September 2018


Pasargadae, the capital of Cyrus the Great

Lecture by Dr Rémy Boucharlat




Organised by

Iran Heritage Foundation


Wednesday 3rd October, 18.30


Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP 


Cyrus the Great chose Pasargadae as his capital at the beginning of his reign, and introduced there the architectural techniques and artistic forms of the kingdoms and provinces that he conquered before the defeat of Babylon in 539 CE.

The visible remains at Pasargadae were carefully studied by a British team and published in a seminal volume by David Stronach in 1978. Since then the site has been left undisturbed, awaiting further excavation. However, aware that much remains to be discovered and understood, Iranian authorities and archaeologists restarted a research programme in 1999. Their first results contributed to the inscription of Pasargadae on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004. Several projects are now in progress, including a series of soundings, but most are non-destructive surveys. In this way, it has been possible to explore a site covering several hundred hectares without disturbing the visible remains.

Today, the famous Royal Garden of Pasargadae is part of a large well-watered park, the Persian "paradise" which includes well-known monuments such as the tomb of Cyrus, the hypostyle halls, and the Zendan-e Solaiman tower. On one side, a 250m long platform with stone embankments forms the boundary between the Royal Park and ordinary buildings. The town where the workers and the population lived, however, remains to be found. The exploration of the slopes of the platform is gradually revealing not only Achaemenid housing but also unexpected evidence of later occupation of the site during the Sasanian and Early Islamic periods.


Dr Rémy Boucharlat is a Senior Researcher Emeritus at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) in Lyon 2 University. He obtained his PhD from Sorbonne University, Paris in 1978 and is interested in the history and archaeology of the Great Empires, from the Achaemenids to the Sasanians. He excavated in Iran in the 1970s and has directed field projects in the Persian Gulf countries (1980-92), and Central Asia (1991-93). He has conducted survey and rescue excavations in Pasargadae and the Persepolis plain (1999-2009) and he has also taken part in excavations in Southern Turkmenistan (2001-04, 2011). He directed the French Institute of Research in Tehran (IFRI) in the 1990s and was the director of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at CNRS Lyon 2 University in 2007-10. Dr Boucharlat is the co-editor of Studia Iranica and Abstracta Iranica, has co-authored several books and written over 120 papers. 

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