team of German archaeologists are going to begin the second
season of geophysical surveys in the Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat in
early October south of Iran.
Equipped with specialized instruments, the Mainz University
experts are expected to continue surveys already carried out by
their Iranian counterparts in order to identify architectural
structures built in this ancient ziggurat, announced Hamid
Fadaei, an Iranian archaeologist in the site.
Archaeologists are hopeful to draw out more detailed maps of the
area to ensure better preservation.
German team would be led by Iranian archaeologist Behzad Mofidi,
who is now engaged in preparing their trip to Iran. Chogha
Zanbil is situated in southwest Iran about 40 km southeast of
the ancient city of Susa. It was built on a plateau above the
banks of the Dez River. The complex consists of a magnificent
ziggurat (the largest structure of its kind in Iran), temples,
and three palaces. The site was added to UNESCO’s World
Heritage List in 1979.
Its ancient name is Dur-Untash, which means the castle or the
city of Untash. In the 13th century B.C., King Untash Napirisha
founded an entirely new city. Its size and splendor was intended
to honor the gods and to manifest the power of the monarch. At
the center of the city, a ziggurat 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 the middle wall several temples belonging to different
Elamite divinities were built. The outer city wall was about 4
km 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 halls
and rooms were excavated. Beneath one of theses buildings
(Palace I), five underground tombs were found similar to those
of Haft Tappeh (Kabnak). The tombs in Chogha Zanbil however were
of a much more monumental dimension.
The building materials in Chogha 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 entrances to the ziggurat. Near the temples of
Kiririsha and Hishmitik-Ruhuratir, kilns were found that
probably were used for the production of baked bricks and
decoration materials. The ziggurat, it is believed, was built in
two stages and in the second phase took its multi-layered form.