1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Susa (Elam)

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19407901911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26 — Susa (Elam)Archibald Henry Sayce

SUSA (Biblical, Shushan), the capital of Susiana or Elam and from the time of Darius I. the chief residence of the Achaemenian kings. It had been the centre of the old monarchy of Elam and had undergone many vicissitudes before it fell into the hands of the Persians (see Elam). The site, fixed by the explorations of W. K. Loftus, lies in the plain, but within sight of the mountains, between the courses of the Kerkha (Choaspes) and the Dizful, one of the affluents of the Pasitigris. The Shaur, a small tributary of the Dizful, washes the eastern base of the mounds of Shush, and seems to be the representative of the ancient Ulai or Eulaeus. Thus the whole district was fruitful and well watered; the surrounding rivers with their canals gave protection and a waterway to the Persian Gulf; while the position of the town between the Semitic and Iranian lands of the empire was convenient for administrative purposes. Susa therefore became a vast and populous capital; Greek writers assign to it a circuit of 15 or 20 m.

The remains include four mounds, of which one is the site of the citadel called Memnonion by the Greeks, while another (the Apadana to the east of it) represents the palace of Darius I. and Artaxerxes II. Mnemon. This latter has been excavated by M. Dieulafoy and the enamelled bricks with which its walls were adorned are now in the Louvre. South of these two mounds is the site of the royal Elamite city. The fourth mound, covering the remains of the poorer houses, is on the right bank of the river between the Shaur and the Kerkha. J. de Morgan’s excavations (since 1897) have been principally in the citadel mound, which measures roughly 1500 ft. by 825 ft. and is 125 ft. high. The two lowest strata belong to the stone age, and the first is characterized by a fine thin pottery, with yellow paste decorated with geometrical patterns and animal or vegetable figures in black and brown-red. Some of it is similar to the prehistoric pottery of Egypt. The pottery of the second neolithic stratum is much inferior. Above these strata come the remains of Elamite and early Babylonian civilization with inscribed objects, the oldest of which exhibit the pictorial characters out of which the cuneiform were evolved. Under the foundations of the temple of In-Susinak (in the north-west part of the mound) a vast quantity of bronze objects has been discovered, for the most part earlier than the 10th century B.C. Among the monuments brought to light in other parts of the mound are the obelisk of Manistusu (see Babylonia), the stela of Naram-Sin and the code of Khammurabi, along with. a great number of historically valuable boundary-stones. The upper portions of the mounds have yielded, besides Persian remains, Greek pottery and inscriptions of the 4th century B.C., numerous coins of the Kamnaskires dynasty and other kings of Elymais in the Seleucid era, and Parthian and Sassanian relics. In the Sassanian period the city was razed in consequence of a revolt, but rebuilt by Sapor (Shapur) II.; the walls were again destroyed at the time of the Mahommedan conquest, but the site, which is now deserted, was a seat of sugar manufacture in the middle ages.

Bibliography.—W. K. Loftus, Travels and Researches in Chaldaea and Susiana (1857); M. Dieulafoy, L’Art antique de la Perse (1884–85), L’Acropole de Suse (1890); A. Billerbeck, Susa (1893); J. de Morgan, Mémoires de la délégation en Perse, vols. i.–viii. (from 1899). See also Persia: Ancient History, § v. 2.  (A. H. S.)