Major site in southwestern Iran.
The Excavations of Susa
Following initial surveys by English and French explorers in the latter half of the 19th century, Jacques de Morgan was able to initiate the first major excavations of Susa in 1897. Morgan, who was trained as a mining engineer, leveled the acropolis mound digging in increments of 5 meters. He had established these artificial levels after drilling “galleries” into the mound (see Dyson 1968, for an introduction to the early work at Susa). Morgan had already reached what he called “Niveau II”, an artificial level ca. 10 meters below the surface of the top of the acropolis mound by the second season (1898-9). That level would later become iconic since the entire mound was leveled to that height by the end of 1911. Only one portion of the acropolis, now known as the “Témoin de Morgan”, was left standing. Although “Niveau III” was dug into in the beginning of the 20th century it was never fully realized; the task of leveling the entire mound had become impossible, although Morgan had put in a small rail-road, and could count on as many as 1,200 workers at one point. Instead, Morgan, and his successor Roland de Mecquenem focused their efforts on a few deep surveys.
Proto-Elamite tablets were not found in the first two layers (levels I and II), but plans for digging deeper had already been made in the spring of 1899 (Morgan 1900, 138). The first proto-Elamite tablets were found immediately below Niveau II in trench 7, supposedly corresponding to level 14B of Le Brun 1971 figure 31. Trench 7 was apparently the central trench in what later came to be Morgan’s “Grande Tranchée”. Those first tablets (reported in Morgan 1900, 138) are probably identical with the two tablets published by Scheil in 1900 (MDP 2, 130 and 131; republished as MDP 6, 399 and 4996); they correspond to what I have called the late writing-phase, and at least two tablets were found in the same level during the later controlled excavations (see Vallat 1971 DAFI 1, 58 1 and 2). During the subsequent seasons the initial trenches were widened and deepened, and in particular Trench 7 seems to have yielded substantial numbers of proto-Elamite tablets. It seems reasonable to attribute the proto-Elamite tablets to three of the deep survey areas of Susa, Morgan's “Grande Tranchée”, and Mecquenem’s “Sondage I” and “Sondage II” (see "Plan of Susa" on the left). The central survey area apparently yielded no tablets.