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Pasargadae: report on the recent archaeological activities of the years 2015−2017

Abstract : Since the 2015 fall, the Iran-France project have resumed its archaeological work on the World Heritage site of Pasargadae, Persian dynastic center and regional capital founded in circa 550 BC by Cyrus the Great. Three campaigns of fieldwork (2015-2017) were already implemented at Pasargadae and over its surrounding territory. The main aim of this project is, by combining complementary survey methods, to reconstruct the past landscape of the site and its surrounding territory. We intend to approach the Achaemenid period by replacing it the long settlement and environmental dynamics. The present project is jointly carried by the University of Shahid Beheshti of Tehran and the Archéorient team of the CNRS/Lyon 2 University with the support of Iranian (Iran Cultural Heritage Handcraft and Tourism Organization, Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, Iranian Center for Archaeological Research, Pasargadae World Heritage Base) and French institutions (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, French National Research Agency since 2017, French Research Institute in Iran). It is a collaborative project involving more than 20 members, students or academics, coming from several Iranian institutions (Tehran University, Tarbiat Modares University, Shiraz University) as well as French (Tours University, IMBE team of the CNRS/Aix-Marseille University) and international ones (Monash University of Melbourne, LMU University of Munich, University of Naples “l’Orientale”, Leiden University). The first 1999-2009 phase of the Iran-France project at Pasargadae brought to light a new picture of Pasargadae, a picture confirmed and broadened by our recent works. Beyond the known loosely distributed monuments known after the old excavation, these results demonstrated that the at least 300 ha of the site were landscaped. What was the first center of power built by the Achaemenid rulers was conceived following a much open layout where the green areas took a prominent place. The whole elements of the site were certainly encompassed within a wide park area. New data coming from Persepolis where archaeological works west of the Terrace started in 2005 and are still under progress confirmed this new Persian way to conceived centers of power as green and open cityscape. This “model” for conceiving capitals seemed restricted to the province of Persia, the cradle of the Achaemenid dynasty. Began in the middle of the years 2000, the Azerbaijan-Germany archaeological project at Karačamirli deeply renewed this observation. The results of the archaeological works brought to light a complex, made of buildings showing for some of them strong Persian architectural influences, developed following a comparable pattern. The several buildings shaping the site, that was obviously an elite residence as well as a regional center of power for the Armenian satrapy, were also distributed within an area of several kilometer squares. These close common characteristics led us to develop a common and converging research program on both sites and to build the ANR-DFG PARADISE project. Our talk will focus on the impact of this project on the research implemented in the Pasargadae region. Based on a presentation of the results obtained during the 2015-2016 campaigns, we will introduce the new topics and methods integrated since 2017 and present preliminary results of our collaborative works on the site. The particular shape of these centers of power loosely built and developed on wide areas over territories presently intensively farmed leads us to conceive together new and adapted ways for approaching these sites. Then, at Pasargadae, the project aims to support combined geoarchaeological and geophysical approaches, some still pioneering, in the same time than a continuation of our “classical” mapping and survey work started since 1999 and resumed in 2015. Our mapping works over Pasargadae brought to light new hypotheses on the Achaemenid site development and its later occupation phases, especially a sprawl of the site towards east as well as a complex settlement history around the hill where stands the Tol-e Takht monumental stone platform. The works implemented since 2017 in the frame of the project will help us to investigate these research directions and provide new insights on Pasargadae to be compared to Karačamirli and other Caucasian sites in order to stress if a new Persian way of conceiving regional centers diffused through the Empire.
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Contributor : Sébastien Gondet <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - 10:34:58 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 10:01:58 AM

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Sébastien Gondet, Kourosh Mohammadkhani. Pasargadae: report on the recent archaeological activities of the years 2015−2017. 11th International Conference of Archaeology of the Ancient Near-East. Workshop “Achaemenid Residences in Context”, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Apr 2018, Munich, Germany. ⟨halshs-01973107⟩

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