The excavations of ancient Susa, whose ruins document more than 5,000 years of settlement, themselves have a long history, similar to those of the great Mesopotamian centers of Uruk, Nippur, Babylon, and Nineveh. From the mid-19th century, explorers replaced travelers, and a new stage thus was reached in Near Eastern archeological research.

In 1809, Captains Anglais Monteith and John Macdonald Kinnear noticed a strange “black stone” near the “Tomb of Daniel” (see DĀNIĀL-E NABI iv); the drawing later reproduced by William Kennett Loftus (1857, p. 419) shows that it was probably a kudurru (a boundary stone, often used as the record of a grant of land made by the king) that had been removed from Babylonia as war booty. This was the first archeological evidence known from Susa. The local people considered the object as a talisman on which the prosperity of Khuzestan and its inhabitants depended, and they collected 2,000 tomans (BP 1,000 in the early 19th century) to pay to keep it in place at Susa. Not long after, it was destroyed—according to one version of the story, by an unscrupulous blind man of the Bani Lām tribe and his accomplices, who hoped to enrich themselves with treasure they thought they would find inside.

The visits of Henry C. Rawlinson and Austen Henry Layard. In 1836, Major Rawlinson visited the site briefly and discovered fragments of columns, as well as an inscription by a “king of Susra.” Layard stayed in Khuzestan between 1840 and 1842. He, too, was interested in the famous “black stone” of the Tomb of Daniel, which had already disappeared before Rawlinson’s visit. Within the precinct of the Tomb of Daniel, he noticed small capitals of the Achaemenid type, and near the same monument, on the bank of the Šāhur (Šāvur, Šāur) river, several large steps of a stone staircase. These remnants resembled the six steps of another staircase discovered in 1976 by an inhabitant of the modern city (see Boucharlat and Shahidi, 1987), about 1400 m north of those discovered by Layard.

Among the debris on the banks of the Šāhur, there was a sculpted slab (Layard, 1894, p. 353), perhaps the base of a statue, which is illustrated by Loftus (1857, p. 415; cf. a British Museum copy of the original drawing by Henry A. Churchill, in Curtis, 1993, pp. 14-15 and fig. 12). At the “Acropolis” (Layard’s “great mound”), Layard rapidly copied the cuneiform inscription engraved on a “marble slab,” after which the guides urged him to leave the place, alleging fear of an imminent attack by the Bani Lām.

The work of Colonel Fenwick Williams and William Kennett Loftus (1851-52). Though sparsely mentioned in archeological literature, Loftus’s work marks the beginning of modern exploration of the ruins of Susa. The occasion was an Anglo-Russian mission that was to demarcate the frontiers between Persia and the Ottoman provinces, from the Persian Gulf in the south to the Ararat mountains in the north (see BOUNDARIES i). In 1850, Colonel Fenwick Williams, head of the British delegation for this project, asked the geologist William Kennett Loftus, who had just achieved some results on the Warka (ancient Uruk) site in southern Iraq, to go to Khuzestan and begin excavations at Susa. Despite the intrigues of a hostile population, Henry A. Churchill, the surveyor and interpreter of the British delegation, provided the first map of the site (Loftus, 1857,opposite p. 340). The excavations started in 1851; the first campaign was directed by Williams, the second (1852) by Loftus, under the supervision of now Colonel Henry Rawlinson. The four principal hills of Susa were summarily distinguished as follows: “Šušān the Palace” (which later became the Apadāna), the “Citadel” (Acropolis), the “Great Platform” (the Royal City), and the “Ruins of City” (the Artisans’ City). Thirty-odd trenches were dug in the course of these two campaigns; the most ancient finds published dated from the mid-2nd millennium BCE (Curtis, 1993, pls. 15c, 16b and d) and from the Meso-Elamite period (ibid., pls. 13, 14, 15a, 16b and d); a considerably more ancient fragment of a terracotta cone of Puzur-Inshushinak (ca. 2100 BCE; see ELAM i; ibid., p. 22, pl. 8.8 and 17a) may not be from its original context.

Northeast of Susa, Loftus recognized the Apadāna of the Achaemenid palace. South of the Royal City, another very damaged building revealed a column base with a trilingual inscription (A2Sb) of Artaxerxes II (r. 404-359 BCE; Kent, Old Persian, p. 154; Lecoq, 1997, p. 273) which is not attested elsewhere. It was later retrieved by the Dieulafoys and is now in the Louvre Museum. Less than 100 m to the southwest, another re-used Achaemenid base bears the inscription “Pythagoras” (Loftus, 1857, pp. 402-3).

Despite these encouraging discoveries, Rawlinson and the Trustees of the British Museum did not finance any further excavations at Susa. Loftus returned to Warka (1854), and in 1854-55 he worked at Nineveh for the British Museum.

The work of Marcel and Jane Dieulafoy (1885-86). More than thirty years after Loftus, Marcel-Auguste Dieulafoy and Jane Dieulafoy were to be the first French investigators of the ruins of Susa. They thus initiated a period that was to last until 1979, with interruptions in 1887-97 and during World Wars I and II.

Marcel Dieulafoy, a civil engineer, had already traveled to the Middle East in 1881. His research there led to the publication of his L’art antique de la Perse (1884-89), which made him a natural choice to resume the excavations of Susa, for which he had received funds from the Department of National Museums. The plan of the site in question would be carefully worked out by Charles Babin, but only covering the three main hills (Acropolis, Apadāna, and Royal City); it does include all the sections explored by Dieulafoy (1893, plan II).

In the first campaign (March-May 1885), Dieulafoy investigated all three hills but worked more on the Apadāna, where Loftus had already recognized the hypostyle room of the palace. Dieulafoy organized his excavations with a view to seeking at Susa a replica of the Persepolis palace, which he knew well. Although the vast complex of Susa was quite different from the Persepolis site, this fact did not prevent him from sharing with us the breathtaking visions of his occasionally fantastic reconstructions. In a trench opened 60 m south of the southernmost columns of the hypostyle, there appeared elements of the “frieze of lions” (see LOUVRE MUSEUM).

During the second campaign (1886), several trenches were dug at the Royal City. On the eastern side, towards “Trench P” (J. Dieulafoy, 1888, plan on p. 87), the existence of a city gate was assumed, which Jean Perrot was to uncover about 90 years later. At the Apadāna, the “frieze of archers” (M. Dieulafoy, 1893, pp. 280-85) was discovered.

On a little hill about 4 km northeast of Susa—the exact site is not known—Dieulafoy uncovered a building that he called by the Old Persian term āyadana “sanctuary, place of cult,” which is borrowed from the Bisotun inscription of Darius I (DB I.64; Kent Old Persian, p. 169). However, the Achaemenid date and the purpose suggested by Dieulafoy are no longer tenable. Some scholars regard it as a stately residence, more or less resembling Greco-Bactrian buildings; others consider it as a temple, with no further explanation. The date is generally presumed to be the late 3rd or early 2nd century BCE. However, the technique used for the foundation of this edifice (gravel) and the re-use of elements of Achaemenid architecture make it possible to consider it as a reconstruction of an older monument (see Steve et al., 2002, cols. 389-90, 500).


The Excavations of Jacques de Morgan (1897-1912). During an exploratory mission in Persia (1889-91), Jacques de Morgan visited Susa in 1891. “It is from these countries,” he was to say later (1905, p. 6), “that we must expect the solution to the great problem of origins.” In 1895, René de Balloy, the French minister in Tehran, acquired from Nāṣer-al-Din Shah the French monopoly for archeological excavations in Persia—the result of ten years of effort and a cost to the treasury of the Third Republic of more than 50,000 francs. The agreement was renewed five years later, at which time it awarded France an exclusive and perpetual monopoly for carrying out archeological explorations all over Persia, and possession of all objects discovered in Susiana; a compensation in value by weight of all precious metals was to be returned to Persia (see DÉLÉGATION ARCHÉOLOGIQUES FRANÇAISES). Meanwhile, the Délégation en Perse was created (1897), and Jacques de Morgan, who at the time was head of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt, was asked to assume control of this new institution. He arrived in Susa on 16 December 1897 and started excavations two days later; work continued under his direction until his resignation in 1912. The earliest collaborators were the Assyriologist Father Vincent Scheil, O.P., the Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier, Joseph-Etienne Gautier, and Georges Lampre, who had been resident in Persia since 1887 (for subsequent members of the Délégation, see Spycket, 1997).

De Morgan was a man of various talents. He was a geologist, prehistorian, and naturalist, as well as a talented cartographer, fine draughtsman, ethnologist, archeologist, and even numismatist, a scholars whose sure understanding of things, vast knowledge, and great energy were generally admired. Yet he also thought of excavating the “Citadel” (i.e., Acropolis)—the main focus of work up to 1908—with a series of trenches 5 m wide and 5 m deep, which were positioned with the aim of revealing the stratigraphy of all periods of history at the site. Fortunately, the extent of the Acropolis was too great for completion of this formidable aim, which was more an engineering project than archeology.

The work of 1897-1902. At the southern end of the Acropolis, five underground galleries, evenly spaced vertically, were dug from the very start of the excavations The objective was to obtain information about the nature of the deep levels before exploring them in open trenches; then in 1897-98, nine open trenches were made there (de Morgan et al., 1900, p. 52, fig. 8). The most remarkable finds were the “Obelisk of Manishtushu ” and the “Stele of Naram-Sin” with the inscription of King Shutruk-Nahhunte of Elam (r. ca. 1190-55 BCE) on it, indicating that it was war booty taken from Sippar (Scheil, 1901, pp. 40-42). Among the objects from the Meso-Elamite period were an incomplete “bronze table” supported by five divinities, a fragment of a bas-relief in bronze, as well as several Kassite kudurru (for descriptions and provenances in trenches 7, 7a, and 7b of the Acropolis, see de Morgan et al., 1900, fig. 167 and pp. 141-82). De Morgan also provided an initial summary of “archaic ceramics” (Susa I and Proto-dynastic) collected in the deep levels (ibid., pp. 183-90). Two trenches were also opened in the Royal City and seven in the Apadāna, among which no. 9 has revealed the system of foundations used by the architects of Darius’s palace (ibid., pp. 75-76).

