History Files
 

 

Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Persia and the East

 

 

 

MapElam / Haltamtu / Susiana

FeatureElam was one of the longest-surviving kingdoms in history in one of the oldest civilised areas in the world. It was founded by circa 2700 BC and was situated in south-western Iran, on the east bank of the Tigris from modern Kuwait along the coast of the Persian Gulf (approximately the modern region of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, which inherits the former kingdom's name).

Culturally, the kingdom achieved less than its advanced neighbours, and imported much of what it needed, including writing from Sumer and architecture from the later Babylon. From the few surviving records, it seems the Elamite language bore no relation to any others; Semitic, Sumerian or Indo-European, forming part of a group called Elamo-Dravidian which reached into India. Elamite records are also extremely sparse in recording local events, and large areas of their history are almost totally unknown except through Sumerian records.

The form of the kingdom's name, 'Elam' ('highland'), is Akkadian (and through them, Hebrew), while in the original Elamite form it was Haltamtu or Haltamti. It was also known in classical writings as Susiana, from the city state which usually formed its capital. The kingdom's four major cities were Awan, Anshan, Simash and Susa, the capital, 100 km (75 miles) east of the Tigris, in which the rulers practised kingship by matrilineal descent, being referred to as 'son of a sister'.

from 7000 BC

The first traces of civilisation appear in the Elamite region. Susa shows traces of early settlement.

c.4000 BC

Susa emerges as an important regional centre.

c.3200 - 2700 BC

FeatureThe Proto-Elamite Period witnesses the development of a semi-pictographic writing system. Susa begins to be influenced by the cultures of the Iranian Plateau to the east, and dominates the lowlands to the west of the Zagros Mountains. Approximately 400 kms to the south, Anshan, in the modern province of Fars, becomes prominent and expands in size, dominating the highlands of the southern mountain range.

Old Elamite Period

The Old Elamite Period marks the beginnings of the historical era in Elam and relations with the flourishing Sumerian city states. Three dynasties of kings ruled, with the last of them forming a short-lived empire. It seems that at various times, Anshan and Susa were ruled as separate kingdoms, and were perhaps only briefly united within one state. However, Sumerian writings start referring to them as the land of Elam, suggesting an element of unity, perhaps as a loose coalition of city states.

c.2600 BC

According to the Sumerian king list, the ruler of the city state of Kish subdues Elam.

Avan / Awan Kings

The founding of the Awan dynasty of Elamite rulers ended the hazy Proto-Elamite Period, although precise details of their rule are extremely fragmentary. Awan was one of Elam's four major cities, located to the immediate north-west of Susa, and the first three kings are mentioned on the Sumerian king list, in the fourth set of post-diluvian entries. The first foreign rulers of Sumer, they briefly held dominance there, having gained the kingship from Lagash or more probably Umma (although these cities are missing from the list, and the dating is misaligned).

FeatureAccording to the king list, a total of three kings of Awan ruled Sumer for 356 years, once (one dynasty) in Awan. This is the fourth set of entries on the list comprising kings 40-42, but the text was destroyed in this section. Here, List 1 is primarily used, backed up by List 2 (see Sumer for details).

c.2550 - ? BC

(Name Unknown)

Ruled for ? years, holding dominance in Sumer.

(Name Unknown)

Ruled for ? years, holding dominance in Sumer.

(Name Unknown)

Ruled for ?/36 years, holding dominance in Sumer.

Awan is defeated and the Sumerian kingship passes to Kish. It could be possible that the following three kings are the same as the three unnamed kings who had dominated Sumer. Their dates are much closer to fitting in with those in which the kings of Awan could have seized power from Lagash or Umma and ruled for about forty years.

fl c.2450 BC

Peli

Some lists place three kings of Ebla after Peli as Awan kings. However, the names seem to be Syrian ones: Igrish-Halam, Irkab-Damu, and Ar-Ennum.

c.2450 BC

Eannatum of Lagash extends his power to parts of Elam and the Persian Gulf, and the succeeding rulers of Lagash engage in contests against Elam for the next century or so.

c.2430 BC

Enshakushanna of Uruk throws the Elamites out of Awan.

Tata / Taar / Tari

Ukku-Takhesh

Khishur / Hishur

Shushun-Tarana

Napil-Khush

Kikku-Sive-Temti

fl c.2350/2325 BC

Lukh-Ishshan

c.2350 BC

Elam is reputedly conquered by Alusarsid of Akkad. At the same time a kingdom or confederation known as Marhashi is emerging to the east, on the Iranian Plateau.

fl c.2320 BC

Khishep-Ratep / Hishep-rasher

Vassal of Akkad?

Eshpum

Ruled? Vassal of Akkad?

Ilishmani

Ruled? Vassal of Akkad?

Epirmupi

Ruled? Vassal of Akkad?

c.2300 - 2280 BC

Khelu / Helu

Vassal of Akkad?

c.2280 - 2250 BC

Khita / Hita

Vassal of Akkad?

c.2278 - 2270 BC

After an attempted rebellion, Elam is re-conquered by Rimush of Akkad, and real Elamite history can be traced from this point. The state of Marhashi is now a cohesive entity, bordering Anshan to the east.

Shimpishuk

Ruled? Vassal king?

c.2240? BC

Both Marhashi and Kutik-Inshushinnak declares independence from Akkad (although perhaps not immediately as it seems they are re-conquered for a time), eventually throwing off Akkadian language influences. The ruler conquers Susa and Anshan, forming a centralised and unified kingdom.

c.2240 - 2220 BC

Kutik (or Puzur)-Inshushinnak

Governor and general of Susa & king of Awan.

Tazitta I

c.2210 BC

Marhashi overruns Elam for a time, and unites eastern efforts in fighting against the Akkadian empire. A battle is fought near Akshak, at the confluence of the Diyala and Tigris rivers between the two states.

c.2193 BC

Elam is overthrown by the Gutians as they sweep through southern Mesopotamia from the Zagros Highlands, also destroying the Akkadian empire. The new Simash dynasty eventually comes to power during a period of instability.

Eparti

fl before 2120 BC

Tazitta II

Simash Kings

Although records are characteristically sparse, it seems that the invading Gutians caused the downfall of the former ruling dynasty in Elam, and their replacements, the Shimashki, faced a period of alternate diplomacy and attack from the Gutians and Sumerians. Some names may not be in the same order on all lists.

?

?

c.2050 BC

Elam loses its capital at Susa when it is conquered by Shulgi of Ur.

fl c.2030? BC

Gir-Namme

fl c.2010? BC

Enpi-Luhhan

fl c.2007? BC

Khutran-Temtt

fl c.2004 BC

Kindattu

c.2004 BC

Kindattu, together with the people of Susa, sacks Ur and lead its king into captivity. ending the third dynasty. With this threat removed, Elam becomes a powerful kingdom, although it is pushed out of southern Mesopotamia six years later by the Amorite city state of Isin. However, Elam appears to hold on to Kish.

Indattu-Inshushinnak I

Tan-Rukhurater

Indattu-Inshushinnak II

Indattu-Napir

Indattu-Tempt

MapEparti Kings

Under the stronger Eparti kings the Elamites swiftly rose to become a regional power, being contemporaneous with the Old Babylonian empire, and threatening it and the other Amorite city states, such as Isin, with conquest. The Eparti were also called 'of the sukkalmahs' due to the title which their kings bore. In some lists the Eparti are included as Simash/Shimashki kings. Details on rulers is extremely sparse, and some names may not even be in the correct order.

Recent excavations (up to 2015) that have been led by archaeologist Behzad Mofidi-Nasrabadi of Mainz University at the site of Haft Tepe or Tappeh (approximately twenty kilometres from Susa) have uncovered a workshop with an attached clay tablet archive that dates to this period in which the city is a prominent centre in the Elamite empire. The workshop records the expansion of commerce, arts, and crafts. Physical evidence of this prosperity includes lavish grave goods that have been found in the tomb of a female official, and a well-crafted female figurine.

(Additional information from External Link: Archaeology.org.)

c.1970 BC

Eparti I

Eparti II

fl bef. c.1850 BC

Eparti III

c.1835 BC

Kudur-mabug

King of an Elamite state north of Susa? In Zagros Mountains?

c.1835 BC

Kudur-mabug, apparent king of an otherwise unknown Elamite state to the north, manages to install his son, Warad-Sin, on the throne of Larsa.

