Cultures > Elam

Elam

Background

Elam was an ancient civilization based just east of Mesopotamia. Its capital city was Susa and the civilization grew greatly during the Copper Age. This would put the civilization of Elam in the same historical time period as Sumer and the Akkadian Empire

Origins

The origins of Elam are also tied intricately with the development of Susiana and are centered around the area of the Iranian Plateau that lies just east of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The earliest forms of civilization in the area are the disputed city-states of Jiroft and Zabol which some archaeologists show significant similarities to later Elamite culture. There have also been Elamite language carvings going back to 7,000 BCE.

Elam was actually just a large collection of city-states that eventually merged together much like neighboring Sumer. It is believed that the city of Awan is older than Anshan and may have had the same territory except in an older era. Not much is known about this early period of Elamite history. This served as the core of Elamite territory and the city of Susiana appears to have been annexed later. There were also many smaller settlements found throughout the region such as Jiroft and Zabol as previously mentioned along with Warakshe and Sialk.

By 4,000 BCE the city of Susa had been founded at the watershed of the Karun River and served as the real core of Elamite cultural development in the later centuries. Susa and the associated Susiana culture exerted tremendous cultural influence on the territory and development of Elam in the coming centuries.

Proto-Elamite Period

See Proto-Elamite Period

Old Elamite Period

The Old Elamite Period (2700–1600 BCE) is marked by the conquering of Elam by Sumer and the establishment of the first Awan Dynasty by king Enmebaragesi of Kish (c. 2650 BCE). After his rule there were three more successive dynasties that lasted throughout the history of Sumer and into the history of the Akkadian Empire (c 2300 BCE). Elam was also conquered by Sargon the Great

Elam - Akkadian Empire Territories Map

Akkadian Empire Territories Map

During the Proto-Elamite Period the culture of Elam was primarily based on the Iranian plateau and centered around the city of Anshan. The political power of Elam shifted around 2000 BCE to the new capital at Susa that was based in the Khuzestan lowlands.

Middle Period

Under the conquest by the Assyrian Empire, Elam would become utterly destroyed. Tukulti-Ninurta I was one of the most literate of the Assyrian kings and he greatly documented his victory over the Kassite Dynasty of Babylonia and also of his conquest over the Elamites. Tukulti-Ninurta was also successful in beating the Hittites at the Battle of Nihriya in 1245 BCE which was the turning point for the collapse of the Hittite civilization.

It appears under his reign that the civilization of Elam along with the rest of the others were assimilated into the Neo-Assyrian Empire that would rule for around three hundred years from 900 BCE to 600 BCE. Rule over Elam continued through the Great Assyrian Kings of Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal.

Neo-Elamite Period

See Neo-Elamite Period

Achaemenid Empire

See Achaemenid Empire

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources