1902 Encyclopedia > Elam

Elam




ELAM. This is the name given in Scripture to the province of Persia called Susiana by the classical geographers, from Susa or Shushan its capital. In one passage, how- ever (Ezra iv. 9), it is confined to Elymais, the north-western part of the province, and its inhabitants distinguished from those of Shushan, which elsewhere (Dan. viii. 2) is placed in Elam. Strabo (xv. 3, 12, <fcc.) makes Susiana a part of Persia proper, but a comparison of his account with those of Ptolemy (vi. 3, 1, &c.) and other writers would limit it to the mountainous district to the east of Babylonia, lying between the Oroatis and the Tigris, and stretching from India to the Persian Gulf. Along with this mountainous district went a fertile low tract of country on the western side, which also included the marshes at the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris and the north-eastern coast land of the Gulf. This low tract, though producing large quan- tities of grain, was intensely hot in summer; the high regions, however, were cool and well watered. The whole country was occupied by a variety 'of tribes, all speaking agglutinative dialects allied to each other and to the so- called Accadian language of primitive Chaldea, but in very different stages of civilization. The most important of the tribes were the natives of southern Susiana, called Anzan in the cuneiform inscriptions, who established their capital at Susa, and founded a powerful monarchy there at a very early date. Strabo (xi. 13, 3, 6), quoting from Nearchus, seems to include them under the Elymseans, whom he associates with the Uxii, and places on the frontiers of Persia and Susa; but Pliny more correctly makes the Eulaeus the boundary between Susiana and Elymais (JV. II., vi. 29-31). The Uxii are described as a robber tribe in the mountains adjacent to Media, and their name is apparently to be identified with the title given to the whole of Susiana in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions, Uwaja, or " Aborigines." Uwaja is probably the origin of the modern Khuzistan, though Mordtmann would derive the latter from " a sugar-reed." Immediately bordering on the Persians were the Amardians or Mardians, in whom we may see the Apharsathchites and Apharsites of Ezra iv. 9, as well as Khapirti or Khalpriti, the name given to Susiana in the Protomedic cuneiform texts, which are written in the agglutinative dialect of the Turanian Medes and northern Elamites. Khapirti appears as Aipir in the inscriptions of Mai-Amir. Passing over the Messabatse, who inhabited a valley which may perhaps be the modern Mah-Sabadan, as well as the level district of Yamutbal or Yatbur (with its capital Duran or Deri) which separated Elam from Babylonia, and the smaller districts of Characene, Cabandene, Corbiana, and Gabiene mentioned by classical authors, we come to the fourth principal tribe of Susiana, the Cissii (^Esch., Pen., 16 ; Strab. xv. 3, 2) or Cossoei (Strab. xi. 5, 6 ; xvi. 11, 17; Arr., Ind., 40 ; Polyb. v. 54, &c), the Cassi of the cuneiform inscriptions. So important were they, that the whole of Susiana was some-times called Cissia after them as by Herodotus (iii. 91 ; v. 49, &c.). In fact, Susiana was only a late name for the country, dating from the time when Susa had been made a capital of the Persian empire. The Accadians called it Numma, " the highlands" (compare the Vogul numan, " high "), or 'Subarti, with the same meaning, and of this the Semitic Elamu (from rbv) was only a translation. Such was also the signification of the native Khapir or Aipir, also written Khubur, which is made synonymous with 'Subarti (comp. Eber, Gen. xi. 14). The Assyrian inscrip-tions have disposed of the suggestion, first made by J. Miiller and Lassen, that Elam is a corrupt form of the Indo-European Airyama.
The principal mountains of Elam were on the north, called Charbanus and Cambalidus by Pliny (vi. 27, 31), and belonging to the Parachoathras chain. In the inscrip-tions they have the general name of "mountains of the east," which extended into Media, where " the mountain of Nizir," or " the mountain of the world," the present mount Elwend, was believed to be the spot on which the ark had rested, and the cradle of mankind. There were numerous rivers flowing into either the Tigris or the Persian Gulf. The most important were the Ulai or Euteus (Kuran) with its tributary the Pasitigris, the Choaspss (Kerlchah), the Coprates (river of Biz called Itite in the inscriptions), the Hedyphon or Hedypnus (Jerrdhi), and the Oroatis (Hiudyan), besides the monumental Surappi and Ukni, or " white river," perhaps to be identified with the Hedyphon and Oroatis, which fell into the sea in the neighbourhood of the Caldai of Bit-Yagina, of Khindar, and of the Gambulai, in the marshy region at the mouth of the Tigris. Shushan or Susa, the capital, now marked by the mounds of Shush, stood near the junction of the Choaspes andEuheus (see SUSA); and Badaca, Madaktu in the inscriptions, lay between the Shapur and the river of Biz. Among the other chief cities mentioned in the inscriptions, may be named Naditu, Khaltemas, Din-sar, I'.ubilu, Bit-imbi, Khidalu, and Nagitu on the sea coast. Here, in fact, lay some of the oldest and wealthiest towns, the sites of which have, however, been removed inland by the silting up of the shore. The monumental Dilvun, for instance, which according toSargon was an island 30 casrrn from the land, is now probably represented by Bunder Bellim.





