Old Elamite period

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Silver cup with linear-Elamite inscription on it. Late 3rd Millennium BC. National Museum of Iran.
Old Elamite Period


circa 2700 BCE — circa 1500 BCE
Map of Elam (approximate extension of the Elamite Empire is shown in red, the size of the Persian Gulf in the Bronze Age is indicated in blue (violet?))
Capital Awan
Languages Elamite language
Religion Matriarchal religion
Government Monarchy
King of Elam
 -  circa 2700 — 2680 BCE Humbaba (first)
 -  circa 1500 BCE Kutik-Matlat (last)
Historical era Bronze Age
 -  Established circa 2700 BCE
 -  Disestablished circa 1500 BCE
Today part of  Iran

The Old Elamite period began around 2700 BC. Historical records mention the conquest of Elam by Enmebaragesi the Sumerian king of Kish in Mesopotamia. Three dynasties ruled during this period. We know of twelve kings of each of the first two dynasties, those of Awan (or Avan; c. 2400–2100 BC) and Simash (c. 2100–1970 BC), from a list from Susa dating to the Old Babylonian period. Two Elamite dynasties said to have exercised brief control over parts of Sumer in very early times include Awan and Hamazi; and likewise, several of the stronger Sumerian rulers, such as Eannatum of Lagash and Lugal-anne-mundu of Adab, are recorded as temporarily dominating Elam.

The Avan dynasty was partly contemporary with that of the Mesopotamian emperor Sargon of Akkad, who not only defeated the Awan king Luhi-ishan and subjected Susa, but attempted to make Akkadian the official language there. From this time, Mesopotamian sources concerning Elam become more frequent, since the Mesopotamians had developed an interest in resources (such as wood, stone, and metal) from the Iranian plateau, and military expeditions to the area became more common. With the collapse of Akkad under Sargon's great great-grandson, Shar-kali-sharri, Elam declared independence under the last Avan king, Kutik-Inshushinak (c. 2240–2220 BC), and threw off the Akkadian language, promoting in its place the brief Linear Elamite script. Kutik-Inshushinnak conquered Susa and Anshan, and seems to have achieved some sort of political unity. Following his reign, the Awan dynasty collapsed as Elam was temporarily overrun by the Guti, a people from what is now north west Iran speaking a language isolate.

About a century later, the Sumerian king Shulgi of the Neo-Sumerian Empire retook the city of Susa and the surrounding region. During the first part of the rule of the Simashki dynasty, Elam was under intermittent attack from Mesopotamians and also Gutians from northwestern Iran, alternating with periods of peace and diplomatic approaches. Shu-Sin of Ur, for example, gave one of his daughters in marriage to a prince of Anshan. But the power of the Sumerians was waning; Ibbi-Sin in the 21st century did not manage to penetrate far into Elam, and in 2004 BC, the Elamites, allied with the people of Susa and led by king Kindattu, the sixth king of Simashk, managed to sack Ur and lead Ibbi-Sin into captivity—thus ending the third dynasty of Ur. The Akkadian kings of Isin, successor state to Ur, did manage to drive the Elamites out of Ur, rebuild the city, and to return the statue of Nanna that the Elamites had plundered.

The succeeding dynasty, the Eparti (c. 1970–1770 BC), also called "of the sukkalmahs" because of the title borne by its members, was roughly contemporary with the Old Assyrian Empire, and Old Babylonian period in Mesopotamia, being younger by approximately sixty years than the Old Assyrian period, and almost around seventy five years older than the Old Babylonian period. This period is confusing and difficult to reconstruct. It was apparently founded by Eparti I. During this time, Susa was under Elamite control, but Mesopotamian states such as Larsa and Isin continually tried to retake the city. Around 1850 BC Kudur-mabug, apparently king of another Akkadian state to the north of Larsa, managed to install his son, Warad-Sin, on the throne of Larsa, and Warad-Sin's brother, Rim-Sin, succeeded him and conquered much of southern Mesopotamia for Larsa.

Notable Eparti dynasty rulers in Elam during this time include Sirukdukh (c. 1850 BC), who entered various military coalitions to contain the power of the south Mesopotamian states; Siwe-Palar-Khuppak, who for some time was the most powerful person in the area, respectfully addressed as "Father" by Mesopotamian kings such as Zimrilim of Mari, and even Hammurabi of Babylon, and Kudur-Nahhunte, who plundered the temples of southern Mesopotamia, the north being under the control of the Old Assyrian Empire. But Elamite influence in southern Mesopotamia did not last. Around 1760 BC, Hammurabi drove out the Elamites, overthrew Rim-Sin of Larsa, and established a short lived Babylonian Empire in Mesopotamia. Little is known about the latter part of this dynasty, since sources again become sparse with the Kassite rule of Babylon (from c. 1595 BC).


Chronology of the ancient Near East[edit]

A table of historical events by their different chronologies is shown below.

Historical event Ultra-long/Ultra-high chronology Long/High chronology Middle chronology Short/Low chronology Ultra-short/Ultra-low chronology
Akkadian Empire  ?  ? 2334–2154 BCE  ? 2200–2018 BCE
Neo-Sumerian Empire  ? 2161–2054 BCE 2112–2004 BCE 2048–1940 BCE 2018–1911 BCE
Isin Dynasty  ? 2017–1793 BCE  ? 1922–1698 BCE
First Dynasty of Babylon  ? 1950–1651 BCE 1894–1595 BCE 1830–1531 BCE 1798–1499 BCE
Reign of Hammurabi 1933–1890 BCE[1] 1848–1806 BCE 1792–1750 BCE 1728–1686 BCE 1696–1654 BCE
Reign of Ammisaduqa  ? 1702–1682 BCE 1646–1626 BCE 1582–1562 BCE 1550–1530 BCE
Fall of Babylon 1736 BCE[2] 1651 BCE 1595 BCE 1531 BCE 1499 BCE

With the fall of the Neo-Sumerian Empire after the Elamite Sack of Ur as described in the Sumerian lament Lament for Ur in 2004/1940 BC (middle/short chronology respectively).

Old Elamite Period[edit]

This is a list of rulers of Elam from the Old Elamite Period. All dates are middle chronology.

Early Elamite kings[edit]

Throne Name Original Name Portrait Title Born-Died Entered office Left office Family Relations Note
1 Humbaba  ?–c. 2680 BC c. 2700 BC c. 2680 BC  ? contemporary with Gilgamesh king of Uruk
2 Humban-Shutur (or Khumbastir)  ?–?  ?  ?  ?

Awan dynasty[edit]

Main article: Awan dynasty
Dynastic list of the kings of Awan and Simashki, 1800–1600 BC, Louvre Museum

The Awan Dynasty was the first dynasty of Elam of which anything is known today, appearing at the dawn of historical record. The Elamites were likely major rivals of neighboring Sumer from remotest antiquity; they were said to have been defeated by Enmebaragesi of Kish (ca. 25th century BC), who is the earliest archaeologically attested Sumerian king, as well as by a later monarch, Eannatum I of Lagash.

Awan was a city or possibly a region of Elam whose precise location is not certain, but it has been variously conjectured to be north of Susa, in south Luristan, close to Dezful, or Godin Tepe.

Elam and Sumer[edit]

According to the Sumerian king list, a dynasty from Awan exerted hegemony in Sumer at one time. It mentions three Awan kings, who supposedly reigned for a total of 356 years.[3] Their names have not survived on the extant copies, apart from the partial name of the third king, "Ku-ul...", who it says ruled for 36 years.[4] This information is not considered reliable, but it does suggest that Awan had political importance in the 3rd millennium BC.

A royal list found at Susa gives 12 names of the kings in the Awan dynasty.[5] As there are very few other sources for this period, most of these names are not certain.

Little more of these kings' reigns is known, but Elam seems to have kept up a heavy trade with the Sumerian city-states during this time, importing mainly foods, and exporting cattle, wool, slaves and silver, among other things. A text of the time refers to a shipment of tin to the governor of the Elamite city of Urua, which was committed to work the material and return it in the form of bronze — perhaps indicating a technological edge enjoyed by the Elamites over the Sumerians.

It is also known that the Awan kings carried out incursions in Mesopotamia, where they ran up against the most powerful city-states of this period, Kish and Lagash. One such incident is recorded in a tablet addressed to Enetarzi, a minor ruler or governor of Lagash, testifying that a party of 600 Elamites had been intercepted and defeated while attempting to abscond from the port with plunder.

