Tchogha Zanbil, Iran

Tchogha Zanbil is the ruins of the holy city of the Kingdom of Elam, centered on a great ziggurat and surrounded by three huge concentric walls. Founded around 1250 BC, the city remained unfinished after it was invaded by Ashurbanipal in 640 BC.


History of Tchogha Zanbil

Tchogha Zanbil was built about 1250 BC by King Untash-Napirisha in honor of the great god Inshushinak. The site's original name was Dur Untash ("town of Untash") but it is unlikely that many people, besides priests and servants, ever lived there.

There is no adequate water source near Choqa Zanbil, and in order to secure a supply to the town's inhabitants, the king dug a great canal from a river many miles away. A massive work at the time, a part of the canal remains in use today.

Although construction ended after Untash-Napirisha's death, the site continued to be occupied until it was destroyed by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in 640 BC. The city remained unfinished after it was invaded by Ashurbanipal in 640 BC, as shown by the thousands of unused bricks left at the site.

Some scholars speculate, based on the large number of temples and sanctuaries at Choqa Zanbil, that Untash-Napirisha attempted to create a new religious center (possibly intended to replace Susa) which would unite the gods of both highland and lowland Elam at one site.

Archaeological excavations between 1951 and 1962 revealed the site again, and the ziggurat is considered to be the best preserved example in the world. In 1979, Choqa Zanbil became the first Iranian site to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

What to See at Tchogha Zanbil

The complex is protected by three concentric walls, which form three main areas of the "town." The inner area is wholly taken up with a great zigguratdedicated to the main god, which was built over an earlier square temple with storage rooms also built by Untash-Napirisha.

The middle area holds eleven temples for lesser gods. It is believed that twenty-two temples were originally planned, but the king died before they could be finished, and his successors discontinued the building work. In the outer area are royal palaces, a funerary palace containing five subterranean royal tombs, and a necropolis containing non-elite tombs.

Quick Facts on Tchogha Zanbil

Site Information
Names:Tchogha Zanbil
Categories:temples; city ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:32.008571° N, 48.521987° E
Lodging:View hotels near Tchogha Zanbil
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. Tchogha Zanbil - UNESCO World Heritage List
  2. Choqa Zanbil - Wikipedia
  3. Tchogha Zanbil or Oil? - Assyria Times

More Information


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