Ancient Mesopotamia & Near East: History 
10-12-2009, 07:35 PM (This post was last modified: 10-12-2009 08:48 PM by Enzo.)
Ancient Mesopotamia & Near East: History 
Ancient Mesopotamia and Near East
Babylon, Egypt, Persia and other civilizations of the Near East from ancient times to the 600s A.D.
The Ancient Middle East
The rich, fertile lands of Mesopotamia housed some of the oldest sedentary civilizations. The Sumerians, considered by many to be the oldest civilization (at 5000 BC), contributed to later societies with several important innovations such as writing, boats, and the wheel. Over time, Mesopotamia would see the rise and fall of many great civilizations that would make the region one of the most vibrant and colorful in history, including empires like that of the Assyrians and trade kingdoms such as the Lydians and Pheonicians, all of which were influential to other neighboring cvilizations. North-West of Mesopotamia were the Hittites, who were probably the first people to use Iron weapons. To the Sout-West was Egypt, not nearly as old a Sumer, but one with rich resourcse that housed a thriving culture. Political fluxuation was large, partly because of the lack of natural defences in the region. In 538, the Arachemenid Persians, first led by Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon, Anatolia, and Egypt, integrating almost all of Mesopotamia and SW Asia into his Empire.
Iran has a long history, with some it's earliest states and civilizations being the Elamites and the Medes. In 549 BC, Cyrus, the king of Ashan, created a vast empire - the biggest empire yet - that would expand into Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Anatolia. Because of it's physical integration and cultural diversity, this dynasty, the Archaemenid, is often considered the first "true" empire in the world. Alexander's conquest eventually replaced the Archaemenids with the Seleucids, who were in turn overthrown by the Parthians. The Parthians ruled Persia parallel to the times of the Han and Roman Empire. In this fourishing time and the next, Persia served as the link between Rome and China. Internal weakness caused the Parthian Empire to collapse and the Sassanids Dynasty rose. The splendid Sassanid Dynasty brought the revival of the old Archaemenid traditions, including Zoroastrianism. However, exausting wars with Byzantium left the empire unready to face the Muslim armies from Arabia.
Ancient Mesopotamia and Near East
The Achaemenid Empire: Government and Institutions
The arrival of the gigantic personality of Cyrus the Great of Persia was one of the most dramatic events of the ancient era. Beginning in the mid sixth century BCE, the ambition and energy of this imperial minded individual saw the conquest of a number of states across west Asia. Never before in the history of west Asia or the adjacent regions had conquest occurred on such a grand scale. The sheer speed and breadth of the conquest was unprecedented and had come from a seemingly minor power: the Persians.
In spite of the death of Cyrus, the newly established empire continued to expand further. By the reign of Xerxes I, she had achieved her greatest territorial extent, incorporating the lands of three continents and more than 47 empires, kingdoms and nations into her body politic (Farazmand, 2002, p. 294). This empire, with its unprecedented size and multifaceted composition of peoples, could have been expected to have collapsed in the absence of her heroically portrayed founders. Yet, she survived largely intact and continued to play a politically dominant role for two centuries, until her sudden conquest by Alexander of Macedon.
Aside from military organisation and capable leadership, the Achaemenid Empire relied on an extensive government structure, bureaucracy and interplays of power to sustain itself. This paper shall address how the Achaemenid government and administration were structured, the nature of power relations and the roles these played in the survival and functioning of the Achaemenid state.
The natural anchor for any sort of administrative activity in the empire was royal authority. The Achaemenid empire had been conquered under the leadership and resources of the Persian monarch, so it was from there that ultimate power emanated. Direct royal administration over the pettier satrapal affairs across such a vast empire was impossible, yet a clear relationship existed between the crown and the Persian satraps. Xenophon records Cyrus’ command in setting up some early satraps, “We must choose for the satraps who are to go abroad persons who will not forget to send us anything of value in their districts, so that we at home may share in all the wealth of the world. For if danger comes, it is we who must ward it off” (Cyropaedia, VI 5). The relationship is clear, economic tribute is to be paid to royal authority, while royal authority shoulders the burden of military responsibilities. Herodotus gives a clear list of how much annual tribute was exacted from each of the 20 Achaemenid provinces (Herodotus, III 90-97), while further evidence of the Achaemenid promise of overarching military protection can be gleaned from the fact that the city of Mylasa, in Asia Minor, remained unwalled. Only by alluding to the possibility of attack on the unwalled city by the Persians themselves was the local ruler, Mausolos, able to convince the citizens to contribute to the Persian tribute money (Meadows, 2005, p.184). Only with a reliable guarantee of overarching protection from a higher power would a substantial city neglect the building of defences against external attack.
