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Parseh J Archaeol Stud 2021, 5(17): 111-132 Back to browse issues page
Memorials and Petroglyphs of Cyrus the Great’s Tomb
Hamed Mowlaiey Kordshooli 1, Farhad Zare Kordshooli2, Hamidreza Karami2
1- Freelance researcher, Master of Archeology, Iran. , hamed_mowlaiey@yahoo.com
2- Expert of Archeology Department, Pasargad World Heritage Site, Shiraz, Iran.
Abstract:   (1035 Views)
The tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, is one of the most important buildings of the early Achaemenid period in Pasargadae. The function of the tomb has changed over time, the most important of which is the transformation of it into a mosque in the Ataba-kan period and the construction of a miḥrāb inside the chamber of the tomb on the southern wall. In addition, the walls and stone surfaces of this building contain signatures of visitors, tourists, and pilgrims who have visited the building over time. Previous research has been done on the miḥrāb of Atabaki Mosque, but its inscriptions and memorabilia have received less at-tention. The purpose of the present article is to classify and identify the petroglyphs left on this tomb, which, as a result of a field study of all the motifs and lithographs, has been fully de-signed and documented. In the library study stage, all historical sources have been studied and, according to the inscriptions as well as the comparison of the signs engraved on the walls, each one has been studied separately. The following questions have been asked in this regard: What are the tomb’s oldest petroglyphs or inscriptions? Is there an inscription on the stone blocks of the tomb from the Achaemenid period? To which historical figures do the inscriptions on the tomb belong? The results of this research are the identification of more than one hundred in-scriptions and petroglyphs, the oldest of which are signs belonging to the Sasanian period. Many of the signs and inscriptions on the tomb belong to the contemporary era, which has led to the study of part of the historical course of this valuable building.
Keywords: Tomb of Cyrus the Great, Pasargadae, Memorial, Petroglyph.

The tomb of Cyrus the Great has always been of interest throughout its life, and many people who have visited or lived around it have written inscriptions on its stone walls. From the com-mon people to European travelers and agents, Since many humans, animals, plants, and geo-metric motifs are engraved everywhere on the stones of the tomb of Cyrus the Great, a number of motifs were selected and studied from each category.
 The purpose of this article is to classify and identify the drawings, which were the result of a detailed study of all the stones in the tomb of Cyrus the Great. In the first stage, all the litho-graphs have been fully designed and documented, and in the next phase, by referring to the ex-isting books and documents, as well as comparative studies, he has analyzed and interpreted the lithographs and signs. The result of this research is the identification of more than one hundred inscriptions and engravings, the oldest of which are motifs belonging to the Sasanian period. Many of the motifs and inscriptions on the tomb belong to the contemporary era.
Azizi Kharanaghi and Ms. Salimi have studied the tombstone lithographs and one of the animal motifs of the tomb under the title “Pasargadae petroglyphs” (Azizi Khoranaghi and Salimi 2011). Also, Mirza Abolghasemi has already studied the Mihrab inside the tomb and the inscriptions on the columns and stone pieces under the title “Pasargadae inscriptions in the Islamic period” (Mirza Abolghasemi 2011). A comprehensive study of the signs on the tomb has not been done yet.

On the stone blocks on each step, there are many inscriptions in Persian, Arabic, and Latin. Most of the themes are names, dates, prayers, and some poems, each written in a different size, style, and script. Many of these texts were written on top of each other; that is, at the point where the stone was flat, a text was written. After time and erosion, another person wrote the same text on the previous text.

Human Motifs
A scene of cattle grazing is carved on the stone blocks in the northwest corner of the tomb. In one part of this scene, two people are depicted standing with very light bodies. On the foot sur-face of the second platform on the south side of the building, a large number of engravings, in-cluding the face of a woman whose long hair is silver, by creating a line on the right side of her face and the left side by creating several parallel lines.

Animal Motifs
Most of the motifs are related to animals such as goats, sheep, and a number of dogs, which were probably created by cattle breeders and shepherds in later periods. The most interesting animal motifs that can be mentioned are the needle motif of five deer standing. The signs are created with shallow lines on the stone and some of the details of the animals’ bodies are finely silver-plated. These needle designs probably belong to the Sasanian period.

Plant Motifs
Five plant motifs are carved on the stone blocks of the tomb. The role of a flower with short stems and two oval leaves, which is very primitive and can be seen obliquely inside the tomb room and on the north walls, The wheat cluster on the blocks on the west side of the tomb, the role of a six-pointed flower on the platform on the north side, the role of a flower with a long stem, two leaves, and a very simple three-leafed flower, and next to it, the word Shirazi with number 39 on the third platform.

Geometric Signs 
Many different geometric signs can be seen on tombstones, including circles, squares, rhom-buses, and irregular geometric patterns that have been repeated over and over again. A marker for the qibla has been created in the southern corner of the third platform of the tomb with a diameter of 20 cm. The outer circle is about 20 cm in diameter and the inner circle is about 15 cm in diameter.
A square has been created in the western corner, the interior of which has been filled with inter-secting lines. Below this picture and attached to it, the two words “Action ------- Al-Hamdani” is written with a space between them.

Other Signs
Other motifs and works that can be mentioned are scissors, horseshoes, and instrumental mo-tifs. A grid square is one of the most notable works that has been seen several times on some of the petroglyphs.

In this research, the signs have been classified into six categories: more than 100 lithographs in Persian, Arabic, and Latin and 200 lithographs including human, animal, plant, geometric, and other signs have been identified. All the motifs and inscriptions identified in the tomb belong to the post-Achaemenid period. Given its style and subject matter, the needle motifs of the deer on the north wall of the tomb might belong to the Sasanian period. Some of the writings belong to famous people and officials from Iran and European tourists who have engraved their names or titles in Latin and beautiful script with history. The existence of a number of inscriptions and memorabilia of high-ranking officials and people shows the importance of this building in the Islamic periods. The present study has been written as a preliminary, and its supplementary studies will be published in the future.
Article number: 6
Keywords: Tomb of Cyrus the Great, Pasargadae, Memorial, Petroglyph.
Full-Text [PDF 2449 kb]   (196 Downloads)    
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special Archeology
Received: 2019/12/5 | Accepted: 2020/04/22 | Published: 2021/12/21
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Mowlaiey Kordshooli H, Zare Kordshooli F, Karami H. Memorials and Petroglyphs of Cyrus the Great’s Tomb. Parseh J Archaeol Stud. 2021; 5 (17) :111-132
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