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By: François Vallat



Ancient Elam WM.png (1253380 bytes)

Ancient Elam 1 WM.png (604103 bytes)

  Map of the Elamite Empire

(Click to enlarge)


For a long time scholars confused Elam with Susiana, equivalent to the plain and lower Zagros foothills in the present Persian province of Khûzestân. Two important factors have recently modified this understanding, however. First, Tal-e Malyan (Mâlîân) in Fârs has been identified as the ancient center of the component kingdom of Anshan (q.v.; Hansman; Lambert; Reiner, 1973b), and, second, it has been established that Susa and Elam were distinct entities (Vallat, 1980). In fact, during the several millennia of its history the limits of Elam varied, not only from period to period, but also with the point of view of the person describing it. For example, Mesopotamian sources permit establishment of a relatively detailed map of Elam in the late 3rd millennium B.C.E., owing in particular to the "Geography of Sargon of Akkad" (ca. 2300 B.C.E.; Grayson; Vallat, 1991), a Neo-Assyrian representation of the extent of Sargon's conquests. It seems that Mesopotamians in the late 3rd millennium B.C.E. considered Elam to encompass the entire Persian plateau, which extends from Mesopotamia to the Kavîr-e Namak and Dašt-e Lût and from the Caspian (q.v.) to the Persian Gulf. Elamite cultural, if not political, influence in that period extended far beyond those limits, however, reaching Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the southern shores of the Persian Gulf (Amiet, 1986). It should be emphasized that during the last centuries of the 3rd millennium Susiana was sometimes a political dependency of the Mesopotamian empires centered first on Akkad and later on Ur and was included only for a brief period in the Elamite confederation, which embraced the kingdoms of Awan (probably in the Zagros), Simaški (in Assyrian Šimaški; see Steve, 1989, p. 13 n. 1; probably extending from Kermân to the Caspian), and Anshan (the present province of Fârs with its natural outlet to the Persian Gulf in the vicinity of Bûšehr, q.v.). Furthermore, this entire definition was Meso-potamian. For the people of the Persian plateau, Awanites and Simaškians, Elam meant the country of Anshan (Vallat, 1980; idem, 1991; idem, 1993).

When the Elamites, in alliance with the people of Susiana, brought an end to the empire of Ur in 2004 B.C.E., they annexed Susiana, where the Epartid, or sukkalmah, dynasty was founded by the ninth king of Simaški; the dynasty thus had its origins on the plateau. It is difficult to determine the eastern limits of the Epartid kingdom, but the decline of its power in the 18th century B.C.E. (see below) probably led to a reduction of influence in the east. As for the "kings of Anshan and Susa" of the Middle Elamite period (1500-1100 B.C.E.), according to the available documents, they controlled at least the territory of the present-day provinces of Khûzestân and Fârs with Bûšehr.

In the 1st millennium B.C.E. the spread of populations speaking Indo-Iranian languages and dialects onto the Persian plateau forced the Elamites to relinquish one area of their empire after another and to take refuge in Susiana, which only then became coterminous with Elam. It is this reduced territory that is referred to in the annals of Aššurbanipal (q.v.; see, e.g., Aynard, pp. 38-61), the Achaemenid inscriptions (Weissbach), and the Bible and Apocrypha (Daniel 8:2; Esdras 4:9).

Despite recent progress, Elamite history remains largely fragmentary. Because there are few indigenous sources, attempts at reconstruction must be based primarily on Mesopotamian documentation. By far the largest proportion of the known Elamite texts have been excavated at Susa, a city that, from its foundation ca. 4000 B.C.E., alternated between subjection to Mesopotamian and Elamite power (Amiet, 1979). The earliest levels excavated at the site furnished remarkable pottery that has no equivalent in Mesopotamia, whereas in the succeeding period (levels 22-17 in the excavations conducted by Le Brun, 1978, pp. 177-92) the archeological material is identical with that of Mesopotamia in the Uruk period. From about 3200 B.C.E. the influence of the Persian plateau can be observed in the presence of numerical and then proto-Elamite tablets identical with those found in smaller numbers at different sites on the plateau, as far away as Šahr-e Sûkhta in Sîstân (Vallat, 1986). The proto-Elamite script (see iii, below), which has defied all efforts to decipher it, remained in use until about 2700 B.C.E., but it was in the little-known period that followed, between the end of the Proto-Elamite period and the establishment of the dynasty of Awan, that Elam began to emerge from anonymity. The first attestation of the name of the kingdom is in a text of the king Enmebaragesi of Kish, who ruled in about 2650 B.C.E. But it is only from the beginning of the Akkadian period that Elam really enters into history. In the following survey the variable orthography of proper names has been standardized, in the interests of simplification.


The Old Elamite period (ca. 2400-1600 B.C.E.)

In the Old Elamite period three dynasties ruled in succession (Table 1). The kings of the first two, those of Awan and Simaški, are mentioned in the king list from Susa of the Old Babylonian period (Scheil, 1931). In this document twelve names are mentioned, followed by the phrase "twelve kings of Awan," then by twelve more names and the phrase "twelve Simaškian kings." In contrast to similar texts from Mesopotamia, neither a regnal year nor any mention of parentage appears in this simple document; nor is there any indication that the two lists are exhaustive. But, despite the somewhat artificial character of this document, some of the individuals mentioned are also known from other sources, Susian or Mesopotamian. The third dynasty, that of the Epartids, often called "of the sukkalmahs" because of the title borne by its members, was contemporary with the Old Babylonian period in Mesopotamia.

