The Natural Settings

Tchogha Zanbil or the ancient Āl Untaš is a city located at a strategic point in the Susiana Plain. According to the evidence, the city had been pre-designed, and its location had been chosen considering geographical features.      

Figure 1: 3D view of the surface of Sardarabad anticline

Tchogha Zanbil has been built on Sardarabad anticline, a natural elevated land. This anticline is a part of Aghajari Formation whose rock has hardened. The Dez River parts the anticline in two. This plateau (the elevated piece of land) was intentionally chosen for constructing the city.

Figure 2: The terrains adjacent to Sardarabad anticline, by Mehrdad Misaghian

Considering geological features, this part of Aghajari Formation is a convenient place for constructing buildings like the ziggurat; it could well resist the weight of colossal buildings such as palaces and temples.

Āl Untaš is located within a close distance to the Dez River that allows utilizing the water. Moreover, the city location on such a plateau lowers the risk of floods and overflows since the anticline natural hills function as firm walls obstructing the river’s overflows.

Figure 3: The Dez River position towards Āl Untaš, by Mehrdad Misaghian

Also, the anticline gentle slope is a suitable drainage for disposing of Khuzestan’s heavy rain water. Last but not least, the city location had also made it possible to see Susa from the ziggurat in fair weather conditions through a clear sky.