In its heyday Persepolis was one of four key cities at the heart of an empire that spread from the Indus River to Ethiopia. Its original name was Parsa and it only acquired its Greek name of Persepolis – meaning both City of Parsa (City of Persia) and Destroyer of Cities – after Alexander the Great’s army sacked the city in 330 BC.

Somewhat surprisingly for a city of its size and grandeur, Persepolis is rarely mentioned by any name in foreign records, which focus instead on other Achaemenid capitals including Babylon, Ecbatana (modern Hamadan) and Shush. This has led some archaeologists to speculate that the existence of the city was kept a secret from the outside world.