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Tchogha Zanbil, located in the province of Khuzestan, is the oldest existing Ziggurat or step temple situated in the Near East, belonging to the Elamite period (2700-539 BC).
The name Tchogha Zanbil, translated as ‘basket mound’ is a significant archaeological site of Iran. The area was destroyed and abandoned in 640 BC and later got covered by sands carried by the river floods. The locals called it a sand hill without knowing what was inside it for almost 2500 years. The construction ended with the death of King Untash-Napirisha but continued to be used till it was destroyed in 640 BC by Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian king. Tchogha Zanbil was later excavated by Roman Ghirshman during the period from 1951 to 1961.
The structure of Tchogha Zanbil can be dated back to 3,300 years ago, built by the then emperor of Elamite, King Untash-Napirisha. The temple was dedicated to their God Inshushinak, regarded as protector of Susa.
The structure was originally called Dur Untash or the ‘town of Untash’, having three concentric walls. The ziggurat occupies the inner area constructed over an earlier temple and dedicated to the main god. The middle area consists of eleven temples dedicated to the lesser gods. The outer area holds the royal palaces and a funeral place for the royal tombs.
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