Proto-Elamite writing in Iran

Desset, François. 2016. “Proto-Elamite writing in Iran“, ArchéoNil 26, 67-104.

In the Near East, the most ancient writing systems currently known in the world appeared at the end of the 4th millennium BC: the proto-cuneiform writing in Southern Mesopotamia and the proto-elamite writing on the Iranian Plateau. Both used for administrative and accounting purposes, these writing systems displayed important parallels, such as the numerical systems and the numerical value signs, and dissimilarities since most of their signs differed from each other. Because of the apparent break in the scribal tradition on the Iranian Plateau around 2800 BC, the proto-elamite writing did not give birth to any offspring which could have helped us in its decipherment, contrary to the proto-cuneiform writing and its heir, the cuneiform writing. For this reason, although it is known for more than one century thanks to the French excavations in Susa, the proto-elamite writing remains still largely undeciphered and only the shared elements with the proto-cuneiform writing (such as the numerical systems) are finally well understood.