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Ancient Persepolis (PÔrsa)

1926 Persepolis Stone Ruins Columns Iran Persia

Persepolis: Greek name of one of the capitals of the ancient Persian Empire founded by the great King Darius (522 - 486 BC). There are some indications that the site of Persepolis was already a government center under Cyrus the Great (559 - 530) and his son Cambyses II (530 - 522) but there are no archaeological traces of this older phase. However this may be it seems as if Darius 'invented' Persepolis as the splendid seat of the government of the Persian empire and as its center for receptions and festivals. The wealth of Persia was to be visible in every aspect of its construction. Persepolis was a showcase.

Archaeologists found two cuneiform archives. The oldest and largest archive is the so-called Persepolis Fortification Tablets (25000 to 30000 in number). They were written in Elamite which is the language of the Persian chancellery and deal with economic transactions up till 493 BC.

Persepolis was taken by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great in the first weeks of 330 BC. He destroyed the palace in April because he was not yet sole ruler of the Persian empire and it was too dangerous to leave the enormous treasures behind where his enemies could recapture them. It is likely that the Greek soldiers in Alexander's company had their revenge for the destruction of Athens in 480 BC. When Alexander returned several years later and saw the ruins he regretted his act. Although a new capital was built nearby (Istakhr) the old capital was a mere ruin for the next two thousand years ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium