[now Takht-i Jamshīd]
Capital of the Achaemenid Persian empire in south-west Iran, near modern Shiraz, from c. 515 to 331 bc.
The name Persepolis is ancient Greek, meaning ‘city of the Persians’, but the Persians themselves called their city ‘Parsa’, meaning Persia, apparently because for them it was symbolically synonymous with the greater imperial heartland. Persepolis was founded by Darius the Great (reg 521–486 bc) c. 515 bc; it was looted and burnt by Alexander’s army in 331 bc. It was Alexander’s general policy not to destroy the captured Achaemenid cities, as part of a basic ambition to embrace and extend the splendour of Persian imperial power. The ancient authorities give various explanations for Alexander’s unusual vindictiveness at Persepolis, one story suggesting that it was in retaliation for the Persians’ sacking of the Acropolis of Athens and other Greek sanctuaries during the wars of the early 5th century bc. This tale may be fanciful, yet it reveals the profound significance of Persepolis in the eyes of the Greeks as well as the Persians....