Events become a little clearer at the time of the Akkadian Empire (ca. 2300 BC), when historical texts tell of campaigns carried out by the kings of Akkad on the Iranian plateau. Sargon of Akkad boasted of defeating a "Luh-ishan king of Elam, son of Hishiprashini", and mentions plunder seized from Awan, among other places. Luhi-ishan is the eighth king on the Awan king-list, while his father's name "Hishiprashini" is a variant of that of the ninth listed king, Hishepratep - indicating either a different individual, or if the same, that the order of kings on the Awan king list has been jumbled.[4]

Sargon's son and successor, Rimush, is said to have conquered Elam, defeating its king who is named as Emahsini. Emahsini's name does not appear on the Awan kinglist, but the Rimush inscriptions claim that the combined forces of Elam and Warahshe, led by General Sidgau, were defeated at a battle "on the middle river between Awan and Susa". Scholars have adduced a number of such clues that Awan and Susa were probably adjoining territories.

With these defeats, the low-lying, westerly parts of Elam became a vassal of Akkad centred at Susa. This is confirmed by a document of great historical value, a peace treaty signed between Naram-Sin of Akkad and an unnamed king or governor of Awan, probably Khita or Helu. It is the oldest document written in Elamite cuneiform that has been found.

Although Awan was defeated, the Elamites were able to avoid total assimilation. The capital of Anshan, located in a steep and mountainous area, was never reached by Akkad. The Elamites remained a major source of tension, that would contribute to destabilizing the Akkadian state, until it finally collapsed under Gutian pressure.

Reign of Kutik-Inshushinak, the height of Awan[edit]

Main article: Kutik-Inshushinak
Statue of goddess Narundi dedicated by Kutik-Inshushinak, with inscriptions in Linear Elamite and in Akkadian, Louvre Museum

Kutik-Inshushinak (also known as Puzur-Inshushinak) was king of Elam from about 2240 to 2220 BC (long chronology), and the last from the Awan dynasty.[6]

His father was Shinpi-khish-khuk, the crown prince, and most likely a brother of king Khita. Kutik-Inshushinak's first position was as governor of Susa, which he may have held from a young age. About 2250 BC, his father died, and he became crown prince in his stead.

Elam had been under the domination of Akkad since the time of Sargon, and Kutik-Inshushinak accordingly campaigned in the Zagros mountains on their behalf. He was greatly successful as his conquests seem to have gone beyond the initial mission.

In 2240 BC, he asserted his independence from Akkad, which had been weakening ever since the death of Naram-Sin, thus making himself king of Elam. He conquered Anshan and managed to unite most of Elam into one kingdom. He built extensively on the citadel at Susa, and encouraged the use of the Linear Elamite script to write the Elamite language. This may be seen as a reaction against Sargon's attempt to force the use of Akkadian. Most inscriptions in Linear Elamite date from the reign of Kutik-Inshushinak.

His achievements were not long-lasting, for after his death the linear script fell into disuse, and Susa was overrun by the Third dynasty of Ur, while Elam fell under control of Simashki dynasty (also Elamite origin).[7]

It is now known that his reign in Elam overlapped with that of Ur-Nammu of Ur-III,[8] although the previous lengthy estimates of the duration of the intervening Gutian dynasty and rule of Utu-hengal of Uruk had not allowed for that synchronism.

Postscript: Awan and Anshan?[edit]

The toponym "Awan" only occurs once more following the reign of Kutik-Inshushinak, in a year-name of Ibbi-Sin of Ur. The name Anshan, on the other hand, which only occurs once before this time (in an inscription of Manishtushu), becomes increasingly more commonplace beginning with king Gudea of Lagash, who claimed to have conquered it around the same time. It has accordingly been conjectured that Anshan not only replaced Awan as one of the major divisions of Elam, but that it also included the same territory.[9]

Throne Name Original Name Portrait Title Born-Died Entered office Left office Family Relations Note
3 The unnamed King of Awan King of Awan  ?–? c. 2580 BC  ?  ? contemporary with the last king of the first dynasty of Uruk[10]
4 ...Lu King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
5 Kur-Ishshak King of Awan  ?–?  ? c. 2550 BC  ? 36 years. contemporary with Lugal-Anne-Mundu king of Adab & Ur-Nanshe king of Lagash
6 Peli King of Awan  ?–? c. 2500 BC  ?  ?
7 Tata I King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
8 Ukku-Tanhish King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
9 Hishutash King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
10 Shushun-Tarana King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
11 Napi-Ilhush King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
12 Kikku-Siwe-Temti King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
13 Hishep-Ratep I King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
14 Luh-Ishshan King of Awan  ?–c. 2325 BC  ? c. 2325 BC Son of Hishep-Ratep I
15 Hishep-Ratep II King of Awan  ?–? c. 2325 BC  ? Son of Luh-Ishshan
16 Emahsini[11] King of Awan  ?–2311 BC c. 2315 BC 2311 BC
17 Helu King of Awan  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
18 Hita King of Awan  ?–? c. 2270 BC c. 2270 BC  ? contemporary of Naram-Sin king of Akkad
19 Kutik-Inshushinak[12] King of Awan  ?–? c. 2100 BC c. 2100 BC son of Shinpi-hish-huk contemporary of Ur-Nammu king of Ur. Susa conquered by Ur troops in 2078 and 2016 BC

Simashki dynasty[edit]

Throne Name Original Name Portrait Title Born-Died Entered office Left office Family Relations Note
20 The unnamed king of Simashki king of Simashki  ?–c. 2100 BC  ? c. 2100 BC  ? cont. Kutik-Inshushinak king of Awan
21 Gir-Namme I king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
22 Tazitta I king of Simashki  ?–? c. 2040 BC[11] c. 2037 BC[11]  ?
23 Eparti I king of Simashki  ?–?  ? c. 2033 BC[11]  ?
24 Gir-Namme II king of Simashki  ?–? c. 2033 BC  ?  ?
25 Tazitta II king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
26 Lurak-Luhhan king of Simashki  ?–2022 BC c. 2028 BC 2022 BC  ?
27 Hutran-Temti king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
28 Indattu-Inshushinak I king of Simashki  ?–2016 BC  ? 2016 BC son of Hutran-Temti
29 Kindattu king of Simashki  ?–? before 2006 BC after 2005 BC son of Tan-Ruhuratir conqueror of Ur
30 Indattu-Inshushinak II king of Simashki  ?–? c. 1980 BC  ? son of Pepi[12] cont. Shu-Ilishu king of Isin & Bilalama king of Eshnunna
32 Tan-Ruhuratir I king of Simashki  ?–? c. 1965 BC  ? son of Indattu-Inshushinnak II cont. Iddin-Dagan king of Isin
33 Indattu-Inshushinak III king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ? son of Tan-Ruhuratir I more than 3 years
35 Indattu-Napir king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
36 Indattu-Temti king of Simashki  ?–?  ? 1928? BC  ?

Battle of Siddim[edit]

Battle of Siddim
Tempesta Abraham Makes the Enemies Flee Who Hold His Nephew.jpg
Abram Makes the Enemies Flee Who Hold His Nephew (1613 etching by Antonio Tempesta at the National Gallery of Art)
Date Early 2nd millennium BC
Location Vale of Siddim (Salt Sea)
Result Cities of the Jordan plain freed from Mesopotamian control; Lot and captives rescued

Five Cities of the Plain

Non aligned:

  • Abram's 318 elite force

Mesopotamian kingdoms

Commanders and leaders

Five Kings

Four Kings

The Battle of the Vale of Siddim, also often called the War of nine Kings, refers to an event in the Hebrew Bible book of Genesis 14:1-12 that occurred in the days of Abram and Lot. The Vale of Siddim was the battleground for the cities of the Jordan River plain revolting against Mesopotamian rule.


According to the Bible, in the days of Lot, before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Elam king, Kenderlaomer, had subdued the tribes and cities surrounding the Jordan River plain. After thirteen years, four kings of the cities of the Jordan plain revolted against Kenderlaomer's rule. According to Jewish tradition, the revolt started with refusing to pay tribute to King Kenderlaomer. In response, Kenderlaomer and seven other northern kings started a campaign against Bera, the king of Sodom and the three other southern kings with him.(Genesis 14:1–7)

Seven Northern Kings[edit]

The invading, enemy kings were:

  1. King Amrapel, ruler of Shinar
  1. King Arioch, ruler of Ellasar
  1. King Kenderlaomer, ruler of Elam
  1. King Tidal, ruler of Goiim
  1. King Shemember, ruler of Zeboiim
  1. King Shinab, ruler of Admah (along with the king of Bela and the king of Lasha)
Four Southern Kings[edit]

The four retreating, ally kings of the Jordan River Plains were:

  1. King Bera, ruler of Sodom
  1. King Birsta, ruler of Gomorrah
  1. King Nianhazel, ruler of Zoar
  1. King Melchizedek, ruler of Salem

The Northern forces overwhelmed the Southern kings of the Jordan plain driving some them into asphalt or tar pits that littered the valley. Those who escaped, fled to the mountains including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were then spoiled of their goods and provisions as well as the taking of captives. Among the captives was Abraham's nephew, Lot. (Genesis 14:10–12)

When word reached Abraham, he immediately mounted a rescue operation, arming 400 of his trained servants who went in pursuit of the enemy armies that were returning to their homelands. They caught up with them in the city of Dan, flanking the enemy on multiple sides, during a night raid. The attack ran its course as far as Hobah, north of Damascus where he defeated Kenderlaomer and his forces. Abram recovered all the goods, even the captives who included Lot. (Genesis 14:13–17)

After the battle, Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine and blessed Abraham, who gave him a third of the plunder. Then Bera king of Sodom came to Abraham and thanked him, also offering Abraham to keep only the plunder, but return only his people. Abraham declined saying, "I swore I would never take anything from you so you can never say I have made Abraham rich". What Abraham accepted from Bera was food for his 400 men and his Amorite neighbors. (Genesis 14:18-20) Peter Leithart suggests that the bread and wine constituted a victory celebration.[13]

Scholarly analysis[edit]
Identifying the kings[edit]

Amraphel has been thought by some scholars such as the writers of the Catholic Encyclopedia and the Jewish Encyclopedia to be an alternate name of the famed Hammurabi. The name is also associated with Ibal Pi-El II of Esnunna.[14][15]

Arioch has been thought to have been a king of Larsa (Ellasar being an alternate version of this). It has also been suggested that it is URU KI, meaning "this place here".

Following the discovery of documents written in the Elamite language and Babylonian language, it was thought that Chedorlaomer is a transliteration of the Elamite compound Kudur-Lagamar, meaning servant of Lagamaru - a reference to Lagamaru, an Elamite deity whose existence was mentioned by Ashurbanipal. However, no mention of an individual named Kudur Lagamar has yet been found; inscriptions that were thought to contain this name are now known to have different names (the confusion arose due to similar lettering).[16][17] David Rohl identifies Chedorlaomer with an Elamite king named Kutir-Lagamar.

Tidal[18][19][20] has been considered to be a transliteration of Tudhaliya - either referring to the first king of the Hittite New Kingdom (Tudhaliya I) or the proto-Hittite king named Tudhaliya. With the former, the title king of Nations would refer to the allies of the Hittite kingdom such as the Ammurru and Mittani; with the latter the term "goyiim" has the sense of "them, those people". al ("their power") gives the sense of a people or tribe rather than a kingdom. Hence td goyim ("those people have created a state and stretched their power").[21]

Geopolitical context[edit]

It was common practise for vassals/allies to accompany a powerful king during their conquests. For example, in a letter from about 1770 BC[15] reporting a speech aimed at persuading the nomadic tribes to acknowledge the authority of Zimri-Lim of Mari:

There is no king who can be mighty alone. Ten or fifteen kings follow Hammurabi the man of Babylon; as many follow Rim-Sin the man of Larsa, Ibal-pi-El the man of Eshnunna, and Amut-pi-El the man of Quatna and twenty kings follow Yarim-Lim the man of Yamhad.

The alliance of four states would have ruled over cities/countries that were spread over a wide area: from Elam at the extreme eastern end of the Fertile Crescent to Anatolia at the western edge of this region. Because of this, there is a limited range of time periods that match the Geopolitical context of Genesis 14. In this account, Chedorlaomer is described as the king to whom the cities of the plain pay tribute. Thus, Elam must be a dominant force in the region and the other three kings would therefore be vassals of Elam and/or trading partners.[15]

There were periods when Elam was allied with Mari through trade.[22] Mari also had connections to Syria and Anatolia, who, in turn, had political, cultural, linguistic and military connections to Canaan.[23] The earliest recorded empire was that of Sargon, which lasted until his grandson, Naram Sin.[15]

According to Kenneth Kitchen,[24] a better agreement with the conditions in the time of Chedorlaomer is provided by Ur Nammu. Mari had had links to the rest of Mesopotamia by Gulf trade as early as the Jemdet Nasr period but an expansion of political connections to Assyria did not occur until the time of Isbi-Erra.[15] The Amorites or MARTU were also linked to the Hittites of Anatolia by trade.[15]

Trade between the Harappan culture of India and the Jemdet Nasr flourished between c 2000-1700BC. As Isin declined, the fortunes of Larsa - located between Eshnunna and Elam - rose until Larsa was defeated by Hammurabi. Between 1880 and 1820 BC there was Assyrian trade with Anatolia, in particular in annakum or tin.[22][25][26]

The main trade route between Ashur and Kanesh running between the Tigris and Euphrates passed through Haran. The empire of Shamshi-Adad I and Rim-Sin I included most of northern Mesopotamia. Thus, Kitchen concludes that this is the period in which the narrative of Genesis 14 falls into a close match with the events of the time of Shamsi Adad and Chedorlaomer[15]

The relevant rulers in the region at this time were:

  • The last king of Isin, Damiq-ilishu, ruled 1816-1794 BC.[15]
  • Rim Sin I of Larsa ruled 1822-1763[15]
  • The last king of Uruk, Nabiilishu, ruled 1802[15]
  • In Babylon, Hammurabi ruled 1792-1750[15]
  • In Eshnunna Ibal Pi-El II ruled c 1762[15]
  • In Elam there was a king Kuduzulush[15]
  • In Ashur, Shamsi Adad I ruled c 1813-1781[15]
  • In Mari, Yasmah-Adad ruled 1796-1780 followed by Zimri-Lin 1779-1757.[15]
Dating of events[edit]

When cuneiform was first deciphered in the 19th century Theophilus Pinches translated some Babylonian tablets which were part of the Spartoli collection in the British Museum and believed he had found in the Chedorlaomer Text the names of three of the "Kings of the East" named in Genesis 14. As this is the only part of Genesis which seems to set Abraham in wider political history, it seemed to many 19th and early 20th century exegetes and Assyriologists to offer an opening to date Abraham, if the kings in question could only be identified.

In 1887, Schrader was the first to propose that Amraphel could be an alternate spelling for Hammurabi.[27] The terminal -bi on the end of Hammurabi's name was seen to parallel Amraphel since the cuneiform symbol for -bi can also be pronounced -pi. Tablets were known in which the initial symbol for Hammurabi, pronounced as kh to yield Khammurabi, had been dropped, so that Ammurapi was a viable pronunciation. If Hammurabi were deified in his lifetime or soon after (adding -il to his name to signify his divinity), this would produce something close to the Bible's Amraphel. A little later Jean-Vincent Scheil found a tablet in the Imperial Ottoman Museum in Istanbul from Hammurabi to a king named Kuder-Lagomer of Elam, which he identified with the same name in Pinches' tablet. Thus by the early 1900s many scholars had become convinced that the kings of Gen. 14:1 had been identified,[28][29] resulting in the following correspondences:[30]

Name from Gen. 14:1 Name from Archaeology
Amraphel king of Shinar Hammurabi (="Ammurapi") king of Babylonia
Arioch king of Ellasar Eri-aku king of Larsa
Chedorlaomer king of Elam (= Chodollogomor in the LXX) Kudur-Lagamar king of Elam
Tidal, king of nations (i.e. goyim, lit. 'nations') Tudhulu, son of Gazza

Today these dating attempts are little more than a historical curiosity. On the one hand, as the scholarly consensus on Near Eastern ancient history moved towards placing Hammurabi in the late 18th century (or even later), and not the 19th, confessional and evangelical theologians found they had to choose between accepting these identifications or accepting the biblical chronology; most were disinclined to state that the Bible might be in error and so began synchronizing Abram with the empire of Sargon I, and the work of Schrader, Pinches and Scheil fell out of favour. Meanwhile, further research into Mesopotamia and Syria in the second millennium BC undercut attempts to tie Abraham in with a definite century and to treat him as a strictly historical figure, and while linguistically not implausible, the identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel is now regarded as untenable.[31]

There is rarely ever consensus on any matters involving Bible interpretation; one modern interpretation of Genesis 14 is summed up by Michael Astour in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (s.v. "Amraphel", "Arioch" and "Chedorlaomer"), who explains the story as a product of anti-Babylonian propaganda during the 6th century Babylonian captivity of the Jews:

