David Stronach, Solomon at Pasargadae: Some New Perspectives

The tomb of Cyrus. A reconstruction. After Stronach 1978: fig. 21.
The tomb of Cyrus. A reconstruction. After Stronach 1978: fig. 21.



Certain of the persistent puzzles associated with the long-lived site of Pasargadae, the capital and last resting place of Cyrus the Great, are examined in this brief paper. In particular, it is suggested that, long after the name of Cyrus had faded from local memory, the site’s eight-hundred-year-long association with the Qurʾanic figure of Solomon could have been based, at least in part, on aspects of the biblical repute of Solomon. Indeed, since the ivory-and-gold throne of Solomon was known to have had six steps (1 Kings 10, 18-20), it must have seemed not out of place to associate the six-stepped platform of Cyrus’ never-inscribed tomb with the compelling personality of Solomon. And if the small size of the gabled tomb chamber was thought to indicate that Solomon’s mother, not Solomon himself, was more likely to have been interred in that confined space, it must also have seemed desirable to look in the near vicinity for vestiges of the throne that Solomon was known to have prepared for his mother when she approached him with a petition (1 Kings 2, 19). Accordingly, there may now be a previously unexplored explanation as to why, with the six-stepped tomb already assigned to Solomon’s mother, it seemed appropriate to associate the huge stone terrace at the north end of the site with “the Throne of the Mother of Solomon.”