Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550-330 BCE). Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid (Throne of Jamshid). The earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 515 BCE. To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Pārsa, which means "The City of Persians". Persepolis is a transliteration of the Greek Πέρσης πόλις (Persēs polis: "Persian city"). 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.
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