Tomb of Cyrus

Last updated

Tomb of Cyrus the Great
آرامگاه کوروش بزرگ
Pasargad Tomb Cyrus3.jpg
Location Pasargadae, Iran
Built6th century BC
Built for Cyrus the Great
Architectural style(s) Persian (Achaemenid)
Iran location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Iran

The Tomb of Cyrus (Persian : آرامگاه کوروش بزرگ, romanized: ārāmgāh-e kurosh-e bozorg) is a monument serving as the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the ancient Achaemenid Empire. It is located in Pasargadae, an archaeological site in the Fars Province of Iran. According to Greek literary sources, the monument dates back to approximately 550–529 BC. [1] [2] [3] The most extensive description of the structure, based on a lost account by Aristobulus (who had accompanied Alexander the Great on his eastern campaigns in the late 4th century BC), is to be found in The Anabasis of Alexander (6.29), written by Arrian in the 2nd century AD. [4]

Contents

The mausoleum is a significant historical example of earthquake engineering as it is said to be the oldest base-isolated structure in the world, allowing it great resilience against seismic hazards. [5] It is one of the key Iranian cultural heritage sites. [6]

Identification

The first modern picture of the tomb, published by James Justinian Morier in 1811, entitled the "Tomb of Madre Suleiman" Tomb of Madre Suleiman.jpg
The first modern picture of the tomb, published by James Justinian Morier in 1811, entitled the "Tomb of Madre Suleiman"

The tomb, previously known as the Tomb of Madre Suleiman (referring either to Caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik or the biblical Bathsheba, mother of Solomon), was first identified by Venetian traveller Giosafat Barbaro and later by Johan Albrecht de Mandelslo. [7] It was first identified as the Tomb of Cyrus in the early nineteenth century, first by James Justinian Morier and then by Robert Ker Porter. [8] Morier described the tomb as follows:

[It] is a building of a form so extraordinary that the people of the country often call it the court of the deevis or devil. It rests upon a square base of large blocks of marble, which rise in seven layers pyramidically... On every part of the monument itself are carved inscriptions, which attest the reverence of its visitors; but there is no vestige of any of the characters of ancient Persia or even of the older Arabic. The key is kept by women, and none but females are permitted to enter. The people generally regard it as the monument of the mother of Solomon, and still connect some efficacy with the name; for they point out near the spot a certain water to which those who may have received the bite of a mad dog resort, and by which, if drank within thirty days, the evil effects of the wound are obviated. In eastern story almost every thing wonderful is attached to the Solomon of Scripture: the King however, to whose mother this tomb is said to be raised, is less incredibly, (as the Carmelites of Shiraz suggested to Mandelsloe), Shah Soleiman, the fourteenth Caliph of the race of Ali. But though this supposition is more probable than that it is the monument of Bathsheba, it is not to my mind satisfactory, as it differs totally from all the tombs of Mahomedan saints which I have ever seen in Persia, Asia Minor, or Turkey.

Morier then proposed that the tomb may be that of Cyrus, based on the description of Arrian. He noted the similarities, as well as the differences including the lack of the inscription noted by Arrian, the lack of a grove of trees, and the triangular roof against Arrian's "arched" description:

If the position of the place had corresponded with the site of Passagardae as well as the form of this structure accords with the description of the tomb of Cyrus near that city, I should have been tempted to assign to the present building so illustrious an origin. That tomb was raised in a grove; it was a small edifice covered with an arched roof of stone, and its entrance was so narrow that the slenderest man could scarcely pass through: it rested on a quadrangular base of a single stone, and contained the celebrated inscription, "mortals, I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, founder of the Persian monarchy, and Sovereign of Asia, grudge me not therefore this monument". That the plain around Mesjed Madre Suleiman was the site of a great city, is proved by the ruins with which it is strewed; and that this city was of the same general antiquity as Persepolis may be inferred from the existence of a similar character in the inscriptions on the remains of both, though this particular edifice does not happen to display that internal evidence of a contemporaneous date. A grove would naturally have disappeared in modern Persia; the structures correspond in size; the triangular roof of that which I visited might be called arched in an age when the true semi-circular arch was probably unknown; the door was so narrow, that, if I had been allowed to make the attempt, I could scarcely have forced myself through it; and those who kept the key affirmed that the only object within was an immense stone, which might be "the base of a single piece" described by Arrian; but as he was repeating the account of another, the difference is of little consequence, if it exists. I suspect however, as many of the buildings at Persepolis are so put together that they might once have seemed one vast block, that the present structure might also at one time have possessed a similar appearance. The eternity of his monument indeed, which Cyrus contemplated by fixing it on one enormous stone, would be equally attained by the construction of this fabric, which seems destined to survive the revolutions of ages. And in the lapse of two thousand four hundred years, the absence of an inscription on Mesjed Madre Suleiman would not be a decisive evidence against its identity with the tomb of Cyrus.

Classical accounts

Arrian, writing in the second century AD, described the tomb as follows: [9]

He was grieved by the outrage committed upon the tomb of Cyrus, son of Cambyses; for according to Aristobulus, he found it dug through and pillaged. The tomb of the famous Cyrus was in the royal park at Pasargadae, and around it a grove of all kinds of trees had been planted. The park was also watered by a stream, and high grass grew in the meadow. The base of the tomb itself had been made of squared stone in the form of a rectangle. Above it there was a stone building surmounted by a roof, with a door leading within, so narrow that even a small man could with difficulty enter, after suffering much discomfort. In the building lay a golden coffin, in which the body of Cyrus had been buried, and by the side of the coffin was a couch, the feet of which were of gold wrought with the hammer. A carpet of Babylonian tapestry with purple rugs formed the bedding ; upon it were also a Median coat with sleeves and other tunics of Babylonian manufacture. Aristobulus adds that Median trousers and robes dyed the colour of hyacinth were also lying upon it, as well as others of purple and various other colours; moreover there were collars, sabres, and earrings of gold and precious stones soldered together, and near them stood a table. On the middle of the couch lay the coffin which contained the body of Cyrus. Within the inclosure, near the ascent leading to the tomb, there was a small house built for the Magians who guarded the tomb; a duty which they had discharged ever since the time of Cambyses, son of Cyrus, son succeeding father as guard. To these men a sheep and specified quantities of wheaten flour and wine were given daily by the king; and a horse once a month as a sacrifice to Cyrus. Upon the tomb an inscription in Persian letters had been placed, which bore the following meaning in the Persian language: "O man, I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the empire of the Persians, and was king of Asia. Do not therefore grudge me this monument.” As soon as Alexander had conquered Persia, he was very desirous of entering the tomb of Cyrus; but he found that everything else had been carried off except the coffin and couch.

Strabo stated that when Alexander the Great looted and destroyed Persepolis, he paid a visit to the tomb of Cyrus and commanded Aristobulus, one of his warriors, to enter the monument. Inside he found a golden bed, a table set with drinking vessels, a gold coffin, some ornaments studded with precious stones and an inscription on the tomb. No trace of any such inscription survives. Strabo described it as follows: [10]

Alexander then went to Pasargadae; and this too was an ancient royal residence. Here he saw also, in a park, the tomb of Cyrus; it was a small tower and was concealed within the dense growth of trees. The tomb was solid below, but had a roof and sepulchre above, which latter had an extremely narrow entrance. Aristobulus says that at the behest of the king he passed through this entrance and decorated the tomb; and that he saw a golden couch, a table with cups, a golden coffin, and numerous garments and ornaments set with precious stones; and that he saw all these things on his first visit, but that on a later visit the place had been robbed and everything had been carried off except the couch and the coffin, which had only been broken to pieces, and that the robbers had removed the corpse to another place, a fact which plainly proved that it was an act of plunderers, not of the satrap, since they left behind only what could not easily be carried off; and that the robbery took place even though the tomb was surrounded by a guard of Magi, who received for their maintenance a sheep every day and a horse every month. But just as the remoteness of the countries to which Alexander's army advanced, Bactra and India, had led to numerous other revolutionary acts, so too this was one of the revolutionary acts. Now Aristobulus so states it, and he goes to record the following inscription on the tomb: "O man, I am Cyrus, who acquired the empire for the Persians and was king of Asia; grudge me not, therefore, my monument." Onesicritus, however, states that the tower had ten stories and that Cyrus lay in the uppermost story, and that there was one inscription in Greek, carved in Persian letters, "Here I lie, Cyrus, king of kings," and another written in the Persian language with the same meaning.

