Introduction to Elamite Civilization
Elamite civilization is one of the first and the most powerful civilizations on the Persian plateau before the arrival of the Aryans. From 3200 BC to 640 BC, they ruled over a large part of the southwestern regions of the Persian plateau. According to today’s geographical divisions, ancient Ilam included the lands of Khuzestan, Fars, Kurdistan, and Ilam. Also, parts of Bushehr, Kerman, Lorestan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Kermanshah provinces, and the south as Lake Urmia (during some periods). This land in the Elamite language was called “Hal-Tamti” and then Atamti, which was pronounced Elamite by the Acadians. It is similarly found in the Jewish Bible and means “mountain” which refers to the place where these people lived in the foothills of the Zagros.
Language of Elamite Civilization
Regarding the language of the Elamite civilization, it should be said that it is not related to any of the Semitic and Indo-European languages. Elamite language is considered a separate language, but some scholars consider this language to be related to the Dravidian language in India. The Elamite language retained its position after the arrival of the Aryan tribes. It became the second written language of the Persian government during the Achaemenid period. As well, most of the inscriptions of the Achaemenid period include Elamite and Babylonian translations. Their main rivals were the Assyrians who ruled Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq).
Settlement of the Elamites
The Aryan people settled in the Elamite lands in the last stage of their migration in the ninth/eighth century B.C. and lived among the Elamites. The Persians from the seventh century B.C. later, according to their lessons and material and spiritual achievements from the brilliant Elamite civilization formed a self-governing government. The government later became the origin of the great Achaemenid Empire. The connection between the Persians and the Elamites was such that from the time of Darius the Great onwards, Susa – the center of Elam – became the winter capital of the Achaemenid kings. The Elamites worked and cooperated with the Persians in the court and military affairs of this new empire.
For example, they learned the cuneiform and replaced their pictorial line, which shows the Elamite civilization’s power. The Elamites called their country (Anzan Susunka) and were never under the control of any government. In 2280 BC, at the height of their power, Ur captured and looted the Sumerian capital and its special god. Eventually, Sumer became a colony and tribute to Ilam, and finally in 2115 AH. During the reign of Rimsin, the Sumerian-Acadian joint state was destroyed in such a way that the Sumerian nation could never emerge from the ruins of history. The remaining evidence suggests that the Elamites were among the first tribes to have written records and to carry out their administrative work in accordance with written instructions.
The position of women in Elamite beliefs and customs
Most of the religious beliefs and ideas of the Elamite civilization were based on a kind of worship and respect for women and femininity and the worship of the “snake”. In Elamite beliefs, the “snake” was considered a sacred creature and guardian of water, wisdom and wealth and a distant agent of demonic forces. The presence of the image of a snake on many objects, dishes and paintings left from Ilam, shows the importance of the snake symbol and especially its blessing role. The Elamites believed in a matriarchal system; thus, at the head of their gods were the goddesses, and even in the monarchy, the position of monarchy was inherited and transferred from the lineage of women, and men came to the kingdom on behalf of the women of the royal lineage.
In the Elamite social system, women also enjoyed extensive prestige, status and rights. During the second millennium BC. with the rise of the patriarchal system, a male deity named “Humban” prevailed over the goddesses of the previous lady and its worship became common throughout the land of Elam. The third great god of the Elamites was “Inshushink”. This god, who was the god of the city of Susa, was recognized as the supreme and universal god after the promotion of Susa from an ordinary city to the position of the capital of the kingdom of Ilam in the second millennium B.C. In the first millennium BCE, Humban, Kerrish, and Inshushink formed a well-established triangle as the class leaders of the Elamite civilization gods.
Elamite Civilization Came to An End
The king of Assyria, looking for an excuse to fight Elam and using every opportunity to increase this enmity. He sent an envoy to Elam and made requests to the king of Elam, the acceptance of which was tantamount to the death of the king of Elam. One of the demands was that the king of Assyria give him the statue (na na) that was in Elam for one thousand six hundred and five years, which the king of Elam refused and decided to resist, but finally in the middle of the seventh century B.C, King Banipal the Assyrian ruler invaded the territory of the Elamite and looted everything that was valuable in this city and razed the city of Susa to the ground. Elamite civilization, after thousands of years of resistance against powerful tribes such as the Sumerians, Acadians, Babylonians and Assyrians, was defeated by its enemy Assyria, and the ancient rule of Elam came to an end.
Assyrian Banipal says in an inscription about the conquest and destruction of Elam:
I stirred up all the land of the city of Shushan, the city of Madakto, and other cities, and swept the land of Elam with all its breadth for a month and a day. I made this country useless of cattle and sheep, as well as music, and allowed predators, snakes, animals, and deer to swallow it.