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Achaemenid Engineers Constructed Pasargadae to Withstand Seven Richter Scale Earthquake


27 August 2006




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 General view of the Apadana Palace's remains (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- The new research on Pasargadae’ structural engineering has shown the Achaemenid engineers had laid its’ foundations by using “Base Isolation System” in their design. The Base Isolation system is being used today by many countries for the construction of the nuclear facilities, and countries with numerous earthquakes such as Japan.


The “Base Isolation system” was invented by Iranian engineers 2500 years ago, by creating two separate layers of foundations; -the first or lower foundation was constructed solidly and second or the top foundation was susceptible to movement. Therefore, if an earthquake would have occurred the structure could withstand up to 7 richer-scale. The foundation designed to slide and shake without causing the structure to collapse.


“Under the Pasargadae monuments there are two foundations, the lower one solid, made of stone, and cemented together using Sāroj mortar (mixture of plaster of lime and ashes or sand). After creating a smooth surface the second foundation was laid out of wide pieces of polished stones, fastened together wit metal bars and clips to create a large plate, which were trembling and sliding during a possible earthquake", said ‘Abdolazim Shah-Karami, the expert of Geotechnique, Foundation and Engineering of Pasargadae.


He described this ingenious invention as a system that is being used by modern-engineers all over the world. This demonstrates the advanced knowledge that ancient engineers had in foundation engineering techniques and the extent of their familiarity with geological behaviors of their surroundings, in order to invent such an efficient and innovative design for its time.


“Research on the foundations of Pasargadae has shown that the Achaemenid engineers invented this technique to prevent the collapse of the structure in this earthquake-region of Iran”, emphasized ‘Abdolazim Shah-Karami.


The research on the Apadana, the Private Palace of Cyrus the Great, Tal-e Takht, and the Alexander Prison were all laid with deep foundations, which covered a vast area (larger than their constructions), in accordance with the soil’s density and weakness in copying with the heavy weight of the structures themselves. In the long term, this would have prevented the cracking and subsiding of buildings.


“By executing their designs not only had they managed to protect the structures from earthquake, but also they resolved the problem of possible subsiding”, added Shah-Karami.


Pasargadae was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BCE), as the second Iranian dynasty succeeded Median Dynasty (728-550 BCE), founded by Cyrus the Great, in Pars, homeland of the Persians. Its palaces, gardens, and the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great are outstanding examples of the first phases of Imperial Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of Iranian civilization.


Pasargadae was the capital of the first great multicultural empire in the world. Spanning 3,000,000 square-miles, from the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River, it is considered to be the first empire that respected the cultural diversity of its different subjects based upon tolerance and respecting human rights. This was reflected in Achaemenid architecture, a synthetic representation of different cultures.



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