The Chogha Zanbil is the oldest existing Ziggurat or step temple situated in the Near East, belonging to the Elamite period. The Chogha Zanbil located in the province of Khuzestan in Iran is one of its kinds remaining outside Mesopotamia. The name Chogha Zanbil, translated as ‘basket mound’ is a significant archaeological site of Iran and the near East.The area was destroyed in 640 BC and abandoned and later got covered by sands carried by the river floods. The locals called it a sand hill without knowing what was inside it for almost 2500 years. Chogha Zanbil was later excavated by Roman Ghirshman during the period from 1951 to 1961.
Chogha Zanbil is an imposing structure on the plains located in Khuzestan, southeast of Shush. Chogha Zanbil is situated at a distance of eighty kilometers from Ahvaz, thirty kilometers from Susa and about forty-two kilometers from Dezfoul. The recent excavations around Chogha Zanbil reveal that the area was an important town of the Elamite period. The Elamite civilization was one of the earliest cultures to have flourished along the rivers of Khuzestan.
The structure of Chogha Zanbil can be dated to 3,300 years back, built by the then emperor of Elamite, King Untash- Napirisha .The temple was dedicated to their god Inshushinak, regarded as protector of Susa. The structure was originally called Dur Untash or the ‘town of Untash, baving three concentric walls. The ziggurat occupies the inner area constructed over an earlier temple and dedicated to the main god. The middle area consists of eleven temples dedicated to the lesser gods. The outer area holds the royal palaces and a funeral place for the royal tombs. The construction in the city ended with the death of King Untash- Napirisha but continued to be used till it was destroyed in 640 BC by Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian king.
The region of Chogha Zanbil has been subject to a number of seismic tests to explore petroleum reserves. Various digging and drilling works for oil has taken place some 300 meters away from Chogha Zanbil. The petroleum exploration activities in the region have posed serious danger to the foundation of the well preserved ziggurat.