The Throne of Persepolis


Founded in the Sixth Century BC by the Kings of the First Persian Empire (the Achaemenids), Persepolis is located 60 km northeast of Shiraz in Iran. The present-day Persian name, Takht-e-Jamshid, means "Throne of Jamshid", a legendary Iranian King. However, the ancient name of the city was Parsa, or Pars' City, hence the Greek name Persepolis.

Construction of the city began under Kings Cyrus the Great (ca. 550 BC) and Darius I (ca. 520 BC) to possibly serve as a ceremonial and spiritual Capital of the Persian Empire. Susa, the administrative Capital, was located 500 km north of Persepolis. The growth of the city continued under later Kings such as Artaxerxes I (ca. 450 BC) who finished the Hall of 100 Columns and Artaxerxes II (ca. 350 BC) who built the Unfinished Palace. However, the most glorious monuments in Persepolis were commissioned by Xerxes I (ca. 470 BC): the Gate of All Nations, and the Throne Hall.

Persepolis continued to flourish under the later Achaemenian Kings, until it was burned and destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. It is not known whether the burning of the city was accidental, or an act of revenge for the destruction of Temples in Athens in 480 BC by the Persians.

Modern excavations in Persepolis began in the early 19th Century. The Gate of All Nations is located at the end of two monumental staircases. Between the staircase ramps are symbols of the Zarathustrian God Ahura Mazda, and carvings representing the different Nations of the World, from Egyptians and Armenians, to Babylonians, Assyrians, and Medians. The Gate leads to the Throne Hall, or the Hundred-Column Hall. The Hall contains several doorways adorned with carvings showing the King in military combat. It is believed that the Gate of All Nations and the Throne Hall were used in New Year's celebrations when delegates presented the annual tribute to the Persian King. The city of Persepolis was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1979.