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Updated:Sunday 12th October 2014

Pasargadae Definition

Pasargadae is an ancient Persian city, near modern Shiraz, Iran. It is one of 3 capitals of the Achaemenid dynasty. Its ruins include the bases of several large buildings and the nearly intact tomb of Cyrus the Great. Pasargadae is one of the oldest residences of the Achaemenid kings, founded by Cyrus the Great in Pars (Fars), homeland of the Persians.Pasargadae’s palaces, gardens and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization. Particularly noteworthy vestiges in the 160-hectare site include: the Mausoleum of Cyrus II; Tall-e Takht, a fortified terrace; and a royal ensemble of gatehouse, audience hall, residential palace and gardens. Pasargadae was the capital of the first great multicultural empire in Western Asia. Spanning the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River, it is considered to be the first empire that respected the cultural diversity of its different peoples. This has also been reflected in Achaemenid architecture, a synthetic representation of different cultures.Pasargadae lies in ruins 43 kilometers from Persepolis. In 2004, Pasargadae was registered with UNESCO’s World Heritage list.The tomb of Cyrus' son and successor, Cambyses 2., also has been found in Pasargadae. The remains of his tomb, located near the fortress of Toll-e Takht, were identified in 2006.Latest research on Pasargadae’s structural engineering has shown the Achaemenid engineers constructed the city to withstand a severe earthquake, at what would today be classified as a '7.0' on the Richter magnitude scale. The foundations are today classified as having a base isolation design, much the same as what is presently used in countries for the construction of facilities - such as nuclear power plants - that require insulation from the effects of a seismic activity. (Wikipedia) - Pasargadae For the administrative subdivision of Iran, see Pasargad County. Pasargadae Location Coordinates Type History Founded Periods Cultures Site notes Archaeologists Condition UNESCO World Heritage Site Type Criteria Designated Reference No. State Party Region
Pāsārgād (Persian)
Tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae
Shown within Iran
Fars Province, Iran
30°12′00″N 53°10′46″E / 30.20000°N 53.17944°E / 30.20000; 53.17944Coordinates: 30°12′00″N 53°10′46″E / 30.20000°N 53.17944°E / 30.20000; 53.17944
6th century BCE
Achaemenid Empire
Ali Sami, David Stronach, Ernst Herzfeld,
In ruins
Official name: Pasargadae
i, ii, iii, iv
2004 (28th session)
"I am Cyrus the king, an Achaemenid." in Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian languages. It is carved in a column in Pasargadae

Pasargadae (from Ancient Greek: Πασαργάδαι from Persian: Pāsārgād), the capital of Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC) and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), 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
    • 4.1 Vou‐me embora pra Pasárgada
    • 4.2 I will go away to Pasargadae
  • 5 Gallery
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Bibliography
  • 9 External links


Cyrus the Great began building his 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.

Pasargadae remained the Persian capital 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 Main article: Tomb of CyrusThe 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 III of Macedon believed it was. When Alexander looted and destroyed Persepolis, he paid a visit to the tomb of Cyrus. Arrian, 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 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.

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 the "tomb of the mother of Solomon". It is still widely known by that name today.

ArchaeologyDovetail Staples from Pasargadae

The first capital of the Achaemenid Empire, Pasargadae lies in ruins 43 kilometers from Persepolis, in present-day Fars province of Iran.

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 (de). 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. 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 culture

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 Lá sou amigo do rei Lá tenho a mulher que eu quero Na cama que escolhereiE quando eu estiver mais triste Mas triste de não ter jeito Quando de noite me der Vontade de me matar — Lá sou amigo do rei — Terei a mulher que eu quero Na cama que escolherei Vou-me embora pra Pasárgada.

I will go away to Pasargadae

I will go away to Pasargadae There I am a friend of the king There I will have the woman I want In the bed I will chooseAnd when I get sadder But so sad I will have no way out When at night I get A wish to kill myself — There I am a friend of the king — I will have the woman I want In the bed I will choose I will go away to Pasargadae.

  • Tomb of Cyrus the Great

  • The "prison of Solomon", another part of the ruined compound.

  • The Audience Hall of the Pasargadae Palace.

  • The citadel of Pasargadae. At its top many column bases indicate the structure was not unlike the Athenian Acropolis in positioning and structure.

  • Tomb of Cyrus the Great (Under Restoration)

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