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Susa

From Academic Kids

See Susa, Italy for the city in Piemont and Susa, Azerbaijan. See S.U.S.A for the students' association of the University of Stirling.
Missing image
Sphinx_Darius_Louvre.jpg
Winged sphinx from the palace of Darius the Great at Susa.
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Susa (Biblical Shushan, modern Shush, Template:Coor dm) was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran, located about 150 miles east of the Tigris River in Khuzestan province of Iran. As well as being an archaeological site, Shush is also a lively village due to the devotion of Shi'ites and the Persian Jewish community for the prophet Daniel.

Susa is one of the oldest known settlements of the region, probably founded about 4000 BCE, though the first traces of an inhabited village date back to 7000 BCE. Evidence of a painted pottery civilization dates back to 5000 BCE. In historic times, it was the capital of the Elamite Empire. Its name originates from their language; it was written variously (Šušan, Šušun etc.) and was apparently pronounced Susən. Šušan was invaded by both Babylonian Empires as well as the Assyrian Empire in violent campaigns. After the Babylonian conquest, the name was misunderstood to be connected with the Semitic word Šušan, "lily."

Susa is mentioned in the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible, mainly in Esther but also once each in Nehemiah and Daniel). The prophets Daniel and Nehemiah lived in Susa during the Babylonian captivity of Judah of the 6th century BCE. Esther became queen there and saved the Jews from genocide. A tomb presumed to be that of Daniel is located in the area, known as Shush-Daniel. The tomb is marked by an unusual white stone cone which is neither regular nor symmetric.

A tablet unearthed in 1854 by Henry Austin Layard in Nineveh reveals Ashurbanipal as an avenger seeking retribution for the humiliations the Elamites had inflicted on the Mesopotamians over the centuries:

"Susa, the great holy city, abode of their Gods, seat of their mysteries, I conquered. I entered its palaces, I opened their treasuries where silver and gold, goods and wealth were amassed...I destroyed the ziggurat of Susa. I smashed its shining copper horns. I reduced the temples of Elam to naught; their gods and goddesses I scattered to the winds. The tombs of their ancient and recent kings I devastated, I exposed to the sun, and I carried away their bones toward the land of Ashur. I devastated the provinces of Elam and on their lands I sowed salt."[1]

The city was soon however taken back by the Achaemenid Persians under Cyrus the Great in 538 BCE. Under Cyrus' son Cambyses II, the capital of the empire moved from Pasargadae to Susa.

Missing image
Susa-destruction.jpg
Ashurbanipal's brutal campaign against Susa is triumphantly recorded in this relief showing the sack of Susa in 647 BCE. Here, flames rise from the city as Assyrian soldiers topple it with pickaxes and crowbars and carry off the spoils.

The city lost some of its importance when Alexander of Macedon conquered it in 323 BCE and destroyed the first Persian Empire, but after Alexander's vast empire collapsed upon his death, Susa became one of the two capitals (along with Ctesiphon) of Parthia. Susa became a frequent place of refuge for Parthian and later the Persian Sassanid kings, as the Romans sacked Ctesiphon five different times between 116 and 297 CE. Typically, the Parthian rulers wintered in Susa and spent the summer in Ctesiphon.

The Roman emperor Trajan captured Susa in 116 CE, but soon was forced to withdraw due to revolts in his rear areas. This advance marked the greatest eastern penetration by the Romans.

Susa was destroyed at least twice in its history. In 647 BCE, the Assyrian king Assurbanipal leveled the city during the course of a war in which the people of Susa apparently participated on the other side. The second destruction of Susa took place in 638 CE when the Muslim armies first conquered Persia. Finally, in 1218 CE, the city was completely destroyed by invading Mongols. The ancient city was gradually abandoned in the years that followed.

Sources

[1]: See pages 7-8 of "Persians: Masters of Empire" ISBN: 0-80949104-4 for reference.

See also

External links

  • aerial view (http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/MUS/PA/IRAN/PAAI/IMAGES/ASF/10G11_72dpi.html)ca:Susa

de:Susa (Persien) fr:Suse (lam) ja:スーサ no:Susa pl:Suza pt:Susa

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