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Pasargadae: Paradise



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Pasargadae: one of the oldest residences of the Achaemenid kings, founded by Cyrus the Great (r.559-530).
  
History Photos

Gate R, the Audience Hall ("palace S") and the residential Palace P of Pasargadae were situated in a large garden - the ancient Iranian word is *paradaiza, "something surrounded by a wall", and our word "paradise" is derived from this original. In fact, it is best to imagine Pasargadae as a group of pavilions in a park.

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Pavillion B. Photo Jona Lendering.
Pavilion B

There were more pavilions, like the one shown on the second photo, which is simply called Pavilion B. (In the background the citadel Tall-i Takht.) Another pavilion, A, was an exact copy of B, and was on the other side of the park. Close to Pavilion B, the excavators found a large treasure of no less than 1162 pieces silver and gold, including necklaces, bracelets, and golden earrings. These were perhaps buried by one of the latest Achaemenids when Alexander the Great approached the site in the first weeks of 330; the man or woman who buried it, did not survive to recover it - which suggests that there was more violence than is indicated in our sources.
Canals and a fountain base. Photo Marco Prins.
Canals and a fountain base

The garden had several small channels and must have been very green. (A modern visitor is reminded of the Fin Gardens near Kashan.) The park at Pasargadae 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.

The entire complex can be seen on this satellite photo.
History Photos
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 24 May 2010
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