The year 1901 marked the discovery of the “Offering to Didymaean Apollo” (publ. Bernard Haussoullier in de Morgan et al, 1905, pp. 155-65). Not far from a rich tomb of the late Achaemenid period (Jéquier et al., 1905, pp. 29-58; Tallon, 1992), a small square sanctuary in enameled brick was found. It had been built by Shutruk-Nahhunte II (r. 717-699 BCE; Jéquier et al., 1905, pp. 34-35, fig. 66; for the inscription of the foundation text, see Scheil, 1904, pp. 62-66). Recovered from more ancient levels were fragments of the “Stele of Untash-Napirisha” (de Morgan et al., 1900, pl. III.d; Soutzo et al., 1911, pl. VI.1-3; Amiet, 1966, pp. 374-77; de Miroschedji, 1981b, pl. 8), as well as proto-Elamite tablets. The most significant archeological discovery was the “Code of Hammurabi,” found in three pieces in January 1902 (de Morgan et al, 1905, pp. 28-29, pl. V), not far from the Obelisk of Manishtushu and the Stele of Naram-Sin (cf. Soutzo et al., 1911, plan facing p. 72); it was published a few months later by Scheil (1902, pp. 11-162).

The work of 1902-08. Toward the western center of the Acropolis, the religious complex of the Inshushinak and Nin-hursag temples was cleared. The two sanctuaries both revealed eight concealed recesses, each of which contained a foundation figurine and a tablet bearing the same inscription by Shulgi, the second king of IIIrd Dynasty Ur (r. ca. 2094-2047). The position of these sixteen deposits is indicated on plans that are hardly intelligible (Scheil, 1902, pp. 68, 70); only one figurine has been published (by Roland de Mecquenem in de Morgan et al, 1905, p. 63 and pl. XI), and the text of the Inshushinak temple tablets (Scheil, 1905, pp. 21-22 and pl. 6.2).

The two buildings underwent numerous modifications, attested by several pavements and bricks inscribed with rulers’ names (whose reading remains inexact), as well as by the discovery, in the northern sector of Nin-hursag’s section, of the bronze plate with the ritual scene called sit shamshi (Soutzo et al., 1911, pp. 143-51), which the inscription attributes to Shilhak-Inshushinak (r. ca. 1150-20; Scheil, 1911, pp. 58-59, pl. 11.1). A further discovery was the statue of Napir-Asu, wife of Untash-Napirisha (r. ca. 1340-1300), the builder of the new city of Dur-Untash, which is better known by the modern name of Chogha Zanbil (see ČOḠĀ ZANBIL; Jéquier et al., 1905,pp. 245-50 and pls. XV-XVI). The two temples of the Acropolis were situated, one to the west, the other to the east of the High Terrace of the Agade Period (ca. 2335-2155) (Steve and Gasche, 1971, pp. 46, 59-62, and plan 1 at end), and what was left of them was razed to the ground by the de Morgan excavations. The High Terrace may have had an Ur III phase or, more probably, contained a first ziggurat, the remains of which were described as a “nucleus in unbaked bricks and crushed earth” (see, e.g., Soutzo et al., 1911, p. 65).

In the same area, but in a particularly unclear context, a rather motley heap was found in 1904, which some described as “foundation offerings,” and others as “funerary deposits.” This included, notably, small lamb bearers in gold and silver, and a sharpening stone with a gold handle in the shape of a lion, as well as many intact or broken objects, jewelry, statuettes, votive arms, utensils, nails (de Morgan et al., 1905, pp. 61-136), and perhaps at this time the head of a statue (ibid., p. 125, fig. 448) which, sixty-four years later, joined its body (excavated in 1907) at the Louvre Museum (Spycket, 1968). This was the so-called “statue of the goddess Narundi,” a name based on an interpretation by Walther Hinz (1962, p. 16), rather than on the inscriptions engraved on it (cf. Scheil and Legrain, 1913, pp. 17-19 and pl. 3).

In 1907-08, virgin soil was reached 28 m under the surface of the Acropolis. In a trench dug southeast of the hill, there appeared a “necropolis,” of which the claimed extent, shape, and number of tombs were to change considerably from one publication to the next (see Steve et al, 2002, col. 404); these tombs provided “two or three thousand (vases) covered with paintings” (Pottier et al., 1912, p. 7), that is, practically all the vases among the beautiful ceramics of Susa I. In the same sector, but at a more recent level, there appeared two “cached vases” (Soutzo et al., 1911, pl. 5; Pottier et al., 1912, pp. 23-24, fig. 117; p. 114, no. 287; Allotte de la Füye et al., 1934, pp. 189-90, fig. 21). At the Apadāna a trench was dug southeast of the hypostyle room, and the first soundings were carried out on the hills of the Artisans’ City.

The work of 1908-12. Roland de Mecquenem, a mining engineer who had been introduced to de Morgan by Scheil, arrived at Susa in 1903. He took charge of the excavations in the absence of de Morgan from 1908 to April 1911.

At the Acropolis, excavations continued in depth, and the sector of the Susa I “necropolis” was enlarged. In the inexhaustible sector of the Nin-hursag temple, fragments of a statue of Puzur-Inshushinak with double inscription in Linear Elamite (see ELAM iv) and Akkadian were discovered in 1909 (Scheil and Legrain, 1913, pp. 7-16, pls. 1-2). Many proto-Elamite (see ELAM iii) tablets were found at 10-15 m depth. At the “Apadāna,” work resumed south of the hypostyle room (de Mecquenem, 1910, pp. 45-47) and east of the palace, where bricks of the “Archers’ Frieze” had been re-used in the building of Islamic-period conduits. In the central courtyard, enameled bricks discovered in 1911 led to restoration the motif of “two facing sphinxes.” Information about work in the “Royal City” is found in Mecquenem’s “Mission Report” for 1912 (National Archives, Paris, AN F17 17246); discoveries included about twelve tablets, and, on the southeast edge of the hill, an 40-meter enclosed precinct was uncovered.

