Located in ancient Elam (today Khuzestan province in southwest Iran), Tchogha Zanbil (Dur-Untash, or City of Untash, in Elamite) was founded by the Elamite king Untash- Napirisha (1275-1240 BCE) as the religious center of Elam. The principal element of this complex is an enormous ziggurat dedicated to the Elamite divinities Inshushinak and Napirisha. It is the largest ziggurat outside of Mesopotamia and the best preserved of this type of stepped pyramidal monument. The archaeological site of Tchogha Zanbil is an exceptional expression of the culture, beliefs, and ritual traditions of one of the oldest indigenous peoples of Iran. Our knowledge of the architectural development of the middle Elamite period (1400-1100 BCE) comes from the ruins of Tchogha Zanbil and of the capital city of Susa 38 km to the north-west of the temple).
The archaeological site of Tchogha Zanbil covers a vast, arid plateau overlooking the rich valley of the river Ab-e Diz and its forests. A “sacred city” for the king’s residence, it was never completed and only a few priests lived there until it was destroyed by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal about 640 BCE. The complex was protected by three concentric enclosure walls: an outer wall about 4 km in circumference enclosing a vast complex of residences and the royal quarter, where three monumental palaces have been unearthed (one is considered a tomb-palace that covers the remains of underground baked-brick structures containing the burials of the royal family); a second wall protecting the temples (Temenus); and the innermost wall enclosing the focal point of the ensemble, the ziggurat.
The ziggurat originally measured 105.2 m on each side and about 53 m in height, in five levels, and was crowned with a temple. Mud brick was the basic material of the whole ensemble. The ziggurat was given a facing of baked bricks, a number of which have cuneiform characters giving the names of deities in the Elamite and Akkadian languages. Though the ziggurat now stands only 24.75 m high, less than half its estimated original height, its state of preservation is unsurpassed. Studies of the ziggurat and the rest of the archaeological site of Tchogha Zanbil containing other temples, residences, tomb-palaces, and water reservoirs have made an important contribution to our knowledge about the architecture of this period of the Elamites, whose ancient culture persisted into the emerging Achaemenes (First Persian) Empire, which changed the face of the civilized world at that time.
The water mills of Shushtar
The historical city of Shushtar occupies a strategic location, where the last red peaks of the Zagros descend to the huge watermelons fields of southern Khuzestan.
For millennia, Shushtar controlled the irrigation of these plains, hence the presence of water mills. It is actually a huge semi-circle punctuated by waterfalls, where once were mills and irrigation systems.
Seventeen centuries old, it is these strange crevasses, barely made of human hands, dug out of the rock of downtown Shushtar. Today this ancient hydraulic complex is waiting to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Such mills once existed throughout Khuzestan, where the region's important river flows, Dez, Karkheh, Mâroun, Bahman, Shîr, and Kâroun offered excellent prospects for the exploitation of rivers. Hydraulic energy in this form. These mills thus constituted networks entirely connected to each other, called kittens, which were used to irrigate crops. In addition, the driving force of the water made it possible to grind wheat.