International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
shoo'-shan (shushan; Sousan, Sousa):
1. Position, Eytmology and Forms of Its Name:
This city, the Susu or Susan of the Babylonians, and the native (Elamite) Susun, is the modern Shush (Sus) in Southwestern Persia, a series of ruin-mounds on the banks of the river Kerkha. The ancient etymologies ("city of lilies" or "of horses") are probably worthless, as an etymology in the language of the place would rather be expected. Sayce therefore connects the name with sassa, meaning "former," and pointing to some such meaning as "the old" city. It is frequently mentioned in the Babylonian inscriptions of the 3rd millennium B.C., and is expressed by the characters for the goddess Ishtar and for "cedar," implying that it was regarded as the place of the "divine grove" (see 5, below). In later days, the Assyrians substituted for the second character, that having the value of ses, possibly indicating its pronunciation. Radau (Early Babylonian History, 236) identifies Shushan (Susa) with the Sasa of the Babylonian king Kuri-galzu (14th century B.C., if the first of the name), who dedicates to the Babylonian goddess Ninlil an inscription of a certain Siatu, who had, at an earlier date, dedicated it to Ishtar for the life of the Babylonian king Dungi (circa 2500 B.C.).
2. The Ruins:
The surface still covered with ruins is about 2,000 hectares (4, 940 acres), though this is but a fraction compared with the ancient extent of the city, which is estimated to have been between 12,000 and 15,000 hectares (29, 640-37,000 acres). Though considerable, the extent of Susa was small compared with Nineveh and Babylon. The ruins are divided by the French explorers into four tracts:
(1) The Citadel-mound (West), of the Achemenian period (5th century B.C.), circa 1,476 by 820 ft., dominating the plain (height circa 124 ft.).
(2) The Royal City on the East of the Citadel, composed of two parts: the Apadana (Northeast), and a nearly triangular tract extending to the East and the South. This contains the remains of the palace of Darius and his successors, and occupies rather more than 123 acres. The palace proper and the throne-room were separated from the rest of the official buildings.
(3) The City, occupied by artisans, merchants, etc.
(4) The district on the right bank, similarly inhabited. This in ancient times extended into all the lower plain, between the Shaour and the Kerkha. Besides these, there were many isolated ruins, and the suburbs contained a number of villages and separate constructions.
3. The "Royal City," "The Citadel," and the Ruins Therein:
Most of the constructions at Susa are of the Persian period. In the northern part of the Royal City lie the remains of the Apadana, the only great monument of which remains were found on the level. The principal portion consisted of a great hall of columns, known as the throne-room of Artaxeres Mnemon. It replaced an earlier structure by Darius, which was destroyed by fire in the time of Artaxerxes I. The columns apparently had capitals of the style common in Persia-the foreparts of two bulls kneeling back to back. In the Citadel a palace built by Xerxes seems to have existed, the base of one of his columns having been found there. Bricks bearing the inscriptions of early Elamite kings, and the foundations of older walls, testify to the antiquity of the occupation of this part. According to the explorers, this was the portion of the city reserved for the temples.
4. The Monuments Discovered:
The number of important antiquities found on the site is considerable. Among the finds may be mentioned the triumphal stele of Naram-Sin, king of Agade (3rd-4th millennium B.C.); the statuettes of the Babylonian king Dungi (circa 2360 B.C.); the reliefs and inscriptions of the Elamite king Ba(?)-sa-Susinak (circa 2340 B.C.); the obelisk inscribed with the laws of Hammurabi of Babylon; the bronze bas-relief of the Elamite king Sutruk-Nahhunte (circa 1120 B.C.), who carried off from Babylonia the stelae of Naram-Sin and Hammurabi above mentioned, together with numerous other Babylonian monuments; the stele of Adda-hamiti-In-Susnak, of a much later date, together with numerous other objects of art and inscriptions-a most precious archaeological find.
5. Assur-bani-apli's Description of the City:
Shushan passed through many serious crises, one of the severest being its capture and destruction by the armies of the Assyrian king Assur-bani-apli about 640 B.C. According to his account, the ziqqurat or temple-tower of Susa was built of enameled brick imitating lapis-lazuli, and was adorned with pinnacles of bright bronze. The god of the city was Susinak, who dwelt in a secret place, and none ever saw the form of his divinity. Lagamaru (Laomer) and five other of the city's deities were adored only by kings, and their images, with those of 12 more (worshipped by the people), were carried off as spoil to Assyria. Winged bulls and genii adorned Susa's temples, and figures of wild bulls protected the entrances to their shrines. Other noteworthy things were the sacred groves into which no stranger was allowed to enter, and the burial-places of the Elamite kings. After recovering from the blow inflicted by the Assyrians, Shushan ultimately regained its old importance, and, as the summer residence of the Persian kings, became
the home of Ahasuerus and Queen Esther (Nehemiah 1:1 Esther 1:2, 5; Esther 2:3; Esther 3:15; Esther 9:11 Daniel 8:2; Additions to Esther 11:3).
See Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de l'art dans l'antiquite, volume V, Perse, 1890; de Morgan, Delegation en Perse (Memoires), 1900, etc.; Histoire et travaux de la delegation en Perse, 1905; article "Elamites" in Hastings ERE; article ELAM in this work.
T. G. Pinches
See SONG; PSALMS.