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 Cultural Catastrophe: Ancient Hills Plowed in Susa


02 October 2005


Farmers almost entirely destroyed two ancient tepes in Susa, Khuzestan Province while they were plowing the site for cultivation, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Sunday.

“The site had initially been excavated by a team of Iranian archaeologists and some experts from the University of Chicago in 2002 and 2003. They believed the site dated back to 5000 BC,” Abdorreza Peymani, an official of the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department (KCHTD) said.


“At the present time, agricultural operations have been halted at the site and the KCHTD has filed a lawsuit against the private owner of the land,” he added.


Susa (Biblical Shushan, modern Shush) was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian, and Parthian empires of Iran, located about 150 miles east of the Tigris River in Khuzestan Province of Iran. As well as being an archaeological site, Susa is also mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the places where the Prophet Daniel (AS) lived. His tomb is located in the heart of the city.


Susa is one of the oldest known settlements of the region, probably founded about 4000 BC, though the first traces of an inhabited village date back to 7000 BC. Evidence of a painted pottery civilization dates back to 5000 BC. In historic times, it was the capital of the Elamite Empire. Its name originates from their language; it was written variously (Shushan, Shushun etc.) and was apparently pronounced Susan. Shushan was invaded by both Babylonian empires as well as the Assyrian Empire in violent campaigns. After the Babylonian conquest, the name was misunderstood to be connected with the Semitic word Shushan, “lily”.


Since it has the most ancient sites and monuments in the country, Khuzestan is considered the heart of Iran’s archaeology. However, its archaeological sites have been excavated by smugglers 83 times over the past 15 months, making Khuzestan Iran’s most illegally excavated province.



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