De Morgan resigned on 12 October 1912, stating reasons of health, but in fact making a dignified response to charges of mismanagement of funds, etc., fomented by L. C. Watelin (dismissed in 1903) and Lampre (dismissed in 1907), who compiled “their complaints and accusations in a pamphlet that they distributed widely in the scholarly world and to Parliament” (de Mecquenem, 1980, p. 20).


The excavations of Roland de Mecquenem (1913-39). A week after de Morgan’s resignation, the Délégation en Perse was dissolved; Roland de Mecquenem and Father Vincent Scheil then worked jointly within the framework of the Mission Archéologique de Susiane. The working methods remained unchanged, and excavations continued at the Acropolis, but principal operations shifted to the Apadāna and the Royal City. It is difficult to follow the progress of the excavations over this long period; only overall surveys that combine several campaigns are available. World War I interrupted the work, which was not resumed until 1920.

(1) Acropolis. Sounding 1. Begun in 1913, this sounding was resumed in 1920-21 and reached the level of Susa I (Allotte de la Füye et al., 1934, pp. 179-88).

Sounding 2 (southeast of the Acropolis). This involved enlargement of an old trench and exploration of “five levels of excavations,” at varying depths, in order to reach virgin soil (ibid., pp. 188-206, fig. 20, section; de Mecquenem et al., 1943, pp. 5-34). It yielded pottery of the Susa I and “II style” (= Proto-dynastic/Susa IV), a dish with inlays in white paste, proto-Elamite tablets, dishes in aragonite and in alabaster, and bullae with seal impressions.

Central sounding. Excavations were resumed in 1909-10 in the sector of the Nin-hursag temple. There was only a mass of “piled-up earth” with decorative nails in it (de Mecquenem et al., 1943, p. 34); this might be the eastern edge of the “mass of unbaked bricks” situated in the center of the mound, which was later known as the “High Terrace.”

(2) Apadāna. The program here was more or less followed until 1939. The aim was to clear the Achaemenid palace and, east of it, what was called an Elamite “necropolis” (but in fact was not; see Steve and Gasche, 1996, pp. 329-31 and n. 1). In the latter sector, an aqueduct had been built for Darius’s palace with molded bricks quarried from a temple built more than 600 years earlier by Kutir-Nahhunte II (r. ca. 1155-50) and Shilhak-Inshushinak (r. ca. 1150-20; de Mecquenem, 1947, pl. 1.2). In the palace area proper, the excavators only found a pavement 20 m x 20 m (de Mecquenem, 1947, p. 13). In 1947, de Mecquenem presented a summary of the works carried out on the Apadāna (ibid., pp. 1-119) and a reconstruction of the palace (ibid., plan II on pp. 24-25).

(3) Royal City.In 1913-14, new worksites were opened here. These were extended after World War I, especially those along the southwestern edge of the hill; the “first and second soundings” and the excavations of the “Donjon” mound (Allotte de la Füye et al., 1934, pp. 206-37 and 222-37; Mecquenem et al., pp. 41-69 and 69-137) left deep scars on the site.

In 1928 and 1929, vaulted tombs were found with portraits of heads in polychrome unbaked earth; and during the 1930-31 campaign, a Sasanid coin hoard was discovered (Allotte de la Füye et al., 1934, pp. 68-76; Gyselen, 1979). In the sector of the Donjon, excavations continued between 1929 and 1939, and several sections of an “Achaemenid enclosure” were discovered. The end of 1932 marked the discovery of a Sasanid palace, of which the foundations appeared to go back to the Achaemenid period (Allotte de la Füye et al., 1934, pp. 222-26; de Mecquenem et al., 1943, pp. 70-74; de Mecquenem et al., 1947, pp. 82-85, pl. 6; regarding this hypothesis, see Steve et al., 2002, cols. 486-87). Under this palace and down to virgin soil, the excavations revealed hundreds of tombs of the late 4th and the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE (de Mecquenem et al., 1943, pp. 74-126). De Mecquenem’s unclear interpretation attributed them all to a “funerary mound” (ibid., p. 74), but he also pointed out the presence of other structures, housing, and non-funerary objects (ibid., pp. 126-27, 107, 135-37). Despite the muddled presentation of the remains, the Donjon provides the earliest testimonies of a population at Susa outside its earliest centers, the Acropolis and the Apadāna; the Royal City was to expand gradually from this nucleus.

(4)Artisans’ City. More modest worksites were opened here from 1926 on (de Mecquenem, 1980, p. 35). During the 1932-33 season, tesserae were excavated from soundings near the center of the hill (Allotte de la Füye et al., 1934, p. 178, fig. 1; 239-44). Soon after were found, toward the western edge of the mound, ordinary interment burials, fragments of Parthian sacophagi, and underground vaults (Mecquenem et al., 1943, pp. 137-38).


The excavations by Roman Ghirshman, 1946-67 (FIGURE 1). In view of the importance of his work at Susa and in Susiana, Ghirshman once more obtained the status of “Delegation” in 1966, under the condition of not making it a pretext to ask for additional credits. He regularly published preliminary reports in the Revue d’Assyriologie, Syria,and, above all, in Arts asiatiques. For the overall results of his activity, reference must be made to the volumes of which he was the author or project managerin the Mémoires de la Mission archéologique en Iran (vols. 36-38) and Mémoires de la Délégation archéologique française en Iran (vols. 39-47, 50, 53, 57).

(1) Royal City. When Ghirshman took charge of the Mission in 1946, one of his priorities was to work out a stratigraphy of the recent periods of Susa, a task often neglected by his predecessors. He therefore opened the great stratigraphic site “VR A” north of the “Royal City,” which was to reveal Islamic, Sasanid, Parthian-Hellenistic, and Achaemenid levels (I-VIII); farther down, he found Neo-Elamite tombs dug out from a Neo- or Meso-Elamite level (IX), two further Meso-Elamite levels (X and XI) and four from the Sukkalmah period (ca. 1880-1450 BCE, according to the low chronology proposed by Gasche et al., 1998). The most ancient of these (level XV) appears to go back to the Siwe-palar-huppak period, contemporary with Hammurabi of Babylon (r. 1696-54 BCE); these last remains were excavated during the 20th campaign (1965-66). Cached at level XII (cf. Steve et al., 1980, pp. 123-24) were discovered a group of literary tablets (publ. René Labat and Dietz Edzard, 1974); at the same level, there surfaced a legal text with the seal of Kidinu (ca. 1450 BCE), the first sovereign of a lineage which followed the long dynasty of the Sukkalmah.

To complete the stratigraphy from the beginning of the 2nd millennium, between Siwe-palar-huppah, roughly, and the beginning of the Simashki/Ur III dynasties, Ghirshman chose a stage within de Mecquenem’s “2nd sounding,” southwest of the “Royal City” (VR B).

(2) Apadāna. Seventeen major and minor soundings were carried out on this hill, and some limited work was done in the palace. A project that was slightly more modest than “VR A” was supposed to shed light on the approaches to the hypostyle room of Darius’s palace (FIGURE 1, nos. 24-27). But all the work done from this point of view invalidated the hypothesis that there would be a foundation of the type found under the Apadāna at Persepolis, and likewise the idea of access by stairs. On the other hand, it was shown, at shallow depth, that there were installations of the Susa I periods (with a section of an enclosing wall), the Uruk period (ca. 4000-3100), and the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE (Steve and Gasche, 1990).

(3) Acropolis. In 1954, Robert H. Dyson (1966) sounded the deep layers there (FIGURE 1, no. 23), and in 1963 Jean Perrot opened a survey trench (FIGURE 1, no. 29). In 1965, Marie-Joseph Steve for the first time established a stratigraphic sequence from the Agade Period to Susa I (FIGURE 1, no. 31; see also below).

(4) Artisans’ City. Ten soundings were made, seven of them on the western border (FIGURE 1, nos. 11-13, 16, 19, 21-22). The most important one, known as the “Persian Achaemenid village” (Ghirshman, 1954), has led to numerous controversial interpretations. Further east is an early Islamic mosque, which was later investigated under Perrot.

The excavations of Marie-Joseph Steve (1967-68). Ghirshman retired as head of the Delegation in 1967 and was succeeded by Steve, who continued the excavations that Ghirshman had begun in 1965 in the center of the Acropolis (Steve and Gasche, 1971; FIGURE 1, no. 31). The mass of “unbaked bricks and piled-up earth” mentioned in de Mecquenem’s reports turned out to be a High Terrace. Constantly being remodeled, it served as the center of the religious life of pre-Achaemenid Susa. On top of the terrace, which was originally more than 10 m high, there were still buildings from the 4th and the early 3rd millennium BCE. Unfortunately, more recent structures had been removed in the course of the work done by de Mecquenem and de Morgan. Remains belonging to the entire 3rd millennium were nevertheless preserved north and east of the High Terrace (Steve et al., 2002, cols. 389-90).

Excavations under the direction of Jean Perrot, 1968-79 (FIGURE 2). Jean Perrot assumed the head of the Delegation in 1968, when the work of Steve’s team ended. Perrot was the first archeologist to use modern technique of stratigraphic excavation in Susa. He worked in close cooperation with the Iranian Center of Archeological Research (Sāzmān-e melli-e ḥefāẓat-e āṯār-e bāstāni-e Irān), which provided him with the assistance of professionals as well as students in every phase of the project (cf. Tissot, 1994, p. 239). The worksites were distributed across the whole of Susa; results were published mainly in the fifteen volumes of the Cahiers de la Délégation archéologique française en Iran and occasionally in the reviews Paléorient and Syria.

(1) Acropolis. Working from 1969 on, Alain Le Brun (1971, 1978a, 1978b) established, in the sounding “Acropolis I,” a reference stratigraphy for the 4th and the first half of the 3rd millennium. The transition from counters to tablets with numeric notation, which was to lead to the beginning of writing, is relatively well documented in levels 18 to 16, that is, ca. late 4th millennium BCE (cf. Le Brun and Vallat, 1978).

An attempt at reconstructing the architectonic development of the High Terrace identified by Steve was carried out in the “Acropolis II” site (Canal, 1978).

