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CAIS ARCHAEOLOGICAL & CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©

 

Jiroft Inscription the Symbol of Eastern Civilisation

 

30 May 2006

 

 

 

 

LONDON, (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.

 



Professor Piotr Steinkeller
Semitic Museum
Harvard University
6 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Semitic Museum, Room 103
617-495-0553
617-496-8904
steinkel@fas.harvard.edu

 

Before 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.

 

 

 

 

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