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Encyclopedia > Elamite
Elamite ( )
Spoken in: Elamite Empire (extinct)
Region: Middle East
Total speakers: extinct
Ranking:
Genetic classification: possible language isolate, but see Elamo-Dravidian languages
Official status
Official language of: Elamite Empire, Persian Empire (6th to 4th centuries BCE)
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1 -
ISO 639-2 elx
SIL -


Elamite is an extinct language, which was spoken in the ancient Elamite Empire. Elamite was an agglutinative language, and was not related to the neighboring Semitic languages, or Indo-European languages, and although some call Elamite the "sister" to the Sumerian language, the two languages appear to be unrelated. Some scholars believe it is related to the living Dravidian languages of India (see Elamo-Dravidian languages). Elamite was an official language of the Persian Empire from the sixth to fourth centuries BCE. The last written records in Elamite appear about the time of the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great.


Elamite grammar features case agreement between nouns, called Suffixaufnahme.


Elamite scripts

Over the centuries, three distinct Elamite scripts developed successively.


Proto-Elamite is the oldest known Elamite script. It is first attested in 2900 BCE in Susa, the capital of Elam. The Proto-Elamite script is thought to have developed from an early Sumerian script. The Proto-Elamite script consists of about 1,000 signs and is thought to be partly logographic. Since it has not yet been deciphered, it is not known whether the language it represents is Elamite or another language.


Old Elamite is a syllabary derived from Proto-Elamite which was known to be used between about 2250 and 2220 BCE, although it may have been invented at an earlier date. Old Elamite has only been partially deciphered, mainly by Walther Hinz. Old Elamite consisted of about 80 symbols and was written in vertical columns running from top to bottom and left to right.


The Elamite Cuneiform script was used from about 2500 BCE to 331 BCE, and was adapted from the Akkadian Cuneiform. The Elamite Cuneiform script consisted of about 130 symbols, far fewer than most other cuneiform scripts.


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The Elamites (1364 words)
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.
Elamite history can be divided into three main phases: the Old, Middle, and Late, or Neo-Elamite, periods.
Eventually the Elamites rose in rebellion and overthrew the 3rd Ur dynasty, an event long remembered in Mesopotamian dirges and omen texts.
Elam (106 words)
The Elamites were an ancient nation that lay to the east of Sumer and Akkad.
The Babylonians were defeated by the Kassites in 1460 BC and in 1150 BC the Elamites defeated the Kassites.
Elamite served as one of the official languages of the Persian Empire, and was never displaced for official use by Old Persian[?].
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