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Historical Places of Susa

"By The grace of Ahura Mazda, I constructed a magnificent palace Susa"

Thus spake Darius The Great in 521 BC following the construction of the Apadana Palace, his administrative capital at Susa. 

Susa( Soo sah) also called Shoush, was once the capital of the ancient Kingdome of Ilam and the Persian Empire. The partly uncovered ruins of this city lie in the province of Khouzestan, in southeastern Iran.

Susa appears several times in the Bible, where it is called "Shushan".

The Old Testament story of Esther took place in Susa. The tomb of Daniel is said to be in Susa.

Archaeologists unearthed the famous " Code of Hammurabi " which is a group of Babylonian  laws, in the ruins of Susa in 1901 and 1902.

Susa flourished until about 640 BC., when Assyrians plundered it.  Darius I built palaces in the city in the late 500's BC., and made it a capital of the Persian Empire. Susa declined after Alexander the Great conquered it in the late 300 BC.

According to archaeologists, Susa is 5000 years old. The authenticity of the age of this ancient city, verified by the ancient hills and excavations there are beyond doubts. These ancient hills covering an area of 400 hectares are divided into four sections: Acropolis, Apadana, Royal town and Business town.

A Acropolis, originally a Greek word, refers to the highest part of the hill  where the town is built. The most ancient civilization discovered here belongs to the end of 5th millennium B.C.

The tablet of the first ever legislator on the earth, Hamourabi, and that of Aked's King Narramssin were discovered during excavation in Susa.

Shoutrok Nakhonteh, one of the 13th century B.C. kings of Ilam, brought both tablets to this city .

For the first time in history, archaeologist discovered drawings (used instead of Words) of Ilam in this city. The statue of queen Napirasso wife of "Ontash Gaul" founder of Ziggurat Chagha Zanbil, was discovered there.

French archaeologists headed by Jaque De Morgan, during excavations in 1879 utilized the excavated construction materials taken from the ruins of Ilam temples in Susa, Apadana Palace of the Achaemenidae,  the Parthian's and Arsacides' buildings, and Sassnides and those of the Islamic era, to build a castle there in order to store the antiquities and preserve  the excavations. The architecture was influenced by that of Europe's middle ages.

B - Apadana is the name of palace built on Apadana hill by Darius the Great of achaemenian Dynasty in 525 B.C.   This magnificent palace caught fire during the reign of "Ardeshir I" in 461 B.C,  and was reconstructed during the reign of " Ardeshir II " ( 404 - 359 B.C. ). It was again ruined when Alexander invaded Persia and most of its construction material were used elsewhere.  Also, during World War II the invaders, to construct roads and bridges, used whatever remained of that material.  The stone statue of Darius was found among the ruins of this palace.

C - The Royal Town of 7,000 sqm., was the residential quarters of court people and business-men during Achaemenid era .

D -  The Business Town

The present city of Shoush : This town is located in Khozestan Province on the northwestern side of Ahwas and the main Ahwaz-Dezful highway runs through this city  ( 110 km  distant from Ahwaz and 40 km from Dezful ) . The temperature of this hot and dry city reaches to 53 degrees Centigrade in summer and drops to plus one degree in winter. 


Chogha Zanbil is situated in southwest Iran about 40 Kms southeast of ancient city of Susa. It was built on a plateau above the bank of  river Dez.  Its ancient name is Dur-Untash, which means the castle of the city of Untash. In 13th century BC.  King Untash Napirisha founded an entirely new city. Its size and splendor was intended to honore of Gods and to manifest the power of King Untash Napirisha . At the center of the city a Ziggurat (Temple tower) was built, of which two floors still exist.

It was surrounded by a wall, which is the inner wall of three concentric walls in Dur Untash. Between the inner wall and middle wall several temples belonging to different Elamites divinities were built. The outer city wall was 4 Kms long enclosing an area of approximately 100 Hectares. The royal quarter was situated adjacent to a major city gate some 450 meters east of the Ziggurat. In this area a group of three major buildings with large courts surrounded by lengthy hall and rooms were excavated. Beneath one of these buildings (Palace I) five underground tombs were found similar to those of Haft-Tappah.

The tombs in Chogha Zanbil however were of a much more monumental dimensions.

The building materials in Chogh Zanbil are mainly mud bricks and occasionally baked bricks. The monuments were well built and beautifully decorated with glazed baked bricks, gypsum, ornaments of faience and glass. Thousands of baked bricks bearing inscriptions with Elamite cuneiform characters were all inscribed by hand, ornamenting the most important buildings. Glazed terracotta statues such as bulls and winged griffins guarded the entrance of the Ziggurat. Near the temples of Kirrisha and Hishmitik kilns were found that probably were used for the production of baked bricks and decoration materials. The Ziggurat was built in two stages and in the second phase took its multi-layered form.

Beyond Babylonia and Assyria this is the only preserved Ziggurat. It was obviously constructed according to the models of the Mesopotamian culture. There is scarce information about the actions during the divine service. However, it is known that the Elimites were religious and held regular divine services. Some reliefs give us a glimpse about how these might have been carried out.

Roman Ghirshman excavated most of Ziggurat and the vast surrounding area from 1951-1962. He excavated the temples, palaces, tombs and three concentric walls of the site and gates.

After the excavations most of the monuments were exposed to erosion. Due to rainfalls, water penetrates into the structure of the building, accelerating the deterioration processes. During last few years the monuments have been taken by The Cultural Heritage Organization to protect the Zigurrat from further erosion.

 The castle of Susa (acropolis)

(Translated by: Reza Tamimi)

Zhan marri zhak du moregan the man from France for investigation and detection came to Susa city in 1897 AD and because of inhabit him and his workmates and too for keeping ancient things started the structure of the castle of Susa city. For making the castle, considered the highest point of Susa hills and it made like the castles of Middle Ages. This castle constructed from bricks and available ancient bricks remained from different periods around Susa city and it finished in 1912 AD. Now this castle is as a center of keeping and investigating of ancient things. 

The palace of Shaour 

This palace is in west of Shaour River and because it is close this river, it called the palace of Shaour. And in fact it belonged to Ardeshir2 Hakhamaneshi. The main hall of this palace consists of 64 columns and it constructed from stones like the style of hakhamaneshi architecture. 

Daniel's shrine (the prophet of Israel tribe)

Daniel Al Nabi about in 7th century with the Jewish captivated by the soldiers of Babylon and they have interred to Mesopotamia and then to Susa city. He was one of the prophets who had a sacred book from Israel tribe. It mentioned in storied that he had met with "Nebo ked" the king of Babylon.

Daniel's shrine is near of Shaour River and it witnesses many pilgrims from throughout world every years.


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