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Susa (Shush)

  • Susa (Shush) in southwestern Iran, was the ancient capital of Elam. It was the administrative capital of the Achaemenid king Darius I and his successors (521-331 BC), a royal residence, and the eastern terminus of the Persian Royal Road that ran westward to Lydian Sardis, about 2,575 km (1,600 mi) away.

  • The reign of Artaxerxes II was plagued by internal revolts and crises, including the unsuccessful plot of Cyrus the Younger to seize the throne.

  • Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, Susa became a Greek colonial city-state under the Seleucids and was called Seleucia-on-the-Eulaeus; it continued to flourish as a trade center through the Parthian and Sassanian periods, until its capture (640 AD) by Islamic forces.

  • Rediscovered in 1850, Susa has been under almost continuous excavation by French archaeologists since 1897. Although occupation levels date back to Neolithic times (4000 BC), the principal objects of interest at the site are four large mounds representing the citadel, the palace of Darius I (521–486 BC), and two sections of the ancient city.

  • Significant archaeological finds at Susa have included early painted pottery and seals, proto-Elamite writing, an extensive Parthian cemetery, the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, and the famous law code (law-codex) of Hammurabi (1780 BC).

  • Today there is not much to see in Susa except for the remains of the fortress built by the French for the archaeologists. There is a museum in renovation but check to see if or when it is open. Most of the findings from Susa area have been put in museums in Tehran and other cities. There are remains of 72 columns and bulls head capitals which are similar to those at Persepolis.

Achaemenid Royal guardsmen are depicted in this glazed
brick relief from the palace of Artaxerxes II at Susa.