(2) Apadāna. The clearing of the hypostyle room and the most important sectors of the palace (Perrot and Ladiray, 1972, 1989) led to a considerable addition to documentary knowledge about this prestigious complex, the dimensions of which vie with those of the palace of Babylon. During the 1969-70 campaign, further foundation charters of Darius I (inscriptions DSaa and DSz) were discovered (Vallat, 1971; Lecoq, 1971, pp. 243-45).

On 23 December 1972, while cleaning Islamic installations on the edge of the “Apadāna,” workers came across a “gray angular stone” (Kevran, 1972), which turned out to be the upper part of a statue of Darius I. This sculpture was still in place, with its back against the southern side of what was called the “Darius Gate,” facing the palace (“East Apadana” site). The statue was published by David Stronach (1972, 1974) and Michael Roaf (1974), the inscriptions by François Vallat (1972, 1974) and Jean Yoyotte (1972, 1974).

On the basis of the observations made on the Apadāna-Royal City sites, the hypothesis of a causeway between these two hills has been formulated for the Achaemenid period.

(3) “Chaour Tepe” (Tappa Šāhur). Following the chance discovery of an Achaemenid column base, excavations and surveys between 1969 and 1976 led to discovery of a palatial complex (Labrousse and Boucharlat, 1972; Boucharlat and Labrousse, 1979), which is attributed to Artaxerxes II (r. 404-359 BCE; Vallat, 1979). Above it were Parthian, Hellenistic, Sasanid, and Islamic remains, including a sugar mill (Boucharlat, 1979).

(4) Royal City. Another monument of the Achaemenid royal complex was found northeast of the Royal City; it was somewhat rashly called “Darius’s Propylaea” (Perrot and Ladiray, 1989, pp. 62-63). On the eastern side, facing the Artisans’ City, another Achaemenid gate in unbaked brick was excavated (ibid., pp. 62-65).

With the data acquired on site VR I, Elizabeth Carter (1980) proposed to define the archeological sequence of the 3rd millennium and “on these bases to provide a new interpretation of the material already discovered by previous research” (Steve et al., 2002, col. 402; see also Jan-Waalke Meyer, 1983-84, a review of Carter, 1980). The same stratigraphic objective was held by Pierre de Miroschedji (1981a, 1987) at VR II, where installations from the Meso-Elamite to the Islamic period were discovered.

(5) Artisans’ City. Excavations (Rougeulle, 1984) in the mosque identified by Ghirshman (1947-48) have led to establishing that there were two successive buildings, one probably built in the course of the 7th century CE and the other in the 8th. Less than 100 m from this site, the excavation of the “Eastern Building” took place, which the present author proposes to identify with a ḵanaqāh or Sufi convent (Kervran, 1984).



CDAFI = Cahiers de la Délégation Archéologique Française en Iran.

MDAI = Mémoires de la Délégation Archéologique en Iran.

MDP = Mémoires de la Délégation en Perse.

MMAI = Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique en Iran.

MMAP = Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique de Perse.

François MauriceAllotte de la Füye, N. T. Belaiew, R. de Mecquenem, and J.-M. Unvala, Archéologie, métrologie et numismatique susiennes, MMAP 25, Paris, 1934.

Pierre Amiet, E´lam, Auvers-sur-Oise, France, 1966.

Idem, Glyptique susienne des origines à l’époque des Perses achéménides: Cachets, sceaux-cylindres et empreintes antiques découverts à Suse de 1913 à 1967, 2 vols., MDAI 43, Paris, 1972.

Christian Augé, Raoul Curiel, and Georges Le Rider, Terrasses sacrées de Bard-è Néchandeh et Masjid-i Solaiman: les trouvailles monétaires, MDAI 44, Paris, 1979.

Rémy Boucharlat (in coll. with A. Labrousse), “Une sucrerie d’époque islamique sur la rive droite du Chaour à Suse I: descriptions et essai d’interprétation des structures,”CDAFI 10, 1979, pp. 155-76, 230-34.

R. Boucharlat and Audran Labrousse, “Le palais d’Artaxerxès II sur la rive du Chaour à Suse,” CDAFI 10, 1979, pp. 21-136.

R. Boucharlat and R. Shahidi, “Fragments architecturaux de type achéménide: découvertes fortuites dans la ville de Shoush 1976-1979,” CDAFI 15, 1987, 313-27.

Denis-Armand Canal, “La Haute Terrasse de l’Acropole de Suse,” Paléorient 4, 1978, pp. 169-76.

Elizabeth Carter, “Excavations in Ville Royale I at Susa: The Third Millenium B.C. Occupation,” CDAFI 11, 1980, pp. 11-134.

John Curtis, “William Kennett Loftus and His Excavations at Susa,” Iranica Antiqua 28, 1993, pp. 1-55.

Jane Henriette Dieulafoy, A Suse, journal des fouilles, 1884-1886, Paris, 1888. Marcel-Auguste Dieulafoy, L’art antique de la Perse:Achéménides, Parthes, Sassanides, 5 vols., Paris, 1884-89.

Idem, L’Acropole de Suse d’après les fouilles exécutées en 1884, 1885, 1886 sous les auspices du musée du Louvre, 4 parts, Paris, 1890-92; 4 parts in 1, Paris, 1893.

Robert H. Dyson, “Excavations on the Acropolis at Susa and Problems of Susa A, B and C,” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1966.

