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SUSA (τὰ Σοῦσα, Aeschyl. Pers. 535, 730; Hdt. 1.188; Xen. Cyr. 8.6. 8, &c.; in O. T. SHUSHAN Esther, 1.2; Nehemiah, 1.1; Daniel, 8.2), the chief city of the province of Susiana, on the eastern bank of the Choaspes (Kerkhah). There was considerable doubt among the ancient writers as to the exact position of this celebrated city. Thus Arrian (7.7), Pliny (6.27. s. 31), and Daniel (8.2) place it on the Eulaeus (Ulai in Daniel): while from other authors (Strab. xv. p.728) it may be gathered that it was situated on the Choaspes. (For the probable cause of this confusion, see CHOASPES) We may add, however, that, according to Curtius, Alexander on his way from Babylon had to cross the Choaspes before he could reach Susa (5.2), and that the same inference may be drawn from the account of Aristagoras of the relative position of the places in Persia in his address to Cleomenes. (Hdt. 5.52.) It appears to have been an early tradition of the country that Susa was founded by Dareius the son of Hystaspes (Plin. l.c.); and it is described by Aeschylus as μέγ᾽ ἄστυ Σουσίδος (Pers. 119). By others it is termed Μεμνόνειον ἄστυ (Hdt. 5.54), and its origin is attributed to Memnon, the son of Tithonus. (Strab. l.c.; Steph. B. sub voce The name is said to have been derived from a native Persian word Susan (meaning lily), from the great abundance of those plants in that neighbourhood. (Steph. B. sub voce Athen. 12.513, ed. Cassaub.) Athenaeus also confirms the account of the excellence of the climate of Susa (l.c.). It may be remarked that the word Σούσινον was well known as applied to an unguent extracted from lilies. (Dioscor. iii. c. de lilio: Athen. 15.689; Etymol. M. s. v. Σούσινον). The city was said to have been 120 stadia in circumference (Strab. l.c.), and to have been surrounded by a wall, built like that of Babylon of burnt brick. (Strab. l.c.; Paus. 4.31. [p. 2.1050] § 5.) Diodorus (19.16, 17.65) and Cassiodorus (7.15) speak of the strength and splendour of its citadel; and the latter writer affirms that there was a splendid palace there, built for Cyrus by Memnon. Besides this structure, Pliny speaks of a celebrated temple of Diana (l.c.; see also Mart. Capella, vi. de India, p. 225, ed. Grotius), in all probability that of the Syrian goddess Anaitis: while St. Jerome adds, that Daniel erected a town there (Hieronym. in Dan.), a story which Josephus narrates, with less probability, of Ecbatana. (Ant. 10.11.) Susa was one of the capitals at which the kings of Persia were wont to spend a portion of the year. Thus Cyrus, according to Xenophon, lived there during the three months of the spring. (Cyrop. 8.6.22.) Strabo offers the most probable reason for this custom, where he states that Susiana was peculiarly well suited for the royal residence from its central position with respect to the rest of the empire, and from the quiet and orderly character of its government (l.c.) From these and other reasons, Susa appears to have been the chief treasury of the Persian empire (Hdt. 5.49); and how vast were the treasures laid up there by successive kings, may be gathered from the narrative in Arrian, of the sums paid by Alexander to his soldiers, and of the presents made by him to his leading generals, on the occasion of his marriage at Susa with Barsine and Parysatis (Curt. 7.4, 5): even long after Alexander's death, Antigonus found a great amount of plunder still at Susa. (Diod. 19.48.)

With regard to the modern site to be identified as that of the ruins of Susa, there has been considerable difference of opinion in modern times. This has, however, chiefly arisen from the scarcity of travellers who have examined the localities with any sufficient accuracy. The first who did so, Mr. Kinneir, at once decided that the modern Sús, situated at the junction of Kerkhah and river of Díz, must represent the Shushan of Daniel, the Susa of profane authors. (Travels, p. 99; comp. Malcolm, Hist. Persia, i. p. 256.) Rennell had indeed suspected as much long before (Geogr. Herodot. i. p. 302); but Vincent and others had advanced the rival claim of Shuster. (Anc. Commerce, i. p. 439.) The question has been now completely set at rest, by the careful excavations which have been made during the last few years, first by Colonel (now Sir W. F.) Williams, and secondly by Mr. Loftus. The results of their researches are given by Mr. Loftus in a paper read to the Royal Society of Literature in November, 1855. (Transactions, vol. v. new series.) Mr. Loftus found three great mounds, measuring together more than 3 1/2 miles in circumference, and above 100 feet in height; and, on excavating, laid bare the remains of a gigantic colonnade, having a frontage of 343 feet, and a depth of 244, consisting of a central square of 36 columns, flanked to the N., E., and W. by a similar number--the whole arrangement being nearly the same as that of the Great Hall of Xerxes at Persepolis. A great number of other curious discoveries were made, the most important being numerous inscriptions in the cuneiform character. Enough of these has been already deciphered to show, that some of the works on the mound belong to the most remote antiquity. Among other important but later records is an inscription,--the only memorial yet discovered of Artaxerxes Mnemon, the conqueror of the Greeks at Cunaxa,--which describes the completion of a palace, commenced by Dareius the son of Hystaspes and dedicated to the goddesses Tanaitis and Mithra. A Greek inscription was also met with, carved on the base of a column, and stating that Arreneides was the governor of Susiana. The natives exhibit a monument in the neighbourhood, which they call and believe to be the tomb of Daniel. There is no question, however, that it is a modern structure of the Mohammedan times.


hide References (14 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (14):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 17.65
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.188
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.49
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.52
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.54
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 4.31
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 8.6.8
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.27
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 7.4
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 7.5
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 19.16
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 19.48
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 12
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 15
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