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The impressive Chogha-Zanbil is one of the outstanding temples of Elamite which dates back to 1250 BCE that has been built by Elamite monarch.
Chogha-Zanbil is one of the ancient monuments of Iran which have been registered as a world Heritage site back in 1979 as a first Iranian world heritage site. This temple resembles the unique architecture that are used in Egyptian and Mayan temples. In fact, this temple was built by order of Untashgal monarch in respect with goddess of Inshushinak and the highest room of the temple belonged to her.
In regards with its name several stories have been mentioned but the old and original name of this town and its ziggurat was Dur-Untash which according to the inscriptions discovered at the foundations of the ruined building in that town derived its name from Untash-Gal, the Elamite king (1275-1240 BCE) who was the founder of that town.
This name has been repeatedly mentioned in Elamite and Assyrian inscriptions. The word `Dur’ in the Akkadian and Elamite languages means a town or an enclosed and distinct region. According to the chronicles of the Old Testament, an ancient king named Kedor Laomer in Elam succeeded to extend his domain as far as Palestine (Genesis, Chapter 14).
The king, his queen and the crown prince accompanied by his courtier’s approach ziggurat mounted on royal chariots. While a large congregation of common people are watching the procession, they disembark from their chariots and enter the ziggurat precincts from the royal gate. Inside the ziggurat Shaten, the chief priest pours water on the king’s hands by a pitcher. The ceremony commences with the musicians playing religious melodies by harp, lute and flute.
The animals chosen for sacrifice are killed in 14 platforms built like short headless pyramids beside the temple of In-Shushinak. Then the king and his companions ascend to the second floor of the building by stairs. Here the king pours a special syrup on the altar for the intended god and accompanied by the chief priest and a small number of his attendants he ascends to the third floor.
In the third floor some of his attendants remain and only the chief priest and his close associates ascend to the fourth floor. In this flour the close associates remain and the king, accompanied only by the chief priest, ascends the main temple of the ziggurat in the fifth floor.
The Choghazanbil ziggurat (building by Dur-Untash) is the only surviving ziggurat in Iran and is one of the most important remnants of the Elamite civilization. The Elamite citizens were a nation who lived in Iran about 2500 years BCE and succeeded to announce their existence at Awan (now called Shoushtar, a town in Khouzestan Province).
This Ziggurat temple, are built in 5 floors and its unique architecture made it quite fascinating for the people. For example, corners of this square shaped temple are facing to directions of North, south, East and west but the walls in facing toward other directions. This temple has been located in the center of the town as it was 3 circular shaped city into each other. In fact, first round used by ordinary people, 2nd ones by priests and military people and in the center of the city, this temple used by kings and royal family despite having several small and tiny temples for different purposes.
It’s well noted right in front of main entrance there are 14 platforms of pillars were for ceremonial programs especially on opening days of this temple. Another point we can make is about having water system for this city that people of this city had this knowledge of hydraulic science as they led water from Dex river toward this city because of having the same level as city.
Since long time ago because of flowing of branches of Dez and Karun rivers and the region’s proximity to Shusa and trade routes and to Mesopotamia, that region had gained special significance. King Untash-Gal diverted the Karkheh river water through a canal to Chogha-zanbil which canal still survives.