Tag Archives: Elam

Intercalary Months in Achaemenid Elamite Documents

Stolper Matthew W. 2018. Intercalary months in Achaemenid Elamite administrative documents from Persepolis. In C. Jay Crisosotomo, Eduardo A. Escobar, Terri Tanaka, & Niek Veldhuis (eds.), The scaffolding of our thoughts: Essays on Assyriology and the history of science in honor of Francesca Rochberg, 296–316. Leiden: Brill.

Surveys current evidence from the Persepolis Fortification Archive and the Persepolis Treasury Archives on intercalation: terminology, usage, attestations.


Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

Kleber, Kristin, Georg Neumann & Susanne Paulus (eds.). 2018. Grenzüberschreitungen. Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des alten Orients. Festschrift für Hans Neumann zum 65. Geburtstag am 9. Mai 2018 (DUBSAR 5). Münster: Zaphon Verlag. Unter Mitarbeit von Christin Möllenbeck.

Vierzig Beiträge in deutscher, englischer und französischer Sprache sind dem Assyriologen Hans Neumann (Universität Münster) gewidmet. Korrespondierend mit den breit gefächerten Forschungen des Jubilars bieten sie einen aktuellen Überblick über Themen der Assyriologie, der Vorderasiatischen Archäologie und der Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients.

With contributions by Bruno Jacobs and Daniel Potts on Achaemenids and Elamites, respectively.

Continue reading Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

Topography and Toponymy in the Ancient Near East: Perspectives and Prospects

Tavernier J., Gorris E., Abraham K. & Boschloos V (eds.). 2018. Topography and toponymy in the ancient Near East: Perspectives and prospects (Publications de l’Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, 71). Peeters.

The present volume, based on a conference on Ancient Near Eastern historical geography and toponymy held at the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) on 27-28 February 2014, brings together 12 contributions by Belgian and international specialists on various aspects of this field of research. They deal with the entire Ancient Near East (Anatolia, Levant, Mesopotamia and Iran). Chronologically, the various contributions in the volume discuss topics situated in the 3rd, 2nd and 1st Millennia BC.
The articles in this volume are arranged geographically, starting with items on Anatolia, followed by studies on Mesopotamian and Levantine topography and finally a third part on ancient Iran and Elam. They will doubtlessly demonstrate the high importance of the study of historical geography and toponymy for our understanding of the history of the Ancient Near East and will also stimulate the research on the historical geography of the ancient Near East.

Continue reading Topography and Toponymy in the Ancient Near East: Perspectives and Prospects

The Elamite World

Álvarez-Mon, Javier, Gian Pietro Basello & Yasmina Wicks (eds.). 2018. The Elamite World (Routledge Worlds). London: Routledge.

Amongst the civilizations to participate in the dynamic processes of contact and interchange that gave rise to complex societies in the ancient Near East, Elam has remained one of the most obscure, at times languishing in the background of scholarly inquiry. In recent years, however, an increasing body of academic publications have suggested that the legacy of Elam was more considerable and long-lasting than previously estimated.

The Elamite World assembles a group of forty international scholars to contribute their expertise to the production of a solid, lavishly illustrated, English language treatment of Elamite civilization, covering topics such as its physical setting, historical development, languages and people, material culture, art, science, religion and society. Also treated are the legacy of Elam in the Persian empire and its presence in the modern world.

This comprehensive and ambitious survey seeks for Elam, hardly a household name, a noteworthy place in our shared cultural heritage. It will be both a valuable introductory text for a general audience and a definitive reference source for students and academics.

Continue reading The Elamite World

The Elamite Royal Orchestra from Madaktu (653 BC)

Alvarez-Mon, Javier. 2017. The Elamite Royal Orchestra from Madaktu (653 BC)Elamica 7: 1-34.

Contents: §1. Prelude; §2. The Royal Elamite Orchestra from Madaktu; §2.1. Instruments: horizontal harps, angular harps, double pipes, a drum, hand clapping and singing; §2.2. People: Musicians and Singers; §3. Allegro ma non troppo: Madaktu 653 BC, the Royal Orchestra in Historical Context. §4. From Madaktu to Assyria: Cacophonies at the Heartland of the Empire; §4.1. The Assyrian Royal Orchestras from Nineveh (Room S1); §4.2. Foreign Orchestras in Assyria; §5. Requiem 612 BC: Royal Orchestras and the Fall of Nineveh.

King of the Seven Climes

Daryaee, Touraj (ed.). 2017. King of the Seven Climes: A History of the Ancient Iranian World (3000 BCE – 651 CE). UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies.


In a Middle Persian text known as “Khusro and the Page,” one of the most famous kings of the ancient Iranian world, Khusro I Anusheruwan, is called haft kišwar xawadāy “the King of the Seven Climes.” This title harkens back to at least the Achaemenid period when it was in fact used, and even further back to a Zoroastrian/Avestan world view. From the earliest Iranian hymns, those of the Gāthās of Zarathushtra, through the Younger Avesta and later Pahlavi writings, it is known that the ancient Iranians divided the world into seven climes or regions. Indeed, at some point there was even an aspiration that this world should be ruled by a single king. Consequently, the title of the King of the Seven Climes, used by Khusro I in the sixth century CE, suggests the most ambitious imperial vision that one would find in the literary tradition of the ancient Iranian world. Taking this as a point of departure, the present book aims to be a survey of the dynasties and rulers who thought of going beyond their own surroundings to forge larger polities within the Iranian realm.

