JENJĀN, coll. Jenjun, “Jinjun,” village in the Dašt-e Rostam-e Yek plain, at the western end of the Fahliān area of the Mamasani region, western Fārs (lat. 30°13.532 N, long. 51°26.792 E, 844 m above sea-level; Razmārā, Farhang VII, p. 65). It has given its name to a small (ca. 30 x 5 m, 2 m high, 0.15 ha) archeological site of the Achaemenid period. Jinjun is ca. 125 km northwest of Shiraz and 290 km southeast of Ahwāz (Atarashi and Horiuchi, p. 1). Also known as Tappeh Servan or Qaleh Kali, Jinjun is site MS 46 in the recently completed archeological survey of the Dasht-e Rostam-e Yek and Do plains (Zeidi, McCall, and Khosrowzadeh, p. 166).

Jinjun was first documented by Ernst Herzfeld, who visited the site on 10 April 1924 and was immediately struck by the presence of several Persepolitan-type column bases protruding from the ground, leading him somewhat rashly to suggest that Jinjun held the ruins of an entire Achaemenid city (Herzfeld, 1926, p. 258). In 1935 the site was visited by M. Aurel Stein (Stein, pp. 34-36) but it was not until 1959 that a brief, five-day excavation was undertaken by the Second Tokyo University-Iran Archeological Expedition (Atarashi and Horiuchi, Pl. X). In addition to three column bases, the Japanese excavators discovered stepped stone merlons and a small area of flagstone paving (PLATE I; PLATE II), suggesting the presence of “a small royal pavilion of the Achaemenian dynasty … along the road connecting Susa and Persepolis” (Atarashi and Horiuchi, p. 13). In 2003 a joint expedition from the Iranian Center for Archeological Research and the University of Sydney (Australia) re-visited Jinjun, and in the winter of 2007 (31 January-24 February) initiated new excavations at the site.

The bell-shaped column bases, originally discovered by the Japanese expedition and re-excavated by the Iranian-Australian team, bear decoration in the form of sixteen, seven-petalled palmettes that alternate with fluting (PLATE III). Although generally reminiscent of Persepolitan column bases, those of Jinjun have no exact counterparts at either Persepolis or Susa. Their dimensions, however, are nearly as large as those used in the Hall of 100 Columns at Persepolis: A-I was 75.8 cm high, with a base diameter of 1.254 m and an upper surface diameter of 79.4 cm; A-IV was 93 cm high, with a base diameter of 1.24 m and an upper surface diameter of 93 cm, Atarashi and Horiuchi, p. 10. These suggest that the building at Jinjun to which the bases belonged was tall, whatever its surface area may have been.

Other finds from the Iranian-Australian excavations included two large fragments of a limestone door lintel or frame; a great quantity of domestic Achaemenid pottery; half a dozen fragments of élite stone vessels, in a variety of pink, white, and dark green stones (possibly marble, travertine, and serpentine; Potts, Petrie et al., Fig. 12); and a similar quantity of extremely fine, colorless glass cup or bowl rims. The stone vessel fragments from Jinjun are every bit as fine as the so-called royal table ware discovered by Schmidt in the Treasury at Persepolis (Schmidt, p. 94; Simpson, pp. 104-31). Large quantities of coarse, heavy pottery, probably fragments of storage jars, far outnumbered the modest number (under a dozen) of classic Achaemenid ‘tulip bowls’ found at the site. Finally, a number of extremely fine metal objects were recovered, including a needle and pin of tin bronze, as well as corroded iron nails, studs and hook fragments that may have been door furniture.

The general impression that Jinjun may have been a way station on the road between Persepolis and Susa has not been altered by the Iranian-Australian excavations. However, the placement of the site, on the southern side of the Fahliān river (within sight of the Elamite rock relief at Kurangun, and the multi-period site of Tol-e Spid), just below the mountainside, suggests it was intentionally situated away from the main road, in a protected position. The presence of demonstrably élite architecture and finds (glass, stone vessel fragments, tin bronze) suggests that the site may well have been visited by members of the royal party traveling between the Achaemenid capitals. Many of the “J” texts from the Persepolis fortification archive mention commodities “dispensed before the king” or other members of the royal family, including Darius’s wife, Irtašduna (PF 730-732), his son Arsames (PF 733-734, 2035), and his brother-in-law (and father-in-law) Gobryas (PF 688). These disbursements occurred at various places, including Kurdušum, Bessitme, and Liduma, but while Arfa’i (p. 43) has identified Jinjun with Liduma, and Herzfeld suggested it was perhaps Taōke (Herzfeld, 1968, p. 178), it is still too early to say what the ancient name of Jinjun may have been (Potts, in press).



A. Arfa’i, “La grande route Persépolis-Suse: Une lecture des tablettes provenant des Fortifications de Persépolis,” Topoi 9, 1999, pp. 33-45.

K. Atarashi and K. Horiuchi, Fahlian I. The Excavation at Tape Suruvan, 1959, Tokyo, 1963.

E. Herzfeld, “Reisebericht,” ZDMG, N.F. 5, 1926, pp. 225-84.

Idem, The Persian Empire, Wiesbaden, 1968.

D. T. Potts, “The Persepolis Fortification Texts (PFTs) and the Royal Road: Another look at the Fahliyan area,” in P. Briant and W. Henkelman, eds., Archives Persépolis, Paris, forthcoming.

D. T. Potts, A. Asgari Chaverdi, C. A. Petrie, A. Dusting, F. Farhadi, I. K. McRae, S. Shikhi, E. H. Wong, A. Lashkari and A. Javanmard Zadeh, “The Mamasani Archaeological Project, Stage Two: Excavations at Qaleh Kali (Tappeh Servan/Jinjun [MS 46]),” Iran 45, 2007, pp. 287-300.

D. T. Potts and K. Roustaei, The Mamasani Archaeological Project Stage One: A report on the first two seasons of the ICAR - University of Sydney expedition to the Mamasani District, Fars Province, Iran, Tehran, 2006.

E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis II, Chicago, 1957.

St. J. Simpson, “The Royal Table,” in J. Curtis and N. Tallis, eds., Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia, London, 2005, pp. 104-31.

M. A. Stein, Old Routes of Western Iran, London, 1940.

M. Zeidi, B. McCall, and A. Khosrowzadeh, “Survey of Dasht-e Rostam-e Yek and Dasht-e Rostam-e Do,” in Potts, and Roustaei, 2006, pp. 147-68.

(Daniel T. Potts)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 13, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XIV, Fasc. 6, pp. 625-627