"Almost nothing was known about the years before the Achaemenids, the Medes, the Elamites. […] I managed to uncover the trace […] of entire dynasties and forgotten kingdoms.” 

Administrative mission on behalf of the French government

The Ministry of Public Education had considered creating a French archeological mission in Persia as early as 1892 in order to provide France with an administrative and scientific monopoly similar to the one achieved in Egypt by the Service des Antiquités, headed by Jacques de Morgan. The idea became a reality in 1897 when Morgan was appointed director of the new service.

 For the first year of his mandate, Morgan received an endowment of 130,000 francs. He was assisted by scientific colleagues including the Assyriologist Jean-Vincent Scheil, Gustave Jéquier, an archaeologist who had worked with Morgan in Egypt, and the architect Émile André. He was also joined by a secretary and two foremen.

Scientific project

Jacques de Morgan mainly intended to work on the earliest periods. Although in his administrative role, he was mandated to study the whole of Persia, he decided to concentrate primarily on Susa.

His interest was prompted by his earlier discoveries on Egyptian prehistory. Having noticed similarities between the Egyptian and Near Eastern remains, he suggested the two regions were bound by cultural ties. He went so far as to claim that his research in Susa might even provide the key to the origins of Egyptian civilisation.