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The ruins of the holy city of the Kingdom of Elam, surrounded by three huge concentric walls, are found at Chogha-Zanbil.
Chogha-Zanbil is an ancient Elamite complex in Iran’s southern Khuzestan province. It is one of the few extant ziggurats outside Mesopotamia.
It is 25 km west of Dezful and 230 km north of Abadan, UNESCO reported.
It was built about 1250 BC by King Untash-Napirisha to honor the great god Inshushinak.
The current name of Chogha-Zanbil corresponds with the ancient city of Dur Untash, dominating the course of he Ab-e Diz, a tributary of Karoun River.
The city was founded as a religious capital during the Elamite period by Untash-Napirisha (1275-1240 BC) in a site halfway between Anshan and Susa.
Roman Ghirshman carried out the complete exploration of the site from 1951 to 1962. The site contains the best preserved and the largest of all the ziggurats of Mesopotamia.
The first enclosure contains the Temenos. In origin, the temple located at the center was a square building, dedicated to the Sumerian god Inshushinak. This temple was then converted into a ziggurat of which it constitutes the first storey.
Access was by means of a vaulted staircase, invisible from outside, unlike the squatter Mesopotamian ziggurats, which were equipped with three external staircases.
Today the ziggurat is no more than 25 meters high, the last two stages, which originally rose to a height of 60 meters, having been destroyed.
On the northwestern side of the ziggurat, a group of temples was dedicated to minor divinities, Ishnikarab and Kiririsha.
An oval wall surrounded the temples and the ziggurat. The second enclosure, trapezoidal in form, delimits a vast, almost empty zone.
In the third enclosure, only three palaces were built and a temple, near the Royal Gate, with a large interior court. This third enclosure was to protect the town of Dur Untash, the houses of which were never built.
The Untash-Gal Palace (13th century BC) was discovered, separated from the Temenos.
In spite of the destruction attributed to Assyrians, a whole series of heads, statuettes, animals and amulets were found and the remains of two panels in ivory mosaic.
Several vaulted tombs were discovered in the basement of the royal residence, with evidence of cremation. Nearby was a temple dedicated to Nusku, the god of fire.
To supply the population of the city with water, a channel about 50 km long was linked to a reservoir outside the northern rampart.
From there, nine conduits carried the filtered water to a basin arranged inside the rampart. Dur Untash was given up by the Elamite kings in the 12th century BC in Susa.
They transported all the treasures of Chogha-Zanbil to Susa where they were used to decorate the recently restored temples. In 640 BC, Dur Untash was entirely destroyed by the Assyrian king Assurbanipal, a few years after his conquest of Susa.
Some scholars speculate, based on the large number of temples and sanctuaries at Chogha-Zanbil, that Untash-Napirisha attempted to create a new religious center (possibly intended to replace Susa) which would unite the gods of both highland and lowland Elam at one site.
The ziggurat is considered the best preserved example in the world.
In 1979, Chogha-Zanbil became the first Iranian site to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
(Source: Iran Daily)