More than oil
Briefly: Ahvaz & Chogha Zanbil
By Satgin Seraj
April 8, 2004
During childhood trips to Khuzestan,
the things I witnessed and heard about sparked a deep interest
me regarding the region. I knew that Khuzestan is well known
for its abundant natural resources, especially huge reserves
of crude oil and natural gas. But, what I did not know at the time
is that it has a
to one of the oldest human civilizations dating back at least
6000 years to Shoosh (Susa). As a result of the precedence of
human civilization in Khuzestan, there are many ancient and magnificent
wonders in the region. These wonders can be found throughout
the Province, including in Ahvaz and Chogha Zanbil.
Ahvaz is an oil center and an industrial city with vast petrochemical
industries. It is also an ancient city that is considered to be
one of the oldest in Iran. It is believed that the city is built
on the site of the ancient city of "Taryana." Ardeshir
Sassanide I rebuilt Taryana and named it "Hormozd Ardeshir." During
his reign and that of his successors, the city prospered, and instead
of Shoosh (Susa) the Ahvaz became the capital of "Suziana" (Khuzestan).
When the Arabs gained control of Suziana, Hormozd Ardeshir was
re-named to Soq-ol-Ahvaz, meaning the market of Khuzis or Hoories.
During the period of Omavi and Abbasides Caliphs,
Ahvaz flourished. However, due to the upheaveals of Saheb-ol-Zanj,
at the end of
the third century the city experienced a decline. Nonetheless,
Ahvaz was able to flourish again, because of the construction
of the Suez Canal, improved trade and shipping on the Karoon River
and reformation of Bandar-e Naseri as a port during the Qajar
Moreover, the discovery of oil nearby in the early
twentieth century restored the city to its former importance by
economic growth. Its final name change occurred during the
Pahlavie era, when it was given the name Ahvaz.
is considered to be the largest man made structure in Iran.
It is a breathtaking and truly astonishing site. Its size and
splendor were both intended to manifest the power of King Untash
The ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil is the best surviving example
the Elamite architecture in the world and is registered with
UNESCO. However, it was unfortunately lost to the world for
approximately 2500 years, until it was accidentally discovered
The well-preserved ziggurat was built at Dur Untashi,
a city near Shoosh (Susa), by Untash-gal, Kind of Elam, 1250 BC.
as both a temple and a tomb, comprised of five towers of
varying heights, each uniquely constructed inside the other.
believed to be the largest ziggurat discovered in the region
of Iran and
Mesopotamia with a base of 105 meters square. It is part
of a complex system that includes an outer wall 1200 x
constructed around a sacred enclosure. The enclosure held
three temples, paved courtyards and storehouses. Moreover,
of three Elamite Palaces have been found nearby, one of
The building materials in Chogha Zanbil are comprised
mainly of mud bricks and baked bricks. The monuments were well
beautifully decorated with glazed baked bricks, gypsum,
ornaments of faience and glass. Thousands of baked bricks
with Elamite characters were all inscribed by hand, ornamenting
the most important buildings. Glazed terracotta statutes
such as bulls and winged griffins guarded the entrances
to the Ziggurat.
When standing before it, one can truly feel its magnificence,
its historical significance and imagine what the entire
area was like during the height of its splendor.
goodbye to spam!