After Böhl's widely accepted, but wrong, identification of mTu-ud-hul-a with one of the Hittite kings named Tudhaliyas, Tadmor found the correct solution by equating him with the Assyrian king Sennacherib (see Tidal). Astour (1966) identified the remaining two kings of the Chedorlaomer texts with Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria (see Arioch) and with the Chaldean Merodach-baladan (see Amraphel). The common denominator between these four rulers is that each of them, independently, occupied Babylon, oppressed it to a greater or lesser degree, and took away its sacred divine images, including the statue of its chief god Marduk; furthermore, all of them came to a tragic end ... All attempts to reconstruct the link between the Chedorlaomer texts and Genesis 14 remain speculative. However, the available evidence seems consistent with the following hypothesis: A Jew in Babylon, versed in Akkadian language and cuneiform script, found in an early version of the Chedorlaomer texts certain things consistent with his anti-Babylonian feelings.[32]

The Chedorlaomer tablets are now thought to be from the 6th or 7th century BC, a millennium after the time of Hammurabi, but at roughly the time when the main elements of Genesis are thought to have been set down. Another prominent scholar considers a relationship between the tablet and Genesis speculative, but identifies Tudhula as a veiled reference to Sennacherib of Assyria, and Chedorlaomer, i.e. Kudur-Nahhunte, as "a recollection of a 12th century BC king of Elam who briefly ruled Babylon."[33]

The last serious attempt to place a historical Abraham in the second millennium resulted from discovery of the name Abi-ramu on Babylonian contracts of about 2000 BC, but this line of argument lost its force when it was shown that the name was also common in the first millennium,[34] leaving the patriarchal narratives in a relative biblical chronology but without an anchor in the known history of the Near East.

A few evangelical scholars continue to argue against the consensus: Kitchen asserts that the only known historical period in which a king of Elam, whilst allied with Larsa, was able to enlist a Hittite king and a King of Eshunna as partners and allies in a war against Canaanite cities is in the time of Old Babylon c 1822-1764 BC. This is when Babylon is under Hammurabi and Rim Sin I controls Mari, which is linked through trade to the Hittites and other allies along the length of the Euphrates. This trade is mentioned in the Mari letters, a source which documents a geo-political relationship back to when the ships of Dilmun, Makkan and Meluhha docked at the quays of Agade in the time of Sargon. In the period of Old Babylon, c 1822-1764 BC, Rim Sin I brought together kings of Syro-Anatolia whose kingdoms were located on the Euphrates in a coalition focused on Mari whose king was Shamsi Adad. Kitchen uses the geo-political context, the price of slaves and the nature of the covenants entered into by Abraham to date the events he encounters. He sees the covenants, between Abraham and the other characters encountered at various points in Abraham's journeys, as datable textual artifacts having the form of legal documents which can be compared to the form of legal documents from different periods.[24] Of particular interest is the relationship between Abraham and his wife, Sarah. When Sarah proves to be barren, she offers her handmaiden, Hagar, to Abraham to provide an heir. This arrangement, along with other aspects of the covenants of Abraham, lead Kitchen to a relatively narrow date range which he believes aligns with the time of Hammurabi.[24]

Epartid dynasty[edit]

Throne Name Original Name Portrait Title Born-Died Entered office Left office Family Relations Note
20 The unnamed king of Simashki king of Simashki  ?–c. 2100 BC  ? c. 2100 BC  ? cont. Kutik-Inshushinak king of Awan
21 Gir-Namme I king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
22 Tazitta I king of Simashki  ?–? c. 2040 BC[11] c. 2037 BC[11]  ?
23 Eparti I king of Simashki  ?–?  ? c. 2033 BC[11]  ?
24 Gir-Namme II king of Simashki  ?–? c. 2033 BC  ?  ?
25 Tazitta II king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
26 Lurak-Luhhan king of Simashki  ?–2022 BC c. 2028 BC 2022 BC  ?
27 Hutran-Temti king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
28 Indattu-Inshushinak I king of Simashki  ?–2016 BC  ? 2016 BC son of Hutran-Temti
29 Kindattu king of Simashki  ?–? before 2006 BC after 2005 BC son of Tan-Ruhuratir conqueror of Ur
30 Indattu-Inshushinak II king of Simashki  ?–? c. 1980 BC  ? son of Pepi[12] cont. Shu-Ilishu king of Isin & Bilalama king of Eshnunna
32 Tan-Ruhuratir I king of Simashki  ?–? c. 1965 BC  ? son of Indattu-Inshushinnak II cont. Iddin-Dagan king of Isin
33 Indattu-Inshushinak III king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ? son of Tan-Ruhuratir I more than 3 years
35 Indattu-Napir king of Simashki  ?–?  ?  ?  ?
36 Indattu-Temti king of Simashki  ?–?  ? 1928? BC  ?

Ancient City-States in Iran[edit]

Further information: Cities of the Ancient Near East
Table 1: 3700-1200 BCE
City 3700 BCE 3400 BCE 3100 BCE 2800 BCE 2600 BCE 2500 BCE 2300 BCE 2000 BCE 1800 BCE 1600 BCE 1360 BCE 1200 BCE
Anshan 10,000 [35] 10,000 [35] 10,000 [35] 10,000 [35] 10,000 [35] 10,000 [35]
Susa 8,000[36]



شوش (Persian)
Royal City and Acropolis Tepes.jpg
Tepe of the Royal city (left) and of the Acropolis (right), seen from the Hill mound of the Apadana in Susa.
Old Elamite period is located in Iran
Old Elamite period
Shown within Iran
Location Shush, Khuzestan Province, Iran
Region Zagros Mountains
Coordinates 32°11′26″N 48°15′28″E / 32.19056°N 48.25778°E / 32.19056; 48.25778
Type Settlement
Founded Approximately 4000 BCE
Abandoned 1218 CE
Site notes
Condition In ruins
Official name Susa
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv
Designated 2015 (39th session)
Reference no. 1455
State party Iran
Region Asia-Pacific

In historic literature, Susa appears in the very earliest Sumerian records: for example, it is described as one of the places obedient to Inanna, patron deity of Uruk, in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.

Susa is also mentioned in the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible by the name Shushan, mainly in Esther, but also once each in Nehemiah and Daniel. Both Daniel and Nehemiah lived in Susa during the Babylonian captivity of the 6th century BCE. Esther became queen there, and saved the Jews from genocide. A tomb presumed to be that of Daniel is located in the area, known as Shush-Daniel. The tomb is marked by an unusual white stone cone, which is neither regular nor symmetric. Many scholars believe it was at one point a Star of David. Susa is further mentioned in the Book of Jubilees (8:21 & 9:2) as one of the places within the inheritance of Shem and his eldest son Elam; and in 8:1, "Susan" is also named as the son (or daughter, in some translations) of Elam.

Greek mythology attributed the founding of Susa to king Memnon of Aethiopia, a character from Homer's Trojan War epic, the Iliad.


In urban history, Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements of the region. Based on C14 dating, the foundation of a settlement there occurred as early as 4395 BCE (a calibrated radio-carbon date).[37] Archeologists have dated the first traces of an inhabited Neolithic village to c 7000 BCE. Evidence of a painted-pottery civilization has been dated to c 5000 BCE.[38] Its name in Elamite was written variously Ŝuŝan, Ŝuŝun, etc. The origin of the word Susa is from the local city deity Inshushinak. Like its Chalcolithic neighbor Uruk, Susa began as a discrete settlement in the Susa I period (c 4000 BCE). Two settlements called Acropolis (7 ha) and Apadana (6.3 ha) by archeologists, would later merge to form Susa proper (18 ha).[39] The Apadana was enclosed by 6m thick walls of rammed earth. The founding of Susa corresponded with the abandonment of nearby villages. Potts suggests that the city may have been founded to try to reestablish the previously destroyed settlement at Chogha Mish.[39] Susa was firmly within the Uruk cultural sphere during the Uruk period. An imitation of the entire state apparatus of Uruk, proto-writing, cylinder seals with Sumerian motifs, and monumental architecture, is found at Susa. Susa may have been a colony of Uruk. As such, the periodization of Susa corresponds to Uruk; Early, Middle and Late Susa II periods (3800–3100 BCE) correspond to Early, Middle, and Late Uruk periods.

By the middle Susa II period, the city had grown to 25 ha.[39] Susa III (3100–2900 BCE) corresponds with Uruk III period. Ambiguous reference to Elam (Cuneiform; 𒉏 NIM) appear also in this period in Sumerian records. Susa enters history during the Early Dynastic period of Sumer. A battle between Kish and Susa is recorded in 2700 BCE.

