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SHUSHAN (Heb. שׁוּשָׁן or הַבִּירָה שׁוּשַׁן, Susa; "Palace of Shushan"; Akk. Šu-ša-an, Šu-(ú)-ši; Elamitic, Šu-šu-un; Gr. Σοῦσα), capital of *Elam and one of the capitals of the Persian Empire, present-day Qal' a-e-Shush, Iran, on the Shaur River (Elamitic, Ulai; Gr. Eululaios). The mound of Shushan contains an acropolis (450 × 250 m., 38 m. high), and a "royal city" with a keep (375–500 acres). Excavations on the site were begun by W.K. Loftus and W.F. Williams in 1851–52, continued by M. Dieulafoy (1884–86), and resumed in 1897 by J. de Morgan, followed by R. de Mecquenem and R. Ghirshman, on behalf of the French "mission" to Persia. The earliest remains belong to the Neolithic period of the fourth millennium; eight pottery styles were found there, the finest being Susa A., characterized by representations of stylized animals (Susa beaker, Louvre). About 3000 b.c.e., Shushan became the capital of Elam. Situated on the fringe of Mesopotamia, it was conquered by the Akkadians (when Puzur-Inshushinak was governor of Elam under Narâm-Sin, 2270–2234 b.c.e.) and then by Ur iii (2106–2016 b.c.e.). Later the rulers of Elam captured Ur and exiled the last king Ibbi-Sin. In the Old Babylonian period the "grand regents" of Shushan paved the way to Elamite political power; in this period the Old Babylonian dialect of Shushan developed which influenced the Akkadian language. Legal documents of this period from Shushan illustrate the importance of Elamite-Akkadian legal institutions.

From 1350 to 1150 b.c.e. Shushan was the capital of a powerful Elamite kingdom; its kings plundered the cities of Mesopotamia and carried off the monuments of their kings (obelisk and statue of Manishtusu, victory stele of Narâm-Sin, dioritic head of Hammurapi, stele bearing the code of Hammurapi, boundary stones (kudurru) of the Kassite kings, etc. (all objects found in the excavations are in the Louvre)). Elamite art flourished during this period under the kings Untash-gal (1234–1227), Shutruk-nahhunte (1207–1171), and Shilak-Inshushinak (1165–1151). The temples of the god Inshushinak and the goddess Ninhursag were decorated with reliefs and statues of lions of glazed clay. The bronze statue of Queen Napir-Asu, the wife of Untash-Huban (1234–1227 b.c.e.), is a masterpiece of Elamite art. The Elamites carried off the statue of Marduk from Babylon, a sacrilege avenged by Nebuchadnezzar i (1146–1123), who defeated them. Shushan was destroyed in 645 b.c.e. by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal; the capture is represented on a relief at Nineveh. The city is shown walled, standing among palm groves and farms, with a fort on the banks of the adjoining river.

Shushan was captured by Cyrus of Persia, and was selected by Darius i as his winter residence and the starting point of the "royal road" to *Sardis. A building inscription of Darius lists the materials from which his palace in Shushan was built, including cedars from the Lebanon, and of the workmen, who included Ionians and Sardians. Darius' palace was built on the part of the mound facing the acropolis; it was destroyed by fire under Artaxerxes i (464–425 b.c.e.) and rebuilt by Artaxerxes ii Mnemon (404–359 b.c.e.). The ruins of this palace include a dwelling house with three courts and an elaborate gate, as well as a throne hall (apadāna) with six rows of six columns. From these ruins the excavators removed the double bull capitals and the "Frieze of the Archers" in glazed brick, representing the Persian and Medean bodyguard of Darius. The biblical references (Dan. 8:2; cf. 11:45 where the apadāna is mentioned; Neh. 1:1 and above all the Scroll of *Esther) refer to Shushan as the residence of the kings of Persia.

The city was conquered by *Alexander in 330 b.c.e.; in 324 he arranged in Shushan a mass marriage of Macedonians with Asiatic women, to symbolize the concord of the peoples. Under the Seleucids and the Parthians, Shushan was a Greek polis (Seleukeia on the Eululaios), complete with archon, boule, and demos. Greek inscriptions and poems to Apollo and the goddess Nanaia extend back to the first century c.e. Shapur ii (309–379 c.e.), the Sassanid king, destroyed Shushan because of a (Christian?) revolt and rebuilt it as Ērānshr-Shāpur. According to an old Pahlavi chronicle, Susa, like *Shushtar, was reestablished by the Jewish wife of the Sassanid ruler Yezdegerd i (399–420).

The city resisted the Arabs in 638 for a long time. It became deserted under Arab rule, although some people continued to live around the Nabi Danyal ("[Tomb of the] Prophet Daniel"), below the mound. This tomb, which was on the left side of the river where the Jewish quarter was situated, had caused so much jealousy among the Muslim inhabitants that in the time of the Seljuk sultan Sanjar (12th century), it was arranged, according to a Muslim source, that the coffin of Daniel be suspended from the bridge.

*Benjamin of Tudela (c. 1167) estimated the Jewish population at about 7,000 and mentioned 14 synagogues in the vicinity of the sepulcher of Daniel. The Jewish traveler *Pethahiah of Regensburg, however, found there about 10 years later only two Jews, a dyer and a weaver. In the early 19th century several thousand Jews lived in the vicinity. The city of Shushan was depicted on the east gate of the Jerusalem Temple, the so-called "Shushan Gate" (Mid. 1:3). The city is mentioned in Daniel 8:2. According to the Talmud, the eastern gate of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was called Shusan (Meg. 2; see also Kel. 17:9; Mid. 1:3).


Excavation reports published in 40 volumes of the Mémoires de la Délégation en Perse from 1900 onwards; V. Christian, in: Pauly-Wissowa's supplement 7 (1946), 1251–74; L. de Breton, in: Iraq, 19 (1957), 79–123; L.V. Berge, in: Archéologie de l'Iran ancien (1959), 71–83; R. Ghirshman, in: Iranica antiqua, 3 (1963), 145–53; idem, Cinq campagnes de fouilles à Suse (1952); idb.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]