Pasargadae was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site and one of only five of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ancient Pasargadae threatened by construction of dam, Mehr News Agency, 28 August 2004, Accessed Sept. 15, 2006 According to the Elamite cuneiform of the Persepolis fortification tablets the name was rendered as Batrakatas, and the name in current usage derives from a Greek transliteration of an Old Persian Pathragada toponym of still-uncertain meaning.Cambridge History of Iran, p.237
Site and history
The first capital of the Achaemenid Empire, Pasargadae, lies in ruins 43 kilometers from Persepolis, in present-day Fars province of Iran Jona Lendering, "Pasargadae", Livius. The construction of the capital city by Cyrus the Great, begun in 546 BCE or later, was left unfinished, for Cyrus died in battle in 530 BCE 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 Darius founded another in Persepolis. The modern name comes from the Greek, but may derive from an earlier one used during Achaemenid times, Pathragada, meaning the garden of Pars.
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. The gardens provide the earliest known example of the Persian chahar bagh, or four-fold garden design. (See Persian Gardens.)
Latest research on Pasargadaes 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.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 so. 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 of the tomb. No trace of any such inscription survives to modern times, 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 alternatively to Mesopotamian or Elamite ziggurats, but the cella is usually attributed to Urartu tombs of an earlier period. C. Michael Hogan, Tomb of Cyrus, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham, Jan 19, 2008 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 . The main decoration on the tomb is a rosette design over the door within the gable. Ronald W. Ferrier, The Arts of Persia, Yale University Press (1989) ISBN 0300039875 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 direct 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.
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. Sivand Dam Waits for Excavations to be Finished, Cultural Heritage News Agency, 26 February 2006, Accessed Sept. 15, 2006.
The broadly shared concern of people on Wore Island by archaeologists is the effect of the increase in humidity caused by the lake; Date of Sivand Dam Inundation Not Yet Agreed Upon, Cultural Heritage News Agency, 29 May 2006, Accessed Sept. 15, 2006. 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.
Cyrus The Great
2,500 year celebration of Iran's monarchy
Sivand Dams Inundation Postponed for 6 Months, Cultural Heritage News Agency, 29 November 2005, Accessed Sept. 15, 2006.
Ali Mousavi, Cyrus can rest in peace: Pasargadae and rumors about the dangers of Sivand Dam, Iranian.com, September 16, 2005
Pasargadae Will Never Drown, Cultural Heritage News Agency, 12 September 2005, Accessed Sept. 15, 2006.
Persia: An Archaeological Guide, by Sylvia A. Matheson
Vitrual reconstruction of Pasargadae: persepolis3D