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The legacy of Persepolis in modern-day Iran

Persepolis, also known as Takht-e Jamshid, was an ancient city located in the Fars province of southwestern Iran. It was founded by the Achaemenid king Darius the Great in the 6th century BC and served as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The name “Persepolis” is derived from the Greek word “Perses polis”, which means “Persian city”.

The construction of Persepolis began around 518 BC, during the reign of Darius the Great, and continued under his successors Xerxes and Artaxerxes. The city was built on a vast terrace, with a monumental stairway leading up to the main platform. The terrace was supported by huge stone blocks and reinforced with massive retaining walls.

Persepolis was designed as a grand complex of palaces, reception halls, and administrative buildings. The buildings were constructed using local limestone and marble, and were decorated with elaborate stone reliefs and sculptures depicting Persian mythology, kings, and their courtiers. The reliefs and sculptures were carved by skilled artisans who were employed by the Persian kings.

One of the most impressive buildings in Persepolis was the Apadana, which was a massive audience hall used for ceremonial purposes. The Apadana was supported by 36 columns, each of which was over 19 meters tall and adorned with intricate carvings. The hall could accommodate up to 10,000 people at once and was used for receiving foreign delegations, holding court, and conducting state ceremonies.

Another notable building in Persepolis was the Throne Hall, also known as the Hundred-Column Hall. This hall was used for official receptions and was supported by 100 columns, each of which was over 14 meters tall. The hall was decorated with intricate carvings and had a throne at the center, which was reserved for the Persian king.

The buildings in Persepolis were connected by a network of roads, water channels, and underground tunnels. The city was supplied with water from nearby mountains through an elaborate system of qanats, which were underground tunnels that carried water from the mountains to the city.

Persepolis was sacked and burned by Alexander the Great in 330 BC, during his conquest of Persia. According to ancient sources, Alexander was outraged by the burning of the Acropolis in Athens by the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars, and he sought to avenge this act by destroying the Persian capital. The city was looted and many of its treasures were taken away by the Macedonian army.

After the fall of the Achaemenid Empire, Persepolis fell into ruin and was eventually buried under layers of sand and debris. Its remains were rediscovered in the 17th century by European travelers, and it was extensively studied by archaeologists in the 20th century.

Today, Persepolis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at the ancient architecture and learn about the rich history of the Persian Empire. The ruins of Persepolis are a testament to the engineering and artistic achievements of the ancient Persians, and serve as a reminder of the glory of the Achaemenid Empire.

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