Hermann Gasche, La poterie élamite du deuxième millénaire a. C., MDAI 47, Leiden and Paris, 1973.

H. Gasche, J. A. Armstrong, S. W. Cole, and V. G. Gurzadyan, Dating the Fall of Babylon: A Reappraisal of Second-Millennium Chronology, Mesopotamian History and Environment, Series 2, Memoirs 4, Ghent and Chicago, 1998.

Roman Ghirshman, “Une mosquée de Suse du début de l’Hégire,” Bulletin d’études orientales 12, 1947-48, pp. 77-79.

Idem, Village Perse-Achéménide, MMAI 36, Paris, 1954.

Idem, Tchoga Zanbil (Dur-Untash) 1: La ziggurat, MDAI 39, Paris, 1966.

Idem, Tchoga Zanbil (Dur-Untash) 2: Temenos, temples, palais, tombes, Paris, 1968.

Idem, Terrasses sacrées de Bard-è Néchandeh et Masjid-i Solaiman: L'Iran du Sud-Ouest du VIIIe s. av. n. ère au Ve s. de n. ére, MDAI 45, 2 vols., Paris, 1976.

R. Göbl, G. Le Rider, G. C. Miles, and J. Walker, Numismatique susienne: Monnaies trouvées à Suse de 1946 à 1956, MMAI 37, Paris, 1960.

Rika Gyselen, “Un trésor monétaire sassanide tombé dans l’oubli,” in Philippe Gignoux, ed., Pad nâm i Yazdân: études d’épigraphie, de numismatique et d’histoire de l’Iran ancien, Travaux de l’Institut d’études iraniennes 9, 1979, pp. 143-49.

Walther Hinz, “Zur Entzifferung der elamischen Strichschrift,” Iranica Antiqua 2/1, 1962, pp. 1-21.

G. Jéquier, J. de Morgan, E. Gautier, G. Lampre, A. Jouannin, F. M. Allotte de la Fuye, and H. de Morgan, Recherches archéologiques: Troisième série, MDP 8, Paris, 1905.

Monique Kervran, “Le contexte archéologique,” in M. Kervran et al., “Une statue de Darius découverte à Suse,” JA 260, 1972, pp. 235-39.

Idem, “Le bâtiment oriental,” CDAFI 14, 1984, pp. 40-52.

René Labat and Dietz O. Edzard, Textes littéraires de Suse, MDAI 57, Paris, 1974.

Audran Labrousse, and Rémy Boucharlat, “La fouille du palais du Chaour à Suse en 1970 et 1971,” CDAFI 2, 1972, pp. 61-167.

Austen Henry Layard, Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia Including a Residence among the Bakhtiyari and Other Wild Tribes before the Discovery of Nineveh, London, 1894.

Alain Le Brun, “Recherches stratigraphiques à l’Acropole de Suse, 1969-1971” CDAFI 1, 1971, pp. 163-216.

Idem, “Suse, Chantier ‘Acropole I’,” Paléorient 4, 1978a, pp. 177-92. Idem, “Le niveau 17B de l’Acropole de Suse (Campagne de 1972),” CDAFI 9, 1978b, pp. 57-154.

Alain Le Brun and François Vallat, “L’origine de l’écriture à Suse,” CDAFI 8, 1978, pp. 11-52.

Georges Le Rider, Suse sous les Séleucides et les Parthes: Les trouvailles monétaires et l'histoire de la ville, MMAI 38, Paris, 1965.

Pierre Lecoq, Les inscriptions de la Perse achéménide, Paris, 1997.

William Kennett Loftus, Travels and Researches in Chaldaea and Susiana: With an Account of Excavations at Warka, the “Erech” of Nimrod, Shush, “Shushan the Palace” of Esther, in 1849-52, London, 1857.

Roland de Mecquenem, “Compte-rendu sommaire des fouilles de Suse de l’hiver 1909-1910,” Bulletin de la Délégation en Perse 1, 1910, pp. 44-47.

Idem, “Les fouilleurs de Suse,” Iranica Antiqua 15, 1980, pp. 1-48.

R. de Mecquenem et al., Archéologie Susienne, MMAI 29, Paris, 1943.

R. de Mecquenem, L. Le Breton, and M. Rutten, Archéologie susienne, MMAI 30, 2 vols., Paris, 1943-47. Jan-Waalke Meyer, review of Carter, 1980, in Archiv für Orientforschung 29-30, 1983-84, pp. 138-42.

Pierre de Miroschedji, “Fouilles du chantier Ville Royale II à Suse (1975-1977) I: Niveaux élamites,” CDAFI 12, 1981a, pp. 6-136.

Idem, “Le dieu élamite au serpent et aux eaux jaillissante,” Iranica Antiqua 16, 1981b, pp. 1-25.

Idem, (in coll. with N. Desse-Berset and M. Kervran), “Fouilles du chantier Ville Royale II à Suse (1975-1977) II: Niveaux d’époques achéménide, séleucide, parthe et islamiqueʾ,” CDAFI 15, 1987, pp. 11-143.

Jacques de Morgan, Histoire et travaux de la Délégation en Perse du Ministère de l’Instruction publique, 1897-1905, Paris, 1905.

J. de Morgan et al, Recherches archéologiques: Deuxième serie, MDP 7, Paris, 1905.

J. de Morgan, G. Jéquier, and Georges Lampre, Recherches archéologiques. Première série: fouilles à Suse en 1897-1898 et 1898-1899, MDP 1, Paris, 1900.

Jean Perrot and Daniel Ladiray, “Travaux à l’Apadana, 1969-1971,” CDAFI 2, 1972, pp. 13-60.

Idem, “Le palais de Darius,” Dossiers 138, 1989, pp. 56-65.

Edith Porada, Tchoga Zanbil (Dur-Untash) IV: La glyptique, MDAI 42, Paris, 1970.

Edmond Pottier, Jacques de Morgan, and Roland de Mecquenem, Recherches Archéologiques. cinquième série: céramique peinte de Suse et petits monuments de l’époque archaïque, MDP 13, Paris, 1912.

Michael Roaf, “The Subject Peoples on the Base of the Statue of Darius,” CDAFI 4, 1974, pp. 73-160.

Myriam Rosen-Ayalon, La poterie islamique, MDAI 50, Paris, 1974.

Axelle Rougeulle, “La mosquée,” CDAFI 14, 1984, pp. 13-39.

Vincent Scheil, Textes élamites-anzanites (première série), MDP 3, Paris, 1901.

Idem, Textes élamites sémitiques (deuxième série), MDP 4, Paris, 1902.

Idem, Textes élamites-anzanites (deuxième série), MDP 5, Paris, 1904. Idem, Textes élamites-sémitiques (troisième série), MDP 6, Paris, 1903.

Idem, Textes élamites-anzanites (quatrième série), MDP 11, Paris, 1911.

Vincent Scheil and Leon Legrain, Textes élamites-anzanites (cinquième série), MDP 14,Paris, 1913. Michael C. Soutzo et al., Recherches archéologiques (quatrième série), MDP 12, Paris, 1911.

Agnès Spycket, “Une grande déesse élamite retrouve son visage,” Syria 45, 1968, pp. 67-73.

Idem, Les figurines de Suse I. Les figurines humaines. IVe-IIe millénaires av. J.-C., MDAI 52, Paris, 1992.

Idem, “Les collaboraterus de Jacques de Morgan” in Nicole Chevalier, ed., Une mission en Perse 1897-1912, Paris, 1997, pp. 126-31.

Marie-Joseph Steve, Tchoga Zanbil (Dur-Untash) III: Textes élamites et accadiens de Tchoga-Zanbil, MDAI 41,Paris, 1967.

Idem, Nouveaux mélanges épigraphiques: Inscriptions royales de Suse et de la Susiane, MDAI 53, Nice, 1987.

M.-J. Steve and H. Gasche, L’Acropole de Suse: Nouvelles fouilles (Rapport préliminaire), MDAI 46, Leiden and Paris, 1971.

Idem, “Le tell de l’Apadana avant les Achéménides: contribution à la topographie de Suse,” in François Vallat, ed., Contribution à l’histoire de l’Iran: mélanges offerts à Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990, pp. 15-60.

Idem, “L’accès à l’Au-delà, à Suse,” in H. Gasche and Barthel Hrouda, eds., Collectanea Orientalia: histoire, arts de l’espace et industrie de la terre: études offertes en hommage à Agnès Spycket, Neuchâtel and Paris, 1996, pp. 329-48.

M.-J. Steve, H. Gasche, and L. De Meyer (with an annex by P. Amiet), “La Susiane au deuxième millénaire: à propos d’une interprétation des fouilles de Suse,” Iranica Antiqua 15, 1980, pp. 49-154.

M.-J. Steve, Fr. Vallat, and H. Gasche, “Suse,” in Supplément auDictionnaire de la Bible 73, Paris, 2002, cols. 359-511.

David Stronach, “Description and Comment,” in M. Kervran et al., “Une statue de Darius découverte à Suse,” JA 260, pp. 241-46.

Idem, “La statue de Darius le Grand découverte à Suse,” CDAFI 4, 1974, pp. 61-72.

Françoise Tallon, “The Achaemenid Tomb on the Acropole,” in Prudence Oliver Harper, Joan Aruz, and F. Tallon, eds., The Royal City of Susa: Ancient Near Eastern Treasures in the Louvre, New York, 1992, pp. 242-52.

Francine Tissot, “Délégation archéologiques françaises,” in EIr. VII/3, 1994, pp. 238-40. François Vallat, “Deux nouvelles ‘Chartes de Fondation’ d’un palais de Darius Ier à Suse,” Syria 48, 1971, pp. 53-59.

Idem, “L’inscription cunéiforme trilingue Dsab,” JA 260, 1972, pp. 247-51.

Idem, “Les textes cunéiformes de la statue de Darius,” CDAFI 4, 1974, pp. 161-70.

Idem, “Les inscriptions du palais d’Artaxerxes II,” CDAFI 10, 1979, pp. 145-54.

Louis Vanden-Berge, Bibliographie analitique de d’archéologique de L’Irān ancien, Leiden, 1979, nos. 1182-1407.

Jean Yoyotte, “Les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques: Darius et l’Egypte,” in M. Kervran et al., “Une statue de Darius découverte à Suse,” JA 260, 1972, pp. 253-66.

Idem, “Les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques de la statue de Darius à Suse,” CDAFI 4, 1974, pp. 181-83.

(Hermann Gasche)

Originally Published: July 20, 2009

Last Updated: July 20, 2009