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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Elamite Art : Lapis Lazul Bronze Pin
Lapis Lazul Bronze Pin - PH.0183
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 2700 BC to 1700 BC

Collection: Near Eastern
Style: Elamite

Location: United States
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Elam is one of the first civilizations on record based in the far west and south-west of what is modern-day Iran (in the Ilam Province and the lowlands of Khuzestan). It lasted from around 2700 BC to 539 BC, coming after what is known as the Proto-Elamite period, which began around 3200 BC when Susa, the later capital of the Elamites began to receive influence from the cultures of the Iranian plateau to the east. Ancient Elam lay to the east of Sumer and Akkad (modern-day Iraq). In the Old Elamite period, it consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered in Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it centered in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. Its culture played a crucial role in the Persian Empire, especially during the Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded it, when the Elamite language remained in official use. The Elamite period is considered a starting point for the history of Iran (although there were older civilizations in Iranian plateau like Mani civilization in Azarbaijan and Shar-e sookhteh in Zabol and other indigenous civilizations who lived in Iranian plateau but weren't as established as Elamites). The Elamite language was not related to any Iranian languages, but may be part of a larger group known as Elamo-Dravidian. The Elamites called their country Haltamti (in later Elamite, Atamti), which the neighboring Akkadians rendered as Elam. Elam means "highland". Additionally, the Haltamti are known as Elam in the Hebrew Old Testament, where they are called the offspring of Elam, eldest son of Shem (see Elam (Hebrew Bible)). The high country of Elam was increasingly identified by its low-lying later capital, Susa. Geographers after Ptolemy called it Susiana. The Elamite civilization was primarily centered in the province of what is modern-day Khuzestan, however it did extended into the later province of Fars in prehistoric times. In fact, the modern provincial name Khuzestan is derived from the Old Persian root Hujiya, meaning "Elam". Knowledge of Elamite history remains largely fragmentary, reconstruction being based on mainly Mesopotamian sources. The city of Susa was founded around 4000 BC, and during its early history, fluctuated between submission to Mesopotamian and Elamite power. The earliest levels (22-17 in the excavations conducted by Le Brun, 1978) exhibit pottery that has no equivalent in Mesopotamia, but for the succeeding period, the excavated material allows identification with the culture of Sumer of the Uruk period. Proto-Elamite influence from the Persian plateau in Susa becomes visible from about 3200 BC, and texts in the still undeciphered Proto-Elamite script continue to be present until about 2700 BC. The Proto-Elamite period ends with the establishment of the Awan dynasty. The earliest known historical figure connected with Elam is the king Enmebaragesi of Kish (c. 2650 BC?), who subdued it, according to the Sumerian king list. However, real Elamite history can only be traced from records dating to beginning of the Akkadian Empire in around 2300 BC onwards. Elamite civilization grew up east of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in the watershed of the river Karun. In modern terms, Elam included more than Khuzestan; it was a combination of the lowlands and the immediate highland areas to the north and east. Some Elamite sites, however, are found well outside this area, spread out on the Iranian plateau; examples of Elamite remains farther north and east in Iran are Sialk in Isfahan Province and Jiroft in Kerman Province. Elamite strength was based on an ability to hold these various areas together under a coordinated government that permitted the maximum interchange of the natural resources unique to each region. Traditionally, this was done through a federated governmental structure. - (PH.0183)


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