Shilkhakha

fl after c.1830BC

Attakhushu

Tetep-mada?

fl c.1792 BC

Sirukdukh

c.1772 - 1763 BC

Shimut-Wartash

c.1770? - 1765 BC

Elam apparently takes control of the city of Apum after the fall of the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia. Elamite rule is eventually thrown out when the city of Andarig takes control there.

c.1763 BC

Following an attempted invasion the previous year (during which Ekallatum is conquered by Elam), the Elamites are defeated in southern Mesopotamia by Hammurabi's Babylonian empire, and the kingdom begins a period of vassalage to Babylon, still with their own kings, although the region's previous political unity is probably shattered.

c.1763 - 1745 BC

Siwe-Palar-Khuppak

For a time the most powerful ruler in the area.

c.1750 BC

Kudur Lagamar

King Chedorlaomer of the Bible, but existence is unconfirmed.

c.1745 - 1730 BC

Kuduzulush I

c.1732 BC

Elam loses control of Kish to the kings of Sealand.

c.1730 - 1700 BC

Kutir-Nahhunte I

c.1700 - 1698 BC

Lila-Ir-Tash

c.1698 - 1690 BC

Temti-Agun I

c.1690 - 1655 BC

Tan-Uli

c.1655 - 1650 BC

Temti-Khalki

c.1650 - 1635 BC

Kuk-Nashur II

c.1635 - 1625 BC

Kutir-Shilkhakha I

c.1625 - 1605 BC

Temti-Raptash

c.1605 - 1600 BC

Kuduzulush II

c.1600 - 1580 BC

Tata

c.1595 BC

It appears that at the same time as they take control in Babylon, the Kassites are able to devastate Elam.

c.1580 - 1570 BC

Atta-Merra-Khalki

c.1570 - 1545 BC

Pala-Ishshan

c.1545 - 1520 BC

Kuk-Kirwash

c.1520 - 1505 BC

Kuk-Nahhunte

Plundered the temples of Amorite Akkad.

c.1505 - ? BC

Kutir-Nahhunte II

c.1500 BC

Perhaps due in part (at least) to the devastation of  Elam of a century before, the kingdom has entered a slow decline into obscurity.

Middle Elamite Period

The Middle Period began as a poorly recorded period thanks to the Kassite rule of Babylonia, but this was followed by a slow ascendancy into an empire under three dynasties of kings from the city of Anshan. Although Elam was a late arrival on the international scene, and had limited influence outside Babylonia and Assyria, it cannot be ignored as a significant force. The lack of international correspondence relating to it probably comes from its rise after the period of the Egyptian Armana archive and its distance from Syria. To be able date any of these rulers, events that are noted in Babylonia have to be relied upon.

Kidinuid Kings

The Anshanites dynasties began with the Susa-based Kidinuids, who oversaw the 'Elamisation' of Susa, while continuing to use the Akkadian language on their inscriptions. The kings of this period were titled 'king of Anshan and Susa', indicating a renewed political unity within Elam, or at least a claim to it. This is the most obscure of the three Middle Period dynasties.

(Additional information from External Link: Archaeology.org.)

c.1500 - ? BC

Kidinu

Inshushinak-sunkir-nappipir

Some lists place him last.

Tan-Ruhurater II

Shalla

? c.1400 BC

Tepti-ahar

The best-attested act of this period is Tepti-ahar's building of a new settlement, called Kabnak (modern Haft Tepe or Tappeh), approximately twenty kilometres from Susa. These kings leave no mark outside of the western lowlands. However, with Elam in decline, Kabnak (Haft Tepe) also declines. Some of its temples and palaces are abandoned, and their materials are reused to build simple dwellings. The remains of several hundred massacre victims of this period are found by archaeologists in 2014-2015, piled on top of one another behind one of the city's internal walls.

Ruins of Kabnak (Haft Tepe)
Several hundred people were massacred in this period and their bodies piled into a mass grave behind one of Kabnak's city walls, for archaeologists to find in 2014-2015, although the circumstances surrounding the massacre are unknown

Igehalkid Kings

Ige-Halki ruled a newly independent, and certainly reunified Elam, with the lowlands of Susa in the west once more united with the highlands of Anshan in the east. Elamite language continued to increase in importance during this period. However, under the rule of the Igehalkids the kingdom seems to have remained fairly inactive. Ten rulers are known, but there may be more. The succession of kings was unusual for the period in that the throne moved back and forth between the descendants of two sons of Ige-Halki.

c.1350 - 1330 BC

Ige-Halki

Or from c.1400 BC.

c.1330 - 1310 BC

Pakhir-Ishshan

Son.

c.1320 BC

Elam is temporarily occupied by the Kassites.

c.1310 - 1300 BC

Attar-Kittakh

Brother.

c.1300 - 1275 BC

Khuman-Numena

Son.

c.1275 - 1240 BC

Untash-Naprisha

Son.