Thus far, in similar discussions of ancient Iranian history, it has been the convention to set the beginnings of a specifically Iranian world at the rise of Cyrus the Great and the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire. But in fact, this notion is only a recent paradigm, which became popular in Iran in the late 1960s owing to traditions of Classical and European historiography. At the same time, there are other narratives that can be given for the history of the Iranian World, including those that take us to 5000 BCE to sites such as Sialk, near Kashan, or other similar archaeological localities. As attractive as an archaeologically based narrative of local powers can be, however, the aim of the present work is to focus on political entities who aimed at the control of a larger domain beyond their own local contexts. As a result, this book starts its narrative with Elam, the influential civilization and kingdom that existed long before the Achaemenids came to power. Elam boasted a writing system and a complex culture and political organization contemporaneous with that of Mesopotamia, and was made up of cities such as Susa and Anshan. As Kamyar Abdi shows in his chapter, the Iranian civilization owes much to the Elamites and their worldview and conception of rulership. Thus, we do not start the present narrative with 550 BCE and Cyrus, but with 3000 BCE, in the proto-Elamite Period, when signs of a long lasting civilization on the Iranian Plateau first appeared.

Table of Contents:

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.

OPCA 2016: Conference in Assyriology

The Oxford Postgraduate Conference in Assyriology (OPCA) 2016 will take place on April 15th-16th at Wolfson College, Oxford. It will be the fifth annual OPCA. A number of presentations relate to Iranian Studies.

The programme and abstracts are available here.

Source: OPCA 2016 Programme | Oxford Postgraduate Conference in Assyriology

The Elamite version of the Behistun inscription

Aliyari Babolghani, Salman. 2015. The Elamite Version of Darius the Great’s Inscription at Bisotun. Introduction, Grammar of Achaemenid Elamite, Transliteration, Persian Translation, Comparison with other Versions, Notes and Index. Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz.
The monumental inscription of Behistun “‘place where the gods dwell”,  engraved on a cliff about 100 meters off the ground, is located along the road that connected the capitals of Babylonia and Media, Babylon and Ecbatana (modern Hamadan). The relief represent the victory of Darius I. the Great, King of Persia over the usurper Gaumāta and the nine rebels. The scene is surround­ed by a great trilingual inscription in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian.
This Behistun inscription is the most important document of the entire ancient Near East and a major key to understand­ing its languages. It alone made it possible to decipher cuneiform writing and thus to open the door to previously totally unknown ancient civilizations.
The inscription was first studied in 1835-37, 1844, and 1847 by Henry C. Rawlinson was the first scholar who studied the inscription in 1835-37, 1844, and 1847; he edited the Old Persian and Babylonian versions of the text himself, while the Elamite version to Edwin Norris (Norris, Edwin. 1855. Memoir on the scythic version of the Behistun inscription. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 15. 1–213). Up to now, for the Elamite text one still has to rely on Weissbach’s edition and translation of 1911 (Weissbach, Franz Heinrich. 1911. Die Keilinschriften der Achämeniden. Leipzig: J.C. Hinriches’sche Buchhandlung), or the German translation of the original Elamite text (Hinz, Walther. 1974. Die Behistan-Inschrift des Darius in ihrer ursprünglichen Fassung. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran NS. 7. 121–34.), while con­sulting more recent Elamite studies, mostly scattered around in journals. The last edition of the inscription was done by Grillot-Susini/Herrenschmidt/Malbran-Labat  (Grillot-Susini, F., C. Herrenschmidt, & F. Malbran-Labat. 1993. “La version élamite de la trilingue de Behistun: une nouvelle lecture.” Journal Asiatique 281:19-59).
The current book in 268 pages, consists of a transcription of the Elamite version of the inscription together with its Persian translation. It is followed by a chapter on the comparison of the Elamite version with Old Persian,  Babylonian and Aramaic versions of the inscription. A comprehensive chapter on Elamite grammar (Writing System, Phonology, Morphology and Syntax) as well as a Glossary and additional notes and index complete the volume.
About the Author:
Salman Aliyari (PhD) is a Tehran based scholar of Ancient Iranian culture and languages, with special focus on  Achaemenid Elamite language.
In Original:

علی‌یاری بابلقانی، سلمان. ۱۳۹۴. تحریر ایلامی کتیبه‌ی داریوش بزرگ در بیستون. پیش‌گفتار، دستور ایلامی هخامنشی، حرف‌نویسی، ترجمه، مقابله با تحریرهای دیگر، یاداشت و واژه‌نامه. تهران. نشر مرکز.

Alīyārī Babolqāni, Salman. 1394š. Taḥrīr-e ʾīlami-ye katibe-ye dāryuš-e bozorg dar bisotūn. Tehrān: našr-e markaz.

An Aramaic epigraph

Azzoni, Annalisa & Matthew Stolper. 2015. From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 5: The Aramaic Epigraph Ns(y)h on Elamite Persepolis Fortification Documents. Achaemenid Research on Texts and Archaeology (ARTA) 004. 1–88. – via Charles Jones.

Persepolis Fortification tablets with cuneiform texts in Achaemenid Elamite sometimes also bear short texts in Aramaic script and language. The word ns(y)ḥ appears in more than a third of them, on documents produced in the latest attested stages of information handling that are represented by the excavated form of the Persepolis Fortification Archive. These notations, we propose, refer to a further stage, one that produced documents that are no longer extant.