The civilization of southern Elam was of very great antiquity. The Accadai or " Highlanders," who founded the cities and civiliza-tion of primreval Chaldea, descended from its mountains, carrying with them the picture-writing which afterwards developed into the cuneiform syllabary. An examination of the syllabary shows us that the only animals with which they were acquainted were the ass, the ox, the sheep, the gazelle, the antelope, the bear, the wild bull, the dove, the snake, the fly, the flea, the moth, the bee, and different species of fish,—horses, called the "animals of the east," being a subsequent importation. Neither the palm nor the vine were known before their emigration into Babylonia ; indeed, Strabo states that the vine was first introduced into Susiana by the Mace-donians. The different tribes of the country were constantly invading Babylonia, and from time to time imposed their dominion upon it. About 22S0 B.C. (according to the date furnished by Assur-bani-pal), the Elamite king Cudnr-nankhundi carried away the image of the goddess Nana from Babylonia to Shushan, and in Gen. xiv. we find Chedorlaomer or Cudur-lagamar suzerain of the Babylonian princes. Cudur-mabug, the son of Simti-Silkhak, kiug of Yamutbal, founded a dynasty in Chaldea, which lasted for two generations, his son Rim-Agu or Eri-A.cu (Arioch) of Larsa being afterwards conquered by Khammuragas. Khammuragas himself was a Cassite, and the dynasty he founded at Babylon, which he made for the first time the capital of the country, con-tinued for several centuries, and wa3 only overthrown at last by the Assyrian monarch, Tiglath-Adar, in 1270 B.C. Another Cassite dynact'y had ruled Babylonia at a very much earlier time, and one of its kings, Agu-kak-rimi, had restored the great temple of Bel at Babylon. Elamite raids recommenced within a few yeajs after the overthrow of the second Cassite dynasty, Elamites from time to time appear as kings of Babylonia, and about 1200 B.C. the whole country was ravaged and desolated by the Elamite Cudnr-nankhundi II. Kevenge for this, however, was shortly afterwards taken by the Babylonian Nebuchadrezzar. Subsequently, we find Elam and Babylon in alliance against the growing power of Assyria, and in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C., when Babylonia was alternately under the sway of the Assyrian princes and of Chaldean and other adventurers from the districts on the Persian Gulf, Elam played a large part in its political history. Tiglath-Pileser II., in 745 B.C., first overran the sea-coast as far as tt« Ukni, and in 721 Sargon met Khumba-nigas the elamite in battle at Duran, and drove him across the Assyrian frontier. After the establishment of the Assyrian empire in the west and north, the reduction of Babylonia to a dependent province became a necessity, and this involved the weakening and final conquest of the powerful kingdom of Elam itself. The struggle lasted through the reigns of four Assyrian kings, Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Assur-bani-pal, and the overthrow of Elam was eventually effected only by the help of internal discord and civil war. In 710, Sutruk-nankhundi was driven from Yatbur and Easi, on the Babylonian frontier, and his Babylonian ally Merodach-baladan left to his fate. In 704 the Elamites and Babylonians were defeated at Cis by Sennacherib, and in the following year the Cassi in the north-east were reduced to submission. In 697 B.C., the fleet of Senna-cherib pursued Merodach-Baladan and his followers to Nagitu and Khilman, at the mouth of the Euleeus, where the Elamites had given them shelter ; the emigrants and their Susian allies were scattered, and the towns burned. Meanwhile, Cudur-nankhundi, the Elamite monarch, had marched into Babylonia; he was driven back, however, by Sennacherib, 34 of his cities were destroyed, and he himself fled from Madaktu to Khaidala. Three months after he died, and his brother and successor, Umman-minan, at once began to collect allies from all sides, and to prepare for resist-ance. The terrible defeat at Khalule in 692, however, broke the power of Elam, and made Babylonia an Assyrian province. Umman-aldas I. remained on friendly terms with Esarhaddon, but his murder by his two brothers, Urtaki and Teumman, caused the war-party to recover its ascendency, and Urtaki made an un-successful raid into Babylonia. On his death, his brother Teum-man succeeded, in virtue of the law by which the crown passed to the brother and not to the sons of the deceased monarch, and almost immediately provoked a quarrel with Assur-bani-pal by demanding the surrender of his nephews, who had taken refuge at the Assyrian court. The Assyrians followed the Elamite army to Shushan, where a battle was fought on the Eulaaus, in which the Elamites were defeated, Teumman was captured and slain, and Umman-igas, the son of Urtaki, made king, his younger brother Tammaritu being assigned the district of Khidalu. Umman-igas afterwards assisted in the revolt of Babylonia, but Tammaritu raised a rebellion against him, defeated him in battle, cut off his head, and seized the crown. Tammaritu marched to Babylonia; while there, his officer Indabigas, made himself king at Shushan, and drove Tammaritu to the coast, where he fled to Assur-bani-pal. Indabigas was himself defeated and killed by a new pretender, Umman-aldas II., who was opposed, however, by three other rivals, two of whom maintained themselves in the mountains until the Assyrian conquest of the country, when Tammaritu was first restored and then imprisoned, Elam being wasted with fire and sword. The return of Umman-aldas led to a fresh Assyrian in-vasion ; the Elamite king fled from Madaktu to Dur-undasi, Shushan and other cities were taken, and the Elamites utterly routed on the banks of the Itite. The whole country was reduced to a desert, Shushan was plundered and razed to the ground, 32 statues of its kings "of silver, gold, bronze, and alabaster" being carried off, and Susiana was niide an Assyrian province in 640 B.C. The language of the Hebrew prophets seems to imply that Elam recovered its independence, but was again conqirered by Nebuchadrezzar ; on the fall of the Babylonian empire it passed to Persia, the Susian king Abradatas, mentioned in Xenophon's romance of the Cyropccdia (vi.), being probably unhistorical. Darius formed it into a satrapy, with a tribute of 300 talents (Hdt. iii. 91). Shushan or Susa was rebuilt, and became the capital of the empire. Twice at least; however, the Susianians attempted to revolt in the early part of the reign of Darius, under Assina or Atrines, the sou of Umbadara, and Martiya, the son of Issainsakrb, who called himself Immanes ; but they gradually came to be com-pletely Aryanized, and their old agglutinative dialects were in course of time supplanted by the Aryan Persian from the south-east.

Among the Elamite divinities may be mentioned Lagamar or Lagamal, and Armannu, the secret title of Susinak, "the god of Shushan," who was believed to go every year to Dilvun. His oracle stood just outside the city, and his image was held too sacred to be seen by the eyes of a mortal.

See Loftus, Chaldea and Susiana, 1857; Oppert in the Transactions of the
Oriental Congress, 1854, and Records of the Past, vii. 79, 1877; and Sayce on the
" Cuneiform Inscriptions of Elam and Media" in tne Transactions of the Society ot
Biblical Archseolvgy, in. 2,4874. {A. II SJ







Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries