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Pasargadae

the tomb of Cyrus. The great king was buried here in 530/529BC
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The first HUMAN RIGHTS LAW In The world
 
 
 
 
 
Tall-i Takht
"throne hill".
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Zendan
a Zoroastrian shrine, also known as "prison of Solomon".
 
 
This is the entrance hall, called Gate R by the excavators
a small monument under a roof is visible.
 
 
 
 
Palace S. The white column, the oldest known stone pillar inIran
 
 
 
 
damaged relief. On both sides
The bull man is a protective demon
but may also have belonged to a Creation story
 
 
 
 
 
Palace P usually regarded as the residence of the great king
 
 
 
 
 
An old carvansaray
 
 
Cyrus the Great in the valley of the river Polvar. According to the Roman geographer Strabo of Amasia, the town was built on the site where king Cyrus had defeated the leader of the Medes, Astyages, in 550 BCE (Strabo, Geography 15.3.. This may or may not be true. In Antiquity, at least eight dams regulated the river, which shows that Pasargadae was an important city.
It became the capital of the Achaemenid empire, and remained its most important settlement until Darius I the Great and Xerxes built Persepolis. Yet even then, Pasargadae remained an important town, because the king was inaugurated here. The Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, writing a generation or two after the foundation of the new capital, knew the name Pasargadae but did not know Persepolis. (Compare modern Holland: the government is in The Hague, but Amsterdam, where the Dutch king is inaugurated, is more famous.)
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On both sides of the entrance of Palace S at Pasargadae is a remarkable, damaged relief. On both sides, we can see the feet of two figures. They are walking like human beings, but they are not human. This man has the tail of fish, and below we will see a man with bull's legs, someone with bird's claws. Only the fourth one seems to have normal feet. The fish man is also known from Babylonia and Assyria, and is probably the same as Ea or Oannes, who is mentioned by Berossus of Babylon. In his Babyloniaca, he tells how after the Creation, Oannes taught humankind all kinds of useful knowledge (text).
The bull man is a protective demon but may also have belonged to a Creation story. (Berossus is only known from a summary that does not mention all magical creatures in great detail.) The bull man is usually presented as an attendant of the sun god Šamaš.
The man with the bird's claws belongs to the scorpion people (girtablullû), who are otherwise known to have a human head and body, a scorpion's tale, and a snake-like penis. They are known to have played a role in apotropaic magic. The human feet can belong to several types of protective genies or the griffin-demon, who is, like the fish man, one of the "seven sages" of the ancient Near East (apkallû).
Close to Palace S is Pavilion B, shown here. (In the background the citadel Tall-i Takht.) Here, a visitor entered the garden of the palace. (Pavilion A, an exact copy of Pavilion B, is on the other side of the park.)
The garden had several small channels and must have been very green. This was more than just a nice and lofty place to stay on a hot afternoon: the king here presented himself as a gardener, as the man who brought culture to the wilderness. Gardens and parks were an important element of the royal ideology.
This is Palace P (Tall-i Takht in the distance again), usually regarded as the residence of the great king. It is rather curious that the remains of the columns -five rows of six pillars- all reach the same height. Probably, only the lower parts of the columns were made of stone; the upper parts were made of wood.
Pasargadae resembled a large park, about 2x3 kilometers large, in which several buildings were to be seen. This is one of the most famous monuments: the tomb of Cyrus. The great king was buried here in 530/529. According to literary sources, more than two centuries later, Alexander the Great ordered the tomb to be restored. Archaeologists have found no traces of repairs, however.
The monument stands on a small platform. Similar substructures are known from Anatolia, but as yet, it is impossible to establish which ones are earlier - the Iranian or Anatolian.
Stated differently, it is possible that Cyrus got the idea of this type of monument when he had defeated king Croesus of Lydia in 547, but it is also possible that the Anatolians copied an Iranian form.
The tomb is about eleven meters high. There are two chambers: one is the real tomb, the other is an attic. The function of this second room is unknown
The tomb chamber: two meters wide, two meters high, three meters deep. It contained a gold sarcophagus, Cyrus' arms, his jewelry and a cloak. This garment played an important role in the Persian inauguration rituals (see Plutarch of Chaeronea, Life of Artaxerxes 3.1; the custom itself is Babylonian).
****************
At the northern end of the site is the citadel, called Tall-i Takht, "throne hill". It may be older than Pasargadae itself. The impressive western wall, made of beautifully carved regular stones, dates back at least to the reign of Cyrus the Great. It is just as old,
*****************
The zendan, a Zoroastrian shrine, also known as "prison of Solomon". An identical monument has been found at Naqš-i Rustam (the Ka'bah-i Zardusht), and the function of the two buildings must be identical. It is often said that they were used to keep the holy fire, but the absence of a chimney at Naqš-i Rustam does not support this interpretation. An alternative is that in these buildings books (e.g., the Avesta) were stored, but many scholars think that in the Achaemenid age, the sacred texts were learned by heart. So we don't know.
Between the tomb, the citadel, and the zendan, Cyrus built his palace
***************
Actually, there was, in our sense of the word, no palace at Pasargadae. King Cyrus ordered the construction of several buildings in a park: an entrance hall (Gate R), a small hall (S), two pavilions (A and B), and a large hall (P). Probably the two halls served as an audience palace and living palace, but this is just a hypothesis.
This is the entrance hall, called Gate R by the excavators, seen from the southeast. It measures about 28½ x 25½ meters, so it must have made a considerable impact upon its visitors - often Iranian nomads, used to living in tents. In fact, this building -like all buildings in Pasargadae- can be seen as a pavilion made of stone.
The technical term for these pavilions is apadana. We know that the audience hall at Susa had this name and modern scholars have applied it to all rectangular buildings with columns to carry the flat roof. A gate like this can be seen as a specific type of apadana / pavilion. The entrance was guarded by statues of bulls or lamassu's, and it must have looked like the Gate of All Nations in Persepolis.
On the above pictures a small monument under a roof is visible. Scholars are divided about the interpretation of this figure. There are many parallels in eastern art for specific details, but the combination is a bit mysterious. The bearded man is dressed like an Elamite, but wears an Egyptian crown and has four wings like an Assyrian protective genius. It is possible that this a protective demon or deity too.
The Pasargadae example was once standing underneath a damaged inscription, which is no longer there, but known from old drawings. It said:

Kûruš \"""""""" xšâyathiya \"""""""" vazraka \"""""""" Kabûjiya
hyâ \"""""""" xšâyathiyahyâ \"""""""" puça \"""""""" Haxâmanišiya \""""""""
thâtiy \"""""""" yathâ [...]
[... ...] akutâ [... ]
Cyrus the great king, son of Cambyses the king, an Achaemenid, says: When [...] made [...]
Proceeding from the Gate in the direction of the two halls, a visitor had to cross the river. These are the inconspicuous remains of a bridge. In the background the citadel Tall-i Takht.

Palace S. The white column, the oldest known stone pillar in Iran, is more than 13 meters high, which gives an indication of the size of the building. The black capitals resembled bulls, griffins, lions, and horses. The first three types are also known from Persepolis. The little roof (picture, right) covers the odd monument we will discuss on the next page.
A modern reconstruction of palace S. It has all the characteristics of an apadana.

The hall itself was 32¼ x 22¼ meters. The two structures on this picture are the corners of this hall. Like the monument above, there is an inscription in Aryan script, which is strange, because this was developed by Darius I the Great, one generation after Cyrus. Probably, this king, an usurper, tried to show continuity with the founder of the Persian empire by stressing that they belonged to the same Achaemenid family.
Probably, the location of this hall near the gate suggests that it served for audiences.
The second and third part of this inscription, known as CMa, are in Elamite and Babylonian; they say the same as the first part, which is in Persian:
adam \"""""""" kuruš \"""""""" xšâya-
thiya \"""""""" haxâmanišiya
I, Cyrus the king, an Achaemenid.
On both sides of the entrance of Palace S at Pasargadae is a remarkable, damaged relief. On both sides, we can see the feet of two figures. They are walking like human beings, but they are not human. This man has the tail of fish, and below we will see a man with bull's legs, someone with bird's claws. Only the fourth one seems to have normal feet. The fish man is also known from Babylonia and Assyria, and is probably the same as Ea or Oannes, who is mentioned by Berossus of Babylon. In his Babyloniaca, he tells how after the Creation, Oannes taught humankind all kinds of useful knowledge (text).
The bull man is a protective demon but may also have belonged to a Creation story. (Berossus is only known from a summary that does not mention all magical creatures in great detail.) The bull man is usually presented as an attendant of the sun god Šamaš.
The man with the bird's claws belongs to the scorpion people (girtablullû), who are otherwise known to have a human head and body, a scorpion's tale, and a snake-like penis. They are known to have played a role in apotropaic magic. The human feet can belong to several types of protective genies or the griffin-demon, who is, like the fish man, one of the "seven sages" of the ancient Near East (apkallû).
Close to Palace S is Pavilion B, shown here. (In the background the citadel Tall-i Takht.) Here, a visitor entered the garden of the palace. (Pavilion A, an exact copy of Pavilion B, is on the other side of the park.)
The garden had several small channels and must have been very green. This was more than just a nice and lofty place to stay on a hot afternoon: the king here presented himself as a gardener, as the man who brought culture to the wilderness. Gardens and parks were an important element of the royal ideology.
Palace P (Tall-i Takht in the distance again), usually regarded as the residence of the great king. It is rather curious that the remains of the columns -five rows of six pillars- all reach the same height. Probably, only the lower parts of the columns were made of stone; the upper parts were made of wood.