The Awan dynasty (ca. 2400-2100 B.C.E.). The Awan dynasty was partially contemporary with that of Sargon of Akkad (2334-2279 B.C.E.), and its last king, Puzur-Inšušinak, is thought to have reigned in the time of Ur-Nammu (2112-2095 B.C.E.), founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur (Wilcke, p. 110). At that point the information in the sources becomes more explicit, for the Mesopotamians were attracted by the natural riches of the Persian plateau that they themselves lacked (wood, stone, metals). The records of their military campaigns provide important indications for the reconstruction of the history and geography of Elam.

Although nothing is known of the first seven kings enumerated in the Old Babylonian king list, the eighth and ninth are mentioned (in inverse order) in reports of the campaigns of Sargon and his son Rimuš (Hirsch, pp. 47-48, 51-52; Gelb and Kienast, pp. 180-81, 188, 206-07). The primary purpose of these Akkadian expeditions was the economic exploitation of Elamite territory, including Marahaši (Baluchistan, q.v. i-ii). It seems, however, that they were raids, rather than real conquests of this vast territory. The Akkadian king Maništusu (2269-55 B.C.E.) continued to fight in the south, where he achieved a victory at Šehirum on the Persian Gulf, which he then crossed in order to subdue an alliance of thirty-two cities on the Arabian coast (Gelb and Kienast, pp. 220-21). In the reign of the Akkadian Naram-Sin a treaty (König, 1965, no. 2) was concluded between Naram-Sin's vassal ruling at Susa and a king of Awan, perhaps Hita (Cameron, p. 34); it is the first known Elamite text to have been written in cuneiform characters, but interpretation remains difficult.

The last king in the king list, Puzur-Inšušinak (Gelb and Kienast, pp. 321-37), conquered Susa, then Anshan, and he seems to have managed to impose an initial unity on the Elamite federation by subduing also the king of Simaški. His successors, however, were unable to hold Susa within the Elamite sphere. Puzur-Inšušinak left several documents in his name at Susa. Some are inscribed in Akkadian and others in linear Elamite, a script of which only a few signs have been deciphered with certainty (Vallat, 1986; see v, below); these signs may have been derived from proto-Elamite. But the establishment of the Elamite kings at Susa was of short duration. Several years later Šulgi of Ur (2094-47) retook the city with the surrounding region, which once again became an integral part of the Mesopotamian empire and remained so until that empire collapsed.

The Simaški dynasty (ca. 2100-1970 B.C.E.). Of the twelve Simaškian kings mentioned in the king list from Susa, nine have been documented elsewhere (Stolper, 1982, pp. 42-67). The first part of this period was characterized by incessant Meso-potamian attacks on the Persian plateau; the principal objective, though rarely attained, seems to have been Simaški, the homeland of the Elamite kings, in the area of modern Kermân. These campaigns alternated with periods of peace, marked by dynastic marriages. For example, Šu-Sin of Ur, after having given one of his daughters in marriage to a prince of Anshan, led at least two expeditions to the southeastern coast of the Caspian (Kutscher, pp. 71-101). It seems that the Mesopotamians alternated between peaceful and more forcible approaches, in order to obtain the raw materials they needed. But Mesopotamian power was weakening. The last king of the dynasty of Ur, Ibbi-Sin (2028-04), was unable to penetrate very deeply into Elamite territory, and his agent Ir-Nanna no longer controlled more of the eastern empire than the countries along a northwest-southeast line from Arbela to Bašime on the north bank of the Persian Gulf (Thureau-Dangin, pp. 148-51). In 2004 the Elamites, allied with the "Susianans" under the leadership of Kindattu, sixth king of Simaški, conquered Ur and led Ibbi-Sin away to Elam as a prisoner.

The Epartid or sukkalmah dynasty (ca. 1970-1600 B.C.E.). This long period of nearly three centuries still seems one of the most confused in Elamite history, despite the greater abundance and variety of the available documentation. Modern historians (König, 1931; Cameron, p. 229; Hinz, p. 183) have been misled by three factors that have completely distorted historical reconstruction.

First, the order of succession and the genealogy of the rulers of this period were distorted by a misinterpretation of the expression "son of the sister of Šilhaha" (Ak. mâr ahâti(-šu) ša Šilhaha). It was believed that the correct translation of mâr ahâti was "nephew," as in Mesopotamia, and that the term referred to a real biological relationship. The result was a theory about the division of power between the direct and collateral lines specific to Elam. The reality was quite different: The words "son of the sister of Šilhaha" do not mean "nephew" but rather "son that Šilhaha sired with his own sister" and are evidence of royal incest, which ensured the legitimacy of the heir. Furthermore, the expression was only a title, as is confirmed by its use for centuries after the death of Šilhaha, for example, by Untaš-Napiriša and Hutelutuš-Inšušinak. It may be added that this Akkadian expression was rendered in Elamite as ruhu-šak, ruhu meaning "son" when referring to the mother and šak "son" when referring to the father. There is thus no question of the word "sister" (Vallat, 1990, p. 122; idem, 1994).

A second factor, which played just as negative a role in historical reconstruction as the first, is a text of Šilhak-Inšušinak, who enumerated those of his royal predecessors who had restored a temple of Inšušinak (König, 1965, no. 48); the majority of historians have considered that this enumeration provides a chronological scheme that has only to be completed by insertion of the names of kings who are not mentioned in it. Although generally early sovereigns are mentioned first in the text and the most recent ones last, within each group there are obvious contradictions with other documents. These distortions result from enumeration according to lineages; sometimes the direct line is given, then the collateral lines, but sometimes the collateral lines precede the direct line, without relation to actual chronology. For the sukkalmah period the order is Eparti (Ebarat), Šilhaha, Siruk-tuh, Siwe-palar-huppak, Kuk-Kirmaš, Atta-hušu, Temti-halki, and Kuk-Našur. Although the sequence Eparti, Šilhaha, Siruk-tuh, Siwe-palar-huppak in the direct line is correct, the two kings mentioned next, Kuk-Kirmaš and Atta-hušu, are not in the correct place, for they ruled between the reigns of Šilhaha and Siruk-tuh. Kuk-Kirmaš was thus a collateral, as is confirmed by the fact that in this list he is designated "son of Lankuku," an individual unknown elsewhere, who probably never ruled; it is probable that he was the brother of a sukkalmah who died without a direct heir or whose heir was too young to reign. Further confirmation comes from the inscriptions of certain high functionaries who served him after having been in the service of Idaddu II, tenth king of Simaški. He could thus not have reigned in the 15th century B.C.E., as had been incorrectly supposed. Temti-halki and Kuk-Našur, the last two sukkalmahs known, were probably in the direct line.