Susa Cemetery[edit]

Shortly after Susa was first settled 6000 years ago, its inhabitants erected a temple on a monumental platform that rose over the flat surrounding landscape. The exceptional nature of the site is still recognizable today in the artistry of the ceramic vessels that were placed as offerings in a thousand or more graves near the base of the temple platform. Nearly two thousand pots were recovered from the cemetery most of them now in the Louvre. The vessels found are eloquent testimony to the artistic and technical achievements of their makers, and they hold clues about the organization of the society that commissioned them.[40] Painted ceramic vessels from Susa in the earliest first style are a late, regional version of the Mesopotamian Ubaid ceramic tradition that spread across the Near East during the fifth millennium B.C.[40]

Susa I style was very much a product of the past and of influences from contemporary ceramic industries in the mountains of western Iran. The recurrence in close association of vessels of three types—a drinking goblet or beaker, a serving dish, and a small jar—implies the consumption of three types of food, apparently thought to be as necessary for life in the afterworld as it is in this one. Ceramics of these shapes, which were painted, constitute a large proportion of the vessels from the cemetery. Others are course cooking-type jars and bowls with simple bands painted on them and were probably the grave goods of the sites of humbler citizens as well as adolescents and, perhaps, children.[41] The pottery is carefully made by hand. Although a slow wheel may have been employed, the asymmetry of the vessels and the irregularity of the drawing of encircling lines and bands indicate that most of the work was done freehand.


In politics, Susa was the capital of a state called Šušan, which occupied approximately the same territory of modern Khūzestān Province centered on the Karun River. Control of Šušan shifted between Elam, Sumer, and Akkad. Šušan is sometimes mistaken as synonymous with Elam, but it was a distinct cultural and political entity.[42] Šušan was incorporated by Sargon the Great into his Akkadian Empire in approximately 2330 BCE. It was the capital of an Akkadian province until ca. 2240 BCE, when its governor, Kutik-Inshushinak, rebelled and made it an independent state and a literary center. The city was subsequently conquered by the neo-Sumerian Ur-III dynasty and held until Ur finally collapsed at the hands of the Elamites under Kindattu in ca. 2004 BCE. At this time, Susa became an Elamite capital under the Epartid dynasty and, in 1400 BCE, of the Igihalkid dynasty that "Elamaized" Šušan.[42] In ca. 1175 BCE, the Elamites under Shutruk-Nahhunte plundered the original stele bearing the Code of Hammurabi, the world's first known written laws,[43] and took it to Susa. Archeologists found it in 1901. Nebuchadnezzar I of the Babylonian empire plundered Susa around fifty years later.



Before 1973, when it was identified as Tall-i Malyan,[44] Anshan had been assumed by scholars to be somewhere in the central Zagros mountain range.[45]

The Elamite city appears to have been quite ancient; it makes an appearance in the early Sumerian epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta as being en route between Uruk and the legendary Aratta, supposedly around the time writing was developed. At various times, Anshan provided, in its own right, the source for a number of Elamite dynasties that sometimes competed for extent and influence with other prominent Elamite cities.

Manishtushu claimed to have subjugated Anshan, but as the Akkadian empire weakened under his successors, the native governor of Susa, Kutik-Inshushinak, a scion of the Awan dynasty, proclaimed his independence from Akkad and captured Anshan (some scholars have speculated that the name Awan is an alternate form of Anshan). Following this, Gudea of Lagash claimed to have subjugated Anshan, and the Neo-Sumerian rulers Shulgi and Shu-Sin of Ur are said to have maintained their own governors over the place. However their successor, Ibbi-Sin, seems to have spent his reign engaged in a losing struggle to maintain control over Anshan, ultimately resulting in the Elamite sack of Ur in 2004 BC, at which time the statue of Nanna, and Ibbi-Sin himself, were captured and removed to Anshan.[46] In the Old Babylonian period, king Gungunum of Larsa dated his 5th regnal year after the destruction of Anshan.

From the 15th century BC, Elamite rulers at Susa began using the title "King of Anshan and Susa" (in Akkadian texts, the toponyms are reversed, as "King of Susa and Anshan"),[47] and it seems probable that Anshan and Susa were in fact unified for much of the "Middle Elamite period". The last king to claim this title was Shutruk-Nahhunte II (ca. 717-699 BC).[48]


Main articles: Kiririsha, Pinikir, Inshushinak, Jabru and Khumban
Bull-man protecting a palmtree, Decorative brick panel from the outer wall of a temple to Inshushinak at Susa (12th century BC)
A "two-horned" figure wrestling with serpent goddesses. The Elamite artifact was discovered by Iran's border police in the possession of historical heritage traffickers, en route to Turkey, and was confiscated. Style is determined to be from "Jiroft".[citation needed]

The Elamites practised polytheism. Knowledge about their religion is scant, but, according to Cambridge Ancient History, at one time they had a pantheon headed by the goddess Kiririsha/Pinikir.[49] Other deities included the Inshushinak and Jabru, lord of the underworld.

Kiririsha (or Kirisha) at one stage became the most important goddess of Elam, ranked second only to her husband the god, Humban. Along with Humban and another god, Inshushinak, she formed part of the supreme triad of the Elamite pantheon.

Kiririsha, which in Elamite means "the Great Goddess", was first known as the 'Lady of Liyan' - an Elamite port on Persian Gulf (near modern-day Bushire, Iran), where she and Humban had a temple that was erected by Humban-Numena. There was later (ca. 1250 BC) a temple built to her at Chogha Zanbil. She was often called 'the Great', or 'the divine mother'. She seems to have been primarily worshipped in the south of Elam, as another goddess, Pinikir, held her position in the north. Eventually, by about 1800 BC, the two had merged and the cult of Kiririsha also came to be practised in Susiana.

Pinikir was an Elamite mother-goddess who some scholars have identified with the goddess Kirrisi or Kiririsha.[50][51]

Inshushinak was one of the major gods of the Elamites and the protector deity of Susa. The ziggurat at Choqa Zanbil is dedicated to him.

Jabru was the Elamite god of the underworld. He was the father of all Elamite gods. Jabru's Akkadian counterpart was Anu.

Khumban is the Elamite god of the sky. His sumerian equivalent is Anu. Several Elamite kings, mostly from the Neo-Elamite period, were named in honour of Khumban.


Elamite is an extinct language spoken by the ancient Elamites. Elamite was the primary language in present-day Iran from 2800–550 BC. The last written records in Elamite appear about the time of the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great. Elamite has no demonstrable relatives, and is usually considered a language isolate. Partly due to the lack of established relatives, interpretation of the language is difficult.[52]

Writing system[edit]

Main article: Elamite Cuneiform
Elamite Cuneiform
Languages Elamite language
Time period
2200 BCE to 400 BCE
Parent systems
Sister systems
Old Persian Cuneiform

Elamite cuneiform was a logo-syllabic script used to write the Elamite language.

History and decipherment[edit]

The Elamite language (c. 3000 BCE to 400 BCE) is the now-extinct language spoken by Elamites, who inhabited the regions of Khuzistān and Fārs in Southern Iran.[53] It has long been an enigma for scholars due to the scarcity of resources for its research and the irregularities found in the language.[53] It seems to have no relation to its neighboring Semitic and Indo-European languages.[54] Scholars fiercely argue over several hypotheses about its origin, but have no definite theory.

Elamite cuneiform comes in two variants, the first, derived from Akkadian, was used during the 3rd to 2nd millennia BCE, and a simplified form used during the 1st millennium BCE.[53] The main difference between the two variants is the reduction of glyphs used in the simplified version.[55] At any one time, there would only be around 130 cuneiform signs in use. Throughout the script’s history, only 206 different signs were used in total.

The earliest known Elamite cuneiform text is a treaty between Akkaddians and the Elamites that dates back to 2200 BCE.[53] However, some believe it might have been in use since 2500 BCE [55] The tablets are poorly preserved so only limited parts can be read but it is understood that the text is a treaty between the Akkad king Nāramsîn and Elamite ruler Hita. Frequent references like "Nāramsîn's friend is my friend, Nāramsîn's enemy is my enemy" indicate so.[53]

The most famous and the ones that ultimately lead to its decipherment are the Elamite scriptures found in the trilingual inscriptions of monuments commissioned by the Achaemenid Persian kings.[56] The inscriptions, similar to that of the Rosetta Stone's, were written in three different writing systems. The first was Old Persian, which was deciphered in 1802 by Georg Friedrich Grotefend. The second, Babylonian cuneiform, was deciphered shortly after the Old Persian text. Because Elamite is unlike its neighboring Semitic languages, the script's decipherment was delayed until the 1840s. Even today, lack of sources and comparative materials hinder further research of Elamite.[53]


Elamite radically reduced the number of cuneiform glyphs. From the entire history of the script, only 206 glyphs are used; at any one time, the number was fairly constant at about 130. In the earliest tablets the script is almost entirely syllabic, with almost all common Old Akkadian syllabic glyphs with CV and VC values being adopted. Over time the number of syllabic glyphs is reduced while the number of logograms increases. About 40 CVC glyphs are also occasionally used, but they appear to have been used for the consonants and ignored the vocalic value. Several determinatives are also used.[55]

Elamite CV and VC syllabic glyphs
Monumental Achaemenid inscriptions, 5th century BCE
Ca Ce Ci Cu aC eC iC uC
𒉺 pa
𒁀 ba

𒁁 be
𒉿 pe ~ pi 𒁍 pu 𒀊 ap 𒅁 (𒌈) ip 𒌒 up
qa/ka4 ka 𒆠 ke ~ ki
𒄀 ge ~ gi
𒆪 ku 𒀝 ak 𒅅 ik 𒊌 uk

𒆪 da
𒋼 te 𒋾 ti 𒌅 (tu4) tu
𒁺 du
𒀜 at   𒌓 ut
š 𒐼 (𒊮) ša 𒊺 še 𒅆 ši 𒋗 šu 𒀾 𒆜 iš ~ uš
z (č)
𒊓 sa
𒍝 ca
𒋛 se ~ si
𒍢 ce ~ ci
𒋢 su 𒊍 as/ac 𒄑 is/ic
y ya
l 𒆷 la 𒇷 le ~ li 𒇻 lu Cuneiform UL.png ul
m 𒈠 ma 𒈨 me 𒈪 mi 𒈬 mu 𒄠 am 𒌝 um
n 𒈾 na 𒉌 ne ~ ni 𒉡 nu 𒀭 an 𒂗 en 𒅔 in 𒌦 un
r 𒊏 ra 𒊑 re ~ ri 𒊒 ru 𒅕 ir 𒌨 ur
𒄩 ha
𒀀 a

𒂊 e
𒄭 hi
𒄿 i
𒄷 hu
𒌋, 𒌑 u
𒄴 ah

Glyphs in parentheses in the table are not common.[need to find ka4 and tu4]

The script distinguished the four vowels of Akkadian and 15 consonants, /p/, /b/,/k/,/g/,/t/,/d/,/š/,/s/,/z/,/y/,/l/,/m/,/n/,/r/, and /h/. The Akkadian voiced pairs /p, b/, /k, g/, and /t, d/ may not have been distinct in Elamite. The series transcribed z may have been an affricate such as /č/ or /c/ (ts). /hV/ was not always distinguished from simple vowels, suggesting that /h/ may have been dropping out of the language. The VC glyphs are often used for a syllable coda without any regard to the value of V, suggesting that they were in fact alphabetic C signs.[55]

Much of the conflation of Ce and Ci, and also eC and iC, is inherited from Akkadian (pe-pi-bi, ke-ki, ge-gi, se-si, ze-zi, le-li, re-ri, and ḫe-ḫi—that is, only ne-ni are distinguished in Akkadian but not Elamite; of the VC syllables, only eš-iš-uš). In addition, 𒄴 is aḫ, eḫ, iḫ, uḫ in Akkadian, and so effectively is a coda consonant even there.


Elamite cuneiform is similar to that of Akkadian cuneiform except for a few unusual features. For example, the primary function of CVC glyphs was to indicate the two consonants rather than the syllable.[55] Thus certain words used the glyphs for “tir” and “tar” interchangeably and the vowel was ignored. Occasionally, the vowel is acknowledged such that “tir” will be used in the context “ti-rV”. Thus “ti-ra” might be written with the glyphs for “tir” and “a” or “ti” and “ra”.

Elamite cuneiform allows for a lot of freedom when constructing syllables. For example, CVC syllables are sometimes represented by using a CV and VC glyph. The vowel in the second glyph is irrelevant so “sa-ad” and “sa-ud” are equivalent. Additionally, “VCV” syllables are represented by combining “V” and “CV” glyphs or “VC” and “CV” glyphs that have a common consonant. Thus “ap-pa” and “a-pa” are equivalent.

Linguistic typology[edit]

Elamite was an agglutinative language,[57] and Elamite grammar was characterized by a well-developed and pervasive nominal class system, where animate nouns had separate markers for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person – the latter being a rather unusual feature. It can be said to display a kind of Suffixaufnahme in that the nominal class markers of the head were also attached to any modifiers, including adjectives, noun adjuncts, possessor nouns, and even entire clauses.


The history of Elamite is periodized as follows:

  • Old Elamite (c. 2600–1500 BC)
  • Middle Elamite (c. 1500–1000 BC)
  • Neo-Elamite (1000–550 BC)
  • Achaemenid Elamite (550–330 BC)

Middle Elamite is considered the “classical” period of Elamite, whereas the best attested variety is Achaemenid Elamite,[58] which was widely used by the Achaemenid Persian state for official inscriptions as well as administrative records and displays significant Old Persian influence. Documents from the Old Elamite and early Neo-Elamite stages are rather scarce. Neo-Elamite can be regarded as a transition between Middle and Achaemenid Elamite with respect to language structure.

Sound system[edit]

Tablet of Elamite script
Native to Elamite Empire
Region Middle East
Era ca. 2800–300 BC
Early forms
language of Proto-Elamite?
Language codes
ISO 639-2 elx
ISO 639-3 elx
Linguist list
Glottolog elam1244[59]

Because of the limitations of the scripts, Elamite phonology is not well understood. In terms of consonants, it had at least the stops /p/, /t/ and /k/, the sibilants /s/, /š/ and /z/ (with uncertain pronunciation), the nasals /m/ and /n/, the liquids /l/ and /r/, and a fricative /h/, which was lost in late Neo-Elamite. Some peculiarities of spelling have been interpreted as suggesting that there was a contrast between two series of stops (/p/, /t/, /k/ vs /b/, /d/, /g/), but in general such a distinction is not consistently indicated by written Elamite. As for the vowels, Elamite had at least /a/, /i/, and /u/, and may also have had an /e/, which is, however, not generally expressed unambiguously.

Roots are generally of the forms CV, (C)VC, (C)VCV, and more rarely CVCCV (where the first C is usually a nasal).


Elamite is agglutinative (but with fewer morphemes per word than, for example, Sumerian or Hurrian and Urartian), and predominantly suffixing.

Nominal morphology[edit]

The Elamite nominal system is thoroughly pervaded by a noun class distinction which combines a gender distinction between animate and inanimate with a personal class distinction corresponding to the three persons of verbal inflection (first, second, third, plural).
The suffixes are as follows:

1st person singular: -k
2nd person singular: -t
3rd person singular: -r or Ø
3rd person plural: -p


, -me, -n, -t[clarification needed]

The animate third-person suffix -r can serve as a nominalizing suffix and indicate nomen agentis or just members of a class. The inanimate 3rd singular -me forms abstracts. Some examples are sunki-k “a king (first person)” i.e. “I, a king”, sunki-r “a king (third person)”, nap-Ø or nap-ir “a god (third person)”, sunki-p “kings”, nap-ip “gods”, sunki-me “kingdom, kingship”, hal-Ø “town, land”, siya-n “temple”, hala-t “mud brick”.

Modifiers follow their (nominal) heads. In noun phrases and pronoun phrases, the suffixes referring to the head are appended to the modifier, regardless of whether the modifier is another noun (such as a possessor) or an adjective. Sometimes the suffix is preserved on the head as well.


u šak X-k(i) = “I, the son of X”
X šak Y-r(i) = “X, the son of Y”
u sunki-k Hatamti-k = “I, the king of Elam”
sunki Hatamti-p (or, sometimes, sunki-p Hatamti-p) = “the kings of Elam”
temti riša-r = “great lord” (lit. “lord great”)
riša-r nap-ip-ir = “greatest of the gods” (lit. “great of the gods)
nap-ir u-ri = my god (lit. “god of me”)
hiya-n nap-ir u-ri-me = the throne hall of my god
takki-me puhu nika-me-me = “the life of our children”
sunki-p uri-p u-p(e) = ”kings, my predecessors” (lit. “kings, predecessors of me”)

This system, in which the noun class suffixes function as derivational morphemes as well as agreement markers and indirectly as subordinating morphemes, is best seen in Middle Elamite. It is, to a great extent, broken down in Achaemenid Elamite, where possession and, sometimes, attributive relationships are uniformly expressed with the “genitive case” suffix -na appended to the modifier: e.g. šak X-na “son of X”. The suffix -na, which probably originated from the inanimate agreement suffix -n followed by the nominalizing particle -a (see below), appeared already in Neo-Elamite.

The personal pronouns distinguish nominative and accusative case forms. They are as follows:

Case 1st sg. 2nd sg. 3rd sg. 1st pl. 2nd pl. 3rd pl. Inanimate
Nominative u ni/nu i/hi nika/nuku num/numi ap/appi i/in
Accusative un nun ir/in nukun numun appin i/in

In general, no special possessive pronouns are needed in view of the construction with the noun class suffixes. Nevertheless, a set of separate third-person animate possessives -e (sing.) / appi-e (plur.) is occasionally used already in Middle Elamite: puhu-e “her children”, hiš-api-e “their name”. The relative pronouns are akka “who” and appa “what, which”.

Verbal morphology[edit]

The verb base can be simple (e.g. ta- “put”) or “reduplicated” (e.g. beti > bepti “rebel”). The pure verb base can function as a verbal noun or “infinitive”.

The verb distinguishes three forms functioning as finite verbs, known as “conjugations”. Conjugation I is the only one that has special endings characteristic of finite verbs as such, as shown below. Its use is mostly associated with active voice, transitivity (or verbs of motion), neutral aspect and past tense meaning. Conjugations II and III can be regarded as periphrastic constructions with participles; they are formed by the addition of the nominal personal class suffixes to a passive perfective participle in -k and to an active imperfective participle in -n, respectively. Accordingly, conjugation II expresses a perfective aspect, hence usually past tense, and an intransitive or passive voice, whereas conjugation III expresses an imperfective non-past action.

The Middle Elamite conjugation I is formed with the following suffixes:

1st singular: -h
2nd singular: -t
3rd singular:
1st plural: -hu
2nd plural: -h-t
3rd plural: -h-š

Examples: kulla-h ”I prayed”, hap-t ”you heard”, hutta-š “he did”, kulla-hu “we prayed”, hutta-h-t “you (plur.) did”, hutta-h-š “they did”. In Achaemenid Elamite, the loss of the /h/ phoneme reduces the transparency of the Conjugation I endings and leads to the merger of the singular and plural except in the first person; in addition, the first person plural changes from -hu to -ut.

The participles can be exemplified as follows: perfective participle hutta-k “done”, kulla-k “something prayed”, i.e. “a prayer”; imperfective participle hutta-n “doing” or “who will do”, also serving as a non-past infinitive. The corresponding conjugation is, for the perfective, first person singular hutta-k-k, second person singular hutta-k-t, third person singular hutta-k-r, third person plural hutta-k-p; and for the imperfective, 1st person singular hutta-n-k, 2nd person singular hutta-n-t, 3rd person singular hutta-n-r, 3rd person plural hutta-n-p. In Achaemenid Elamite, the Conjugation 2 endings are somewhat changed: 1st person singular hutta-k-ut, 2nd person singular hutta-k-t, 3rd person singular hutta-k (hardly ever attested in predicative use), 3rd person plural hutta-p.

There is also a periphrastic construction with an auxiliary verb ma- following either Conjugation II and III stems (i.e. the perfective and imperfective participles), or nomina agentis in -r, or a verb base directly. In Achaemenid Elamite, only the third option exists. There is no consensus on the exact meaning of the periphrastic forms with ma-, although durative, intensive or volitional interpretations have been suggested.[60]

Optative mood is expressed by the addition of the suffix -ni to Conjugations I and II. The imperative is identical to the second person of Conjugation I in Middle Elamite. In Achaemenid Elamite, it is the third person that coincides with the imperative. The prohibitative is formed by the particle ani/ani preceding Conjugation III.

Verbal forms can be converted into the heads of subordinate clauses through the addition of the suffix -a, much as in Sumerian: siyan in-me kuši-hš(i)-me-a “the temple which they did not build”. -ti/-ta can be suffixed to verbs, chiefly of conjugation I, expressing possibly a meaning of anteriority (perfect and pluperfect tense).

The negative particle is in-; it takes nominal class suffixes that agree with the subject of attention (which may or may not coincide with the grammatical subject), e.g. first person singular in-ki, third person singular animate in-ri, third person singular inanimate in-ni/in-me. In Achaemenid Elamite, the inanimate form in-ni has been generalized to all persons, so that concord has been lost.


Nominal heads are normally followed by their modifiers, although there are occasional inversions of this word order. The word order is subject–object–verb (SOV), with indirect objects preceding direct objects, although the word order becomes more flexible in Achaemenid Elamite. There are often resumptive pronouns before the verb – often long sequences, especially in Middle Elamite (ap u in duni-h "to-them I it gave").

The language uses postpositions such as -ma "in" and -na "of", but spatial and temporal relationships are generally expressed in Middle Elamite by means of "directional words" originating as nouns or verbs. These "directional words" either precede or follow the governed nouns, and tend to exhibit noun class agreement with whatever noun is described by the prepositional phrase: e.g. i-r pat-r u-r ta-t-ni "may you place him under me", lit. "him inferior of-me place-you-may". In Achaemenid Elamite, postpositions become more common and partly, but not entirely, displace this type of construction.

A common conjunction is ak "and, or". Achaemenid Elamite also uses a number of subordinating conjunctions such as anka "if, when", sap "as, when", etc. Subordinate clauses usually precede the verb of the main clause. In Middle Elamite, the most common way to construct a relative clause is to attach a nominal class suffix to the clause-final verb, optionally followed by the relativizing suffix -a: thus, lika-me i-r hani-š-r(i) "whose reign he loves", or optionally lika-me i-r hani-š-r-a. The alternative construction by means of the relative pronouns akka "who" and appa "which" is uncommon in Middle Elamite, but gradually becomes dominant at the expense of the nominal class suffix construction in Achaemenid Elamite.

Language samples[edit]

Middle Elamite (Šutruk-Nahhunte I, 1200–1160 BC; EKI 18, IRS 33):


(1) ú DIŠšu-ut-ru-uk-d.nah-hu-un-te ša-ak DIŠhal-lu-du-uš-din-šu-ši-

(2) -na-ak-gi-ik su-un-ki-ik an-za-an šu-šu-un-ka4 e-ri-en-

(3) -tu4-um ti-pu-uh a-ak hi-ya-an din-šu-ši-na-ak na-pír

(4) ú-ri-me a-ha-an ha-li-ih-ma hu-ut-tak ha-li-ku-me

(5) din-šu-ši-na-ak na-pír ú-ri in li-na te-la-ak-ni


U Šutruk-Nahhunte, šak Halluduš-Inšušinak-ik, sunki-k Anzan Šušun-ka. Erientum tipu-h ak hiya-n Inšušinak nap-ir u-ri-me ahan hali-h-ma. hutta-k hali-k u-me Inšušinak nap-ir u-ri in lina tela-k-ni.


I, Šutruk-Nahhunte, son of Halluduš-Inšušinak, king of Anshan and Susa. I moulded bricks and made the throne hall of my god Inšušinak with them. May my work come as an offering to my god Inšušinak.

Achaemenid Elamite (Xerxes I, 486–465 BC; XPa):


(01) [sect 01] dna-ap ir-šá-ir-ra du-ra-mas-da ak-ka4 mu-ru-un
(02) hi pè-iš-tá ak-ka4 dki-ik hu-ip-pè pè-iš-tá ak-ka4 DIŠ
(03) LÚ.MEŠ-ir-ra ir pè-iš-tá ak-ka4 ši-ia-ti-iš pè-iš-tá DIŠ
(04) LÚ.MEŠ-ra-na ak-ka4 DIŠik-še-ir-iš-šá DIŠEŠŠANA ir hu-ut-taš-
(05) tá ki-ir ir-še-ki-ip-in-na DIŠEŠŠANA ki-ir ir-še-ki-ip-
(06) in-na pír-ra-ma-ut-tá-ra-na-um


Nap irša-rra Uramasda, akka muru-n hi pe-š-ta, akka kik hupe pe-š-ta, akka ruh(?)-irra ir pe-š-ta, akka šiatiš pe-š-ta ruh(?)-ra-na, akka Ikšerša sunki(?) ir hutta-š-ta kir iršeki-pi-na sunki(?), kir iršeki-pi-na piramataram.


A great god is Ahura Mazda, who created this earth, who created that sky, who created man, who created happiness of man, who made Xerxes king, one king of many, one lord of many.

