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Pasargadae: Residential Palace ("P")

The Residential Palace; in the distance, the Tall-i Takht
Pasargadae: one of the oldest residences of the Achaemenid kings, founded by Cyrus the Great (r.559-530).
History Photos

The building called "Palace P" by the excavators of Pasargadae is usually regarded as the residence of king Cyrus the Great (r.559-530). 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., the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Map of Palace P, Pasargadae. Design Jona Lendering.
A close parallel to this building is the Apadana of Persepolis, although the columns over there were fully made of stone. Another difference is that the palace at Pasargadae has an oblong plan, while the palaces in Persepolis are always square. A comparison with Tepe Godin and Tepe Nush-e Jan, where similar throne halls were excavated, is also illuminating: Palace P is more monumental. It is obvious that it is an intermediate stage between the original Iranian architecture and the impressive Apadanas of Persepolis and Susa.
The central hall of Palace P. Photo Marco Prins.
The central hall of Palace P

Palace P was probably not immediately finished - at least, that is the interpretation of the excavators, who arrived upon this conclusion to explain why the building was not symmetrical. Because this is very unusual, it was assumed that the palace was not completed according to the original design. The reason may be that the project was abandoned by Cyrus' son Cambyses (r.530-522); it is likely that Darius the Great (r.522-486), who built Persepolis, also made sure that the Pasargadae complex could be used. At least, he left some inscriptions.
The portico of Palace P. Photo Marco Prins.
The portico of Palace P

The portico of Palace P measured 72½ x 9¼ meters and offered a view of the garden, where two pavilions were visible, together with some small water canals and fountains. The central hall was 31 meters long and 22 meters wide. Traces of plaster have been found, in various colors like red, white, and blue. The white stones used to make the columns of Palace P have the remarkable physical quality that they will always feel cold.
Inscription of Cyrus from Pasargadae. Photo Jona Lendering.
Inscription CMa

Like Palace S, Palace P has an inscription (CMa) in Old Persian cuneiform script, which mentions that this building was made by king Cyrus. Because this type of writing was designed in 521 - it was used for the first time in the Behistun Inscription, which also states that this "Aryan script" was designed especially for the purpose - the text in the Palaces P and S must have been added by Darius I the Great. 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.
A column, with traces of recent vandalism, from Palace P. Photo Marco Prins.
The horizontal cut in this column is recent: Italian vandals tried to saw a piece from it.

adam \ kuruš \ xšâya-
thiya \ haxâmanišiya

I, Cyrus the king, an Achaemenid.

The second and third lines state the same, but in Elamite and Babylonian.

Finally, it must be noted that the entrance of Palace P was decorated with a relief that showed two men: the king is leaving the room, followed by a servant. An identical decoration can be seen in the Palace of Darius in Persepolis.

There were traces of paint on this relief. The inscription, known as CMc of this relief states
Kûruš \ xšâyathiya \ vazraka \ Haxâmanišiya

Cyrus, the great king, an Achaemenid
Because of the reasons mentioned above, this inscription seems to be a later addition as well.

A satellite photo of Cyrus' residential palace can be seen here.
Inscription CMc Palace P on day in the Spring
History Photos
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 24 May 2010
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