Finally, an inscription of Atta-hušu (Sollberger, 1968-69, p. 31; Vallat, 1989, no. 101) has been considered as evidence that Eparti, Šilhaha, and Atta-hušu were contemporaries, constituting the first "triumvirate" of the dynasty. In fact, from different documents, particularly cylinder seals (q.v.) of servants of these sovereigns, it is possible to demonstrate (Vallat, 1989, no. 34) that between Šilhaha and Atta-hušu six sukkalmahs or sukkals exercised power: Pala-iššan, Kuk-Kirmaš, Kuk-sanit, Tem-sanit, Kuk-Nahhunte, and Kuk-Našur I, a group that reigned in the 20th century B.C.E. and not in the 16th century, as most commentators have believed (e.g., Hinz and Koch, p. 555).

Taking into account the corrected interpretations on these three points, it is possible today to write a coherent, though incomplete, history of the Epartid dynasty. The Simaškian kings who succeeded Kindattu were installed at Susa after the fall of the empire of Ur. The Simaškians Idaddu I and Tan-Ruhurater II (who married Mekubi, daughter of Bilalama of Ešnunna in Mesopotamia) built or restored temples at Susa. But Eparti II, though named as the ninth Simaškian king in the king list, was the founder of a new dynasty, called the Epartids by modern historians. It is surprising that the first Epartid sovereigns reigned at the same time as the last "Simaškian kings," Idaddu II, Idaddu-napir, and probably Idaddu-temti. Eparti, the first of his dynasty, was at least partially contemporary with the sukkalmah-sukkal group (see below); the second, Šilhaha, is mentioned in two documents from the time of Atta-hušu, contemporary with Sumu-abum (1894-81 B.C.E.), the first king of the first dynasty of Babylon. The last Epartid, Idaddu-temti, is known only from the king list. It is not known how power was divided, for, although Idaddu II and Idaddu-napir are attested at Susa, Kuk-Kirmaš bore the title, among others, "sukkal of Elam, of Simaški, and of Susa" (Thureau-Dangin, pp. 182-83), which implies that he ruled the entire Elamite confederation. Despite these titles, it is probable that the last Simaškians governed the eastern part of the empire while the first Epartids governed the western part.

At any rate Eparti, Šilhaha, and their immediate successors lived in troubled times. Rulers of several Mesopotamian states attempted to retake Susa from the Elamites. Several raids are known, particularly those of Gungunum of Larsa, and it was perhaps because of such a raid that Atta-hušu seized power. In fact, there are several indications that he was a usurper: Unlike all his predecessors and successors Atta-hušu was not associated with any other sovereign in the economic and juridical documents. His titles, too, are unusual. Although he called himself "son of the sister of Šilhaha," it was probably in order to legitimate himself a posteriori; he also bore the title "shepherd of the people of Susa," which no other dynast during that period assumed, with the exception of a certain Tetep-mada, who may have been his successor.

The name of Siruk-tuh, which appears on a tablet from Šemšarra, permits linkage of Elamite history with Mesopotamian chronology, for he was contemporary with the Assyrian Šamši-Adad I (1813-1781 B.C.E.). But the best-known sukkalmah of the dynasty is Siwe-palar-huppak, who for at least two years was the most powerful person in the Near East. According to the royal archives of Mari, kings as important as Zimri-Lim of Mari and Hammurabi of Babylon addressed him as "father," while calling each other "brother" and using the word "son" for a king of lesser rank (Charpin and Durand). But the interventions of Siwe-palar-huppak and his brother and successor, Kudu-zuluš, in Mesopotamian affairs (as far away as Aleppo) did not last long (Durand, 1986; idem, 1990; Charpin, 1986; idem, 1990). Siwe-palar-huppak's suzerainty was broken by an alliance led by Hammurabi, which put an end to Elamite ambitions in Mesopotamia.

The reigns of Kutir-Nahhunte I and his thirteen successors as sukkalmah or sukkal down to Kuk-Našur III, the last known sukkalmah, are documented only in the juridical and economic records from Susa (Scheil, 1930; idem, 1932; idem, 1933; idem, 1939) and in some rare royal inscriptions (Thureau-Dangin, pp. 184-85; Sollberger and Kupper, pp. 262-64). These documents suggest that daily life in Susa and Elam was quite insular. Although no military activity is noted in the documents, it is astonishing that so many royal or princely names are attested at the same time. For example, Kutir-Nahhunte is associated with five potential heirs: Atta-mera-halki, Tata, Lila-irtaš, Temti-Agun, and Kutir-Šilhaha; only the last two, however, attained supreme power, the status of sukkalmah. Following them Kuk-Našur II, a contemporary of Ammisáaduqa, king of Babylon (1646-26 B.C.E.); Temti-raptaš; Simut-wartaš II; Kuduzuluš II; and Sirtuh exercised power in an order that cannot yet be established with certainty, despite association with royal names in the texts. The three last known sukkalmahs, Tan-Uli and his two sons Temti-halki and Kuk-Našur III, all three of whom were styled "son of the sister of Šilhaha," constituted a group that is linked by no document to its predecessors. These different factors raise the question whether, during the second half of this period, palace intrigues had not replaced international conflicts.

