“Choqazanbil” one million bricks to the god of Shush
It is winter but the weather is great. Sprinkles of rain and ground covered with fresh and green vegetables,feels like we are in spring. A few meters away, the “Dez” river is crawling silently in its long side jungles, and the narrowpalms have reached the sky. Maybe that’s why the Achaemenian kings had built their winter castle here, but few people know that this structure is Iran’s sole world structure,somehow about one thousand years older than Persepolis.
In history, Iran has been a pathway for nations, religions and cultures, and in addition to Islam, that is most of Iranians’ religion, followers of many religions of the world such as Jews, Zoroastrians, Christians, Buddhists, Medians and Indians have had temples in Iran, however if we want to introduce the oldest temples in this large land,it would be undoubtedly the “Choqazanbil Ziggurat”. this great phenomenon that is in the list of the world cultural heritage , is a brick made structure built for two great gods of the Elamits, Shoshinak the great god of shush and Napirish the god of skies, in 3300 years ago and there are more than one million bricks used to build this structure .
An ancient temple for Elamits:
The Elamits built their Ziggurat, which was a symbol of ascension to heaven, in five floors and 52 meters high, but during hundreds of years,its 3 upper floors were collapsed and the other two floors were buried. Thus, one of the biggest temples in the ancient world looked like an upside down basket that in the local language is called “Choqazanbil” (basket like hill). Till the early 20th century , no one knew that what a great treasure was hidden beneath this upside down basket, but eventually the curiosity of one of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company employees who lived there , attracted the archaeologists and the Choqazanbil ziggurat was scooped by the French archaeologists from 1951 for 11 years . If you go to visit the ziggurat,you can see the remains of the ancient city “dur-untash”, the ruins of some small temples and the family graves of Elamit kings too. The distance of this great site to Shush city is 42 kilometers that you may go by personal or rental vehicle. In a part of this rout,you would pass the sugarcane fields and jungles that are habitats of the Iranian yellow fawn and you will enjoy landscapes.
Choqazanbilowes to the oil drilling
The discovery of Choqazanbil owes to the oil drillings in south of Iran. It goes back to 1935, when the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was drilling near the Dezriver. One of the employees whowas a citizen of New Zealand, noticed a greatcomplex similar to a hill, that was on an elevated place. He found a brick inscription there. Ironically, archaeological operations were running in Shush at the same time.
So there is no wonder that he took the brick inscription to the group ofarchaeologists in Shush and discovered this magnificent structure. During 1951 to 1962 other discoveries were done by French Roman Girshman and more information about Choqazanbil was found.
The sun rises twice here :
The style of architecture in Choqazanbil causes to think that the sun rises and sets twice in this site. This arises from that the angle of the horizon with an imaginary line that connects the corner of the first floor of each side of the structure, to the top floor, completely equals to the angle and direction of the morning sun, during the equinoxes.since each floor of the ziggurat , is smaller than the lower floors, in the eyes of a visitor who stands in the observatory of the north side, the sun appears to rise and set several times in the back of the ziggurat, in a short time. If you wish to see this phenomenon, you should record a video and watch it .
Usage of the sun clocks
If you go to Choqazanbil ,you will notice that there are some sun clocks .In three sides of the Choqazanbil there are three brick structures built in the shape of circle. At this time , only one of these three in the northwest side remained somehow intact. Another structure in southwest, ishalf renovated similar to the sample, by the French group. From the third structure almost remained the foundation and nothing else. It is said that these three structures were three bases to set a sculpture, but with little attention you will find out that they were used in order to time detection. At the four sides of these three structures, there are four sun measurements made of bricks,in shape of arcades or window , that are similar to the sun measurements in the observatoryof NaghsheRostam.
These three structures make a united complex, an observatory or sun calendar to measure the rotation of the sun and subsequently, keeping account of the year , counting the years, extracting the calendar, detection of the first and middle days of each season or vernal and autumnal equinoxes and summer and winter revolutions. The method of building these sun measurements had followed the aim to detect the first or middle of each seasons that are in accordance with vernal and autumnal equinoxes and summer and winter revolutions by observing the shadows made during sunrise or sunset.
The Pythagorean and ancient Refinery
A large brick structure in five floors built in the hottest regions of Iran, must have an interesting system as water supply for its residents. If you look for the wonders of Choqazanbil, we advise you to study about the water system in this structure .At the beginning it seems that the water for Choqazanbilwas taken from the DezRiver which is near the temple. It is not right, because the river bed is lower than the plain in which Choqazanbil is situated. So the water for Choqazanbil should be taken from somewhere else, “Karkhe River” , do not be surprised. An Elamit king commanded to dig a 45 kilometers cannel inorder to bring the water of Karkhe river to Choqazanbil, but it was not the end, because the river became muddy as it passed the plain, and was not good to use, so the transferred water was conducted into pools so that the mud would be settled and the water would be refined. It is said that during the water treatment, they had used the Pythagorean rules. If it is right,the intelligence of those must be congratulated who built a modern water refinery system in 1200 yearsb.c.
The unsaid about “Acropolis”
In shush and it surroundings, there are many ancient sites from thousand years before the Christ to the middle decades of Islamic era. The most important is the acropolis hill, that is overlooking the city and in close distance to Danial temple.
This hill has allocated many layers of civilization from Elamit, Achaemenid, Parthian , Sassanid and Islamic era. But many of antiquities that are taken from excavations in the different layers of this hill, are now in the Louvre in Paris. French people who discovered these antiquities, had built a castle on top of the hill for themselves, to protect them from the raid of the tribes who lived near Shush anddo their researches stealthily at the same time. The French used the thousand years bricks of Elamit era to build the castle and had done a lot of damages to the historic remnants of acropolis. This shows that their aim of research in Shush , was not the scientific discoveries, but to get antiques for their museum.
Down the hill of acropolis and inside a rather small garden, there is the Archaeological Museum of Shush. In this museum there are some of the antiques from the historic sites of Shush. But one of the most beautiful objects in the museum are the painted glazed tiles with designs like winged lion and lotus flower, that belonged to the interior walls of Apadana Palace. Years before, “ Roman Girshman” agreat French archaeologist, who is Ukrainian-born, was invited to Iranin order to do the necessary researches and to reveal the secrets of its unopened history . Most of the structures, sculptures and antiques found in the site and kept in the museum of Shush and the museum of ancientIran, are the results of his40 years efforts in Iran.