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Cyrus

(Old Persian Kuruš; Hebrew Kores): founder of the Achaemenid empire. He was born about 600 BCE as the son of Cambyses I, the king of the Persian kingdom called Anšan. During Cambyses' reign, the Persians were vassals of the Median leader Astyages.
Expressions like 'king of the Persian kingdom' and 'the Median kingdom' are a bit misleading. The Medes and the Persians were coalitions of Iranian nomad tribes; in the fifth century, this was still remembered and the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus wrote:

The achievement of Deioces [...] was to unite under his rules the peoples of Media - Busae, Parataceni, Struchates, Arizanti, Budii, Magi.
The Persian nation contains a number of tribes [...]: the Pasargadae, Maraphii, and Maspii, upon which all the other tribes are dependent. Of these, the Pasargadae are the most distinguished; they contain the clan of the Achaemenids from which spring the Perseid kings. Other tribes are the Panthialaei, Derusiaei, Germanii, all of which are attached to the soil, the remainder -the Dai, Mardi, Dropici, Sagarti, being nomadic.
[Herodotus, Histories 1.101 & 125;
tr. Aubrey de Selincourt]
These 'kingdoms' were in fact losely organized tribal coalitions. In the first half of the sixth cenctury, the Median federation was the most powerful and was able to demand tribute from the Persians, but also from the Armenians, Parthians, Drangians and Arians.
Cyrus became king of Anšan in 559, and formed a new coalition of his own tribe, the Pasargadae, together with the Maraphii, Maspii, Panthialaei, Derusiaei, Germanii, Dahae, Mardi, Dropici and Sagarti. They revolted in 550 (or 554/553 according to another chronology).
The Median king Astyages sent an army to Anšan. It was commanded by Harpagus, but he defected to the Persians. Astyages was captured and Cyrus became the new ruler of the empire of Persians and Medes. According to the Greek topographer Strabo of Amasia, who lived more than five centuries later, Cyrus' victory took place among the Pasargadae, where Cyrus built his residence. From now on, this tribal name became the name of a city.
According to Herodotus, Cyrus' father Cambyses had been married to Astyages' daughter Mandane. This would explain why the Medes accepted Cyrus' rule; he was one of them. Intertribal marriages were common, but it is also possible that the story of Cambyses' Median marriage was invented to justify Cyrus' rule. The Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidus writes that Cyrus also married a daughter of Astyages. If both authors are right, this woman must have been Cyrus' aunt.
Cyrus seems to have united Persia and Media in a personal union; it was, therefore, a dual monarchy. Taking over the loosely organized Median empire also implied taking over several subject countries: Armenia, Cappadocia, Parthia, Drangiana, Aria. They were probably ruled by vassal kings called satraps. It is plausible that Elam was an early addition. In 547, Cyrus added Lydia to his possessions, a state that had among its vassals the Greek and Carian towns in the west and southwest of what is now Turkey. A part of the population appears to have been deported to Nippur in Babylonia, where a community of Lydians is recorded in the Murašu Archive.
According to Herodotus, Cyrus left Lydia and 'his mind was on Babylon and the Bactrians and the Sacae and the Egyptians' (Histories 1.154). It is certain that Cyrus never invaded Egypt, which was left to his son and successor Cambyses. However, it is possible that he added Cilicia to his dominions, making the local ruler (the Syennesis) a vassal king. Babylonian sources do not mention imported Cilician iron after 545 - which may be signicant.
It is very plausible that Cyrus did indeed, ad Herodotus suggests, conquer Bactria, although there is no independent confirmation of this. What we do know for certain is that eight years after the conquest of Lydia, the Persian king took Babylon and captured its king Nabonidus (October 539). The Babylonian Empire had been large, and Cyrus now became ruler of Syria and Palestine as well. He allowed the Jews, who were exiled to Babylon, to return home. This may have been an attempt to fortify the empire's western border against possible Egyptian attacks.
The second century Greek-Roman author Arrian of Nicomedia tells us in his book about Alexander the Great (the Anabasis) that Cyrus founded a frontier town in Sogdia; there is no reason to doubt this statement. The Greeks called this town Cyropolis ('town of Cyrus') or Cyreschata (a pun on the name of the king and the word 'far away'); both names seem renderings of Kurushkatha, 'town of Cyrus'. The Sacae (or Scythians) lived between Bactria and Cyreschata, and there is nothing implausible in Herodotus' words that Cyrus subdued these tribes.
All texts related to the fall of Babylon can be found here.
Cyrus' royal inscriptions:
Cyrus Cilinder
CMa, CMb, CMc

