Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©
Inscription the Symbol of Eastern Civilisation
30 May 2006
(CAIS) -- In his latest research paper about the
discovered inscription in Konar Sandal in Jiroft, Piotr
Steinkeller, professor of Assyriology in Department of Near Eastern
Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University, explains that there exists no
correlation between the inscriptions discovered in Jiroft, Shahdad, and Melian
historical sites with the Elamite civilization which itself was under the
influence of the Mesopotamian civilization, and they should be considered as an
eastern written language.
“In his latest paper, Prof. Steinkeller has explained that there should not
have been any relation between the discovered inscription in Jiroft and Elamite
civilization, which itself was under the influence of Mesopotamian civilization.
Steinkeller believes that it would be better to throw away this way of thinking
and say ‘eastern script’ instead of ‘Elamite script,’” said Yousof
Majidzadeh, head of excavation team in Jiroft.
The Elamite script is known to belong to Khutelutush-In-Shushinak (c. 1120 -
1110 BCE), the Elamite king. Experts believe that it is not logical to accept
that a nation, who has a writing language itself, abandons its script after the
conquest of a powerful neighbor and adopt Mesopotamian culture and script. They
believe that this script found its way to Susa from eastern Iran.
“Decoding the discovered inscription in Jiroft requires a lot of time.
However, archaeologists believe that this script must have been more ancient
than that of the Elamite civilization. Further archaeological excavations in
Jiroft historical site might help researchers to learn more about the identity
of this inscription. We had two different writing languages in Iran during
ancient times: One of them is Proto-Elamite script, which was mainly figures and
numbers, and the other was writing language which did not use images. Prior to
the discovery of Jiroft inscription, the most ancient script had been found in
Susa historical site which has remained from the reign of
Khutelutush-In-Shushinak. This inscription dates back to 1200 BCE, while the
Jiroft inscription is older than that and is estimated to be between 4400 to
4500 years old,” added Majidzadeh.
Elam is one of the most ancient civilizations on record. It was centered in the
far west and southwest of today Iran. The Elamites came in power about 300 years
after the fall of the Jiroft Kingdom (5000-3000 BCE). The reign of the Elamite
kings lasted from 2700 to 539 BCE, coming after what is known as the
Proto-Elamite period which began around 3200 BCE when Susa, the later capital of
the Elamites, began to receive influences from the cultures of the Iranian
Plateau to the east.
“It is believed that Jiroft’s writing language came into existence at the
same time Mesopotamia started developing a writing system. According to the
carbon 14 tests conducted on the layers in which Jiroft inscription was
discovered, this inscription was dated to 2500 BCE. Although such tests have not
been carried out on Mesopotamia inscription yet, based on the discovered
evidence so far, archaeologists strongly believe that Mesopotamia’s script
goes back to 2600-2700 BCE at most,” explained Majidzadeh.
The new discoveries during the archaeological excavations in Konar Sandal such
as historical inscriptions, the most ancient ziggurat of the world, and many
other historical relics have confused archaeologist and confronted them with an
unknown civilization in the east. This further led into revisions on some
previous archaeological hypotheses.
The city of Jiroft is situated close to Halil Rud historical site in Kerman
province. The discovered stone dishes in the area belonging to the first half of
the third millennium BCE point to the developed art of carving on stones at that
time. The second inscription that was recently discovered at the Konar Sandal
Ziggurat of Jiroft is scheduled to be deciphered by teams of researchers from
the University of Chicago and the University of Paris. Archeologists are waiting
for the results to come out which may well change the history of civilization as
we know today.
6 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Semitic Museum, Room 103
coming to teach at Harvard (in 1981), Professor Steinkeller pursued research at
the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. His scholarly work deals
broadly with the history, culture, and languages of early Mesopotamia (3000-1500
BCE), its particular focus being the socioeconomic history of Babylonia during
the 3rd mil. BCE and, most recently, the early history of Sumero-Akkadian
religion. He is also interested in Mesopotamian archaeology, as evidenced in his
present involvement in an archaeological project at the site of Tell Arbid in
north-west Syria. Among his ongoing projects is a study of the population
density and settlement patterns in Babylonia at ca. 2900 BCE, which utilizes
both textual and archaeological data, and an investigation of the economic
organization of the Ur III state (2900-2000 BC). He has written or co-authored
three books and over eighty articles and book reviews. He teaches a wide range
of courses and seminars on the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, Mesopotamian
religion, and history of ancient Mesopotamia.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies