Results 1-6of 6 Reviews
March 14, 2006
From journal Shîrâz: The Beauty of Seven Nations
New York, New York
November 13, 2000
Through a one-stop light town, along which all commercial activity seemed to take place, we passed and drove until the road split and we followed the right fork. The road was bordered by cypress trees and small auto mechanic shops. Our Paykan rumbled on, stopping once to allow the Qashqa'i to drive their goat herd across the road and onto the dry plain that stood beyond the row of trees to our left.
Soon my destination came into view and the tops of the 13 still-standing columns peered, almost apoligetically, above the grove of cypress trees that face the ancient palace.
We alighted from the taxi and crossed the asphalt and gravel surface that doubles as a parking lot. On that day the lot was deserted. We seemed to be the only ones there.
After paying my admission fee I walked up the wind, sun and time-worn stone steps, some edges of which were completely rounded from 2500 years of the elements. At the top of the stairs Persepolis lay before me and I did not know in which direction to start.
Mehdi and I started by proceeding past a gate guarded by two winged half-human, half-bull-like creatures that stand facing the bluffs behind the palace; under an ever-blazing sun we walked on and passed other fallen symbols of the Achaemenid Empire, and eventually past a remnant of the Pahlavi dynasty - rows of rusty grandstand bleacher seats which, unless I miss my guess, was filled with dignitaries during the 1971 ceremonies commemorating 2500 year of Iranian monarchs.
Everywhere one turns one will see polished reliefs of lions doing battle with bulls, rows of soldiers and eunuchs standing before their king. They have stood silenetly, watching guard over the palace since it burned to the ground in 323 B.C.
Though Alexander the Great is generally held responsible for having set the palace ablaze in a drunken rage, the Persians have been reluctant to place blame on him. Rather, they revere him and place the blame on his Afghan wife, Roxanna.
The treasury, long since emptied and stripped of its holdings, is only marked by round, stone slabs which once served to support the numerous columns of that part of the palace. From above, the slabs, numerous rows of them, resemble button candies.
The rock formation which abutts the palace houses several tombs, the same as those at Naqsh-e Rostam, carved into the rock several meters above the Fars plane, and each depicts, on the face of each, a Persian king, standing on an elevated platform and receiving a blessing from Ahuramazda. Supporting the king's platform are several tiers of men, each representing either a tribe or people under the rule of the Achaemenian kings.
It is not difficult to climb up the bluff and from that height one gains a panoramic view of the palace and the once-fertile plain below.
Among the columns and various stone walls that remain upright or on their side are a number of elderly men who spend much of their day standing or sitting in the shadows of those ruins. What do they do? They recite the history of the site to tourists and have been doing so for ages. Their recitations are far from Homeric in style and length but for a few toman there is no harm in it.
Another little useless piece of trivia one can pick up is that some of these old men speak Italian. Italian? Yes, Italian. No, they are not the ancestors of any invading Roman army but picked up the language from many of the Italian workers who were brought in to help restore or conserve what remained of the palace during the 1970s. Their work remains unfinished and I suspect a gross lack of funding due to the war and mismanagement of public funds had allowed the site to remain more or less as the Italians left it.
When looking around the ruin one can’t help but wonder where the rest of the palace disappeared to. After all, the walls were stone, the columns stone – they didn’t just disintegrate, did they? As it happened, prior to the government taking an interest in preserving and enhancing the image of the site, for centuries the local residents and nomadic tribes made use of the stones for their own structures, unaware of the significance of the site.
From journal Pilgrimage to Fars
July 27, 2000
From journal Persepolis - history of civilisation