Lying in the middle of a plain in modern-day Iran is a forgotten ancient city, Persepolis. Built two and a half thousand years ago, it was known in its day as the richest city under the sun. Persepolis was the capital of Persia, the largest empire the world had ever seen, but after its destruction, it was largely forgotten for nearly 2,000 years, and the lives and achievements of those who built it were almost entirely erased from history. Alexander the Great's troops razed the city to the ground in a drunken riot to celebrate the conquest of the capital, after which time and sand buried it for centuries.
It was not until the excavations of the 1930s that many of the relics, reliefs, and clay tablets that offer so much information about Persian life could be studied for the first time. Through archaeological remains, ancient texts, and work by a new generation of historians, a picture can today be built of this remarkable civilization and their capital city. Although the city had been destroyed, the legacy of the Persians survived, even as they mostly remain an enigma to the West and are not nearly as well understood as the Greeks, Romans, or Egyptians. In a sense, Persepolis and the Persian Empire are some of the most enduring mysteries of ancient civilization.