Architecture

The design of Cyrus' tomb is credited to Mesopotamian or Elamite ziggurats, but the cella is usually attributed to Urartu tombs of an earlier period. [11] In particular, the tomb at Pasargadae has almost exactly the same dimensions as the tomb of Alyattes, father of the Lydian King Croesus; however, some have refused the claim (according to Herodotus, Croesus was spared by Cyrus during the conquest of Lydia, and became a member of Cyrus' court). The main decoration on the tomb is a rosette design over the door within the gable. [12] In general, the art and architecture found at Pasargadae exemplified the Persian synthesis of various traditions, drawing on precedents from Elam, Babylon, Assyria, and ancient Egypt, with the addition of some Anatolian influences.

Cyrus the Great Day

A cake in the shape of the Cyrus Cylinder and a cake in the shape of the Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae Cyrus the great day on october 29th the iran.jpg
A cake in the shape of the Cyrus Cylinder and a cake in the shape of the Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae

Cyrus the Great Day (Persian: روز کوروش بزرگ ruz-e kuroš-e bozorg), also simply known as Cyrus Day (Persian:روز کوروش ruz-e kuroš), is an unofficial holiday in Iran that takes place annually in the Tomb of Cyrus on October 29th, 7th of Aban on Iranian calendar, to commemorate Cyrus the Great. That is the anniversary of the entrance of Cyrus into Babylon. Cyrus is founder of the first Persian Empire also known as Achaemenid Empire. [13]

Iranian New Year

During Nowruz, the Persian New Year, celebrations are held annually around the tomb by Iranians which gather from all around the country. Iranians respect Cyrus the Great as the founder of Iran and the Persian Empire. [14] [15]

See also

Notes

  1. Strabo "The Geography of Strabo. Literally translated, with notes, in three volumes", W. Falconer, H.C. Hamilton (trl.), T.3, London: George Bell & Sons, 1889, Strb. XV.3.8, p.134.
  2. Briant P., From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire, Eisenbrauns, 2002, p.85, ISBN   0-19-813190-9
  3. Stronach D., Pasargadae. A Report of the Excavations Conducted by the British Institute of Persian Studies from 1961 to 1963, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1978, p.22-23, 42, ISBN   0-19-813190-9
  4. Tomb of Cyrus the Great. Old Persian (Aryan) - (The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies - CAIS)
  5. Masoumi, Mohammad Mehdi (2016-03-31). "Ancient Base Isolation System in Mausoleum of Cyrus the Great". International Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Hazard Mitigation (IREHM). 4 (1). doi:10.15866/irehm.v4i1.8147 (inactive 2021-01-10). ISSN   2282-6912.CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2021 (link)
  6. Butler, Richard; O'Gorman, Kevin D.; Prentice, Richard (2012-07-01). "Destination Appraisal for European Cultural Tourism to Iran". International Journal of Tourism Research. 14 (4): 323–338. doi:10.1002/jtr.862. ISSN   1522-1970.
  7. The Classical Journal. A. J. Valpay. 1819. pp. 354–.
  8. Porter, 1821, Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia, ancient Babylonia... during the years 1817, 1818, 1819, and 1820, p.498-501
  9. Arrian (1893). Arrian's Anabasis of Alexander and Indica. G. Bell & sons. p. 340. Book 6 Chapter 29
  10. [https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/15C*.html The Geography of Strabo, 1932 edition, Book XV, Chapter 3
  11. Hogan, C Michael (Jan 19, 2008), "Tomb of Cyrus", in Burnham, A (ed.), The Megalithic Portal
  12. Ferrier, Ronald W (1989), The Arts of Persia, Yale University Press, ISBN   978-0-300-03987-0
  13. "منشور کورش بزرگ". Savepasargad.com. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  14. "Visitor anti-robot validation". Fouman.com. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  15. "Iran: The Challenges of a Split Personality - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English". English.aawsat.com. Retrieved 2017-01-11.

Related Research Articles

Amasis II Egyptian pharaoh

Amasis II or Ahmose II was a pharaoh of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt, the successor of Apries at Sais. He was the last great ruler of Egypt before the Persian conquest.

Behistun Inscription Ancient multilingual stone inscription in Iran

The Behistun Inscription is a multilingual inscription and large rock relief on a cliff at Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran, established by Darius the Great. It was crucial to the decipherment of cuneiform script as the inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. The inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script.

Cambyses II Second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire

Cambyses II was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 530 to 522 BC. He was the son and successor of Cyrus the Great and his mother was Cassandane.

Darius the Great Third King of Kings of the Persian Achaemenid Empire

Darius I, commonly known as Darius the Great, was the third Persian King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, reigning from 522 BCE until his death in 486 BCE. He ruled the empire at its peak, when it included much of West Asia, parts of the Caucasus, parts of the Balkans, most of the Black Sea coastal regions, Central Asia, as far as the Indus Valley in the far east and portions of north and northeast Africa including Egypt (Mudrâya), eastern Libya, and coastal Sudan.

Persepolis Ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire

Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It is situated in the plains of Marvdasht, encircled by southern Zagros mountains of Iran. Modern day Shiraz is situated 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of the ruins of Persepolis. The earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BC. It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Pasargadae Archaeological site in Fars Province, Iran

Pasargadae was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great, who ordered its construction and the location of his tomb. Today it is an archaeological site and one of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, about 90 kilometres (56 mi) to the northeast of the modern city of Shiraz.

Cyrus the Great Founder of the Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus II of Persia commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian empire.

Naqsh-e Rostam Ancient necropolis in Iran

Naqsh-e Rostam is an ancient necropolis located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, in Fars Province, Iran, with a group of ancient Iranian rock reliefs cut into the cliff, from both the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. It lies a few hundred meters from Naqsh-e Rajab, with a further four Sassanid rock reliefs, three celebrating kings and one a high priest.

Aristobulus of Cassandreia, Greek historian, son of Aristobulus, probably a Phocian settled in Cassandreia, accompanied Alexander the Great on his campaigns. He served throughout as an architect and military engineer as well as a close friend of Alexander, enjoying royal confidence, and was entrusted with the repair of the tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae. He wrote an account, mainly geographical and ethnological. It survives only in quotations by others, which may not all be faithful to the original. His work was largely used by Arrian. Plutarch also used him as a reference.

Media (region)

Media is a region of north-western Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Medes. During the Achaemenid period, it comprised present-day Azarbaijan, Iranian Kurdistan and western Tabaristan. As a satrapy under Achaemenid rule, it would eventually encompass a wider region, stretching to southern Dagestan in the north. However, after the wars of Alexander the Great, the northern parts were separated due to the Partition of Babylon and became known as Atropatene, while the remaining region became known as Lesser Media.

Kaba-ye Zartosht Stepped structure in the Naqsh-e Rustam compound in Fars, Iran

The Ka'ba-ye Zartosht, or the Cube of Zoroaster, is a stone quadrangular stepped structure in the Naqsh-e Rustam compound beside Zangiabad village in Marvdasht county in Fars, Iran. The Naqsh-e Rustam compound also incorporates memorials of the Elamites, the Achaemenids and the Sassanians.

Drangiana

Drangiana or Zarangiana (Greek: Δραγγιανή, Drangianē; also attested in Old Western Iranian as 𐏀𐎼𐎣, Zraka or Zranka, was a historical region and administrative division of the Achaemenid Empire. This region comprises territory around Hamun Lake, wetlands in endorheic Sistan Basin on the Iran-Afghan border, and its primary watershed Helmand river in what is nowadays southwestern region of Afghanistan.

