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Susa {Shush) is 1.17 km north-northwest of Ahwaz via a busy and sometimes 'dangerous road. Although it is on the Tehran-Ahwaz railway line, it is not practical to get there by train. Visitors starting from Ahwaz, normally leave their hotel early in the morning to arrive in Susa before the worst heat of the day. For you will find absolutely no shelter of any kind  on the site, neither is there an accommodation or a restaurant for compared with Esfahan very few people ever come here, but tourists who do not visit Susa and the more immediately appealing ziggurat at Chogha Zanbil are missing a crucial experience of Iran.
 Although an Englishman, W K Loftus was the first archaeologist, in 1852, unquestionably to identify the modern Shush with the classical Susa and the Biblical -Shushan, it is to a succession of French archaeologists, Dieulafoy, de Morgan, de Mecquenem, Ghirshman and Perrot, that credit is due for the systematic excavation of the site. Loftus, following the stories of travelers like Rawlinson (of Bisotun fame), Sir Austen Layard (of Nineveh fame), and the Russian Baron de Bode, started trial digs and discovered that his friend General Williams had come across a palace similar to those of Persepolis. Cuneiform inscription proved that the palace was actually built by Darius I. Loftus describes the city as it must have been in the great days of the Achaemenians:
It is difficult to conceive a more imposing site than Susa, as it stood in the days of its Kayanian splendor -its great citadel and columnar edifices raising their stately heads above groves of date, konar and lemon trees -and backed by rich pastures and golden seas of corn and the distant snow-clad mountains. Neither Babylon nor Persepolis could compare with Susa in position -watered by her noble rivers, producing crops without irrigation, clothed with grass in spring, and within a moderate journey of delightful summer clime.
There is no treasure in the sense of jewels or adorning. On the spot, the site is very disappointing for those who seek fine ruins. The visitor to Susa will drive first up to the castle that tops the acropolis on one of the four tappehs, or mounds, on which Susa was built.


Marvelous painted pottery from Susa I the earliest Phase -was discovered here and can be seen in the castle storerooms to the Mission (and possibly more conveniently in the Louvre). Pottery dating back to the fourth millennium BC proves that Susa was one of the oldest cities in the world.
In fact a prehistoric settlement from at least the forth millennium BC, and an important Elamite city from about the middle of the third millennium, Susa reached its first peak under the reign of Untash Gal, who built Shush as his administrative capital and founded Chogha Zanbil as his religious center. Shush was burnt around 640 BC by the AssYrian A, at about the same time he destroyed Zanbil, but it came back to prominence and its Golden Age began with the advent of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenian Empire of Iran.
Standing as it did between the Aryans of the east and the Semites of the west, Susa was a far more convenient administrative center for the new and rapidly growing Empire than was Pasargadae. Cyrus the Great probably hastened the revival of the city, which became the winter capital of the Achaemenians, while Darius land Artaxerxes Mnemon built great palaces there.
It was from: Susa that Xerxes set out on his great expedition against Greece. Although he failed in his attempt to subjugate the whole of Greece, he succeeded in despoiling both Delphi and Athens, and he deposited their wealth in his treasury at Susa on his return there.
Alexander the Great captured the town in 33 I BC. After this the Sassanian Artaxerxes land Shapur I were the only monarchs before modern times to take an interest in Susa. The town prospered under the latter, becoming an important center of Christianity in the 4th century AD (later extirpate by Shapur 11) as well as the Arabs, but steadily declined after the Mongol invasion of Iran.
Many fine examples of pottery from various periods showing the development of the typically Persian highly stylized animal motifs as well as bronzes have been found here, and some examples are on display at Tehran's National Museum of Iran, while a famous 4th century bull's- head capital from Shush is now in the Louvre.
The site is built on four small mounds. If you enter at the gate from the street, you cannot fail to notice the fortress on top of the tallest mound, the Acropolis. This castle, quite unlike any other archaeological camp, was built by the French Archaeological Service at the end of the 19th century as a necessary defense against the unpacified Arab tribes of the region, and is now probably the most imposing structure at Susa. Almost nothing remains of the buildings of the Acropolis on which the castle stands, which was the site of the earliest pre- historic settlement and later of the main Elamite royal buildings and then of the Achaemenian citadel.
Next to the Acropolis is the largest mound, the Royal Town, once the quarter of the court officials, which has revealed the remains of many periods from the Elamite to the Arab. Northwest of the Royal Town is the Apadana, where Darius I built his residence and two other palaces. Two very well preserved foundation tablets found beneath the site of Darius' Palace one in Elamite and the other in Babyloian record the noble ancestry of its founder and the far-flung origins of its materials and workers -from as far east as India to as far west as Abyssinia -as a piece of propaganda to show the might of the Achaemenian Empire at the time. The tablets are now in the Tehran's National Museum of Iran. After giving praise to the supreme God, Ahura Mazda, Darius said:

I constructed this palace. its decoration was brought from afar The ground was dug out until came to the firm soil and a ditch was made and the gravel that was thrown in, and the bricks that were molded -they were the peop/e of Babylon who did this work. The wood ca/led naucina {cedar) was brought from a mountain called Lebanon.

This inscription shows that Darius drew not only his materials, but also his workmen from all parts of his vast empire. During the reign of Darius, many roads were constructed to serve Susa the great Royal Road all the way west via the Tigris below Arbela and Harran to Sardis and Ephesus in Asia Minor; the road north through Lurestan to Hamadan; and a third east to the sacred city of Persepolis and Pasargadae, a part of stone-paved surface of which can be seen near Behbahan.
The remains of 72 columns and bulls'-head capitals here show that the palace was built on the same lines as that at Persepolis, constructed soon afterwards.
The Artisans' Town mound dates from the Parthian and Seleucid eras. Traces of an Arab mosque were found here, but little else of substance remains.
The museum between the entrance and the Acropolis was closed for renovation in the past years. It's open from 7 am to about 2.30 PM (7 am to noon on Thursday), daily except Friday.

Susa Shrine