known by that name today.


The first capital of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, Pasargadae, lies in ruins 43 kilometers from Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

, in present-day Fars province of Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...


Pasargadae was first archaeologically explored by the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld
Ernst Herzfeld
Ernst Emil Herzfeld was a German archaeologist and Iranologist.-Life:Herzfeld was born in Celle, Province of Hanover...

 in 1905, and in one excavation season in 1928, together with his assistant Friedrich Krefter.

Since 1946, the original documents, notebooks, photographies, fragments of wall paintings and pottery from the early excavations are preserved in the Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer Gallery of Art joins the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to form the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Asian art. The Freer contains art from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Islamic world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as a significant collection of...

, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC.
After Hersfeld, Sir Aurel Stein completed a site plan
for Pasargade in 1934.

In 1935, Erich F. Schmidt produced a series of
aerial photographs of the entire complex.
From 1949 to 1955 it was worked by an
Iranian team led by Ali Sami.

Excavation was resumed by a British Institute of Persian Studies team from 1961
to 1963 led by David Stronach
David Stronach
David Stronach is a Scottish archeologist of ancient Iran and Iraq. He is currently a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.Stronach is a leading Western expert on the city of Pasargadae. He obtained an Master of Arts from Cambridge University in 1958. In the 1960s and 1970s he was...

After a gap, work was resumed by the Iranian Cultural
Heritage Organization and the Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée
Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée
The Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée is a research body in Lyon, France that specialises in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and the first steps of humanity...

 of the University of Lyon
University of Lyon
The University of Lyon , located in Lyon and Saint Etienne, France, is a center for higher education and research comprising 16 institutions of higher education...

 in 2000.

Sivand Dam controversy

There has been growing concern regarding the proposed Sivand Dam
Sivand Dam
Sivand Dam is a planned dam in Fars Province, Iran. Named after the nearby town of Sivand located northwest of Shiraz, it has become the center of worldwide concern due to the flooding it will cause in historical and archaeologically rich areas of Ancient Persia and possible harm it may cause to...

, named after the nearby town of Sivand
Sivand is a village near Shiraz, Iran. It is located in the Sivand valley and is mostly known for the nearby Sivand Dam.Sivand has a warm climate and contains vast pastures. It has relatively dry winters with some occasional snowfall. Sivand is home to the Sivandi language, a central-Iranian...

. Despite planning that has stretched over 10 years, Iran's own Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization
Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran
Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization is an educational and research institution overseeing numerous associated museum complexes throughout Iran. It is administered and funded by the Government of Iran....

 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; experts from the Ministry of Energy however believe it could be partially compensated by controlling the water level of the dam reservoir. All agree that humidity created by it will speed up the destruction of Pasargadae.

Construction of the dam began April 19, 2007.

In popular culture

  • The Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

    ian poet Manuel Bandeira
    Manuel Bandeira
    Manuel Carneiro de Sousa Bandeira Filho was a poet, literary critic, and translator.Bandeira wrote over 20 books of poetry and prose. In 1904, he found out that he suffered from tuberculosis, which encouraged him to move from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, because of Rio's tropical beach weather...

     wrote a poem called Pasárgada, Pasargadae in Portuguese
    Portuguese language
    Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

    , which tells the story of a man who wants to go to Pasargadae, described in the poem as an utopian
    Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...


See also

  • Achaemenid architecture
    Achaemenid architecture
    Achaemenid Persian architecture refers to the architectural achievements of the Achaemenid Persians manifesting in construction of spectacular cities used for governance and inhabitation , temples made for worship and social gatherings , and mausoleums erected in honor of fallen kings...

  • Persian Architecture
  • Tang-e Bolaghi
    Tang-e Bolaghi
    Tangeh Bolāghi, also transliterated as Tange-ye Bolāghi , or Bolāghi Gorge, is an archaeologically significant valley consisting of 130 ancient settlements, dating back to the period between 5000 BCE and the Sassanian dynastic era . It is situated in Iran’s southern province of Fars, some 7...

  • Cyrus The Great
  • Iranian history
  • 2,500 year celebration of Iran's monarchy
    2,500 year celebration of Iran's monarchy
    The 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire consisted of an elaborate set of festivities that took place October 12–16, 1971, on the occasion of the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Iranian monarchy by Cyrus the Great...

  • Cities of the Ancient Near East
    Cities of the ancient Near East
    The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far...

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.