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Characteristics & Uniqueness of Elamite Ziggurat Identified


18 February 2006



LONDON, (CAIS) -- The ziggurat in the ancient Elamite city of Dur Untash (modern Choghazanbil) in Khuzestan province, which was built during the reign of Untash-Gal (1275-1240 BC), is significant given that it is the only ziggurat to have been excavated and identified as being totally different from those unearthed in Mesopotamia in terms of architecture.

Expressing this, a veteran Iranian archeologist, Mohammad Rahim Sarraf told ISNA that while the idea of constructing a ziggurat at Dur Untash originated in Mesopotamia, it was built completely in the Elamite style.

Mesopotamian ziggurats were constructed in the form of stories built over each other whereas in the Elamite structures, the foundations of all stories were on the ground and not over each other while only the fifth story was over the fourth.

Elaborating on the other differences between them, Sarraf said that in the Mesopotamian version, there were no chambers in the lower levels and the edifice had a solid platform with a sole room over it. The room, he pointed out, was used to house the statues of the gods.

Choghazanbil ziggurat however had several chambers and two temples on the first story in addition to a room used for the same purpose on the fourth floor, he noted.

Turning to the special form of Choghazanbil Ziggurat, the archeologist further said that initially Untash Gall built in Choghazanbil a temple with a central courtyard surrounded by rooms and other temples.

Then several stories were constructed in the yard.
“In Mesopotamian ziggurats, the staircase of the structure directly lead to the upper floors but in Choghazanbil ziggurat, the worshipers should spiral round each story to get to the upper floors,“ he said.

The project for the restoration of Choghazanbil ziggurat played a significant role in saving the monument, he said, noting that if it had remained in that condition, the ziggurat would have been destroyed within years.




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