This dynasty, which was remarkable for its duration, was also characterized by a progressive "semitization" of the royal line; owing to the annexation of Susiana to the Elamite empire, the sukkalmahs ensured that Susa would remain a major center. This process is reflected in different spheres. For example, the Elamites did not impose their language on the Susians; the vast majority of the documents from this period excavated at Susa, most of them juridical or economic texts related to daily life in the name of the sukkalmah or a sukkal, were written in Akkadian. Similarly, the Susians preserved their Suso-Mesopotamian pantheon, at the head of which was Inšušinak, the tutelary divinity of the city (see vi, below). Gods of Elamite origin were rare. Finally, this semitization, or westernization, is illustrated by the titulary. The title "king of Anshan and Susa" borne by Eparti, the founder of the dynasty, was soon abandoned in favor of titles that had belonged to Mesopotamian functionaries posted in Susiana or Elam during the Ur III period. The supreme power was held by the sukkalmah. It happened that the ruler delegated certain powers to his children, who were then given the title "sukkal of Elam and of Simaški" while in charge of the eastern provinces of the empire and "sukkal of Susa" when governing Susiana. This last title could be replaced by "king of Susa."

It is thus necessary to set aside the theory of the division of Elamite power (Cameron, pp. 71-72). The succession to the throne was based on male primogeniture, with, however, an important additional element: the different degrees of legitimacy exemplified by the primacy of endogamy over exogamy. The child born to a union of the king with an Elamite princess, that is, a foreigner, was legitimate. The child born to a union of the king with his own sister had a higher degree of legitimacy. An elder son born to the marriage of a sovereign with a princess outside the family (exogamy) thus had to cede the throne to a younger brother born to a later union of the king and his sister (endogamy). The supreme degree of legitimacy was accorded to the son born to a union of the king with his own daughter. That was the case some centuries later with Hutelutuš-Inšušinak, who seems to have been the son of Šutruk-Nahhunte by his daughter Nahhunte-utu (Vallat, 1985). In the eventuality that a sovereign had no male heir or an heir was too young to exercise power then, as often elsewhere, power was secured by a collateral branch (Vallat, 1994).

The association of a "sukkal of Elam and of Simaški" and a "sukkal of Susa" with the supreme authority of the sukkalmah was not the rule. It sometimes happened, however, that the king associated his children in power for practical reasons: It is probable that, as in the Achaemenid period, the court left the extreme heat of Susa in summer and took refuge on the more temperate plateau. It was thus prudent to leave a trusted man in charge of the low countries.


The Middle Elamite period (ca. 1500-1100 B.C.E.).

The Middle Elamite period was marked by a sharp reversal from the preceding period. It was, in fact, characterized by an "elamization" of Susiana. The kings (Table 2) abandoned the title sukkalmah or sukkal in favor of the old title "king of Anshan and of Susa" (or "king of Susa and of Anshan" in the Akkadian inscriptions). The Akkadian language, still in use under the first family of rulers, the Kidinuids, became rare in the inscriptions of the later Igihalkids and Šutrukids. Furthermore, in this period the Elamite pantheon was imposed in Susiana and reached the height of its power with the construction of the politicoreligious complex at Chogha Zanbîl (q.v.).


The "dynasty" of the Kidinuids (ca. 1500-1400 B.C.E.). 

The term "dynasty" for the Kidinuids is perhaps improper, for there is no indication of any filial relationship among the five rulers who succeeded one another in an order that is not yet certain: Kidinu, Inšušinak-sunkir-nappipir, Tan-Ruhurater II, Šalla, and Tepti-Ahar (Steve, Gasche, and De Meyer, pp. 92-100). Susa and Haft Tepe (ancient Kabnak) have furnished evidence (Reiner, 1973b; Herrero) of a break between the period of the sukkalmahs and the Middle Elamite period. The first element was the titulary: Kidinu and Tepti-ahar styled themselves "king of Susa and of Anzan," thus linking themselves with an old tradition. Both also called themselves "servant of Kirwašir," an Elamite divinity, thus introducing the pantheon from the plateau into Susiana. As in the preceding period, however, they continued to use Akkadian in all their inscriptions.


The Igihalkid dynasty (ca. 1400-1210 B.C.E.). 

Until quite recently the Igihalkid dynasty seemed one of the best known in Elamite history. It was believed (e.g., Stolper, 1984, pp. 35-38) that, following a raid by the Mesopotamian Kassite ruler Kurigalzu II (1332-08 B.C.E.) against a certain Hurpatila, king of Elam, Igi-halki seized power, in about 1320, power that he than passed on to his six successors, the most celebrated of whom was Untaš-Napiriša, who built the famous ziggurat at Chogha Zanbîl (ca. 1250). This period ended with Kidin-Hutran, who put an end to the grandeur of the Kassites by winning two victories over Enlil-nadin-šumi (1224) and Adad-šuma-iddina (1222-17).

Combined information from a letter now in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (Van Dijk, 1986) and two fragments of a statue rediscovered in the Louvre (Steve and Vallat, pp. 223-38) has, however, led to a complete revision of this scheme. The letter in Berlin is a Neo-Babylonian document written in Akkadian, whereas the statue fragments contain an inscription in Elamite. The letter was addressed by an Elamite king whose name is lost but who may well have been Šutruk-Nahhunte (see below) to assert his claim to rule Babylonia; the name of the person to whom it was addressed is also not preserved in the letter. In support of his claim the king mentioned the names of all the Elamite kings who had married Kassite princesses, followed by the names of the children born of these unions. For example, the immediate successor of Igi-halki, Pahir-iššan, married the sister or daughter of Kurigalzu I, whose reign ended in 1374 B.C.E., which implies that the Igihalkid dynasty was older by about a century than had previously been thought. Furthermore, two previously unknown kings, Kidin-Hutran, son of Untaš-Napiriša (who could not have been the Kidin-Hutran who fought the Kassites), and his son Napiriša-untaš, are mentioned in this text. As the fragments of the Louvre statue are attributed to another Kidin-Hutran, son of Pahir-iššan, there must have been three kings of the same name in this dynasty: Kidin-Hutran I, son of Pahir-iššan; Kidin-Hutran II, son of Untaš-Napiriša; and Kidin-Hutran III, whose paternity is unknown. The number of kings known to have succeeded to the Elamite throne has thus been raised from seven to ten, without any certainty that the list is complete. In fact, the first surviving description of this dynasty occurs in a text of the Šutrukid Šilhak-Inšušinak (König, 1965, no. 48), in which he enumerated those of his predecessors who had restored a temple of Inšušinak. As for the Berlin letter, only the dynasts who married Kassite princesses or their children are mentioned in it. A king who belonged in neither of these two categories would remain unknown. Finally, it can now be confirmed that Hurpatila was not an Elamite king but king of a country known as Elammat (Gassan).

The main characteristic of this dynasty is to have "elamized" Susiana; the religious complex at Choghâ Zanbîl, ancient Dur-Untaš (or Âl Untaš-Napiriša), is evidence of this policy, which had been initiated under the "Kidinuids." Whereas the Epartids had adopted their titulary, gods, and language from the Susians, the Igihalkids emphasized the Elamite aspect of Susiana. Documents written in Akkadian are thus especially rare from their rule, and most are only curses against those who might tamper with dedicated works, as if such outrages could come only from Mesopotamia. Second, the old royal title "king of Anshan and of Susa" was revived. Finally and most important, the gods of the plateau appeared in force in Susiana. For example, the attitude of Untaš-Napiriša at Chogha Zanbîl is revealing. The king began by constructing a small ziggurat in the middle of a courtyard 105 m2 surrounded by temples. This first ziggurat bore the obligatory dedication to the tutelary god of Susa and Susiana, Inšušinak. But very quickly the king changed his mind and undertook construction of a large ziggurat. The small one was destroyed, and the buildings that surrounded the square courtyard were incorporated in the first story of the new monument, which consisted of five stories, each smaller in area than the one below (Ghirshman; Amiet, 1966, pp. 344-49). It must be emphasized that the new building was dedicated jointly to Napiriša, the principal god of Anshan, and to Inšušinak, who was always mentioned second, or even third when Kiririša, the associate of Napiriša, was also named. The primacy of the Elamite component over that of Susa was thus reflected on the divine plane. But the situation was even more complex. Within three concentric walls at Chogha Zanbîl temples were constructed for different gods of the new Suso-Elamite pantheon, and it seems that all the constituent elements in the Elamite confederation were represented (Steve, 1967). For example, Pinikir, Humban, Kirmašir, and Nahhunte probably belonged to the Awanite pantheon, whereas Ruhurater and Hišmitik were of Simaškian origin. Among the Anshanite gods the pair Napiriša and Kiririša, as well as Kilah-šupir and Manzat, can be mentioned. Other divinities of Suso-Mesopotamian origin, like Inšušinak, Išmekarab, Nabu, Šamaš, and Adad, helped to establish a balance between Elamite and Susian power. The creation of this city from nothing had more a political than a religious character, for it implied the cultural and political subjugation of Susiana by the old Elamite confederation. Curiously, this huge complex was quickly abandoned. No king other than Untaš-Napiriša left his name there, and Šutruk-Nahhunte reported having carried some inscriptions from Dur-Untaš to Susa. Nothing is known of the two immediate successors of Untaš-Napiriša, Kidin-Hutran II and Napiriša-Untaš. The campaigns led by the last sovereign of the dynasty, Kidin-Hutran III, against the Kassite kings Enlil-nadin-šumi and Adad-šuma-iddina of Babylonia are evidence that the good relations that had existed between the two royal families had quickly deteriorated.


The Šutrukid dynasty (ca. 1210-1100 B.C.E.). 

Under the Šutrukids Susa regained its greatness, which had been somewhat eclipsed by Chogha Zanbîl, and Elamite civilization shone in all its glory. The riches of Šutruk-Nahhunte and his three sons and successors, Kutir-Nahhunte II, Šilhak-Inšušinak, and Hutelutuš-Inšušinak permitted these new "kings of Anshan and of Susa" to undertake frequent military expeditions against Kassite Mesopotamia and to embellish the Elamite empire and particularly Susiana with luxuriously restored temples.

Šutruk-Nahhunte, son of Hallutuš-Inšušinak, perhaps following the Babylonian rejection of the Elamite claims to sovereignty in the Berlin letter discussed above, undertook several campaigns against Mesopotamia, whence he carried off a number of trophies, which he had inscribed with his name. It is thus known that he raided Akkad, Babylon, and Ešnunna, from the last of which he carried off the statues of Maništusu. It was he who brought to Susa such renowned documents as the code of Hammurabi and the stele of Naram-Sin. In 1158 B.C.E. he killed the Kassite king, Zababa-šuma-iddina, and placed his own eldest son, Kutir-Nahhunte, on the throne of Babylon. When Šutruk-Nahhunte died Kutir-Nahhunte succeeded him and continued his policy in Mesopotamia, putting an end to the long Kassite dynasty by deposing Enlil-nadin-ahi (1157-55 B.C.E.). He reigned only a short time before he was succeeded by his brother Šilhak-Inšušinak, who left a large number of inscriptions in Elamite, recording his numerous campaigns against Mesopotamia, on one hand, and, on the other, dedicating to the gods temples that he built or restored; for example, on one stele twenty temples "of the grove" in Susiana and Elam are mentioned (König, 1965, no. 48). The last king of the dynasty, Hutelutuš-Inšušinak, who called himself sometimes "son of Kutir-Nahhunte and of Šilhak-Inšušinak" and sometimes "son of Šutruk-Nahhunte, of Kutir-Nahhunte, and of Šilhak-Inšušinak," was probably a son of Šutruk-Nahhunte by his own daughter, Nahhunte-utu (Vallat, 1985, pp. 43-50; idem, 1994), apparently another example of incest in the royal Elamite family. Less brilliant than his predecessors, Hutelutuš-Inšušinak had to abandon Susa briefly to Nebuchadnezzar (1125-04 B.C.E.). He took refuge at Anshan, where he built or restored a temple (Lambert; Reiner, 1973b), then returned to Susa, where his brother Šilhina-amru-Lagamar may have succeeded him. With this king Elamite power faded from the political scene for a long time.


The Neo-Elamite Period (1100-539 B.C.E.).

The essential element that distinguished the Neo-Elamite period was the massive arrival of Iranians on the Iranian plateau, which had the result of reducing still further what remained of the former Elamite empire. Although these invaders appeared only late in the Elamite texts, they were documented in Assyrian sources, where two groups of Medes were distinguished: the Medes or "powerful Medes" and the "distant Medes" or "Medes who live beside Mount Bikni, the mountain of lapis lazuli." The first group, which occupied the region around Ecbatana (q.v.; modern Hamadân), was well-known because of its frequent and often warlike contacts with the Assyrians, but the second group, which encompassed all the tribes that held territories between the region around modern Tehran and eastern Afghanistan was not; the Achaemenids (and following them Herodotus) designated the latter group by their proper names: Parthians, Sagartians, Arians, Margians, Bactrians, Sogdians, and probably neighboring peoples. In the Assyrian annals, however, all these Iranian tribes were confused under the general appellation "distant Medes." An identification of Mount Bikni with Damâvand (q.v.; Cameron, p. 149) or Alvand (Levine, 1974, pp. 118-19) must thus be rejected. An identification with the sources of lapis lazuli in Badakhšan was not only credited by some classical authors but also lends a certain coherence to history, whether recorded by Assyrians, Elamites, or Iranians (Vallat, 1993).

The slow progression of the Medes and the Persians across the plateau pushed the Elamites in the region of Anshan toward Susiana, which had been the second center of their empire for almost a millennium and a half. The country of Anshan gradually became Persia proper while Susiana then—and only then—became known as Elam. In most sources of the period, particularly those from Mesopotamia, Susiana is designated as Elam. Nevertheless, the Neo-Elamite kings (Table 3) still called themselves "king of Anshan and of Susa," except for the last three, Ummanunu, Šilhak-Inšušinak II, and Tepti-Humban-Inšušinak.


Neo-Elamite I (ca. 1100-770 B.C.E.). 

No Elamite document from this first phase of two and a half centuries provides any historical information. The tablets from Malyan (Stolper, 1984), which M.-J. Steve (1992, p. 21) attributes to the beginning of the period, reveal that Anshan was still at least partially Elamite, for almost all the individuals mentioned in them had names of Elamite origin. Mesopotamian tablets from the same period offer very little additional information; it is known only that the Babylonian king Mar-biti-apla-usáur (984-79 B.C.E.) was of Elamite origin and that Elamite troops fought on the side of the Babylonian king Marduk-balassu-iqbi against the Assyrian forces under Šamši-Adad V (823-11 B.C.E.).


Neo-Elamite II (ca. 770-646 B.C.E.). 

Only after the middle of the 8th century B.C.E. does the Babylonian Chronicle (Grayson, 1975) provide the elements of a historical framework, particularly the role of Elam in the conflicts between Babylonians and Assyrians. The king Humban-nikaš (743-17 B.C.E.), son of Humban-tahra and brother of Humban-umena II, came to the aid of Merodach-baladan against the Assyrian Sargon II, which seems to have had little permanent result, as his successor, Šutruk-Nahhunte II (716-699), son of Humban-umena II, had to flee from Sargon's troops during an attempt on the region of De@r in 710. The Elamite was again defeated by Sargon's troops two years later; finally he was beaten by Sargon's son Sennacherib, who dethroned Merodach-baladan and installed his own son Aššur-nadin-šumi on the throne of Babylon. Šutruk-Nahhunte was then murdered by his brother Hallušu, mentioned in the Babylonian Chronicle (698-93). After several skirmishes with the troops of Sennacherib, Hallušu was assassinated and replaced by Kudur, who quickly abdicated the throne in favor of Humban-umena III (692-89). Humban-umena recruited a new army, including troops from Ellipi, Parsumaš, and Anshan, in order to assist the Babylonians in the battle against the Assyrians at Halule on the Tigris in 691. Each side proclaimed itself the victor, but Babylon was taken by the Assyrians two years later. Elamite relations with Babylonia began to deteriorate during the reign of Humban-haltaš II (680-75), son of Humban-haltaš I (688-81), which may explain why his brother and successor, Urtak (674-64), at first maintained good relations with the Assyrian king Aššurbanipal (668-27), who helped him by sending wheat during a famine. But peaceable relations with Assyria also deteriorated, and it was after a new Elamite attack on Mesopotamia that the king died. He was replaced on the throne by Te-Umman (664-53 B.C.E.). The new king was the object of a new attack by Assurbanipal, who, after the battle of the Ulaï in 653, put an end to the king's life. After this victory Aššurbanipal installed in power the son of Urtak, who had taken refuge in Assyria. Humban-nikaš II (Akkadian Ummanigaš) was installed at Madaktu, an advance post toward Mesopotamia, and Tammaritu at Hidalu, a retreat in the eastern mountains on the road to Anshan. These two towns thus functioned as capitals from the beginning of the 7th century, to the detriment of Susa. The war that broke out between Aššurbanipal and his brother Šamaš-šum-ukin, whom he had installed on the throne of Babylon, provided some respite for the Elamites, who profited from it to fight among themselves. Tammaritu captured the throne of Humban-nikaš II and was in turn driven out to Assyria by Indabigaš, who was himself killed by Humban-haltaš III in 648. The collapse of the Elamite kingdom seems even clearer when it is realized that a certain Umba-habua reigned at Bupila and that Pa'e was called "king of Elam" at Bît-Imbi. The coup de grace, however, was delivered by Aššurbanipal in 646, when he sacked Susa after having devastated the whole of Susiana (Streck; Aynard; Grayson, 1975).

The defeat of the Elamites was, however, less devastating than Aššurbanipal made it appear in his annals, for after his victory the Elamite kingdom rose from the ashes with Šutur-Nahhunte, son of Humban-umena III.


Neo-Elamite III (646-539?B.C.E.). 

So far nothing has been known about the century between the sack of Susa by Aššurbanipal in 646 and the conquest of Susiana, thus of Elam, by the Achaemenids, perhaps by Cyrus in 539. This apparent gap in the history was owing in fact to two errors of interpretation by modern scholars, who, first, considered that the Neo-Elamite kings Šutruk-Nahhunte, son of Humban-umena; Šutur-Nahhunte, son of Humban-umena; and sometimes even Šutur-Nahhunte, son of Indada, were the names of a single sovereign (Hinz, 1964, pp. 115-20). Now, it is possible to show that they belonged to three different individuals. The first, who reigned from 717 to 699, is known from the Mesopotamian sources. He was the son of Humban-umena II (ca. 743), whereas Šutur-Nahhunte was the son of Humban-umena III (692-89) and reigned after the fall of Susa. As for Šutur-Nahhunte, son of Indada, he was a petty king in the region of Èza/Malâmîr in the first half of the 6th century (Vallat, 1995).

The second error of interpretation was to have considered the names of the Elamite kings mentioned in the Mesopotamian documents as simple distortions of the names of kings known from their inscriptions at Susa. For example, it was believed that the name Šutruk-Nahhunte was rendered Šutur-Nahhunte in Assyria and Ištar-hundu in Babylonia. Again, it can be demonstrated from internal analysis of the Elamite documents that these identifications are erroneous and that, with the exception of Šutruk-Nahhunte II, all the Neo-Elamite kings known from Susian inscriptions reigned after Aššurbanipal's sack of Susa (Vallat, 1996).

For this period no text furnishes a synchronism with Mesopotamia. Nevertheless, one group of more than 300 tablets (Scheil, 1909) can be dated by the iconography of their seal impressions to the first quarter of the 6th century. Analysis of the language of these documents, which was no longer classical but not yet Achaemenid, reveals details that permit a chronology in relation to other inscriptions. In addition, on one of these tablets a king (Ummanunu) and on another the name of Humban-kitin, who was probably the son of Šutur-Nahhunte, are mentioned (Vallat, 1995). It is thus possible to locate the reigns of Šutur-Nahhunte, son of Humban-umena III; Hallutaš-Inšušinak, son of Humban-tahra II; and Atta-hamiti-Inšušinak, son of Hutran-tepti in the second half of the 7th century. Ummanunu, who is mentioned in the tablets from the Acropolis, appears to have been the father of Šilhak-Inšušinak II, himself the father of Tepti-Humban-Inšušinak. These three individuals ruled in succession between 585 and about 539, at a time when Elamite royalty seems to have been fragmented among different small kingdoms, though it is not possible to determine that there was any sort of vassal relationship with the king of Susa. It is thus known that Šutur-Nahhunte, son of Indada ruled in the region of Malâmîr; Humban-šuturuk, son of Šati-hupiti, probably in the region of Kesat in what was later Elymais; and the first Achaemenids over the city of Anshan. It is interesting to note that the three kings at the end of the 7th century (Šutur-Nahhunte, Hallutaš-Inšušinak, and Atta-hamiti-Inšušinak) still called themselves "king of Anzan and of Susa" or "enlarger of the kingdom of Anzan and of Susa," whereas Ummanunu and Šilhak-Inšušinak II bore the simple title "king," without any further specification, and Tepti-Humban-Inšušinak did not even allude to his royal position! This last known king of Elam did boast, however, of having led a campaign in the Zagros.


The Achaemenid period (539-331 B.C.E.).

With the Achaemenids in general and Darius I (q.v.) in particular Susa regained its previous greatness, but Elam lost its independence, becoming the third "province" of the empire, after Persis and Media. Curiously, in that period, though the country was called Elam (Elamite Hatamtu, Akkadian NIM) in the sources, in Old Persian it was called Susiana (Uja). Susa eclipsed the other capitals, like Anshan and Pasargadae, in Cyrus' time and even Persepolis, founded by Darius himself, and Ecbatana. It is striking, for example, that officials traveling to such distant destinations as Egypt, India, or Arachosia departed from Susa and returned to Susa, as confirmed in numerous archival tablets found at Persepolis (Hallock, nos. 1285-1579). Furthermore, these documents were written in Elamite, as if Darius had wished to make use of a class of scribes belonging to an already existing administration. The majority of royal inscriptions were written in Old Persian, Akkadian, and Elamite versions, but Elamite had by then absorbed Iranian influences in both structure and vocabulary. The Elamite gods, after having benefited from a final revival of the cult under Darius and Xerxes, disappeared forever from the documents. Elam was absorbed into the new empire, which changed the face of the civilized world at that time.



