Persepolis constitutes the remnants of Darius I’s Achaemenid citadel and palace, subjected to destruction by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, 189 years post its initial construction. Persepolis is located 56 kilometers northeast of Shiraz and 6 kilometers from Istakhar. Within the Maroodasht Jalga, Persepolis, is evidenced by two inscriptions on its southern wall, stands as an architectural testament to Darius the Achaemenid’s directive around 520 BC. The tomb of Darius, centrally situated within the stone walls of “Naqsh Rostam adjacent to an ancient Elamite ritual site, embodies a nuanced manifestation of Achaemenid ideology. Adorning the tomb’s entrance is a pediment incorporating elements reminiscent of Egyptian art, resembling the entrance porch of Achaemenid pillared palaces. The capitals, previously employed by Cyrus, adopt the form of a two headed cow. The embellishments of the tomb of Darius in Naqsh Rostam, influencing the construction of Susa and Persepolis palaces. For years, we have been calling the ancient building of Marvdasht and its set of tall columns as Persepolis. But its ancient and primary name is Parse, which we see in an inscription of Xerxes related to the building of the Gate of All Nations and in one of the Elamite tablets discovered in the treasury. Parse is a name derived from the Persian people who called their state Pars, the Greeks called it Persis, and today we call it Fars.

        The Greeks knew little about this city; Probably, because of the national and ritual importance of Persepolis, foreigners could not visit it at that time. A law that had an example in the Qajar and did not allow foreigners to use the holy places of their time. The works left in Persepolis are the surviving citadel of the city of Parse, and the Greeks called it Persia, and the Greek Achilles changed it to “Persep Tulis”, which means the destroyer of cities, and it was considered one of the titles of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. This phrase later became Persepolis, which meant the city of the Persians. This name gradually entered western books and became popular. After the collapse of Parse, people forgot its name because they were no longer able to read the inscriptions.

        Before I talk about the history of Persepolis and why it’s so important for people in Iran, to better understand this work, we must have a brief introduction to Achaemenid history so that we can understand the issue better. In the southern region of Iran, there is a province called Fars, which was a part of Pars or Fars state in the past. Ancient Fars or Fars province included present-day Fars provinces, Bushehr, Hormozgan province, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad provinces, and even Yazd province and Behbahan city of Khuzestan province. A few thousand years ago, the native tribes of our land, especially the Elamites, lived in this state, and the remains of them show that Fars was very prosperous at that time. Three thousand years before these tribes, a group of Indo-European people, whom we know as Aryans, came to this land from the south of today’s Russia. After many clashes with the inhabitants of this land, they settled in its place and built their own houses. Most of these people were shepherds, herders and nomads and lived in a tribal way.

        Around 1100 BC, Zoroaster arose and presented the Mazdisena religion to the people; A religion that was based on monotheism and belief in a single God named Ahuramzda. This religion considered natural forces such as water, wind, fire, earth, and the sun to be derived from God’s attributes, and considered the source of evil to be in the existence of an evil entity called Ahriman. At that time, the Aryans included large tribes, among which the Persians, Medes, Sucas, Balkhians, Khwarezmians, Sogdians, Heratians and Parthians can be mentioned. All these tribes spoke the same universal language but with different dialects and named their land “Irioshio Nem” or “Iriano Khashara” which means the kingdom of Iranians. Of course, this name was later changed to Iran Shatr and Iran Shahr, which is shortened to Iran.

        At the end of the 8th century BC, the Medes gathered in western Iran and fought with the marauding Assyrians. This war lasted for a hundred years until the Assyrians were finally defeated and the Medes established a great government that lasted for 120 years.

Cyrus, the son of Cambogia, the king of the Persians, was able to defeat the Medes and created the largest world government of that time. Persians lived in several places, including Anshan (45 km north of Shiraz) and Pasargad (135 km northeast of Shiraz) and their surroundings. Their capital was Pasargad, but later it was changed to Hamadan. After ruling for nearly 30 years, Cyrus was killed in a war with the nomadic Massageti, a Scythian tribe, and his son Cambojee succeeded to his throne.

        Cambodia invaded Egypt and added this land to its territory. He faced the revolt of the Mughs and died during the battle. The Maghs or Maghans were a tribe of Medes who were engaged in the implementation of religious affairs. Darius, who was one of the relatives of Cyrus, took the Achaemenid throne out of the hands of the Mughals and ruled Iran for 36 years from 522 to 486 BC. Xerxes, who was the granddaughter of Cyrus, ruled Iran for 20 years, and after him, in order, Ardashir I for 43 years, Darius II for 20 years, Ardashir II for 44 years, Ardashir III for 21 years and Darius III for 6 years. They leaned on the royal throne.

        The Achaemenid Empire was very wide and included from the Indus Valley in India to the Nile River in Egypt and the Benghazi region in present-day Libya, and from the Danube River in Europe to Central Asia. There were many tribes in this territory, and they lived according to their customs. The special characteristic of this government was summarized in these cases: respect for individual and ethnic freedom, respect for law and order, encouragement of native arts and culture, and promotion of commerce and art.

        The history of the empire, which the Achaemenids created due to their bravery, covers the second third of the first millennium (BC). Other nations and civilizations continued to exist; but in the whole of the world, the above-mentioned empire played an essential role, and for the historian who is obliged to study the events in line with history, the idea of creating such a government in Iran at that time is owed to the Achaemenids, and they were the ones who made this idea close to the truth. The durability and independence of this government was the legacy he left for his children.

The administrative method of the Achaemenians inside the country has no similarity with the Roman method; Even in their empire, the defeated nations had to bring themselves to the cultural base of others and share in the common economy. This often required that people whose origins were different, such as their traditions and talents, could reach higher levels; but these relations during the time of Cyrus and Darius are different from what was said. Apart from some distant areas where the level of people’s culture was low, the Achaemenid kings created a mixture of different civilizations in their empire, which is the largest empire in the history of the world, because their country included Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, cities, and islands. It was Greek and part of India. If the Achaemenians adapted these kingdoms to their own level of civilization, it would be considered retrograde.

        It was 518 years BC when a big rock in the northwest of Mehr Mountain attracted the attention of Darius the Great and he chose it to build a royal pavilion. Professor Thomas W. Lentz, an expert in American art history, believes that Darius the Great considered the position and directions of the early Koshk based on astronomical calculations. Based on these calculations, on certain days of the year, the axis of the sun’s radiation when it blows relates to the longitudinal and transverse axes of Persepolis.

        The special climatic and natural conditions of the region, the mountains of Dej-e-Gaan and the plain sheltered by these mountains, and the location on the royal road were the most important reasons for choosing this region.

In this area, you can see a combination of high to medium mountains in the plain. This plain is bounded by Tashak lake from the east, high mountains from the north, Zarqan heights from the south, and Hosseinkoh from the west. High cliffs, steep walls, large caves, deep ashkafts (small caves), congressional floors and stairs and wide flats in the heights have provided special conditions for this area.

        Construction works were started by the order of Darius the Great. In the first step, the builders had to prepare this land. The only way that came to mind was to carve a large part of an irregular stone domain to a certain height according to the architects’ plan. With this work, a smooth surface was obtained, and they could fill the hollows with earth and stone. Part of the view of Safa was formed by carving the natural rock. The other part was also formed by placing polygonal stones that were placed on top of each other without mortar. In fact, in a smart move, they put these big stones together with a metal fastener. Fasteners that no longer have a trace of them and most of them have been stolen. It took several years for the natural rock to smooth out and to finish filling the hollows.

After the ground was leveled, they built the foundations of the building. The sewage network was also formed during this period; On the hillside overlooking the throne, they built waterways and led one end of them to a large ditch behind the eastern wall so that the rainwater would flow from that ditch into streams in the south and north of Sefa and minimize the risk of destruction due to floods. They also created underground waterways on the surface so that the rainwater can flow into them through the gutters. They made the gutters like a heater pipe with bricks and bitumen mortar and put them inside the adobe walls. The water of the gutter went from under the south wall to the plain and the ditch there. With the development of scattered settlements south, the city of Parse found its original shape and got a special appearance with an interesting design including street lines and neighborhood divisions. This area was large, and the buildings were formed in it with appropriate and precise angles. Alleys were built at 90-degree angles to each other and were all connected by a continuous network of passages and streets. The land required for each building and their internal divisions were determined based on the needs of the departments, and different units were integrated into a square or rectangular space.

        The divisions of streets and axes were located along the waterways. The reason for this goes back to Iranians’ interest in green spaces and it is said that various trees were planted along the linear axes of these streets. In clay tablets, there is also a reference to the cobbled streets that were formed on the side of waterways. The main streets were in the middle of different neighborhoods and were divided into smaller streets.

 With the formation of luxurious houses in the western part and the development of construction, the royal palaces took on a different color. With the expansion of Parse city to the north and west, part of the agricultural land was transferred to the edge of the plain, and part of the integrated surface of the agricultural land was replaced by new houses. At the same time, gardens and hunting grounds were formed and occupied the edge of the Ker River. New palaces were built in the southern part of the palace, which belonged to the king, Queen, and harem. The development of the treasury and communication routes between new spaces also took place in the same period and this place became a complex of royal residential palaces. With the construction of new palaces, the density of buildings increased, and the level of the throne became monotonous and simple. It is said that there was a tower and a rampart at this time, and it protected the royal section. The throne and its palaces with high columns had created a unified, majestic, and coherent landscape on the mountainside. This landscape had a special glory in combination with the texture of the boulders and harmony with the scenery of Mount Mehr.

        In 330 BC (according to a narrative, 334 BC) with an army including 48,000-foot soldiers, 6,100 cavalry and 120 warships with 38,000 crewmen, Alexander crossed the Dardanelles Strait in northwestern Turkey. Some of the soldiers in his army were Macedonians and Greek city-states, and some were subjects of the lords’ fields of Thrace (ancient countries in the Balkan region), Paionia (a land in the Thrace region), and Illyria (an ancient land in the west of the Balkan Peninsula). Alexander threw a spear into the soil of Asia and by pointing out that he considers Asia a gift from the gods, he stated his intention to conquer the entire Achaemenid Empire. He set out and destroyed everything on his way until he reached Susa from Babylon, which was one of the capitals of the Achaemenids. He destroyed this city and sent most of his army to Persepolis. He himself also went there with the selected army.

        Aryu Barzan, one of the Achaemenid princes and Iranian general, blocked the Darband passage of Pars. Based on today’s coordinates, this crossing was located on the border between Kohgiluyeh, Boyer Ahmad and Fars provinces, and included Mount Dana in the Zagros Mountain range from the south. Alexander inevitably attacked this passage and defeated Ariobarzen and reached Persepolis. Upon entering Persepolis, he left his troops free to plunder and settled in this city for five months. They destroyed the villages of the city. 200 years of prosperity had made the houses of ordinary people full of wealth. Alexander’s soldiers slaughtered all men, young and old, and sold women, and girls. Jewels, precious fabrics, expensive weapons, carpets, and other things all blinded the eyes of the Macedonians, and they did not show mercy to each other to get these spoils.

        Alexander left the royal citadel for himself, went to Dariush’s hut, and took its 20-year-old treasury. 120,000 silver talents equal to 4,400 kilograms of silver was only a part of this treasure. They brought 3000 camels and many mules from Susa and Babylon to carry this treasure to another place. Persepolis was palaces like kings’ treasury, construction workshops and public halls. This place had various roles in the Achaemenid documents and during several centuries of the Achaemenid rule, such as a national place of worship, the place of Nowruz celebrations, the center of documents and the royal treasure – the royal treasury and workshops of artists and stonemasons, cloth weavers, dressmakers, goldsmiths, and sculptors.

        One of the halls and buildings of Persepolis are decorated with special motifs, which probably represent the religion or beliefs of one of the subordinate tribes and nations. Is it possible to conclude based on these motifs that each of these halls was dedicated to the establishment of a ritual and was for the followers of one of the many religions throughout the Persian Empire? Despite these signs, isn’t it better to say that Persepolis was the center for the gathering of the representatives of all the subordinate countries, who gathered at a specific time to meet closely with the king and exchange opinions with each other. During their stay, the representatives prayed freely and performed their religious rituals. At the same time, they got to know the religions of other nations and discussed and exchanged opinions. The carvings and carvings on the walls were the cause of acquaintance of the newcomers with other subordinate nations and presented the type of clothing, the special product of that state, religious and cultural beliefs and language, and the degree of their importance and proximity to the empire’s sovereignty.

They always brought gifts to the king, which some consider as ransom, tribute, and annual tax; But the remaining motifs tell us something else. It can be said that the motifs of those who carry certain objects, animals, textiles, drinks, and food are meant to depict subordinate nations with the products and symbols of that nation.

        Persepolis is not only considered a symbol of Iran, but its importance and greatness are institutionalized in the soul of the country’s people. For the people of Iran including myself, this is not just the remains of an ancient empire, and it is the place where the Charter of Cyrus the Great, the first charter of human rights, was registered and in it the equality of all religions, races and languages was mentioned. Cyrus’ charter is now kept in the British Museum. Despite the negative views expressed in mass media against Iran, Persepolis is still considered one of the most powerful empires in the world and is a source of pride for Iranians who consider themselves descendants of the great Achaemenid kings and this most civilized ancient empire.

Persepolis is known as a national symbol that shows the cultural, historical, national identity and unity of the country. This structure is known as a strong point in preserving the culture and national identity of the country.

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