Another story by Arrian deals with Cyrus' expedition to India (text); probably, this story is also accurate, but we cannot be completely certain. If he did invade India, he had to control Gandara first, and it is certain that Cyrus managed to seize this country: in the Behistun inscription, it is mentioned in the list of countries that king Darius the Great inherited from earlier Persian kings. However, it seems equally certain that Cyrus did not conquer the Indus valley itself, because India is not mentioned in the Behistun inscription. Maybe his navy conquered Maka during this campaign.
Cyrus' latest expedition took him to modern Khazakhstan, where he fought against a nomadic tribe called Massagetes. The news of his death in battle reached Babylon in December 530, where letters were dated 'first year of the reign of king Cambyses', because Cyrus had appointed his son Cambyses as his successor. (The mother of Cambyses was Cassadane, a sister of Otanes, who was to play an important role after the death of Cambyses.)
Cyrus was buried near Pasargadae, in a small building containing a gold sarcophagus, his arms, his jewellery and a cloak. This cloak played an important role in the Persian inauguration rituals (see Plutarch of Chaeronea, Life of Artaxerxes 3.1; the custom itself is Babylonian). When Persia was subjected by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great, many sacred objects were taken away to prevent the coronation of of an anarya, a foreigner; Cyrus' body was desacrated by throwing it on the ground. Alexander ordered restorations in January 324 BCE.
Cyrus' capital was Pasargadae, where inscriptions in his palace state Cyrus the Great King, an Achaemenid. They were probably written during the reign of Darius I the Great, and it is uncertain whether the two kings really belonged to the same family.

Literature
The most important sources documenting the reign of Cyrus are the contemporary Chronicle of Nabonidus and the Cyrus cylinder. The first book of the Histories by the Greek researcher Herodotus is also very important, but legends and fairy tales sometimes obscure the historical facts. The book known as Education of Cyrus by the Athenian author Xenophon (c.430-c.355) is a vie romancée that contains no historical information
*****
Cyrus takes Babylon


Introduction
In October 539 BCE, the Persian king Cyrus took Babylon, the ancient capital of an oriental empire covering modern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. In a broader sense, Babylon was the ancient world's capital of scholarship and science. The subject provinces soon recognized Cyrus as their legitimate ruler. Since he was already lord of peripheral regions in modern Turkey and Iran (and Afghanistan?), it is not exaggerated to say that the conquest of Babylonia meant the birth of a true world empire. The Achaemenid empire was to last for more than two centuries, until it was divided by the successors of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. A remarkable aspect of the capture of Babylon is the fact that Cyrus allowed the Jews (who were exiled in Babylonia) to return home.

Several texts describe this event, and they are all collected on these pages. Here they are, including brief summaries.
[b][b]The Chronicle of Nabonidus
[/b]
gives contemporary information about the rise of Cyrus and the erratic behavior of the Babylonian king Nabonidus, who leaves Babylon and spends several years in the oasis Temâ in Arabia. His son Bêlsharusur (the biblical Belshazzar) acts as regent but is unable to ward off the approaching Persian danger. Finally, Nabonidus returns and fights. But it is in vain; Cyrus is welcomed as representative of the supreme god.
The Verse account of Nabonidus
is a poem by one of the priests of the Esagila, the temple of the Babylonian supreme god Marduk. It shows that the religious establishment of Babylon was upset because the important New Year's festival (Akitu) had not been celebrated in the Nabonidus' absence. The author of this libel does little to hide his contempt for the impious madman.
The Biblical prophet Daniel
tells about the madness of another king of Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar. There are several details in this story that make it plausible that the original story was about Nabonidus. Reconstruction of this original is possible through comparison with the text known as the Prayer of Nabonidus.
The Cyrus Cylinder
presents the new king as the one chosen by the supreme god to liberate Babylon from tyranny. We may speculate that Cyrus considered himself to be on a divine mission under guidance of Ahuramazda, and we can assume that the Babylonian clerk who wrote down this text changed this into Marduk, the name of his own supreme god. Cyrus also boasts that he has liberated many people who were exiled to Babylon.
The Biblical prophet Isaiah
(or Second Isaiah, to be precise) tells more or less the same story as the Cyrus Cylinder. Again, tthe Persian ruler is chosen by a supreme god (the God of the Jews, this time) and after winning a victory, Cyrus allows the Jews to go back home.
The Biblical prophet Ezra
quotes us the probably authentic text of Cyrus' decree on the exiled Jews.
The Greek researcher Herodotus
finally, has a very unreliable story about the Fall of Babylon.

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