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 J.-M. Aynard, Le prisme du Louvre AO 19.939, Paris, 1957. 

J. A. Brinkman, Prelude to Empire. Babylonian Society and Politics, 747-626 B.C., Occasional Publications of the Babylonian Fund 7, Philadelphia, 1984. 

G. G. Cameron, History of Early Iran, Chicago, 1936. 

D. Charpin, "Les Îlamites a Šubat-Enlil," in Fragmenta Historiae Elamicae, Me‚langes offerts a M.-J. Steve, Paris, 1986, pp. 129-37. 

Idem, "Une alliance contre l'Îlam et le rituel du lipit napištim," in Contribution a l'histoire de l'Iran. Me‚langes offerts a Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990, pp. 109-18. 

Idem and J.-M. Durand, "La suzerainete‚ de l'empereur (sukkalmah) d'Îlam sur la Me‚sopotamie et le 'nationalisme' amorrite," in L. De Meyer and H. Gasche, eds., Mesopotamie et Elam. Actes de la XXXVIeme Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Mesopotamian History and Environment, Occasional Publications 1, Ghent, 1991, pp. 59-66. 

J.-M. Durand, "Fragments rejoints pour une histoire e‚lamite," in Fragmenta Historiae Elamicae. Me‚langes offerts a M.-J. Steve, Paris, 1986, pp. 111-28. Idem, "Fourmis blanches et fourmis noires," in Contribution a l'histoire de l'Iran. Me‚langes offerts a Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990, pp. 101-08.

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Idem, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles. Texts from Cuneiform Sources V, Locust Valley, N.Y., 1975. 

R. T. Hallock, Persepolis Fortification Tablets, Oriental Institute Publications 92, Chicago, 1969. J. Hansman, "Elamites, Achaemenians and Anshan," Iran 10, 1972, pp. 101-25. P. 

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F. W. König, "Geschichte Elams," Der Alte Orient 29, 1931, pp. 1-38. 

Idem, Die elamischen Königsinschriften, Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 16, Graz, 1965. 

R. Kutscher, The Brockmon Tablets at the University of Haïfa. Royal Inscriptions, Haifa, 1989. 

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A. Le Brun, "Chantier de l'Acropole I," Pale‚orient 4, 1978, pp. 177-92. 

L. Levine, "Geographical Studies in the Neo-Assyrian Zagros II," Iran 12, 1974, pp. 99-124. 

P. de Miroschedji, "Note sur la glyptique de la fin de l'Îlam," RA 76, 1982, pp. 51-63. E. Reiner, "Inscription from a Royal Elamite Tomb," Archiv für Orientforschung 24, 1973a, pp. 87-104. 

Idem, "The Location of Anshan," RA 67, 1973b, pp. 57-62. 

V. Scheil, Textes e‚lamites-anzanites, 3e se‚r., Me‚moires de la De‚le‚gation en Perse 9, Paris, 1907. 

Idem, Actes juridiques susiens, Me‚moires de la Mission arche‚ologique en Perse 22, Paris, 1930. Idem, "Dynasties e‚lamites d'Awan et de Simaš," RA 28, 1931, pp. 1-8. 

Idem, Actes juridiques susiens (suite: n° 166 a n° 327), Me‚moires de la Mission arche‚ologique en Perse 23, Paris, 1932. Idem, Actes juridiques susiens (suite: n° 328 a n° 395), Me‚moires de la Mission arche‚ologique en Perse 24, Paris, 1933. 

Idem, Me‚langes e‚pigraphiques, Me‚moires de la Mission arche‚ologique en Perse 28, Paris, 1939. 

E. Sollberger, "A Tankard of Atta-hušu," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 22, 1968-69, pp. 30-33. 

Idem and J.-R. Kupper, Les inscriptions royales sume‚riennes et akkadiennes, Paris, 1971. 

M.-J. Steve, Tchoga Zanbil (Dur-Untash) III. Textes e‚lamites et accadiens de Tchoga Zanbil, Me‚moires de la De‚le‚gation arche‚ologique en Iran 41, Paris, 1967. 

Idem, "La fin de l'Îlam.  propos d'une empreinte de sceau-cylindre," Stud. Ir. 15, 1986, pp. 7-21.

Idem, Nouveaux me‚langes e‚pigraphiques. Inscriptions royales de Suse et de la Susiane, Me‚moires de la De‚le‚gation arche‚ologique en Iran 53, Nice, 1987. 

Idem, "Des sceaux-cylindres de Simaški?" RA 83, 1989, pp. 13-26. 

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Idem, Syllabaire e‚lamite. Histoire et pale‚ographie, Neuchâtel-Paris, 1992.

Idem, H. Gasche, and L. De Meyer, "La Susiane au deuxieme mille‚naire.  propos d'une interpre‚tation des fouilles de Suse," Iranica Antiqua 15, 1980, pp. 49-154. 

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Idem, "La ge‚ographie de l'Îlam d'apres quelques textes me‚sopotamiens" in L. De Meyer and H. Gasche, eds., Me‚sopotamie et Elam. Actes de la XXXVIeme Rencontre Assyrio-logique Internationale, Mesopotamian History and Environment Occasional Publications 1, Ghent, 1991, pp. 11-21. 

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J. Van Dijk, "Išbi-Erra, Kindattu, l'homme d'Îlam et la chute de la ville d'Ur," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 30, 1978, pp. 189-208. 

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