Maka was a satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Empire and later a satrapy of the Parthian and Sassanian empires, corresponding to Greek Gedrosia, in the barren coastal areas of modern Pakistan and Iranian Baluchistan. Alternatively, it may have corresponded to modern day Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, plus the northern half of Oman.

There are numerous surviving ancient Greek and Latin sources on Alexander the Great, king of Macedon, as well as some Asian texts. The five main surviving accounts are by Arrian, Plutarch, Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius Rufus, and Justin. In addition to these five main sources, there is the Metz Epitome, an anonymous late Latin work that narrates Alexander's campaigns from Hyrcania to India. Much is also recounted incidentally by other authors, including Strabo, Athenaeus, Polyaenus, Aelian, and others. Strabo, who gives a summary of Callisthenes, is an important source for Alexander's journey to Siwah.

Teispids were an Iron Age dynasty originally ruling southern Zagros, in ancient Anshan. The dynasty’s realm was later expanded under Cyrus II who conquered a vast area in southwestern Asia, which later was known as the Achaemenid Empire under Darius I. The titulary of the Teispids is recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder, in which Cyrus II identifies himself and his ancestors with the title King of Anshan, as an Elamite tradition. Teispes being the eponymous ancestor and founder, the dynasty furthermore included Cyrus I, Cambyses I, Cyrus II, Cambyses II and Bardiya.

Achaemenid architecture Historical architecture style

Achaemenid architecture includes all architectural achievements of the Achaemenid Persians manifesting in construction of spectacular cities used for governance and inhabitation, temples made for worship and social gatherings, and mausoleums erected in honor of fallen kings. The quintessential feature of Persian architecture was its eclectic nature with elements of Assyrian, Egyptian, Median and Asiatic Greek all incorporated, yet producing a unique Persian identity seen in the finished product. Achaemenid architecture is academically classified under Persian architecture in terms of its style and design.

Achaemenid Empire First Persian empire, founded by Cyrus the Great from c. 550–330 BC

The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire that was based in Western Asia and founded by the king Cyrus the Great. The empire reached its greatest extent under king Xerxes I, who conquered most of Northern and Central Greece, including Athens, in 480 BC. At its greatest extent, the empire stretched from the Balkans and Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley in the east. The empire was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning a total of 5.5 million square kilometers.

Cyrus the Great Day

Cyrus the Great Day is an unofficial holiday in Iran that takes place on 7th of Aban, the eighth month on the Iranian calendar – usually occurring on 29 October on the Gregorian calendar – to commemorate Cyrus the Great.

Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley Military conquest

The Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley refers to the Achaemenid military conquest and governance of the territories of the North-western regions of the Indian subcontinent, from the 6th to 4th centuries BC. The conquest occurred in two phases. The first invasion was conducted around 535 BCE by Cyrus the Great, who founded the Achaemenid Empire. Cyrus annexed the regions west of the Indus River, which formed the eastern border of his empire. Following the death of Cyrus, Darius the Great established his dynasty and began to reconquer former provinces and further expand the extent of the empire. Around 518 BCE Darius crossed the Himalayas into India to initiate a second period of conquest by annexing regions up to the Jhelum River in Punjab.

Achaemenid conquest of Egypt

The Achaemenid conquest of Egypt took place in 525 BCE, leading to the foundation of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt, also known as the "First Egyptian Satrapy". Egypt thus became a province (satrapy) of the Achaemenid Persian Empire until 404 BCE. The conquest was led by Cambyses II, the King of Persia, who defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Pelusium, and crowned himself as Pharaoh of Egypt. Achaemenid rule was disestablished upon the rebellion and crowning of Amyrtaeus as Pharaoh. A second period of Achaemenid rule in Egypt occurred under the Thirty-first Dynasty of Egypt.

References

Coordinates: 30°11′38″N53°10′02″E / 30.19389°N 53.16722°E / 30.19389; 53.16722