The largest project undertaken by the dynasty is the construction of a new city 40km from Susa. The city of Al-Untash-Naprisha is named after its founder, and is devoted to Napirisha, the great god of Elam, and Inshushinak, the patron deity of Susa. After the king's death, his city assumed secondary status to Susa.

c.1240 - ? BC

Unpatar-Naprisha

Descendant of Pakhir-Ishshan.

Kiddin-Khutran I

Brother.

Kiddin-Khutran II

Descendant of Attar-Kittakh.

? - c.1220 BC

Napirisha-Untash

Son.

c.1220 - 1200 BC

Kiddin-Khutran III

Son?

c.1230 BC

Kiddin-Khutran enters Babylonia twice to attack Assyria's puppet rulers there. On the first campaign, Nippur is taken, while on the second Isin is attacked. When Kiddin-Khutran dies there is a change of dynasty in Elam.

Shutrukid Kings

It is not known how this new dynasty came to replace the previous one. Under the Shutrukids the kingdom again became a powerful force within Mesopotamia, even being able to reach out and conquer Babylon. Unfortunately, that expansion brought about the destruction of Elam and four hundred years of direct Babylonian rule. Dates are extremely uncertain, and do not entirely align with events in Babylonia.

c.1210 - 1190 BC

Khallutush-In-Shushinak

c.1190 - 1160 BC

Shutruk-Nahhunte I

Rebuilt the kingdom.

c.1158 - 1155 BC

Once again a rising power, Shutruk-Nahhunte marries the eldest daughter of the Babylonian king Melishipak, and appears to claim Babylonia as his own. He is able to push the Kassites out, forming a short-lived empire that encompasses Mesopotamia, with his eldest son on the Babylonian throne.

c.1160 - 1155 BC

Kutir-Nahhunte III

Son. King of Babylon (1158-1155).

c.1155 - 1125 BC

Shilkhak-In-Shushinak

Brother.

c.1155 - 1135 BC

While his brother is later accused by Babylonian sources of having plundered the country, Shilkhak-In-Shushinak claims to raid Babylonia and Assyria repeatedly, and to control the area east of the Tigris as far north as Nuzi, until being expelled by the new Isin kings of Babylonia.

c.1125 - 1115 BC

Khutelutush-In-Shushinak

Result of probable relationship between his father & sister.

c. 1115 - ? BC

Shilhana-Hamru-Lagamar

Brother.

Neo-Elamite Period

The Middle Period ended with the sacking of Elam and further occupation by Babylonia. Elam never quite recovered from this and the neo-Elamite Period was one of Iranian and Syrian influence, and especially Assyrian, and obscurity for the Elamites themselves.

c.1120 - 760 BC

Neo-Elamite Period I sees Elam's capital, Susa, sacked by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadrezzar. The kingdom is badly damaged, and is absorbed into Babylonia.

c.760 - 644 BC

Neo-Elamite Period II sees Elam, under its Babylonian masters, controlling the Persians to the east of Elam itself, who had begun to migrate into the area from around 1000 BC. Elam and Babylonia often fight side by side against external threats, especially that of the Assyrians.

Late Elam / Susiana

A new Elamite state emerged from the centuries of Babylonian rule, but it was not the powerful state of old. Records of the Elamite rulers of this period are very poor, with only five kings recorded from native sources, while sources from Mesopotamia record fifteen. However, although the country was politically unstable and was under constant threat of attack by Assyria, the Elamites still retained control of the Persians to their south, whom they heavily influenced culturally. They also occasionally threatened Assyria, and managed to acquire wealth that made Elam the envy of its neighbours.

