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Ancient Elam (Susiana) in Southwest Iran

Selected Excerpt on Elam

The Uruk Expansion: Cross Cultural Exchange in Early Mesopotamian Civilization
Guillermo Algaze in Current Anthropology Volume 30:5:1989 (571-608)

ē’ ləm

POLITICAL HISTORY Matthew W. Stolper INTRODUCTION The modern name Elam is a European transcription of Biblical Hebrew ‘élém. It corresponds to Sumerian elam(a), Akkadian elamtu, and Elamite hatamti and haltamti.‘ The names refer to a succession of loosely bounded political and cultural entities of ancient southwestern Iran, known chiefly from discoveries at Susa and nearby sites.

According to Mesopotamian texts the Eastern part of their land - Elam - was occupied by a people called the Elamites. Indigenous to the country, and speaking an agglutinative non-Semitic language still not well understood to this day. Khuzestan was the center of their loosely organized federation of states which stretched north into Lurestan, south to Fars and as far as Bushehr on the Gulf.

Susa was always the pride and joy of the Elamites and later the Persians, a city that stood for 5000 years until totally sacked and raised to the ground by the Mongols in the 13th Century AD, maybe a reason why we have to refer to the Mesopotamian texts for the history of Elam.

The Elamites' mountainous land gave them wood, marble, alabaster, lapis lazuli, metal ores, precious stones all of which were sought by the Mesopotamians who were rich agriculturally but short on raw materials. Susa soon became a trading center with routes stretching as far as Sistan, Balouchestan, Afghanistan and India.

The love hate relationship that existed between the Elamites and their Mesopotamian neighbors, the Assyrians, heightened circa 647 BC when Elam, then a mighty kingdom, fell to Ashurbanipal. He recorded his devastation of Susa as an act of avenge for the humiliations the Elamites had inflicted on the Mesopotamians over the centuries. "I devastated the land of Elam and on their lands I sowed salt" he said ...

NOTES: Important Elamite Cities such as Awan or Simash are still to be located. Other important Elamite sites however have been excavated such as Choga Zanbil, Haft Tepe and Susa on the Khuzestan Plain; and Anshan on the Marv Dasht plain near Persepolis in Fars ...

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