Royal authority also regulated the foreign relations of the empire. At the ends of the vast empire lay a range of peoples who were not incorporated into the bureaucratic control of the Persian state. The official relations with these peoples was the special prerogative of the Great King, though, in some instances, vassal kings in areas such as western Anatolia were given some autonomy in dealing with small states (Allen, 2005, p. 47). The Achaemenid ruler resorted to a number of ways to regulate the foreign relations of the empire. Without actually occupying territory, the Persian Great King could expect gifts from frontier states to be sent to him personally in recognition of his superiority. This was the case early on with the outlying states of Samos and Cyrene (Allen, 2005, p. 46). The transport of gifts to the royal capitals instead of to the courts of local satraps underlines the primacy of the Great King in foreign relations dealings. Recognition of friendship was another diplomatic ceremony which could take place, as the foreign state made an offering of earth and water to the Great King. In such a way the Athenians made the offering to the Persians, to later incur the wrath of the Great King when they sent ships to aid the Ionian revolt in the early 5th century BC (Herodotus, V 66-78).
The royal court, itself, served as a manifestation of the Great King’s power and was a foreign relations instrument, as well as serving propaganda purposes for visitors in the more distant satrapies. Girshman (1964, p. 156-209) provides a description of the manner in which foreign dignitaries were received by the Great King at the Apadana of Persepolis. The foreigners would pass through the gatehouse, complete with plaques in gold and silver, proclaiming the supreme power and strength of the Great King. After this, an ordered procession would pass before the Great King, who watched from a royal box. The walls throughout the Apadana were decorated with scenes of the Great King portrayed in manifestation of imperial power, receiving tribute or carrying out martial acts. After meandering through a complex series of halls, the dignitaries might, finally, be allowed into the opulent throne room in which the Great King would receive them. The whole intricate process of court protocol was a clear manifestation of imperial propaganda, as useful on foreign visitors as it was on Achaemenid subjects and tributaries.
The Persian aristocracy was incorporated into government machinery to perform roles and duties. During the formative early years of the empire, the Persian aristocracy needed to be carefully managed to prevent it from compromising the cohesive relationship between royal power and that of the satrapal authorities. The accession of Darius I (522-486) saw the true power of the aristocracy in challenging royal authority. Darius, himself, overthrew the pretender Bardiya by venturing into the palace with a band of nobles to kill him (Allen, 2005, p. 41). The succession of Darius saw widespread revolts across the empire, which had to be crushed violently. Such a trend suggests that many aristocrats considered themselves as legitimate as Darius, in becoming Great King, an attitude which could later result in extensive civil disturbance and warfare at the time of succession. To counter this, Darius built up the cult of personality attached to the Great King, as well as expounding the achievements of Cyrus, of whom Darius asserted he was the legitimate heir. Sources indicate the acceptance of a “founding legend” was widespread amongst the populace regarding Cyrus (Frye, 1963, p.42). This cult of personality, on the one hand, helped to defuse aristocratic designs on the throne. On the other, Persian court protocol helped establish a personal relationship between each individual aristocrat and the monarch. The dynastic principle was something the Persian nobility could identify with, while Briant (2002, p. 352) claims other measures helped ensure aristocratic loyalty, “by instituting a system of ‘gifts with string attached’, court hierarchy, and education based on monarchic values, the Great Kings succeeded in integrating the aristocratic circles into the fabric of royal government and the court”. In such a way, the Great Kings were able to rely upon a relatively loyal aristocracy to perform important official functions for them in governing the empire. One such instance is the career of a Pharnaka, who was appointed to the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia after a long period of official service in the Persian court at Parsa. This individual, following the dynastic principle set down by the royal family, fathered a whole succession of satraps for that particular satrapy, administering it on behalf of the Great King (Briant, 2002, p. 353).
With the nature of royal and aristocratic roles in the Achaemenid Empire defined, the actual administrative structures themselves may be examined. The empire was divided into smaller units known as satrapies, most of which were governed by a satrap who was directly responsible to the Great King (Meadows, 2005, p. 183). The word ‘satrap’ in Old Persian means “protector of the realm” (Briant, 2002, p. 65), the Achaemenid equivalent of a governor. The satrap was the Great King’s personal representative in the satrapy and was directly responsible to the monarch, whose favour the satrap was required to obtain. Although there occurred the inheritance of satrapal power within families, such as the previously mentioned Parnaka, each potential satrap would be appointed only with the approval of the Great King and would only continue in their role with his continued consent (Herodotus, VI 43; Briant, 2002, p. 337). The need for practicable local administration was always one which the Achaemenids saw had to be combined with direct subordination and accountability to the Great King.
There were some exceptions to the appointment of a satrap. In some instances, the Great King allowed a local ruler to perform the functions of a satrap and govern the region on the Great King’s behalf. In such a way, Xenophon (Cyropaedia, VII 4.2.) notes how local princes retained their power in Cilicia and Cyprus, the Achaemenids never sending a satrap there to govern. This demonstrates the willingness of the Achaemenids to allow flexibility in certain contexts, they did not insist on a rigid standardisation and total centralisation of administrative processes. Such policy reflects the Achaemenid understanding that they were administering an empire of vastly differing civilisations and peoples.
The satrap was delegated a number of set responsibilities to do with the administration of his satrapy. These were, essentially, civil roles, such as paying for the maintenance of military forces, remitting an annual tribute to the Great King, and administering justice and disputes in the satrapy (Briant, 2002, p. 341). In short, the satrap’s role was one of wide ranging civil powers for his particular territory, with particular emphasis being place on the sending of tribute to the Great King. Thucydides takes note (VIII 5) of how the failure by satrap, Tissaphernes, to pay tribute on time saw him issued a warning by the Great King. In such a way, the relationship between satrap and King is, again, evident in the shouldering of military power and responsibilities by royal authority and the channelling of tribute to the heart of the empire by the satrapal authorities.
A clear demarcation between military and civil responsibility applied to satraps. Early problems with ambitious satraps, such as Oroestes during the reign of Darius I, highlighted how a governor with both civil and military authority posed a threat to the Great King (Briant, 2002, p. 65). While Oroestes, himself, was dealt with simply enough by an order from Darius demanding his execution, to further safeguard their interests, the Great Kings ensured that actual command of military forces was to pass to a commander independent of the satrap. From Darius I onwards, such a man was directly responsible to the Great King personally, who decided his mission and span of authority (Dandamayev, 1999, p. 47)
Tribute to the Great King, a key responsibility of the satraps, was arranged through an assessment of the economic productivity of the territory in question. Darius I, initiator of so much of the Persian administrative system, established the standard for tributary payment by assessing each satrapy based on the mean annual yield in agricultural produce (Dandamayev, 1999, p. 53). As already mentioned by Herodotus (III 90-97), a fixed annual tribute paid in silver or sometimes in kind was then set. The tribute which flowed into the royal capitals served as a private reserve of the Great King. The various royal capitals collected tribute, which could then be allocated to the local administrative projects of the region. The treasury could be used in emergencies, such as during a severe famine in Parsa during 467/6, in which the enormous Persepolis treasury was used to contribute to famine relief (Cahill, 1985, p. 386). In such a way the Persians were able to collect income used for local administration, while enriching cities like Persepolis to augment the Great King’s prestige through overt displays of opulence (Girshman, 1964, pp. 265-78). Such a system of tribute indicates an advanced ability for wealth collection and disposal by contemporary standards.
The collection of tribute in the smaller capitals of the empire provides an indication of Achaemenid willingness to incorporate foreign practices into their administrative apparatus, while also making use of pre-existing bureaucratic structures to achieve governance. As already noted (Briant, 2002, p. 64), the Achaemenids were willing to leave faithful local princes in charge of administrative affairs in certain provinces. In the administration and receipt of taxes at the Jerusalem temple, the Achaemenids took over crucial aspects of a pre-existing Neo Babylonian fiscal practice known as the “king’s chest”, a fiscal administrative council established for the Jerusalem temple under Babylonian king Nabonidus (Schaper, 1995, p. 534). The Persians adopted the “king’s chest” system wholesale, making the addition of certain of their own officials to scrutinise the receipt of funds. Not only were the Persians willing to make use of pre-existing administrative structures, they also realised the value in utilising pre-existing officials and social classes to assist in administration. The cooperation between royal officials and Hebrew temple elders in administering the revenues paid to the Jerusalem temple exemplifies this: “the collaboration between the central authorities (Persians) and temple hierarchy seems to have been smooth and efficient; the needs of both partners were duly catered for” (Schaper, 1995, p. 537). These incidents of collaboration and inclusion by the Persian authorities illustrate the Achaemenid understanding of the benefits of incorporating limited foreign administrative practices into their framework of governance.
To further strengthen the effectiveness of Achaemenid bureaucracy, a system of checks were put in place to ensure satrapal duties were correctly discharged. Satraps and military commanders had recourse to complain about one another when they considered the other to be improperly discharging their duties (Briant, 2002, p. 341). Even more powerful in monitoring and assessing the actions of the straps was the institution of the Great King sending officials personally responsible to him who would scrutinise the conduct and effectiveness of the satraps. Farazmand (2002, pp. 309-310) identifies three officials, a state legal attorney or “ears of the king”, a state inspector general or “eyes of the king” and an especially powerful royal secretary. That these individuals were employed by the king were a clear indication of Achaemenid efforts to create a system of checks and balances to ensure an effective and accountable bureaucratic machine. Another key example of the reach of the Great King over his officials lies in the maintenance of the so called Royal Roads. The Great Kings used these as a means of expedient delivery of messages for courier service and also for military purposes. Through such a means, a journey from Susa to Sardis,typically estimated at 3 months of travel, could be done in barely a week using the relay station established by the Achaemenids (Allen, 2005, p. 118). Achaemenid rulers clearly understood the need to maintain communication and surveillance across the breadth of their dominions, ensuring the loyalty and compliance of distant satrapies.
The Achaemenid Empire was unprecedented in its location and time period in history for its sheer size, multiculturalism, power and reputation. Such a nation, a pioneer in the art of hegemonic domination, was faced with a range of challenges and demands on its power in governing such extensive territories.
At the centre of the Achaemenid power structure lay royal authority, the ultimate source of law, foreign policy relations, imperial splendour and propaganda and the main source of the empire’s military might. The Persian Great King and his court were the ultimate manifestations of the empire’s power, having ultimate and superior authority over the administrative apparatus of state. Royal authority augmented its power by providing an inclusive role for the aristocracy, incorporating them into civil and military roles through individual ties to the Great King.
The Achaemenid administrative structure was designed to provide a local system of direct administration in most satrapies, with the provision of regular tribute by satraps being reciprocated by royal military might. The satraps themselves had clearly defined responsibilities, including a division of civil and military responsibilities, which were subject to checks and balances. The Achaemenid administrative structure proved itself adaptable and inclusive on occasion, able to accommodate the realities of a multifaceted empire. The result was an administrative achievement which proved largely durable over two centuries, until Achaemenid power was extinguished by Alexander of Macedon. Adaptable, detailed, centralised with some localised adaptations, the Achaemenid structure of government and administration proved an impressive response to the challenge of running an empire of unprecedented size and complexity.
1. Herodotus, The Histories, translated Aubrey De Selincourt, Penguin Books, London, 2003
2. Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, translated Richard Crawley, available at http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/plpwr10.txt, accessed 16/05/2006
3. Xenophon, Cyropaedia, translated Henry Graham Dakyns, available at http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext00/cyrus10.txt, accessed 16/05/2006
1. Allen L., 2005, The Persian Empire: a history, British Museum Press, London
2. Briant P., 2002, From Cyrus to Alexander: a history of the Persian Empire, tranlated Peter T. Daniels, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake
3. Cahill, 1985, The Treasury at Persepolis: Gift-Giving at the City of the Persians, American Journal of Archaeology > Vol. 89, No. 3, pp. 373-389
4. Dandamayev M., 1999, Media and Achaemenid Iran, in History of civilizations of Central Asia volume II, Motalil Banarsidass, pp. 35-65
5. Farazmand A., 2003, Administrative Legacies of the Persian World-State Empire, Public Administration Quarterly, Vol. 26 Issue 3/4, pp. 16-316.
6. Frye R.N., 1963, The charisma of kingship in Ancient Iran, Iranica Antiqua, Vol. 4, pp. 36-54
7. Girshman R., 1964, Persia: from the origins to Alexander the Great, translated Stuart Gilbert, Thames and Hudson, London
8. Meadows A.R., 2003, The Administration of the Achaemenid Empire,in Curtis J. & Tallis N., The forgotten empire the world of ancient Persia, British Museum Press, London, 2005
9. Schaper J., 1995, The Jerusalem Temple as an Instrucment of Achaemenid Fiscal Administration, Vetus Testamentum > Vol. 45, Fasc. 4 Oct, pp. 528-539
Cultural Relations between Ancient India and Egypt
I noticed a number of articles written on interesting subjects pertaining to a given country or a region. I thought that discussion of issues that span over countries – regions could also be interesting. Hence, this short write-up on the Cultural relations between Ancient Egypt and India. I hope this will provoke more learned persons on the forum to contribute well-researched papers on serious issues.
1.1 Peter Von Bohlen (1796 – 1840), a German Indologist, in his two volume monumental work Ancient India with special reference to Egypt compared, at length, ancient Egypt with India. He thought there was a cultural connection between the two in ancient times. Egypt being at the receiving end.
1.2 Many others have also written on similar lines (e.g. El Mansouri, Sir William Jones, Paul William Roberts, and Adolf Eramn).
2.1. Many Anthropologists have observed that the Egyptians as a race (type ‘P’) are more Asiatic than African.
2.2 As per the legends and lore, the early Egyptians were from PUNT, an Asiatic country to the east of Egypt. Going by the description given of its coastline washed by the great seas, its hills and valleys, its vegetation (coconut trees among others), its animals (including long tailed monkeys) the Punt, the scholars surmise, may in fact be the Malabar Coast. (Hurray Mallus!).
3. Sphinx and Buttocks
There is very a delightful finding about the Sphinx. Joshua T Katz of Princeton University in his scholarly paper “The riddle of the Sp (h) ij and her Indic and her Indo-European Background” has come up with a view that the name Sphinx is related to a Greek noun which in turn is derived from a Sanskrit word Sphij, meaning “Buttocks”. Now you know to where it all comes down.
Interestingly, when you type in sphij in Google search, it shoots back “Did you mean Sphinx?”
No, I am not joking. Mr. Katz’s research paper is a very serious work though a pedantic one.
Check this link: http://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/katz/120505.pdf
4. Emperor Ashoka’s Contacts with Egypt
4.1 A very authentic record of India’s links with ancient Egypt is, of course, Ashoka’s 13th rock edict (3rd century B.C). Here in, the Emperor refers to his contact with Ptolemy II of Egypt (285-246 B. C) in connection with the expansion of Dharma (Buddhism) into Egypt and its neighboring lands.
4.2 Ashoka, in his Second Edict refers to philanthropic works (such as medical help for humans and animals, digging wells, planting trees etc.) taken up by his missionaries in the lands ruled by Theos II of Syria (260 to 240 B. C) and his neighbors , including Egypt.
4.3. Pliny (78 A, D) mentions that Dionysius was Ptolemy’s ambassador in the court of Ashoka. The Emperor’s rock edict records that Dionysus was one of the recipients of Dharma (Buddhism).
5. Gnostics and Buddhism
5.1 Coming to the present era, Dio Chrysostum (1st century A. D.) and Clement (2nd century A. D) have written that at Alexandria, in Egypt, Indian scholars were a common sight.
5.2 Many scholars have has pointed to a number of similarities between Mahayana Buddhism and the Gnosticism of the early Christian centuries that developed in ancient Egypt. The Greek term Gnosis is a derivative of the Sanskrit term Jnana both meaning knowledge. In both Gnosticism and Buddhism, the emphasis is on Wisdom, compassion and eradication of the opposite of gnosis/consciousness, that is, ignorance the root of evil.
5.3 In the Gospel of Thomas (translated by Peterson Brown), at verse 90, Yeshua says Come unto me, for my yoga is natural and my lordship is gentle—and you shall find repose for yourselves. It is startling to find term “Yoga” in a first century Christian document written in Egypt Perhaps he was referring to Sahja Yoga. Check the following link
6. Oxyrhynchus Papyrus
During the early years of the 20th century a number of fragments of papyri –dating from 250 B.C. to 100 A.D- were discovered at Oxyrhynchus (now called el Bahnansa) in Egypt. The excavations yielded enormous collections of papyrus from Greek and Roman periods of Egyptian history. Among the finds was an incomplete manuscript of a Greek mime ( a skit) .For purpose of identification this fragment of papyrus it is called Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 413 .The scene of action of the skit is India and there are a number of Indian characters who speak dialogue in an Indian language. Dr. E. Hultzsch (1857-1927), a noted German Indologist, identified some words of the dialogue as an archaic form of Kannada, one of the four major languages of South India. Recent studies have supported Dr. Hultzsch’s finding. The papyrus is dated first or second century A.D. This seems to prove that there were cultural and trade contacts between India and the Mediterranean region at least as far back as in the early part of the first millennium CE.
7.1 The excavation of the Quseir (a Red Sea port, Egypt) shipwreck also point to trade links between Egypt and India in the early Roman Imperial period. The wreck site revealed Campanian- amphoras (A cylindrical two-handled amphora with oval-section handles and an almond-shaped rim) from Italy dated to between the 1st Century BCE and 1st Century AD. Perhaps the ship was outbound for India and was part of a fleet sent by Augustus to capture a controlling interest in the Indian Ocean trade
7.2 Further, three of inscriptions, one in a Prakrit and two in Old Tamil, found in Qusei also support the likelihood of flourishing trade between India and the Roman Empire. This Suggests South India may have been the origin of the Indian merchants in Egypt in the early centuries of the Christian era.
John .H. Speke (1827 – 1864) an officer in the British Indian Army , who discovered the source of the Nile , in 1844 , attributed his success , among other things , to the guidance he received from an Indian. The advise given was to look for the Neela (meaning Blue in Sanskrit, hence the Nile) flowing between the peaks of Chandra-giri, (Mountains of the Moon) below the country of Amara. To his wonder, what Speke discovered fitted with the location indicated by the Indian.
9. What Next?
7.1 Both the old countries have been through thick and thin of things over the ages. It is not surprising if they interacted over a number of issues.
7.2 However, there have been no serious studies, in the recent past, on the subject of cultural relations between ancient Egypt and India. In case such studies are taken up, recently, can someone please enlighten me?
The Elamite Empire
The Iranian Plateau did not experience the rise of urban, literate civilization in the late 4th and early 3rd millennia on the Mesopotamian pattern, but the lowland Khuzestan did. It was the Elamite Civilization.
Geographically, Elam included more than Khuzestan; it was a combination of the lowlands and the immediate highland areas to the north and east. 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.
Closely related to that form of government was the Elamite system of inheritance and power distribution. The normal pattern of government was that of an overlord ruling over vassal princes. In earliest times, the overlord lived in Susa, which functioned as a federal capital. With him ruled his brother closest in age, the viceroy, who usually had his seat of government in the native city of the currently ruling dynasty. This viceroy was heir presumptive to the overlord. Yet a third official, the regent or prince of Susa (the district), shared power with the overlord and the viceroy. He was usually the overlord's son or, if no son was available, his nephew. On the death of the overlord, the viceroy became overlord. The prince of Susa remained in office, and the brother of the old viceroy nearest to him in age became the new viceroy. Only if all brothers were dead was the prince of Susa promoted to viceroy, thus, enabling the overlord to name his own son (or nephew) as the new prince of Susa. Such a complicated system of governmental checks, balances, and power inheritance often broke down, despite bilateral descent and levirate marriage (i.e., the compulsory marriage of a widow to her deceased husband's brother). What is remarkable is how often the system did work; it was only in the Middle and Neo-Elamite periods that sons more often succeeded fathers to power.
Elamite history can be divided into three main phases: the Old, Middle, and Late, or Neo-Elamite, periods. In all periods, Elam was closely involved with Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria, sometimes through peaceful trade, more often through war. In like manner, Elam was often a participant in events on the Iranian Plateau. Both involvements were related to the combined need of all the lowland civilizations to control the warlike peoples to the east and to exploit the economic resources of the plateau.
1. Old Elamite Period
The earliest kings in the Old Elamite period may date to approximately 2700 BC. Already conflict with Mesopotamia, in this case apparently with the city of Ur, was characteristic of Elamite history. These early rulers were succeeded by the Awan (Shustar) dynasty.
The 11th king of this line entered into treaty relations with the great Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2254-c. 2218 BC). Yet, there soon appeared a new ruling house, the Simash dynasty (Simash may have been in the mountains of southern Luristan). The outstanding event of this period was the virtual conquest of Elam by Shulgi of the 3rd dynasty of Ur (c. 2094-c. 2047 BC). Eventually, the Elamites rose in rebellion and overthrew the 3rd Ur dynasty, an event long remembered in Mesopotamian dirges and omen texts. About the middle of the 19th century BC, power in Elam passed to a new dynasty, that of Eparti. The third king of this line, Shirukdukh, was active in various military coalitions against the rising power of Babylon, but Hammurabi (c. 1792-c. 1750 BC) was not to be denied, and Elam was crushed in 1764 BC. The Old Babylon kingdom, however, fell into rapid decline following the death of Hammurabi, and it was not long before the
Elamites were able to gain revenge. Kutir-Nahhunte I attacked Samsuiluna (c. 1749-c. 1712 BC), Hammurabi's son, and dealt so serious a defeat to the Babylonians that the event was remembered more than 1,000 years later in an inscription of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. It may be assumed that, with this stroke, Elam once again gained independence. The end of the Eparti dynasty, which may have come in the late 16th century BC, is buried in silence.
2. Middle Elamite Period
After two centuries for which sources reveal nothing, the Middle Elamite period opened with the rise to power of the Anzanite dynasty, whose homeland probably lay in the mountains northeast of Khuzestan. Political expansion under Khumbannumena (c. 1285-c. 1266 BC), the fourth king of this line, proceeded apace, and his successes were commemorated by his assumption of the title "Expander of the Empire." He was succeeded by his son, Untash-Gal (Untash (d) Gal, or Untash-Huban), a contemporary of Shalmaneser I of Assyria (c. 1274-c. 1245 BC) and the founder of the city of Dur Untash (modern Chogha Zanbil).
In the years immediately following Untash-Gal, Elam increasingly found itself in real or potential conflict with the rising power of Assyria. Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria (c. 1244-c. 1208 BC) campaigned in the mountains north of Elam. The Elamites under Kidin-Khutran, second king after Untash-Gal, countered with a successful and devastating raid on Babylonia.
In the end, however, Assyrian power seems to have been too great. Tukulti-Ninurta managed to expand, for a brief time, Assyrian control well to the south in Mesopotamia. Kidin-Khutran faded into obscurity, and the Anzanite dynasty came to an end.
After a short period of dynastic troubles, the second half of the Middle Elamite period opened with the reign of Shutruk-Nahhunte (c. 1160 BC). Two equally powerful and two rather less impressive kings followed this founder of a new dynasty, whose home was probably Susa, and, in this period, Elam became one of the great military powers of the Middle East. Tukulti-Ninurta died about 1208 BC, and Assyria fell into a period of internal weakness and dynastic conflict. Elam was quick to take advantage of this situation by campaigning extensively in the Diyala River area and into the very heart of Mesopotamia. Shutruk-Nahhunte captured Babylon and carried off to Susa the stela on which was inscribed the famous law code of Hammurabi. Shilkhak-In-Shushinak, brother and successor of Shutruk-
Nahhunte's eldest son, Kutir-Nahhunte, still anxious to take advantage of Assyrian weakness, campaigned as far north as the area of modern Kirkuk. In Babylonia, however, the 2nd dynasty of Isin led a native revolt against such control as the Elamites had been able to exercise there, and Elamite power in central Mesopotamia was eventually broken. The Elamite military empire began to shrink rapidly. Nebuchadrezzar I of Babylon (c. 1124-c. 1103 BC) attacked Elam and was just barely beaten off. A second Babylonian attack succeeded, however, and the whole of Elam was apparently overrun, ending the Middle Elamite period.
It is noteworthy that during the Middle Elamite period, the old system of succession to, and distribution of, power appears to have broken down. Increasingly, son succeeded father, and less is heard of divided authority within a federated system. This probably reflects an effort to increase the central authority at Susa in order to conduct effective military campaigns abroad and to hold Elamite foreign conquests. The old system of regionalism balanced with federalism must have suffered, and the fraternal, sectional strife that so weakened Elam in the Neo-Elamite period may have had its roots in the centrifugal developments of the 13th and 12th centuries.
A long period of darkness separates the Middle and Neo-Elamite periods. In 742 BC a certain Huban-nugash is mentioned as king in Elam. The land appears to have been divided into separate principalities, with the central power fairly weak.
The next 100 years witnessed the constant attempts of the Elamites to interfere in Mesopotamian affairs, usually in alliance with Babylon, against the constant pressure of Neo-Assyrian expansion. At times they were successful with this policy, both militarily and diplomatically, but, on the whole, they were forced to give way to increasing Assyrian power. Local Elamite dynastic troubles were, from time to time, compounded by both Assyrian and Babylonian interference. Meanwhile, the Assyrian army whittled away at Elamite power and influence in Luristan. In time, these internal and external pressures resulted in the near total collapse of any meaningful central authority in Elam. In a series of campaigns between 692 and 639 BC, in an effort to clean up a political and diplomatic mess that had become a chronic headache for the Assyrians, Ashurbanipal's armies utterly destroyed Susa, pulling down buildings, looting, and sowing the land of Elam with salt.
3. List of Elamite Kings
3.1 Avan Dynasty (precise dates unknown)
Peli (fl. c. 2500 BC)
Tata (precise dates unknown)
Ukku-Takhesh (precise dates unknown)
Khishur (precise dates unknown)
Shushun-Tarana (precise dates unknown)
Napil-Khush (precise dates unknown)
Kikku-Sive-Temti (precise dates unknown)
Lukh-Ishshan (fl. c. 2350 BC)
Khelu (fl. c. 2300 BC)
Khita (fl. c. 2275 BC)
Kutik-Inshushinnak (fl. c. 2240 BC)
3.2 Simash Dynasty (precise dates unknown)
Gir-Namme (fl. c. 2030 BC)
Enpi-Luhhan (fl. c. 2010 BC)
Khutran-Temtt (precise dates unknown)
Kindattu (precise dates unknown)
Indattu-Inshushinnak I (precise dates unknown)
Tan-Rukhurater (precise dates unknown)
Indattu-Inshushinnak II (precise dates unknown)
Indattu-Napir (precise dates unknown)
Indattu-Tempt (precise dates unknown)
3.3 Elam Dynasty (precise dates unknown)
Eparti I (precise dates unknown)
Eparti II (precise dates unknown)
Eparti III (fl. c. 1850 BC)
Shilkhakha (precise dates unknown)
Attakhushu (fl. c. 1830 BC)
Sirukdukh (fl. c. 1792 BC)
Shimut-Wartash (c. 1772-c. 1770 BC)
3.4 Babylonian Dynasty (c. 1770-c. 1500 BC)
Siwe-Palar-Khuppak (c. 1770-c. 1745 BC)
Kuduzulush I (c. 1745-c. 1730 BC)
Kutir-Nahhunte I (c. 1730-c. 1700 BC)
Lila-Ir-Tash (c. 1700-c. 1698 BC)
Temti-Agun I (c. 1698-c. 1690 BC)
Tan-Uli (c. 1690-c. 1655 BC)
Temti-Khalki (c. 1655-c. 1650 BC)
Kuk-Nashur II (c. 1650-c. 1635 BC)
Kutir-Shilkhakha I (c. 1635-c. 1625 BC)
Temti-Raptash (c. 1625-c. 1605 BC)
Kuduzulush II (c. 1605-c. 1600 BC)
Tata (c. 1600-c. 1580 BC)
Atta-Merra-Khalki (c. 1580-c. 1570 BC)
Pala-Ishshan (c. 1570-c. 1545 BC)
Kuk-Kirwash (c. 1545-c. 1520 BC)
Kuk-Nahhunte (c. 1520-c. 1505 BC)
Kutir-Nahhunte II (c. 1505- ???? BC)
3.5 Igehalkid Dynasty (c. 1350-c. 1200 BC)
Ige-Halki (c. 1350-c. 1330 BC)
Pakhir-Ishshan (c. 1330-c. 1310 BC)
Attar-Kittakh (c. 1310-c. 1300 BC)
Khuman-Numena (c. 1300-c. 1275 BC)
Untash-Naprisha (c. 1275-c. 1240 BC)
Unpatar-Naprisha (c. 1240-c. 1235 BC)
Kiddin-Khutran (c. 1235-c. 1210 BC)
Interregnum period (c. 1210-c. 1200 BC)
3.6 Shutrukid Dynasty (c. 1205-c. 1100 BC)
Khallutush-In-Shushinak (c. 1205-c. 1185 BC)
Shutruk-Nahhunte (c. 1185-c. 1155 BC)
Kutir-Nahhunte III (c. 1155-c. 1150 BC)
Shilkhak-In-Shushinak (c. 1150-c. 1120 BC)
Khutelutush-In-Shushinak (c. 1120-c. 1110 BC)
Shilhana-Hamru-Lagamar (c. 1110- ???? BC)
3.7 Late Elam Dynasty (743-644 BC)
Khumbanigash I (743-717 BC)
Shuttir-Nakhkhunte (717-699 BC)
Khallushu (699-693 BC)
Kutir-Nakhkhunte (693-692 BC)
Khumma-Menanu (692-689 BC)
Khumma-Khaldash I (689-681 BC)
Khumma-Khaldash II (681-680 BC)
Khumma-Khaldash II & Shilhak-In-Shushinak (680-676 BC)
Shilhak-In-Shushinak & Urtaku (676-664 BC)
Shilhak-In-Shushinak & Tempti-Khumma-In-Shushinak (664-653 BC)
Atta-Khumma-In-Shushinak & Khumbanigash II (653-651 BC)
Atta-Khumma-In-Shushinak & Tammaritu (651-649 BC)
Atta-Khumma-In-Shushinak & Indabigash (649-648 BC)
Indabigash (648-647 BC)
Khumma-Khaldash III (647-644 BC)
10-31-2009, 02:09 PM
RE: Ancient Mesopotamia & Near East: History 
So we both share a common intrest in the ancient near east, nice
but the first people to use iron weapons were the Celts (who also had a settlement in Turkey which is modern day Ankara)
"Babylon will not be rebuilt for 111 years" - Ba'al Sennacherib-Ninurta