Persepolis (Old-Persian: Pārśa) was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BC). Persepolis is situated 70 kmnortheast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 515 BCE.UNESCO declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.
To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Pārsa. The English word Persepolis is derived from the Greek Persépolis (Περσέπολις), compound of Pérsēs (Πέρσης) and pólis (πόλις), meaning "Persian city". In modern Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid , and Chehel minar
Archaeological evidence shows that the earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 515 BC. André Godard, the French archaeologist who excavated Persepolis in the early 1930s, believed that it was Cyrus the Great (Kūrosh) who chose the site of Persepolis, but that it was Darius I (Daryush) who built the terrace and the great palaces.
Darius ordered the construction of the Apadana Palace and the Council Hall (the Tripylon or three-gated hall), the main imperial Treasury and its surroundings. These were completed during the reign of his son, King Xerxes the Great (New-Persian Khashayar, more correctly, khašāyāršā < OPers. xšāya-āršān, ‘the greatest/king of the gallant youth/young men’). Further construction of the buildings on the terrace continued until the downfall of the Achaemenid dynasty.
Odoric of Pordenone passed through Persepolis c.1320 on his way to China. In 1474, Giosafat Barbaro visited the ruins of Persepolis, which he incorrectly thought were of Jewish origin. Antonio de Gouveia from Portugal wrote about cuneiform inscriptions following his visit in 1602. His first written report on Persia, the Jornada, was published in 1606.
Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, a variety of amateur digging occurred at the site, in some cases on a large scale. The first scientific excavations at Persepolis were carried out by Ernst Herzfeld and Erich Schmidt representing the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. They conducted excavations for eight seasons beginning in 1930 and included other nearby sites.
Herzfeld believed the reasons behind the construction of Persepolis were the need for a majestic atmosphere, a symbol for their empire, and to celebrate special events, especially the "Nowruz".For historical reasons, Persepolis was built where the Achaemenid Dynasty was founded, although it was not the center of the empire at that time.
Persepolitan architecture is noted for its use of wooden columns. Architects resorted to stone only when the largest cedars of Lebanon or teak trees of India did not fulfill the required sizes. Column bases and capitals were made of stone, even on wooden shafts, but the existence of wooden capitals is probable.
The buildings at Persepolis include three general groupings: military quarters, the treasury, and the reception halls and occasional houses for the King. Noted structures include the Great Stairway, the Gate of Nations (Xerxes the Great), the Apadana Palace of Darius, the Hall of a Hundred Columns, the Tripylon Hall and Tachara Palace of Darius, the Hadish Palace of Xerxes, the palace of Artaxerxes III, the Imperial Treasury, the Royal Stables, and the Chariot House.