Khuzestan Province, Iran
From Abadan we drove north to Khorramshahr which like Abadan is a stone’s throw across the Shatt al-Arab from Iraq. It was virtually levelled during the Iran/Iraq war. Burnt out tanks litter the sides of the road, deliberately left as a reminder. Behind them, tall stands of sugar cane - not an indigenous plant in these parts - is now grown extensively on the flat, once-saline plain.
An ubiquitous sight in Khuzestan.
As was his habit, Ibn Battuta did not mention either the pre-Islamic Susa or Chogha-Zanbil. The former was the winter capital of Elam, an ancient and powerful empire, while Chogha-Zanbil built by the Elamites in 1250 BC, was the largest ziggurat in the world, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It may not look like much now but this massive mudbrick structure faced with brick, was the largest ziggurat in the world when it was built in 1250BC.
It is surprising however that he did not visit the Tomb of Daniel in Susa - a prophet honored by all three monothesitic faiths. The tomb is topped by an unusual and distinctive pyramidal, cone-shaped roof which is visible from the remains of Susa.
The Tomb of Daniel with its distinctive pyramidal, yet cone-shaped roof.
There really are only remains - from 1844 until 1979 a French archaeological mission excavated the site and most of what was uncovered is in the Louvre in Paris. In 550BC Elam became a satrapy (governorate) of the Achaemenid Empire and its capital, Susa, continued as winter capital of the Achaemenids. It was customary in Mesopotamia and surrounding regions for a conqueror to built his new capital atop an old one - Susa is said to have yielded 28 layers of civilizations.
A ceremonial bull, one of the few vestiges of the once-proud capital of Susa.
Susa reached its height during the reign of Darius I. His Apadana, or many-columned hall, had 3 porticoes of 12 columns, each of which was 22 meters (68 feet) high. Razed during the reign of Darius’s grandson Artaxerxes I, it was rebuilt under Artaxerxes II but finally burned to the ground a second time by Alexander the Great in 323BC. (Since he also burned Persepolis to the ground Iranians, understandably, do not consider Alexander remotely ‘great’ and call him Alexander the Macedonian.)