Relations to other language families[edit]

Elamite is regarded by the vast majority of linguists as a language isolate, as it has no demonstrable relationship to the neighbouring Semitic languages, Indo-European languages, or to Sumerian, despite having adopted the Sumerian-Akkadian cuneiform script. An Elamo-Dravidian family connecting Elamite with the Dravidian languages of India was suggested by Igor M. Diakonoff, and has been later defended by David McAlpin in several articles. Václav Blažek proposed a relation with the Afroasiatic languages of the Near East,[61] and George Starostin published a lexicostatistic analysis finding Elamite to be approximately equidistant from Nostratic and Semitic,[62] but these ideas have not been picked up by mainstream historical linguists.[why?][citation needed]

Women in Elam[edit]

At times, Elam was matriarchal society, thus women leading over men and all society. In general, women's rights in Mesopotamia were not equal to those of men.[citation needed] But in early periods women were free to go out to the marketplaces, buy and sell, attend to legal matters for their absent men, own their own property, borrow and lend, and engage in business for themselves. High status women, such as priestesses and members of royal families, might learn to read and write and be given considerable administrative authority. Numerous powerful goddesses were worshiped; in some city states they were the primary deities.[citation needed] The position of women varied between city-states and changed over time. There was an enormous gap between the rights of high and low status women (almost half the population in the late Babylonian period were slaves), and female power and freedom sharply diminished during the Assyrian era. The first evidence of laws requiring the public veiling of elite women come from this period.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Orientalia. Pontificium institutum biblicum. 1998. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Eder, Christian. Assyrische Distanzangaben und die absolute Chronologie Vorderasiens, AoF 31, 191–236, 2004.
  3. ^ Legrain, 1922, pp. 10, 12, 22.
  4. ^ a b Encyclopedia Iranica, "AWAN"
  5. ^ Cameron, 1936; Hinz, 1972; The Cambridge Ancient History; Vallat, 1998.
  6. ^ The Archaeology of Elam, by Daniel T. Potts, Cambridge University Press, p. 124 [1]
  7. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica: Elam - Simashki dynasty, F. Vallat
  8. ^ Wilcke; See Encyclopedia Iranica articles AWAN, ELAM
  9. ^ see Hansman; Encyclopedia Iranica, "Anshan".
  10. ^ Cameron, 1936.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Potts, 1999.
  12. ^ a b c Hinz, 1972.
  13. ^ Leithart, Peter (2000). Blessed are the Hungry: Meditations on the Lord's Supper. Moscow, ID: Canon Press. p. 26. 
  14. ^ Amraphael
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Micael Roaf "Cambridge Atlas of Archaeology - king lists p 111 and pp 108-123
  16. ^ 'Chedorlaomer' at JewishEncyclopedia.com
  17. ^ Kudur-Lagamar from History of Egypt by G. Maspero
  18. ^ Akkadian tD ("have stretched themselves")
  19. ^ (Akkadian verbal stem intensive, reflexive expressing the bringing about of a state)
  20. ^ tD
  21. ^ Freedman, Meyers & Beck. Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (ISBN 0802824005, ISBN 978-0-8028-2400-4), 2000, p.232
  22. ^ a b Khalifa, Shaika Haya Ali Al; Rice, Michael (1986). Bahrain through the Ages. KPI. ISBN 0-7103-0112-X. 
  23. ^ The Mari letters
  24. ^ a b c Kitchen, Kenneth A. "The Patriarchal Age: Myth or History?" in Shanks, Hershel (ed.) Biblical Archaeology Review 21:02 (March/April 1995)
  25. ^ Nayeem, Dr. Muhammed Abdul (1990). Prehistory and Protohistory of the Arabian Peninsula. Hyderabad. 
  26. ^ Roaf, Michael (1990). Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East. Equinox. ISBN 0-8160-2218-6. 
  27. ^ Orr, James, general editor (1915). "Hammurabi". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 
  28. ^ "Amraphel". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 1917. 
  29. ^ Pinches, Theophilus (1908). The Old Testament In the Light of The Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia (third ed.). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 
  30. ^ MacKenzie, Donald (1915). "The Golden Age of Babylonia". Myths of Babylonia and Assyria. p. 247. The identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel is now generally accepted 
  31. ^ Browning, W.R.F. (2010). "Amraphel". A Dictionary of the Bible (second ed.). Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-19-954399-2. The identification, once popular, that this Amraphel was the famous Hammurabi of Babylon (1728–1686 BCE) is not tenable ... Most scholars doubt whether Gen. 14 describes historical events. 
  32. ^ The Anchor Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Chedorlaomer"
  33. ^ Hindel, Ronald (1994). "Finding Historical Memories in the Patriarchal Narratives". Biblical Archaeology Review 21 (4): 52–59, 70–72. 
  34. ^ Thompson, Thomas (2002). The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives: The Quest for the Historical Abraham. Valley Forge, Pa: Trinity Press International. ISBN 1-56338-389-6. 
  35. ^ Cite error: The named reference Modelski-inventory was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  36. ^ Cite error: The named reference Morris was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  37. ^ The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State - by D. T. Potts, Cambridge University Press, 29/07/1999 - page 46 - ISBN 0521563585 hardback
  38. ^ Langer, William L., ed. (1972). An Encyclopedia of World History (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 17. ISBN 0-395-13592-3. 
  39. ^ a b c Potts, 1999
  40. ^ a b Aruz, Joan (1992). The Royal City of Susa: Ancient Near Eastern Treasures in the Louvre. New York: Abrams. p. 26. 
  41. ^ Aruz, Joan (1992). The Royal City of Susa: Ancient Near Eastern Treasures in the Louvre. New York: Abrams. p. 29. 
  42. ^ a b Vallat, 2010
  43. ^ http://www.justlawlinks.com/REGS/codeham.htm
  44. ^ Reiner, Erica (1973) "The Location of Anšan", Revue d'Assyriologie 67, pp. 57-62 (cited in Majidzadeh (1976), Hansman (1985))
  45. ^ e.g. Gordon (1967) p. 72 note 9. Kermanshah; Mallowan (1969) p. 256. Bakhtiari territory (cited in Mallowan (1985) p. 401, note 1)
  46. ^ Cambridge History of Iran p. 26-27
  47. ^ Birth of the Persian Empire
  48. ^ Cambridge History of Iran
  49. ^ http://books.google.com.br/books?id=n1TmVvMwmo4C&printsec=frontcover&hl=pt-BR The Cambridge Ancient History, p. 400
  50. ^ Edwards, I.E.S.; C. J. Gadd (Editor), N. G. L. Hammond (3 edition (31 Oct 1971)). The Cambridge Ancient History Volume 1, Part 2: Early History of the Middle East. Cambridge University Press. p. 665. ISBN 978-0-521-07791-0.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  51. ^ Lurker, Manfred (27 May 2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons (2nd ed.). p. 2. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2. 
  52. ^ Elamite (2005). Keith Brown, ed. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4. 
  53. ^ a b c d e f Khačikjan (1998)
  54. ^ Starostin, George (2002)
  55. ^ a b c d e Peter Daniels and William Bright (1996)
  56. ^ Reiner, Erica (2005)
  57. ^ Stolper, Matthew W. 2008. Elamite. In The Ancient Languages of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Aksum. P.60: "Elamite is an agglutinative language."
  58. ^ Brown, Keith and Sarah Ogilvie. Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world. P.316
  59. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Elamite". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  60. ^ Stolper, Matthew W. 2008. Elamite. In The Ancient Languages of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Aksum. P. 67
  61. ^ Blench 2006, p. 96
  62. ^ Starostin 2002

Further reading[edit]

  • Quintana Cifuentes, E., Historia de Elam el vecino mesopotámico, Murcia, 1997. Estudios Orientales. IPOA-Murcia.
  • Quintana Cifuentes, E., Textos y Fuentes para el estudio del Elam, Murcia, 2000.Estudios Orientales. IPOA-Murcia.
  • Quintana Cifuentes, E., La Lengua Elamita (Irán pre-persa), Madrid, 2010. Gram Ediciones. ISBN 978-84-88519-17-7
  • Khačikjan, Margaret: The Elamite Language, Documenta Asiana IV, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Istituto per gli Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici, 1998 ISBN 88-87345-01-5
  • Persians: Masters of Empire, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia (1995) ISBN 0-8094-9104-4
  • McAlpin, David W., Proto Elamo Dravidian: The Evidence and Its Implications, American Philosophy Society (1981) ISBN 0-87169-713-0

External links[edit]

  • Hamid-Reza Hosseini, Shush at the foot of Louvre (Shush dar dāman-e Louvre), in Persian, Jadid Online, 10 March 2009, [2].
    Audio slideshow: [3] (6 min 31 sec)

Coordinates: 29°54′N 52°24′E / 29.900°N 52.400°E / 29.900; 52.400