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Ancient Persian Gardens: Evolution and Legacy

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Dr. David Stronach, University of California, Berkeley, professor emeritus of Near Eastern art and archaeology, kicks off the museum’s new Perspectives on Persian Art lecture series with a talk about the influence of traditional Persian gardens in Asia and Europe.

From 1961 to 1963 Stronach directed excavations of the royal garden of Cyrus the Great (559–530 BCE) at Pasargadae, in Southwest Iran. Since that time he has studied connections between the royal gardens of Mesopotamia—the gardens associated with Nineveh and Babylon—and the gardens at Pasargadae. It was at Pasargadae that Cyrus appears to have introduced the first example of a fourfold garden layout (a type known in Persian as chaharbagh). Such gardens remain in use not only in present-day Iran but also in India and Spain.