Iranian plateau gave birth to writing: French archaeologist

December 11, 2020 - 18:12

TEHRAN – New studies suggest the Iranian plateau was the birthplace of writing, predating Mesopotamia widely known as the cradle of the cuneiform writing, French archaeologist Francois Desset has said.

Desset, who is an archaeologist specializing in Near Eastern Archaeology, has deciphered a 4400-year-old cuneiform bas-relief, saying it may be a cultural “revolution” in the history of writing in the world, IRNA reported on Thursday.

The discovery proves that ‘Mesopotamia’ (present-day Iraq / former Babylon) is no longer the world's first cradle of writing, the news agency reported.

It took the French archaeologist some ten years to [completely] discover the mysteries of the cuneiform inscription, which is hand-carved on clay tablets and were found in the ruins of the ancient city of Susa, southwest Iran.

The Elamite writing was unearthed in 1901 and no one could decipher that over the past 119 years, the report said.

 “This could be a historical revolution, because scientists have long believed that the cradle of writing the world is in Mesopotamia, in other words, present-day Iraq.”

Susa was once the capital of the Elamite Empire and later an administrative capital of the Achaemenian king Darius I and his successors from 522 BC. Throughout the late prehistoric periods, Elam was closely tied culturally to Mesopotamia. Later, perhaps because of domination by the Akkadian dynasty (c. 2334–c. 2154 BC), Elamites adopted the Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform script.

Elam, located in the region of the modern-day provinces of Ilam and Khuzestan in Iran, was one of the most impressive civilizations of the ancient world. It was never a cohesive ethnic kingdom or polity but rather a federation of different tribes governed at various times by cities such as Susa, Anshan, and Shimashki until it was united during the Middle Elamite Period, briefly, as an empire. The name Elam was given to the region by others – the Akkadians and Sumerians of Mesopotamia – and is thought to be their version of what the Elamites called themselves – Haltami (or Haltamti) – meaning “those of the high country”. 'Elam', therefore, is usually translated to mean “highlands” or “high country” as it was comprised of settlements on the Iranian Plateau which stretched from the southern plains to the elevations of the Zagros Mountains.

Elamite language, extinct language spoken by the Elamites in the ancient country of Elam, which included the region from the Mesopotamian plain to the Iranian Plateau. According to Britannica, Elamite documents from three historical periods have been found. The earliest Elamite writings are in a figurative or pictographic script and date from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.

Documents from the second period, which lasted from the 16th to the 8th century BC, are written in cuneiform; the stage of the language found in these documents is sometimes called Old Elamite.

The last period of Elamite texts is that of the reign of the Achaemenian kings of Persia (6th to 4th century BC), who used Elamite, along with Akkadian and Old Persian, in their inscriptions. The language of this period, also written in the cuneiform script, is often called New Elamite.

Although all three stages of Elamite have not been completely deciphered, several grammatical features of the language are known to scholars. These include a plural formation using the suffix -p, the personal pronouns, and the endings of several verb forms.

AFM/

Comments

  • 2020-12-29 09:58
    Thanks a lot. Sounds very interesting.! Please send me more information on old Elamite language.

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