History of Nowruz
Imagine it’s the fifth century before the Common Era, on a plain bejeweled with a magnificent palace complex and flowing gardens, with the coffee brown Zagros mountains in the distance, and a sky the color of lapis lazuli. Colorful tents and scents all around, wafting in the breeze. Trumpets; drums and bustle. Nobles astride steeds with their retinues, and representatives from thirty nations line up to present the King of Kings, the Shahenshah, with gifts from their lands, be it neighboring Babylonia, or far-flung Ionia, Egypt, Libya, India and anywhere in between. In ancient times, as to the Iranian mind today, Iran truly was the center of the universe.
We are at Persepolis, the Hellenization of what the ancient Persians called Parsa. Today it is known in Persian as Takht-e Jamshid, the ‘Throne of Jamshid,’ after the mythical King of Persia in Ferdowsi’s national epic, the Shahnameh, which kept alive the earlier Yima (cf. VedicYama) of the Zoroastrian holy book, the Avesta (itself absorbing the earlier Indo-Iranian myth). This is how the Persian name took root over time in the root of the Iranian imagination and folklore as the past was half-forgotten and mythologized. In reality, the initial completion of Persepolis was finished under Darius the Great.
Please take a few minutes at your leisure to view part of this video, from the documentary, “Persepolis Recreated,” which also digitally recreates, as the name suggests, what Persepolis would have looked at at the time: