Archive for the ‘Chogha Zanbil’ Category

Chogha Zanbil – 2

June 27, 2010

The festivals

The Elamites had many festivals, the most important being the festival dedicated to the god guarding the city of Susa pinikir or perhaps later kiririsha (a goddess from liyan the present day Bushier)

The holly festival of Goshun (ghushun) was performed in holly gardens and castrated rams were sacrifice, and flow of the blood was the main point of this festival

Tuga festival, was dedicated to the god shimote, a bull was sacrificed at this festival

The festival of grandmother was celebrated at about beginning of autumn, which was also start of the NewYear (reminding one of the Mehregan festival in Iran related to god Mehr (Mithra))

The Newyear festival

The New Year festival was celebrated at the first of month of lan-nobeh (first of autumn)

No: 34

Officials of lower rank, residents, and perhaps ordinary people on this day would enter the holly area around the ziggurat from the early morning through the gates 5, 6 and 7, may be the ordinary people stayed outside the holly area facing the south eastern side of the ziggurat behind gate 6. The more important people were directed to side E of the ziggurat and the higher dignitaries and the lesser royals to side F, the musicians would be playing all through this festival

The king Untash-Napirisha would appear from the north eastern gate of the outer wall – or more likely from the royal palaces near the same gate – with the queen Npirasu and his sisters son, the crown prince Unpatar-Napirisha ( according to Elamite custom, the king s son does not become the crown prince)

No: 35

The king and his courtiers mounted on royal chariots would first go to the temple of Humban to pay their respects and then would return to the largest gate of the inner wall (4), dismount and enter on foot

No: 36

After entering gate (4) the priests would pour water on king’s hand from a shaten and then the king and the queen would take their places in front of the two sacrifice rectangles each with 7 platforms in front of magnificently glazed ziggurat wall, the sacrifice ritual would be performed on the two rectangles and perhaps all the platforms around the ziggurat, the musicians playing flute, harp and lute

NO: 37

The (covered) stairs at sides G and E of the ziggurat only ascend to level one, so the gusts at these sides ascend to level one and assemble on the north eastern side (G)

As the stairs on side F ascend to level two, gusts at this side assent two level two and then turn right and eventually assemble at the north eastern side (G)

The king, the queen, crown price and the dignitaries start ascending the south eastern side that goes all the way to the top; at level two the king pours special syrup on the altar for the intended god. At level 3 all those following the king except the high priest separate and the turn right and take their places at the north eastern face (G)

The king and the high priest continue to level 4; they turn right and appear on the north eastern side

No: 38

on the forth level there is a  temple, ( 20*20*10 meters, an estimate) in Elamite called Kukunnu with huge metallic bull horns (a custom of Elamites decorating some of the temples with large wooden or metallic bull horn) made of bronze, sticking out of the sides  and the walls covered with gold and silver,

the high priest purifies the door with scared oil and opens it and then moves to the side and only the king enters the gods chamber (perhaps because it is believed that he is made of the same stuff as the gods) on the king entering the scared room, perhaps, there is a roar from the audience and the new year begins

The middle area

Initially, around 2000BC, the Elamite gods were female a mother gods of whom so many small statues were found in the region e.g. the goddess pinikir the god of sky in Susa with the power to curse, and perhaps mother of all gods, and kiririsha another mother god in east of Elam who initially had a temple in liyan, (current day port city of Bushier,)

By 2000 BC the female gods lost their position to a mail god Humban (or khumban) ,god of earth, and even pinker became his wife, and later he also married kiririsha, by 1300 BC the Elamites had about 37 main gods (and about 200+  lesser gods) which were ranked according to importance. Inshushinak (the god of darkness, and underworld) raisedd in ranks and occupied the top rank, but the female gods were never discarded. Temples was made for following gods and goddesses, for Ishne-Karab, Kiririsha, Pinikir, Manzat, Inanna, Belit and Shiashum goddesses and gods like Napratep, Nabu, Humban, Sunkir Rishara and Kilah Supir and wedded deities such as Hishmitik and Ruhuratir, Shinmut and Inuru, Adad and Shala and Shushmushi and Beit at Chogha zanbil.

At this time 1250 BC god Inshusinak had a temple in Susa but for some reason the king Untash-Napirisha decided to develop an existing temple in Choqa Zanbil in to a large complex with a ziggurat. Some speculate that through Dur-Untash the king intended to unify Elam (which had mostly been a confederation of separate states in the high lands and the low lands each with their own god) by bringing most of the important gods to one place. Others speculate that he was thinking along the lines of making a new religious order by braking with the past, abandoning the temples in Susa and making a new religious center at Dur-Uuntash. whatever his aims it seems that the bureaucracy did not share his views, as upon his death development of Dur-Untash was stopped  and the place lost its splendor, however the site was not abandoned and continued to be occupied until it was destroyed by the Assyrian king Asurbanipal in 640 BCE.

We have examples of this type of behavior in Egypt (Amenhotep IV), or much nearer in Iran, building of the city of soltaniyeh which fell out of favor on king’s death.  It is interesting to note that the Achaemedies, perhaps on the advice of their Elamite advisors kept their main city in Susa and but built a holly city (its functionality is in dispute) in takhte-jamshid (parse)

The among top gods of Elam, being god of light and darkness, makes one wonder whether Zoroastrian religion was at all influenced by Elamite religious concepts.

The other very interesting point in Eamite religion is the use of bull, in Zoroastrian religion a bull appears out of nowhere, this makes one wonders about a connection between the Zoroastrian cow and Elamite bull, or perhaps an indirect connection such as through an older religion Mithraism?

There is also a curious parallel between shamanism main concepts and use of ziggurat as a religious center. The shamans were individual who in many places, world over, performed religious ceremonies. shamans were usually stand alone persons without any organization who by some quark of personality were able to put themselves in trance, the shaman in trance would travel to the upper world, where the gods lived, to get guidance say on the where about of the game or rain, or they could travel to the underground world where dead soles lived, to cure sickness, or increase fertility etc. a three called three of life connected the upper world, earth and the lower world. Shamans used a ladder to represent the three of life to ascend to the upper world and the ladder had 3, 5, 7 or 9 steps

Later on as civilization grow and city states appeared, perhaps those responsible for governing of the cities began to realize the value of shamans powers over the humans (superego) and could not leave this power in the hands of a half mad man not trained in arts of politics and government so gradually the three of life was replaced by a step pyramid with 3, 5, 7, 9 steps and the shaman replaced by organized priesthood

The Mesopotamians believed that the pyramid temples connected heaven and earth and the ziggurat at Babylon was known as Etemenankia or “House of the Platform between Heaven and Earth”.

In Dur-Untash the middle area was built to house the temples of about 21(or 19) most important gods of Elam, perhaps piles of unused bricks testify to this intent

No: 39

The middle area approximately 400m by 400 m had three sets of temple complexes, the xxx, the yyy and the zzz. The two temples at the north side of the middle area (xxx) belong to two gods of high lands (Anshan),   Ruhurater and Hishmitick. The separation of the temples of the gods of the highland from other gods makes one wonder whether this was a deliberate attempt to avoid any undesired contact between the followers of high land and lowland gods. In contrast we see the two main mother gods from different parts of kingdom having temples next to one other

NO: 40

On the eastern side there are two sets of temples the yyy and zzz

No: 41

The yyy temple is dedicated to four pairs of female gods known as Napratep,

No: 42

This fact is somewhat verified by the two sets of cylindrical columns for placing of gods statue in each of the four shrines. In Elamite napratep means the provider so they were provider gods, and most probably they where goddess’s

Next to Napratep there are three Rectangular temples all three similar in shape, a square temple surrounded by a rectangular wall, with about 4 rooms on one side of the temple and with a footpath approaching the temple at an angle

The first temple on the right belongs to pinikir old mother goddess of Susa, one cylindrical platform for placing of the statue of the god

The second temple, strangely, belongs to two Babylonian gods, god of storm Adad and his wife Ninali

And the third temple belongs to Elamite goddess Manzat and Simut patriotic god of country

The outer area

The Elamites appear on histories radar around about 3000 BC (although the record of settlements in this regions goes way back to 4500+ )perhaps the Elamites are the continuation of the early stealers whose pottery is spread all the way to Mediterranean sea, they called themselves “hal-tam-ti” but the Assyrian and the Hebrew bible refers to their land as Elam (meaning high land)  the bible also refers to them as sons of Elam, son of sham. the Persians called them hoja (hujiya)which in time it changed to current day Khuzestan.

Elamites appeared in the region at same time as the great civilizations of the mankind such as the Sumerians, Egyptians and they where an independent majored player in the rejoin till 650 BC, their origin and ethnicity is in dispute, but it is believed that they were of the same race as the lolobies and some other minor groups, if that is of any help.

They spoke Elamite and developed their own writing ( meaning that the culture must have existed for at least a 1000 years) apparently independently but at the same time as the Sumerians, most probably the development of writing in summer and Elam had an effect on one another through trade

The land of the Elamites ,Elam, covered the low lands of current day Khuzestan,  with the capital Susa or sousa in Greek, and the mountains of current day lurestan and bakhtiyari, referred to by the Elamites as anzan or Anshan, and a long list of Elamite kings(145) ruled this land

The high mountains were source of iron, precious stones, horses, wood and this was probably one of the reasons for the bitter feuding between Elam and Sumerians and those that followed through their existence

The Elamites were very brave people and when Alexander tried to pass through their territory they demanded a ransomed which Alexander refused. Eventually Alexander passed through the Elamite territory but not without difficulty

No: 43

The area between the outer wall and the middle wall, currently houses three palaces, water purification complex and a single temple, it must be remembered that about 75 percent of the 400 acre has not been excavated

The outer area, near the northern gate, holds the royal palaces (2 and 3), a funerary palace containing subterranean royal tombs in from of underground volts, a temple dedicated to god nusku and perhaps a Northern gate

N0: 44

No: 45

The northern gate on the outer wall – looking southward

No: 46

The northern gate on the outer wall – looking southward, the exit gate

No: 47

The map of royal palace with a burial chamber

No: 48


NO: 49

View of the entrance to the burial chamber, with a vaulted ceiling. Numbers of skeleton found in this chamber were burnt?

No: 50

What is left of royal palace number 3

No: 51

The outer wall was made of sun dried bricks 40*40*10 cm, with a length of approximately 4 kilometers. Generally the outer wall is in a bad condition. View of the eroded section of the outer wall on the east side,

No: 52

On the north east side of the outer wall there is a drainage reservoir to the network of underground water collecting pipes connect

No: 53

The reservoir consist of two sections, a shallow part that is situated inside of the outer wall

No: 54

And a larger reservoir which is situated outside the outer wall, until a few years ago the reservoir was believed to be a water purification complex, but now it’s believed to be the end of the drainage system, but this does not explain its complexity, perhaps a septic tank?

The Elamites were very fond of gardens, and had many scared gardens a skill that the medians and Persians later developed into their famous Persian paradise gardens but there is little information on the scared gardens of Elam or of Dur-Untash.

No: 55

at about 12.00 pm we departed from dur-untash, and 3 kilometers from Dur-Untash on the way to shushtar we saw a huge flat top hill at a place that today is called deh-no, none of the locales had any idea as to what it was, there were no sign saying anything about it, but latter we found that this is a large Elamite site with finds dating back to BC 4000. Some inscribed baked bricks found on the surface indicate that Igi-halki, Šutruk Nahhunte and Kutir Nahhunte made a temple for the Elamite goddess Manzat in this place. This forgotten hill is the important Elamite city of Hopeshen, none of the locals could supply us with any information on this hill except that it was perhaps ancient?

NO: 56

We continued on the road for another 35 kilometers and it took us to shushtar


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