One of the oldest cities in the world with inhabitation dating back to at least 4200 BC, Susa was located in the lower Zagros Mountains, between the rivers Karkhh and Dez. From the 5th millennium BC the site was an important religious centre that soon acquired a commercial, administrative and political pre-eminence, partly thanks to its strategic position. Susa stands, therefore, as one of the ancient sites where early states were developed and urbanization undertaken. The city maintained its prominent role in the region (either as capital or as a sought-after strategic centre) before, during, and after, the rise and fall of the Elamite, Achaemenid, Assyrian, Macedonian, Parthian, and Sassanid empires. The archaeological remains of Susa bear testimony to the coming and passing of all these civilizations; the city has 27 consecutive layers of urban settlement, from its foundation until the 13th century AD.
After being under the control of the dynasty of Sargon of Akkad and/or the Awan dynasty, king Šulgi of Ur and other Mesopotamian rulers during the in the late 3rd and early 2nd centuries BC, king Hammurabi of Babylon annexed Susa and the surrounding territory of Elam to his domain. When the Babylonian Empire disintegrated, Elam regained its independence and there was likely a local dynasty ruling the region. During the subsequent dynasties of the Kindinuids, the Igehalkids and the Šutrukids, Susa flourished. At this time, impressive buildings were erected such as the Dynastic Temple of the Šutrukids.
When threatened by Assyrian forces, the Elamites allied themselves to the Babylonians but eventually both Babylonia and Elam were defeated. Susa was destroyed between 645 and 640 BC by king Aššurbanipal. Eventually, Elam was integrated into the Achaemenid Empire. During this time, Darius the Great decided to construct one of his residences in Susa, which may have been his favourite palace.
When the Achaemenid Empire was defeated by the Macedonians, Alexander the Great celebrated his marriage in Susa, and it later became part of the Seleucid Empire. The city also had a Parthian age and a Sasanian period, when it housed a large Christian community. Susa retained its importance until the 13th century AD.