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Andimeshk, Passageway of the Ancient World

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Somayyeh Asadi 

Khuzestan province is a plain which has been a cradle of civilization since a long time ago. Greeks called it Suziana.

This region has been the main center of Elamite civilization, when it was called Shoushan. Pre-historic ancient sites as well as old buildings located in northwest of Khuzestan show that the region has been a civilizational cradle since a long time ago.

Andimeshk is located in northwest of Khuzestan province where Khuzestan plain meets Zagros Mountains. Therefore, Andimeshk is located quite opposite to Abedanan city in Ilam province, which is located on the other side of the mountains.

Andimeshk is limited to Khuzestan plain on the one side, and to Mesopotamia, on the other side. The region is bound by Karkheh River on the west, which was called Kheops by the Greek and Aqnu by Assyrians. On the east, the city is bound by Karkheh River which had been called Idadid by Elamites. There are many natural springs in the region which had made it suitable as habitat of various peoples since a long time ago. Therefore, Andimeshk is an ancient city which dates back to five millennia B.C. Tavallaei ancient hills as well as Sanjar Hill are good evidence to this fact.

Andimeshk has been used as a strategic passageway since ancient times. The passageway is now located southwest of the city. Elamites used the passageway to contact people in Mesopotamia and, in fact, Andimeshk has been a land bridge between two civilizations.

Homayoun Hatamiyan, a senior expert on civilizational history of Iran and the world has noted that “Andimeshk has been a connecting bridge between Elamite and Mesopotamian civilizations and those peoples mostly contacted each other through Andimeshk because beyond the city, Zagros mountains are located which prevented communication between them. On the other hand, Karkheh River passes by Andimeshk at the beginning of its course.”

Hatamiyan maintains that a major documents which proves Andimeshk as an ancient passageway is a tablet which is now being kept at British Museum of London. The tablet is an account of a war which took place in 644 B.C. and was a fateful war for big kings of that time, that is, Ashurbanipal, the powerful Assyrian king whose lands were located in present day Erbil city in Iraq; and Elamites who lived in Suziana plain.

The picture carved on that tablet shows that after Elamites were defeated and their ziggurat (Choghazanbil) was demolished, a group of Assyrian singers, who have taken statue of the eliminate God as booty, are moving along Karkheh River. The tablet shows that Assyrians are moving exactly at a place where Karkheh River enters the plain, that is, the present day Andimeshk.

Hatamiyan has also noted that another important document is an inscription in which Ashurbanipal has explained his attack on Elamites’ land.

The king has noted that to overcome Elamites, he had followed the river where it enters the plain. “I destroyed hundreds of Elamite cities and ruined their ziggurat whose bricks were made of polished copper. I erased Elam from the map and then Arab and Elamite soldiers carried my carriage up to temple of Assyria and Ishtar.”

Hatamiyan then noted that the documents show that how important the passageway has been in ancient times and it was used by Assyrian kings to put an end to Elamite civilization.

He also mentioned a more recent document which shows that the passageway has also been used by Sassanids as has been proven by the war waged by Sassanid king, Shapour, in 260 AD.

The powerful Sassanid king took the Roman emperor, Valerian, into captivity and after choosing Khuzestan as a good place for the establishment of Sassanid Empire, brings the Roman emperor along with Roman captives to Khuzestan through the passageway of Andimeshk in order to build his new city, Andimeshk, and Jondishapour.

Another document shows that the passageway has even been used after the rise of Islam. Also, Mogul Ilkhans have used it to overcome their main foes, that is, Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad. In fact, the best place which would have given Moguls easy access to Baghdad was this strategic passageway, which helped them achieve their goals.

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