The Elamites

Daniel T. Potts

in The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199732159
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Elamites

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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Elamites are the more obscure counterparts of the Babylonian and Assyrian dynasties, inhabiting the southwestern flanks between the Bronze Age and the early Islamic era. They were longtime adversaries of the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians. The Elamite language is not rooted in any known proto-language, although hypothetical links are forged with early strains from the prehistoric Indian subcontinent. The primary hints of a polity, called Elam, are based on the Sumerian King List, an ancient document, the contents of which are doubtful. There, however, exist other sources such as the Ur dynasty records, listing the king of Elam as an adversary. Hence, felling of the Akkadian dynasty by the Guti, hailing from the region of Gutium, presumably spelt well for Elamites. Under continuous raids by the forces of the last Ur dynasty (Ur III), the Elamites finally joined forces with another tribe, the Shimashkians, to fell the last Ur dynasty.

Keywords: Elamites; Bronze Age; early Islamic era; Sumerian King List; Shimashkian; Akkadian; Gutium; last Ur dynasty

Article.  9976 words. 

Subjects: History ; Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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