The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
LONDON, (CAIS) -- Agricultural activities by local farmers near the world heritage site of Pasargadae last year resulted in the accidental discovery of a big stone slab bearing some carvings typical of monuments at the Pasargadae site. The discovered slab was recently proved by archaeologists to have been the entrance gate to the mausoleum of Cambyses II, son and successor of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid dynastic Empire (550-330 BCE).
“A large stone slab measuring 1.60 meters in height comprised of 5 broken pieces was discovered last March by farmers at a distance of 100 meters from Tall-e Takht and was immediately transferred to Parse-Pasargadae Research Centre to be studied by archaeologists,” said Afshin Yazdani, archaeologist of Parse-Pasargadae Research Centre.
Tall-e Takht or ‘throne hill’ is a citadel located at the heart of Pasargadae historical complex, the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great, in Fars province. Remains of an unfinished tomb denoted to Achaemenid Emperor Cambyses II can be seen close to Tall-e Takht, from which only a wall has survived the ravage of time.
Based on studies by Scottish archaeologist David Stronach, the Tomb, also known as Zendan-e Soleiman/Eskandar (Solomon/Alexander Prison), originally consisted of an almost square, 4-meter-high tower in which a solitary, raised room was approached by a projecting monumental stone staircase. It resembles the Achaemenid monument of Kaaba of Zoroaster in Naqsh-e Rostam historical site.
According to Yazdani, the stones used in the gate of Cambyses’ tomb are very similar to a stone slab discovered 50 years ago by archaeologists. At the time, Stronach proposed a theory that the stone belonged to the mausoleum of Cambyses and drew a sketch of the original gate which he believed to have had two leaves, each comprising of 6 rectangular frames. He also drew 3 flowers each having 12 petals on the top and bottom of each frame.
“As Stronach himself was uncertain about his own drawing of the gate, recent discovery of the gate proves his theory to be inaccurate. Based on the new studies, it became known that the entrance gate of what is called Tomb of Cambyses was made of two stone leaves each having two rectangular 35 by 59 cm frames with three 12-petaled flowers on the top and bottom,” explained Yazdani, adding that the height of each door leaf was found to be 1.75 meters - that is 8 centimetres shorter than the height of the wall. Archaeologists believe that the gate was made shorter on purpose to allow circulation of air in and out of the mausoleum.
According to the Bistun inscriptions, the mausoleum of Cambyses was destroyed by the impostor, the Gaumata the Magian who disguised himself as Smerdis (also known as the false Bardiyā), the eldest son of Cyrus the Great, and Cambyses’ brother. Gaumata laid his claim to the throne while Cambyses’ was in his Egypt campaign. According to Buistun inscription, Darius the Great restored the Achaemenid temples after defeating the impostor. “Evidence left on the stone gate confirms that it was restored during the early days of Darius the Great’ reign,” added Yazdani.
II (529-522 BCE) took over the empire after the death of his father Cyrus the
Great. There may have been some degree of unrest throughout the empire at the
time of Cyrus' death, for Cambyses apparently felt it necessary secretly to kill
his brother, Smerdis (Bardiya), in order to protect his rear while leading the
campaign against Egypt in 525 BCE. He conquered Memphis and the Pharaoh was carried off in captivity to Susa. Egypt
remain as a Persian satrapy for the following 200 years.
522 BCE news reached Cambyses of a revolt back home led by Gaumata the Magian (Gaūmātā)
an impostor claiming to be Smerdis (also known as the false Bardiyā), Cambyses'
brother. Several provinces of the empire accepted the new ruler, who bribed his
subjects with a remission of taxes for three years. Hastening home to regain
control, Cambyses died--possibly by his own hand, more probably from infection
following an accidental sword wound.
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