The city of Izeh is located in Khuzistan, in the north-east of the provincial capital, Ahvaz. Near the departments of Masdjed-Soleiman and Baq-Malek (Khuzistan), Izeh borders the two provinces of Kohgiluyeh-Boyer'Ahmadi (East) and Chahar Mahal-Bakhtiyari (North).

Izeh: capital of Ilam, cradle of the Bakhtiyari people


The city of Izeh is located in Khuzistan, in the north-east of the provincial capital, Ahvaz. Near the departments of Masdjed-Soleiman and Baq-Malek (Khuzistan), Izeh borders the two provinces of Kohgiluyeh-Boyer'Ahmadi (East) and Chahar Mahal-Bakhtiyari (North). According to the last administrative divisions, the department of Izeh counts eight communes: Center, Pione, Morqa, Susan East, Susan West, Donbaleroud North, Donbaleroud South, and Dehdez. The department of Izeh has an area of 4035 km² and is home to nearly 209 000 inhabitants, according to the latest national census. Located in a plain, at the foot of the Zagros mountains, the department of Izeh is mainly inhabited by a nomadic population, the Bakhtiyaris, who are large livestock breeders.


Ilamite City of Anshan

The city of Izeh (called "Anshan" or "Anzane" at the time of the Elamite civilization) is located in a region populated by humans for at least 40,000 years, according to archaeological research. The ancient city was the ancient capital of the Elamite kingdom during the high and middle periods of the Elam civilization. The modern city still retains the memories of this ancient period: the Elamite bas-reliefs at Eshkaft-Salman (Tarisha), Koul-Farah (Narsina), Khang Ajdar, and the famous statue of "Shami Man" discovered in a village of the same name, currently kept in the National Museum of Iran.

Anshan was a very old town, populated for at least 6,000 years BC. It became one of the main cities of the Elamite country, towards the end of the fourth millennium BC. BC, because of its geographical location that had placed it on the important trade routes of the ancient world. According to archaeologists, Elamite culture originated in the mountainous Anshan, the heart of historic Elam. Indeed, it seems that it was during this period that the Elamite people began to expand.

In the third millennium BC, the Elamites had already founded a powerful kingdom in Anshan. The rulers of the northern regions of Elam dominated the kingdom and made Anshan one of the main cities of Elam. During this period, the kingdom of Elam took on a dual character between two parts of the territory of the Elamites: a high mountainous country around the city of Anshan, and a low country called Susiana around the city of Susa. In the 2nd millennium BC J.-C., Susa became the main capital of Elam, but Anshan always kept its primacy, as we prove the title of the Elamite rulers of the period who called themselves "king of Anshan and Susa".

The Elamites spoke a language belonging neither to the family of Indo-European languages ​​nor to the family of Mesopotamian languages ​​(Sumerian or Semitic).

Since the 3rd millennium BC, the Elamites, influenced by the writing system developed by the neighboring Sumerians, began to transcribe their language into an original semi-pictorial system called cuneiform Elamite writing. They destroyed the city of Ur around 2000 BC. and later had a great influence on the rulers of Babylonia. A new Elamite kingdom appeared around the middle of the eighth century, but it was frequently attacked by Assyria.

In 645, the Assyrians commanded by Assurbanipal pillaged Susa and annexed the country. Subsequently, Elam was conquered by Media. Cyrus the Great eventually incorporated him into his Persian empire of the Achaemenids. In the 1st millennium BC AD, the region of Anshan passed into the hands of the Persians. Local rulers of Elamite origin took the title of "Kings of Anshan". But Anshan and Susa were soon relegated to the background with the construction of new Achaemenid capitals in Pasargadae and Persepolis. The city of Anshan was abandoned during this same period, while Susa had always kept its importance under the Achaemenid Empire.

At the time when Alexander began his march towards the East to conquer the Achaemenid empire, the ancient city of Anshan had already disappeared to give way to a new city named "Izeh". As in the period of the Elamite civilization, the northeastern regions of the present Khuzistan were inhabited mainly by nomadic tribes living from cattle breeding. To advance to Persepolis, the armies of Alexander had to take first Susa, and then cross the mountainous territory of Zagros inhabited by the descendants of the ancient Elamites.

The nomads and inhabitants of the cities of this region could not withstand the rapid attacks of the Macedonian army. Alexander built many fortresses in the Zagros mountains and his men settled in this area. Under the Seleucids, the inhabitants of these mountainous regions quickly formed a more or less independent local kingdom hostile to the Seleucid sovereigns who had shared among themselves the countries conquered by Alexander.

The Almai kingdom (the descendants of the mountain Elamites) entered the war against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III. The latter was finally murdered in a fight against the Almais. The latter thus succeeded in conquering vast areas between the Zagros and the Persian Gulf coast.

The expansion of the Almai kingdom weakened the state of the Seleucids, and made the ground suitable for the formation of a new Iranian power, that of the Arsacids. With the final victory of Mithridates I over the last Seleucid rulers, the Iranians came to put an end to the control of the Seleucids over the areas east of the Euphrates. The mountain people of central Zagros played a decisive role. The Parthian conquerors founded their dynasty Arsacid, and as a sign of gratitude to the nomads of Zagros, they founded near the present village of Shami (45 km from Malamir of the Elamite era), a city and a large temple which became the capital summery of the arsacid kings. A large bronze statue was discovered on this ancient site. Currently held in the National Museum of Iran, it dates from 100 to 50 BC.

This statue, about two meters high, shows a Parthian man, who could be a local governor of the region. This temple was built in a location surrounded by marble columns. During the five centuries of the Parthian rule on the Iranian plateau, the region of Izeh became an important center of the empire.


Izeh and the origins of Bakhtiyari

The modern name of Izeh appears for the first time in documents dating from the Sassanid empire. The city was built near the ruins of ancient Anshan and was prosperous throughout the Sassanid period. During the Islamic period, the city was named "Izadj".

According to archaeological documents and anthropological data, the origins of the Bakhtiyaris must be sought in the ancient territory of Anshan, that is to say, in the region of Izeh today. It seems that the ancestors of the nomadic people (Bakhtiyari) who now live in the central Zagros, lived there at the same time as the Elamites, before the arrival of the Aryan tribes. In the cuneiform scriptures dating from the Achaemenid Empire, the inhabitants of these regions were named "Mountaineering Elamites".

The Iranian researcher Seyyed Mohammad Ali Emam evokes the writings of Strabon and Herodotus according to which the inhabitants of the central regions of Zagros were a people who lived there before the arrival of the Aryans. The inscriptions discovered at Ashkoft-Soleiman near Izeh are in Elamite script.

On these rock inscriptions, it is written: "I am Shilhak-Inshushinak, son of Shutruk-Nahhunte, mighty king of Anshan, I totally destroyed the temple of Kiririsha, goddess of the city of Liyan [now in Boushehr]. I rebuilt it with gems and noble metal [gold], and I gave gifts to the goddess Kiririsha who governs the city of Liyan, let this temple be eternal. "