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Ancient City of Susa

View of Susa Disasters Ancient Places and/or Civilizations World History Geography

Susa, an important city in the ancient world (when it was the capital of Elam), is located in Iran.

Not only was Susa important to the Elamites, Babylonians and Persians, it was also the city where the Biblical characters of Daniel and Nehemiah lived (during the Babylonian Captivity, of the Israelites) during the 6th Century BC.

Evidence suggests that Susa—known today as Shush, Iran—is one of the oldest cities in the world (which has been continuously inhabited). There are even traces, at Susa, of a village that existed around 7,000 BC. Archaeologists have found painted pottery at the site, dating from around 5,000 BC.

The Persian king Darius I—also known as Darius the Great—had a magnificent home at Susa. This important archaeological site features, among other things, the Great King’s Achaemenian palace complex.

Today that ancient site is threatened by urban sprawl. As K. E. Eduljee notes, in an article published at the Heritage Institute:

The archaeological site includes the ruins of the Achaemenian palace complex of Darius I, the Great, and is located on a fifteen metre high artificial raised 100-hectare terrace. It has suffered greatly in the past seventy years.

...photographs...show the reckless spread of urbanization close to the main citadel and over unexcavated area immediately surrounding the mound.

In addition, the site is being greatly harmed by illegal excavations, garbage dumping, a planned bus depot, and a hotel on unexcavated land. The surviving walls have been greatly eroded. To add to this tragedy, the site was also heavily damaged by Iraqi bombardment during the first Gulf War.

We know something about how Darius built the magnificent palace because the Great King left an inscription which was found at the Great Hall. Translated into English, it says:

The materials, ornamentation and artisans for this palace which I built at Susa have come from afar.

For its foundations, the earth was dug until I reached rock. When the excavation was complete, foundation rock was packed down some 40 cubits to 20 cubits in depth. On that foundation the palace was constructed using sun-dried brick. These tasks were performed by Babylonians.

The cedar timber was brought by the Assyrians to Babylon from a mountain in Lebanon. From Babylon, the Carians and Ionians brought it to Susa. The yaka-timber was brought from Kandahar (Gandara) and Kerman (Carmania).

The gold was brought from Sardis and from Bakhtrish (Bactria) was wrought here. The precious stone lapis lazuli and carnelian which were crafted here was brought from Suguda (Sogdiana). The precious stone turquoise that was brought from Uvarazmish (Chorasmia) was crafted here. The silver and ebony were brought from Egypt. The ornamentation with which the wall was adorned was brought from Ionia. The ivory which was crafted here, was brought from Ethiopia, Sind and Harauvatish (Arachosia).

The stone columns which were crafted here, were brought from a village named Abiradu, in Elam. The stone-cutters who crafted the stone were Ionians and Sardians.

The goldsmiths who crafted the gold were Medes and Egyptians. The men who crafted the wood were Sardians and Egyptians. The men who crafted the baked brick were Babylonians. The men who adorned the walls were Medes and Egyptians.

The work [at] Susa was one of excellence. May Ahuramazda [the Persian god] protect me, Vistasp my father, and my country. (See A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Volume I, edited by D.T. Potts, at page.)

This image depicts modern-day Shush. Click on the image for a much-better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 17, 2016


Media Credits

Image of Shush, Iran is online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

 

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