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discovery of Darius' statue
© Mission archéologique de Suse
The site that was occupied prior tofrom 4000 BC had been a capital of Elam. The city shone until the end of the 2nd millennium BC then became more modest, but was still thriving when the Persians arrived. This is how Darius found it when he decided to establish one of his residences here circa 520 BC. The king delimited 70 hectares with a high embankment enclosing the three hills that had been occupied beforehand.
Revelation of Achaemenid Susa was the fruit of several years of excavation. The Apadana columns and their inscriptions were discovered in 1853 by William K. Loftus.
Jacques de Morgan (1857-1924)
© musée du Louvre
Due to their topographical layout, the vestiges can be presented separately, even though the remains of the royal city form a whole. The itinerary moves from generalities to specifics; it envisages the overall site, then proceeds from the exterior towards the centre, to Darius’s Palace proper. Each building is presented in turn as a whole, then sectors of a smaller scale are detailed, along with any components that have been found. Outside the palace complex, a few scattered remains bearing witness to occupation are rapidly evoked; we finish with the palace built outside the “royal city”. The iconographic documentation presented here (photos, plans and drawings) is broadly a selection drawn from the archives of the French Archaeological Mission at Susa, which are preserved at the Maison Archéologie & Ethnologie, René-Ginouvès in Nanterre.
Rémy Boucharlat (Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, Lyon) / March 2013