Home > Exhibitions > Heart of an Empire: Herzfeld's Discovery of Pasargadae


Heart of an Empire: Herzfeld's Discovery of Pasargadae

February 13–July 31, 2016
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Located in the dasht-i murghab, or "plain of the water bird," in southwestern Iran, Pasargadae was the first capital of the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire (circa 540 BCE) and the last resting place of Cyrus the Great. Impressed with its ruins, German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld (1879–1948) briefly surveyed the site for the first time in 1905. Having completed his PhD thesis on Pasargadae in 1907, he returned in 1923 and 1928 to conduct more extensive excavations. The result was the first map of the site and the identification of its major extant structures. Featuring selections from the Freer|Sackler Archives' rich holdings of Herzfeld's drawings, notes, and photographs—among the world’s largest collections of archival materials on Pasargadae—this exhibition illuminates one of the most important sites of the ancient world.


Nowruz: A Persian New Year Celebration

related resources

Herzfeld Resource Gateway

Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Squeeze Imaging Project: Pasargadae


Press Images PDF

We are excited to reopen the Freer on October 7, 2017, following a renovation to allow us to better present our art and serve our visitors.
The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC.