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Excavations at Susa (Persia), 1930–1931

  • R. de Mecquenem (a1)

The ruins of ancient Susa, prior to the Achaemenid period (sixth century B.c.), are shaped like a square, each side of which is 700 metres long. The angles face the cardinal points. The southern angle is however prolonged by an external mound, which M. Dieulafoy has called the ‘the Dungeon’.

The acropolis of Susa occupies the main portion of the northwestern side and we are continuing there the systematic exploration inaugurated by M. de Morgan. This year we widened and lengthened a trench which last season had reached the natural soil, and here we found a big ditch dug in the middle Elamite period. It was 8 metres wide, and 6.25 metres deep; we excavated 10.25 metres of its length without reaching its other end. The sides were covered by raw (sundried) bricks, which in some places were protected by thick walls of kilnfired bricks. Some of these burnt bricks have cuneiform inscriptions recording the dedication of Elamite temples. In the silting of this ditch we found fragments of arragonite vases, often inscribed with the names of the Achaemenid sovereigns Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and fragments of horns and ears of the stone protomas of the bulls forming the capitals of the columns of the Apadana. It seems that this ditch was originally a tank of water, belonging to the Elamite temples of the God Shushinak and of the Goddess Nin-Har-Shag. Water was brought into the tank by means of an aqueduct. The ditch was filled up gradually during the post-Achaemenid periods (Parthian and Sassanid). The fact that the ground surrounding the ditch corresponded to levels anterior to the third millennium B.c., was very perplexing until the real nature of the ditch was fully ascertained. However, during the course of clearing the remains we found a fragment of the pedestal of a Sumerian statue,chiselled out of a blue stone. Judging from its style it can be dated to the period of Agade, 2700 B.C.

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* The great cultural importance of this discovery will at once be apparent; it is the earliest evidence of the domestication of the horse.—EDITOR.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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