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Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Shiraz

The centre of the great Persian Empire, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenians and the showpiece of Achaemenian art, Persepolis (Capital of Persia in Greek) is a historic site in Fars Province, 60 km to the northeast of Shiraz.

Iranians call it Takht-e Jamshid (The throne of Jamshid), Jamshid being the first, probably mythical, ruler of Iran. This magnificent court was the summer residence of the Achaemenid emperors and their official reception quarters.

It must be by some strange accident of history that Persepolis was never mentioned in foreign records, for it was here that representatives of all the varied peoples of the empire gathered to pay homage, and bring tribute, to the King of Kings, probably each spring, at the time of the ancient NowRuz festival.

Although set on fire and destroyed by Alexander in a gesture symbolizing the destruction of Persian imperial power, its still impressive ruins permit a fairly complete reconstruction of its original appearance.

Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Shiraz

The English word Persepolis is derived from Ancient Greek: Περσέπολις, romanized: Persepolis, a compound of Pérsēs (Πέρσης) and pólis (πόλις), meaning “the Persian city” or “the city of the Persians”. To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Pārsa (Old Persian: ), which is also the word for the region of Persia.

An inscription left in AD 311 by Sasanian prince Shapur Sakanshah, the son of Hormizd II, refers to the site as Sad-stūn, meaning “Hundred Pillars”. Because medieval Persians attributed the site to Jamshid, a king from Iranian mythology, it has been referred to as Takht-e-Jamshid, literally meaning “Throne of Jamshid”. Another name given to the site in the medieval period was Čehel Menār, literally meaning “Forty Minarets”.

The complex was comprised of nine structures:

  • The Apadana (hypostyle receiving hall)
  • Trachara (Palace of Darius I)
  • Council Hall
  • Treasury
  • Throne Hall
  • Palace of Xerxes I
  • Harem of Xerxes I
  • Gate of All Nations
  • Tomb of the King

Of these nine, the first three were built by Darius I (who also began the treasury building) and the rest completed by his successors, notably his son Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE) and grandson Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BCE). There were also residential buildings, a marketplace, and structures which archaeologists have yet to positively identify, at least one of which is most likely the palace of Artaxerxes I.

The city’s remote location kept it a secret from the outside world, and it became the safest city in the Persian Empire for storing art, artifacts, archives, and keeping the royal treasury. The Greeks had no idea the city existed until it was sacked and plundered by Alexander the Great (l. 356-323 BCE) in 330 BCE, who burned it and carried off its vast treasures. The ruins lay buried until the 17th century CE when they were identified as the once-great royal city of Persepolis, but professional excavation did not begin until 1931 CE, with work continuing since.

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Isfahan/Esfahan-Iran

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Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Shiraz

Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Shiraz

Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Shiraz

The centre of the great Persian Empire, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenians and the showpiece of Achaemenian art, Persepolis (Capital of Persia in Greek) is a historic site in Fars Province, 60 km to the northeast of Shiraz.

Iranians call it Takht-e Jamshid (The throne of Jamshid), Jamshid being the first, probably mythical, ruler of Iran. This magnificent court was the summer residence of the Achaemenid emperors and their official reception quarters.

It must be by some strange accident of history that Persepolis was never mentioned in foreign records, for it was here that representatives of all the varied peoples of the empire gathered to pay homage, and bring tribute, to the King of Kings, probably each spring, at the time of the ancient NowRuz festival.

Although set on fire and destroyed by Alexander in a gesture symbolizing the destruction of Persian imperial power, its still impressive ruins permit a fairly complete reconstruction of its original appearance.

The English word Persepolis is derived from Ancient Greek: Περσέπολις, romanized: Persepolis, a compound of Pérsēs (Πέρσης) and pólis (πόλις), meaning “the Persian city” or “the city of the Persians”. To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Pārsa (Old Persian: ), which is also the word for the region of Persia.

An inscription left in AD 311 by Sasanian prince Shapur Sakanshah, the son of Hormizd II, refers to the site as Sad-stūn, meaning “Hundred Pillars”. Because medieval Persians attributed the site to Jamshid, a king from Iranian mythology, it has been referred to as Takht-e-Jamshid, literally meaning “Throne of Jamshid”. Another name given to the site in the medieval period was Čehel Menār, literally meaning “Forty Minarets”.

The complex was comprised of nine structures:

  • The Apadana (hypostyle receiving hall)
  • Trachara (Palace of Darius I)
  • Council Hall
  • Treasury
  • Throne Hall
  • Palace of Xerxes I
  • Harem of Xerxes I
  • Gate of All Nations
  • Tomb of the King

Of these nine, the first three were built by Darius I (who also began the treasury building) and the rest completed by his successors, notably his son Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE) and grandson Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BCE). There were also residential buildings, a marketplace, and structures which archaeologists have yet to positively identify, at least one of which is most likely the palace of Artaxerxes I.

The city’s remote location kept it a secret from the outside world, and it became the safest city in the Persian Empire for storing art, artifacts, archives, and keeping the royal treasury. The Greeks had no idea the city existed until it was sacked and plundered by Alexander the Great (l. 356-323 BCE) in 330 BCE, who burned it and carried off its vast treasures. The ruins lay buried until the 17th century CE when they were identified as the once-great royal city of Persepolis, but professional excavation did not begin until 1931 CE, with work continuing since.

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