Elam probably only controlled the plain of Khuzestan on the western flank of the Zagros Mountains. The highlands of Anshan were home to the Persians, and groups that had only recently entered the area inhabited the Zagros Mountains further north. These formed various states that were at first very loose coalitions of peoples, with names known to us only from Assyrian sources. These mention the Medes, Mannaeans, Persians, and others, originally with large numbers of kings, later as consolidated states. All of them contributed towards a more uncertain political sphere to the east of Mesopotamia.

c.760 - 742 BC

Khumbantahrah

742 - 717 BC

Khumbanigash I / Humban-nikash

720 BC

Assyrian king Sargon attempts to attack Elam but is defeated by the Elamites and Babylonians near Der. It seems likely that another attack is mounted in 713 BC, as Sargon is surprised by a rebellion in Tabal while his attention is focussed on Elamite lands.

717 - 699 BC

Shuttir-Nakhkhunte / Shutruk-Nahhunte II

Murdered by his brother.

699 - 693 BC

Khallushu

Brother. Assassinated.

694 BC

Khallushu captures Babylonia and the king.

693 - 692 BC

Kutir-Nakhkhunte

Seized the throne. Abdicated in favour of his replacement.

692 - 689 BC

Khumma-Menanu / Humban-nimena

691 BC

The king leads a coalition of Iranian states against Assyrian king Sennacherib at Halule on the Tigris. The outcome is not decisive, and doesn't prevent Sennacherib from devastating Babylon, but it does protect Elam.

689 - 681 BC

Khumma-Khaldash I

681 - 676 BC

Khumma-Khaldash II

680 - 653 BC

Shilhak-In-Shushinak

Joint ruler (680-676 BC).

676 - 664 BC

Urtaku

Joint ruler.

664 - 653 BC

Tempti-Khumma-In-Shushinak

Joint ruler. Killed in battle.

653 BC

Ashurbanipal of Assyria invades Elam and fights a battle at the River Ulai, which runs near Susa. During the battle the king, Tempti-Khumma-In-Shushinak, is killed and decapitated.

653 - 648 BC

Atta-Khumma-In-Shushinak

653 - 651 BC

Khumbanigash II

Joint ruler.

651 - 649 BC

Tammaritu

Joint ruler.

649 - 647 BC

Indabigash

Joint ruler (649-648 BC).

647 - 644 BC

Khumma-Khaldash III

644 BC

Neo-Elamite Period III begins as Elam is devastated by Assyria, although not as badly as was previously believed from inscriptions left by the Assyrians themselves. The populace suffers greatly, but they are not massacred. Instead, the fragmented and weakened Elamites rule an increasingly shrinking domain which eventually passes into the hands of the Persians. They gain Anzan even while the last seventh century Elamite kings are still claiming it within their title.

644 - ? BC

Shuttir-Nakhkhunte

Son. 'King of Anzan and of Susa'.

Khallutush-In-Shushinak

'King of Anzan and of Susa'.

Atta-Khumma-In-Shushinak

'King of Anzan and of Susa'.

c.580 BC

Shuttir-Nakhkhunte

Son of Indada. Petty king.

Khumma-Menanu

'King'.

Shilhak-In-Shushinak II

'King'.

? - 539 BC

Tempti-Khumma-In-Shushinak

Had no title at all.

539 BC

The Persians assume control of Elam as part of their increasing dominance of the region, leading to the Elamites disappearing from history as a recognisable people and culture. The Persians preserve Elamite culture for at least the period of their first dynasty.

Greek Satraps of Susiana

Between 334-330 BC, Alexander the Great's Greek empire defeated the Persians and took control of Elam (Susiana). As elsewhere in the captured empire, Alexander retained most of the previous system of administration, and this included the use of satraps to govern the regions. Upon Alexander's death in 323 BC, control was maintained under the regency for a time, but the Diadochi Wars between Alexander's generals ended that arrangement.

323 - 320 BC

Following the death of Alexander the Great, Susiana is presumably governed by Archon, who holds Babylonia in the name of the titular successors to the empire.

323 - 320 BC

Archon

Greek satrap.

320 - 316 BC

Antigenes

Greek satrap. Gained Susiana after First War of the Diadochi.

316 BC

Antigenes is killed by Antigonus of Greater Phrygia. Susiana is subsequently drawn into Antigonus' empire until his death.

301 BC

Following the death of Antigonus, the territory falls to the Seleucid empire and remains within it until the Parthians capture it in 138 BC. In later centuries Elam is traditionally counted as being part of Persian territory, and its modern successor, Iran.