Situated in the Khuzestan province and near the historical city of Susa, Chogha Zanbil or Tchogha Zanbil (literally means “Basket Mound”) is an ancient Elamite complex and one of the few existing ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia, built by Elamite king Untash-Napirisha to honor the great god Inshushinak about 1250 BCE.
Registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the religious capital of Chogha Zanbil includes the ruins of three concentric walls, palaces, temples and a central ziggurat (temple tower), the best preserved and the largest of all the ziggurats of Mesopotamia.
Reflecting the religious ideologies of that time, the monument has been built in seven gates along with several temples and chapels. At the center of the complex, there is a huge square-shape temple called ziggurat dedicated to Elamite divinities with just two floors remained.
Originally built in five stories, the ziggurat is the largest surviving monument of its kind, beyond Babylonia and Assyria, constructed based on the models of the Mesopotamian culture with baked bricks used for the outer facade and unbaked mud adobe for the rest of the building.
The main feature of the complex which makes it truly fascinating is the fantastic architecture and fine decoration benefitting from glazed baked bricks, gypsum, ornaments of faience and glass, with Elamites cuneiform inscriptions as well as terracotta statues such as bulls and winged griffins on the entrances.
Although the monument is believed to have been destroyed by the Assyrians, the remains of two panels in ivory mosaic and various items such as heads, statuettes, animals and amulets were found along with five vaulted tombs in the basement of the royal residence.
In addition, an extensive reservoir with a channel of about 50 km long outside the northern rampart used to supply water and a group of three major buildings with large courts surrounded by lengthy halls and rooms were excavated in this area.
For history lovers, visiting the Chogha Zanbil ziggurat as one of the largest and most significant architectural works survived from the Elamites civilization which has been ever recognized is an unforgettable chance to ponder on the grandeur and extraordinary progress of ancient Persia.