“History is important”, since we can read and write, most teachers and parents mention the importance of history. Maybe I am addicted to this but past creates future, when we now more about the past we can build better future. When we dig into the past, we can find wonderful works that still are mystery for us. I am trying to explain one of these mystery works. Chogha Zanbil has been built more than 3000 years ago and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.
In this paper, first I will talk about the definition and brief history of ziggurats, then some information about Chogha zanbil, as one of the oldest ziggurats.
Ziggurats: among all the temples and buildings in the ancient world, one of the most wonderful Architectural works calls Ziggurats. Magnificence of these buildings and architectural structure of them has been Strange and mysterious for modern human. The root of the word ziggurat comes from zaqāru in the Akkadian Language and means to build high. In Ziggurats, like pyramids, the upper floor has less area than its lower floor and its frontage, in all four sides is formed by stairs.
Each side of these big pyramids has some steps toward the last floor. Last floor of some ziggurats, has included a cube- shape building that probably have been the place for worship. There are some different guess and thought about the philosophy of existence of these massive temples. The most common notion says that these buildings were actually large stairways to reach the god or gods who have been worshiped by people in that city.
An unimaginable stair that from one side humans would go up and on the other side gods were coming down, then human and god would meet on the last floor. However ziggurat never used as a place for public worships, it had called a house for gods and usually specific individuals such as druids or kings could climb it. Ziggurats have built bold by solid brick and brick-shape and each floor continues to bottom and on the ground. (Herles 2)
In the Mesopotamia cities, Ziggurats could carry the title as the biggest and most specific buildings. The height of some of these buildings could be more than 40 meters. Usually these temples were built between other temples and sacred buildings and comprised an interconnected collection. (Herles 2)
CHOGHA ZANBIL: Chogha Zanbil Ancient Al Untash Napirisha (Elamite) or Door Untash (Assyrian), a city founded by the Elamite king Untash Napirisha, about 40 km southeast of Susa at a strategic point on a main road leading to the highlands. The city, which had centered around a ziggurat, stood on a previously unsettled plateau above the banks of the Dez (Hithite) river. Construction began early in the reign of Untash Napirisha. After his death it remained a place of religious pilgrimage and a burial ground until about 1000 B.C.E. A sounding in the Ishnikarab temple courtyard demonstrated that the ziggurat and its dependencies were abandoned at about that time, not in 646 B.C.E., when the Assyrians recorded the destruction of the city. (Carter 2)
Choghā Zanbīl is a local name meaning “large basket-shaped hill.” It was sighted in 1935 by prospectors of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company who were surveying the region by airplane. Initial studies were performed by French archaeologists in the late 1930s. From 1946 to 1962, excavations were carried out by the archaeologist Roman Ghirshman. Several bull sculptures of Inshushinak were found within the complex, which served the royal families of Elam as a place both of worship and of interment. In addition, a variety of small artifacts were recovered, including a collection of Middle Elamite cylinder seals. A building on the grounds contains five vaulted underground tombs, within four of which are cremated remains, and there is one uncremated corpse. The Elamites traditionally buried their dead, and the reason for the cremation is unknown. (Britannica 1)
The ziggurat was set off from the surrounding town by two successive enclosure walls (dimensions of the outer wall 1,200 x 800 m), both articulated by niches and buttresses. In the outer courtyard, to the right of the “royal entrance,” had built an impressive group of four temples, dedicated respectively to the goddess Pinikir, two divine couples-one IM [ISHKUR = Adad] and Shala, the other Simut and dNIN.a-li (a title of the goddess Manzat)—and a group of eight gods, na-ap.ra-te-ip (Napratep), each honored by one of eight altars divided among four small shrines. Votive figurines of women and animals and fragments of an inscribed faience bull half-life size, from the temple of IM and Shala, offer some clues to Elamite religious customs. Another temple, located 180 m west of these four and dedicated to the Elamite divinities Hishmitik and Ruhuratir, contains a separate wing with a bathroom, where purification ceremonies of some kind may have occurred. (Fars Foundation 1)
Within the inner enclosure wall the ziggurat (105.2 m2), its corners oriented toward the cardinal points, is preserved to a height of more than 25 m above the surrounding pavement. It consists of a mud-brick core faced with a skin of baked bricks 2 m thick. Every eleventh row of baked bricks is inscribed with a dedication of the ziggurat by Untash Napirisha to the “lord of Susa,” Inshushinak. (Herles 2)
Occupying a total area of 100 hectares I 1 sq. km. or 247 acres), the Chogha zanbil site is divided into three distinct zones separated by concentric walls. The inner zone is centered on the ziggurat, or tiered tower, and includes a series of temples devoted to principal Elamite gods as well a large open courtyard. This central zone is enclosed by a wall that originally measured 520 meters and six gates. (UNESCO 19)
According to inscribed bricks found in the fabric of the ziggurat, it was dedicated to Inšušinak, lord of Susa. The kukunnum is known only from inscribed bricks found out of context. They suggest that this temple was dedicated at some times to Inšušinak and at others to both Inšušinak and Napiriša, presumably the chief deity of the Elamite highlands (Roche, pp. 192-95). At the foot of the ziggurat and either incorporated into the northwestern section of the inner enclosure wall or just outside it were temples dedicated to the highest-ranking Elamite divinities of the time: Napiriša; Išnikarab, the close associate of Inšušinak; and Kiririša, the consort of Napiriša. The addition of Napiriša’s name to the kukunnum inscriptions and the construction of the Kiririša temple at the foot of the ziggurat sometime after the original founding of the city may well reflect a conscious change in policy designed to give a more prominent position to the highland deities and thus to strengthen political links with the areas east of Susiana. (Carter 3)
Heavy rainfalls have a harmful effect on the mud-brick outer walls and temples of the complex, despite the application of protective coverings. In the mid-1990s, it was noted that the brick walls of the ziggurat had shifted slightly, raising concerns about future structural damage. (Britannica 1)
Chogha Zanbil registered in 1979 by the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is one of the few areas of Iran that find a chance to be in the World Heritage List.
Excavations Zanbil threatened by oil, recent reports says that drilling for oil exploration in the area of Chogha Zanbil is going to harm the building. the legal department of Khuzestan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization has warned that:
"Oil companies in the privacy Chogha Zanbil ziggurat, the wells have been made. The three wells drilled in this area are a blast to explore the underground layers. “(Fars Foundation 2)