“O man, I am Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, who founded the Empire of Persia, and was King of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument.”
Moreover in Pasargadae itself the lofty stone building on the hill called ‘The Throne of Solomon’. Certain stone remains to the east of Shiraz, and also the Treasury of the Parthian Palace in Azarbaijan bear the same name. Consequently the Tomb of Cyrus the Great, which was constructed of huge stones of immense weight became known as tomb of the Mother of Solomon or the Martyrium of the Mother of the Prophet. And this ascription was the origin of Dieulafoi’s idea that the tomb of Cyrus was the tomb of Cassandane the mother of Cyrus at any rate the attributing of this tomb to the Mother of Solomon saved it from destruction at the hands of the intolerant Arabs, that it might be today the pride and glory of the Persian people.
After making one’s way through the tortuous and intimidating pass of “Sa’adat-Shahr” on the left of the main road from Shiraz to Isfahan, an avenue four kilometers long will be seen, which leads through a river-bed by name of “Polvar” to the capital of Cyrus the Great, founder of the mightiest empire of the ancient east, and ruler of all Asia.
This verdant plain, which today is called “Morghab” plain, twenty five years ago was the center of the most magnificent Imperial Court in the world, from which royal rescripts and edicts were dispatched to the limits of the civilized world of those days and to all the countries which lived in tranquility and security under the Persian standard. But today, like hundreds of similar remains, which have not escaped the shifts and adversities of fate, it is in a desolate condition, and except for a few ruined palaces, nothing remains of all its former grandeur and glory.
Yet ruined monuments attract the attention of the world’s scholars and travelers; they form also the national shrine of the Iranian people, and they fittingly illustrate the greatness and capacity, the fine thought and sure taste of their constructors.
In those days, when the Persian Imperial domains were relatively boundless, including many inhabited parts of the world under their sway, in this corner of the country, among these same mountains, and under the shade of such trees as these councils of the Achaemenian leaders were held to solve the problems of the state. Here Cyrus the Great took counsel with the leaders of the people and others, and in this very spot where the brilliant Achaemenid sun first rose, Cyrus the Great conceived the idea of the conquest of Sardis and Babylon, sought the assistance of the Persian and Achaemenid leaders, and swore fidelity to them. It was also from here where Cabyses planned the assault on Egypt, and set out for the western regions.
A traveler coming from a far distance to see this capital of the ancient land of Persia in this quiet and mysterious plain, embraced by mountains and hills, will be awed to a wondering silence as he views the majesty and simplicity of Cyrus the Great’s final resting place. He notes the solitary stone column, the stone doorways and the other remains of the ruined palaces. And there will pass before his mind’s eye the movements and military activities, the religious and national ceremonies, the pomp and magnificence, which could be seen 2500 years ago in this peaceful and forsaken plain, and thoughts of long ago, not unmixed with sadness and regret will steal over him, especially if the spectator should be of the Persian race, and be aware of outstanding achievements, noble qualities and fine character of this group of the Arian peoples, and the services which they have rendered to the civilized world.
The width and length of the Morghab plain is 20 kilometers by 15, and in Achaemenid times it was exceptionally green and pleasant, and in the center of it there was a wood full of trees, well-watered by various streams, and permanent resting-place of the great monarch of Persia was situated in the midst of this wooded garden. A little further off at the distance of 600 meters to the north east of the tomb, the royal palaces stood, of which there still remain several gateways, and one plain lofty column of a white stone resembling marble on a base of black stone. These palaces, as far as they have been excavated are three in number; one of them was a private residence, and the other two were the official buildings of Cyrus’ Royal Court. In 1949 and later, the Archaeological institute of Persepolis undertook the removal and the clearance of the sites down to the original foundations.
At the extreme northern end of the plain an immense stone rampart similar to the wall of Persepolis, forming the base of a palace and throne, attracts attention. On this platform a royal palace or possibly a place of worship was built, for the Persians were of the opinion that worship should take place on lofty and open sides. This building commanded the whole plains, and are traces of steps on the eastern side. It is known today as the “Takht-e Soleyman” (Throne of Solomon).
On the north-west of the plain the remains of a high stone wall, resembling one side of the building known as the Cube of Zoroaster at Naqsh-e Rustam are to be seen. Only the western wall is standing, the rest have fallen. This building, which was possibly a tomb is at present ruin, and immense blocks of stone are scattered around. In Islamic times many of the blocks were made use of as tombstones.
In front of the palaces there were water-courses finely carved in stone, a number of which remained hidden under the soil, and came to light during excavations in 1951, when it became clear that the royal palaces were built in the middle of a great garden, and stone water-courses and stone cisterns were laid out in front of them. There was therefore a fresh and pleasant outlook from the verandahs towards the gardens.
At a distance of one kilometer to the north-east of the Cyrus’ private palace, behind a hill two great hollow stones backed by a mound of earth can be seen. In the opinion of the authorities and experts these are the remains of a temple where religious rites and sacrifices were performed. In the western and northern areas there are shallow mounds most of which belong to the third and second millennia before Christ, and a description of the discoveries there will be given later.
After the appearance of Islam, when the imperial palaces were thrown down and destroyed, from the same white stones unsuitable buildings leaking in proportion were by degrees erected around the tomb of Cyrus, and 200 meters to the north, indicating the debased taste of the builders, though they had before their eyes the beautiful designs of the Achaememnid palaces.
The Original Name of Pasargadae
As is well known to scholars and historians, Alexander Macedonian, after burning and destroying Persepolis, and the other capitals and important centers of the Achaemenid Empire and plundering their contents, sent the records and royal year-books, and the scientific, medical and philosophical works available to Greece, that whatever scientific, philosophic and historic matter they contained might be made use of and translated into Greek by Greek scholars and historians, and afterwards destroyed.
He also did away with the scholars and learned men, lest the knowledge and skill locked up in their minds should again be written down. For this reason no exact writing and documents regarding the original name, the circumstances and the purpose of the buildings of Pasargadae, Persepolis, Istakhr and other such ancient historical sites exist. So it cannot be certainly and unmistakably clear what name was given to Pasargadae in days of its prosperity, and to what purpose each building was devoted.
Most of the names of the prominent cities and personages of Achaemenid history which is used here are taken from the statements of Greek historians, who put them into form, and in the course of transliteration from one language into another they have undergone changes, which have stimulated the interest and research of orientalists and archaeologists, who have made them the subject of discussion. Agreement however has not been reached, and everyone has his own explanation and interpretation.
One of such names is Pasargadae, about which historians hold various opinions as to the form the name should take, and we give below the statements of some of them:
1- Some scholars have been of the opinion that Pasargadae in original was “Parsagert”, “Parsagerd”, like “Ramgerd”, “Darabgerd”, “Khosrogerd”. Of ancient historians Anaximentes of Lampsacus (380-320 BC) mentions it in his book as Pasargadae, that is “the fortress of Pars”, (“gerd” in old Persian means fortress). Parsa or Pars is mentioned in inscriptions of Xrexes in old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian on the Propylaea of Persepolis, the translation of which is as follows: “Much else that is beautiful was done in Pars, which I did and which my father did”. And in the clay tablets discovered in the Treasury of Darius also, the name is repeated.
2- Several others have said that Pasargadae was originally “Parskadeh”, that is the place of the city of Pars, like “dehkadeh” or “atashkadeh”, which mean a village and a place of fire, and they have thought that by degrees “Parskadeh” became Pasargadae. Among ancient historians Quintus Curtius, a Roman historian of the first Christian century has given the name in this form in his book called “The history of Alexander Macedonian”.
3- Some are of the opinion that Pasargadae in the original was “Parsa-gadeh” that is the Throne of Pars, for “gadeh” and “gah” mean throne, and that in the course of time the word became Pasargadae.
This idea was conveyed to some by an Iranian scholar who write: “It is only natural to suppose that a capital city situated in Parsa should be called Parsagadae rather than Pasargadae.
4- According to the statement of Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, the Achaemenids were a part of one of the ten tribes of Pars, and since the center of their rule from the time when they were kings of Pars was here, perhaps they called this place after the name of their tribe, for every district which this group of Persians occupied they called Pars, which continued to be called by this same name.
5- Eugene Flandin, the French scholar has a section in his book of travels about this name, and he regards it as composed of the word “Pasa” and “gard”, that is Pasargad which was gradually changed to Pasargadae.
The above statements lead us to think that the word Pasargadae, as has been mentioned, should be called Pasargad, and that after the omission or displacement of certain letters it was chaned to Pasargadae. Many examples of this kind of alteration and omission are to be met in Pahlavi, but there is no room here to give further examples. At any rate Parskadeh”or “Parsgadeh” seem more correct but the Greek form of the name familiar to all archaeologists will be used here from now on.
The names which were given to this place after the rise of Islam
1- “Mashhad-e Madar-e Soleyman” or the martyrium of the mother of Solomon. Since after Islam the tomb of Cyrus became known as the tomb of mother of Solomon (the prophet). It is not unlikely that because of this ascription the tomb of Cyrus the great escaped damage at the hands of the fanatical Arabs, and was not destroyed.
2- “Mashhad-e Umm-e Nabi” or the martyrium of the mother of the prophet that is the place where the mother of the prophet was martyred, meaning of course the Prophet Solomon.
3- “Mashhad-e Morghab” or The Morgharb Martyrium. The plain where the palaces and the tomb of Cyrus are situated together with the plain to the north are known as the district of the mother of Soloman. It may be that the use of the name “Morghab” – Water bird – was occasioned by the carving of a winged human figure resembling a bird in one of the eastern palaces of Pasargadae beside the river, which became known as the Water bird.
The scholar Forsat Al-Dowleh of Shiraz, author of a book called “Asar Al-ajam” – The Persian monuments- under a picture of the Tomb of Cyrus quoted the saying of one of the historians that Paargadae was the fief of Soloman the son of Jafar, the brother of Harun Al-Rashid, the Abbasid Caliph, and he was appointed by the Caliph to a governorship there. Since his mother died in that district, they called it the tomb of the mother of Soloman, and after a considerable time this Soloman, the representative of the Caliph was mistakenly identified with Soloman the Prophet, so it was called the Martyrium of the Mother of Soloman.
But we are of the opinion that people after Islam and the Arabs had come into Persia, since they were greatly impressed by those important stone buildings of the Persian Emperors, and considered the construction of such great places as beyond human capacity, and also since they had no knowledge of the period of building or of the builders, so they attributed them to Soloman the Prophet with this idea that since the demons and genes were held by Solomon in thrall, so by his command and direction, it was they who constructed those mighty places, for the transport of such immense stones was outside human power.
We add to this discussion the statement of ‘Ibn Al Balkhi’ the historian of the beginning of the twelfth century. In his book ‘Farsnameh’, which he compiled between the years 1106 and 1116 , while describing the meadows of Fars, in particular the Meadow of Kalan: he writes ‘This meadow is near the Tomb of the Mother of Solomon, which was made of stone, a four sided building. No one dares enter it. It is said that there is a spell on it, and that whoever enters it will become blind. But I never saw anyone ready to make the attempt.’