The scope of the present paper is to examine the different aspects and components that characterize the condition of integrity of the cultural landscape of Persepolis. The Royal Ensemble of Persepolis, the so-called Royal Terrace, is the focal point of a vast cultural landscape that recalls the Achaemenid period of the ancient Persian Empire, from the sixth to the fourth centuries BCE. The Royal Terrace, built at the foot of the sacred Mehr Mountain, is the main component of the World Heritage property inscribed in 1979. It is surrounded by the remains of the ancient city of Persepolis, of which, however, only a small part has been excavated. Moreover, an important component of the Persepolitan cultural landscape are the monumental tombs of the Achaemenid kings, three of which are in Persepolis itself, while the other four are in Naqsh-i Rustam on the way to Pasargadae.
Historically, the territory that formed the context for the city of Persepolis from its foundation in the sixth century BCE by Darius I (521–486 BC) to its destruction by Alexander of Macedonia in the fourth century BCE is characterized by elements that contributed to its political and symbolic identity and integrity. The territory was centered on the Marvdasht Plain, with city of Persepolis located on its eastern edge at the foot of the Mehr/Rahmat Mountain in the province of Persis (Parseh), present-day Fars, the homeland of the Achaemenids in southern Iran. Built on a partly natural and partly artificial promontory on the western slope of the mountain, the Royal Ensemble of Persepolis, the so-called terrace, projects into the plain overlooking the remnants of the ancient city. The terrace, in fact, can be considered the citadel of the city. On the mountainside there are remains of its fortified walls, military structures, and water reservoir, as well as two royal tombs and a third one, which is unfinished. The terrace measures approximately 450 meters in the north-south and some 280 meters in the east-west directions. Its corners are generally at right angles, and its height varies from 9 to 17 meters above the level of the Marvdasht Plain, which extends to the west. The Terrace wall is built with enormous stone blocks in dry masonry, admired by visitors for centuries. The structures on the Terrace itself as well as those excavated on the south side below the Terrace are built along orthogonal axes. The longitudinal axis deviates some 19–20 degrees from the north-south orientation. Later, the Terrace was known to the Persians as Takht-e-Jamshid (Throne of Jamshid) in reference to mythological characters.
Visit Project Muse for more articles in this issue.