Although Persepolis is one of Iran’s top archeological and tourist sites, I was careful to keep my expectations in check before visiting. After all, what would remain of the 2,500 year-old capital of the Achaemenid Empire? Amidst crumbled columns, I found great detail that blew me away and a surprising connection to the present.
When I first entered Persepolis through the Gate of All Nations, I was struck by the scale of it all – the statues, the columns, the great stone. I tried to imagine the process of transporting the raw materials to this place, constructing the city and palace, and fashioning it all without the mechanical means we have today. […]
Like a camera lens, my eyes began to focus on stone-carved details — hair, faces, beards, hats, and clothes, gifts carried in hands. That you could still make out every curl in a beard, eyelash on a camel and softened skin of soldiers holding hands — 2,500 years later – struck me as truly spectacular. […]
And it went on like this, through the citizens of each member nation — Egyptians, Assyrians, Indians, Tajiks, and so on. Each was easily identifiable, their physical appearance and cultural trappings preserved in stone from 500 B.C. […]
It was the whole of these details that to me seemed to define the character of the Achaemenid Empire: a multi-ethnic ancient empire built on respecting – if not maintaining — the diversity of many cultures amidst a unifying loyalty to one king. […]
Cyrus the Great’s Human Rights Charter
While it was Darius the Great who built this palace at Persepolis, it was his father-in-law – Cyrus the Great – who attempted to set the foundation of mutual respect within the Achaemenid Empire. In his Babylon Cylinder (539 B.C.), Cyrus put forth some of the first recorded mentions of human rights, an expression of tolerance, and of religious, linguistic and racial equality across the empire.
History tells us that great civilizations have come and gone, risen and fallen, ascended and crumbled. The pity of the great Persian empire — 23 nations under one roof and the nascent echoes of human rights — was that a great man came and went well before his time. […]
Head over to: Uncornered Market – Travel and Life Adventure | Persepolis to see all photos, and read the whole text.