Thursday, August 28, 2008


This is Susa, one of the oldest-known settlements of the world, dating back to 8000 BC.

Susa is mentioned in the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible, mainly in Esther, but also once each in Nehemiah and Daniel. Both Daniel and Nehemiah lived in Susa during the Babylonian captivity of Judah of the 6th century BCE. Esther became queen there, and saved the Jews from genocide. A tomb presumed to be that of Daniel is located in the area, known as Shush-Daniel. The tomb is marked by an unusual white, stone cone, which is neither regular nor symmetric. Many scholars believe it was at one point a Star of David. (Picture on bottom right)

Susa is further mentioned in the Book of Jubilees (8:21 & 9:2) as one of the places within the inheritance of Shem and his eldest son Elam; and in 8:1, "Susan" is also named as the son (or daughter, in some translations) of Elam.

Shushtar's Historical Hydraulic System is a UNESCO world heritage site (picture on top).

The main components of the hydraulic systems are:

  • The canal called Ab-e Gargar (or the medieval Mashreqân) which is led from the left bank of the river about 500 m north of the town; it runs southwards along the east side of the cliffs of Shushtar and rejoins the Kârun at Band-e Qir;
  • The great barrage called Band-e Qaysar (the Dike of Caesar) also known as Band-e Mizân, which is thrown across the principal arm of the river (here called Shoteit) east of the town and is about 350 m long; this barrage supports a bridge that connected the town with the west bank, but now a considerable gap is broken in it;
  • The canal called Miyânâb which begins above the barrage in the form of a tunnel cut out of the rock on the western side of the town; the Miyânâb turns southwards and irrigates the land south of the town.

The waterworks in Susa were developed to deliver water to the city from the river Kârun, located 10 meters below. The main aim of these constructions was to meet the inhabitants' needs for protecting themselves from floods, while irrigating their agricultural lands and making possible passages across the river and canals. The construction of bridges, dams, bridge-Dams, mills, qanâts, reservoirs, tunnels, and canals for the water supply of the town were conducted in the Sâssanian period (224-650 A.D.), especially during the reign of Shapur I (r. 240-272 A.D.).

For a touristic view of the region: see this.
Encyclopedia Britanica:
Susa, ancient city, Iran also called Shushan, Greek Susiane, modern Shush.

Capital of Elam (Susiana) and administrative capital of the Achaemenian king Darius I and his successors from 522 bc. It was located at the foot of the Zagros Mountains near the bank of the Karkheh Kūr (Choaspes) River in the Khuzistan region of Iran.

The archaeological site, identified in 1850 by W.K. Loftus, consists of four mounds. One held the citadel and was excavated (1897–1908) by Jacques de Morgan, who uncovered, among other objects, the obelisk of the Akkadian king Manishtusu, the stele of his successor Naram-Sin, and the code of Hammurabi of Babylon. A second mound to the east was the location of the palace of Darius I and was excavated (c. 1881) by Marcel Dieulafoy. A third mound to the south contained the royal Elamite city, while the fourth mound consisted of the poorer houses.

The finest pottery was found in the lowest strata and belonged to two different civilizations, both Neolithic. Above the early strata were remains of Elamite and early Babylonian civilizations. In the upper portions of the mounds Achaemenian, Greek, Elamite, Parthian, and Sāsānian remains were found. Until sometime after the 14th century ad the city was a flourishing centre of a district known for silk, sugarcane, and oranges.


MLA Style:

"Susa." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 28 Aug. 2008 <>.


Brother Tim said...

Great piece, Naj, very well researched and informative. Thanks for your time and trouble.

goatman said...

Thank you very much for this history (I must have inspired you with the National Geographic reference??)
I am copying your descriptions to further my knowledge of your ancient country.

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Sorry for offtopic