History and Archeology of Elamites and The Archaeology of Elam Paper 1500-2000 words on these references I upload here. (no other outside sources) the pape

History and Archeology of Elamites and The Archaeology of Elam Paper 1500-2000 words on these references I upload here. (no other outside sources) the paper should talk about the high lights of these references. 3
Should one, in a work devoted to an ancient state such as Elam, review the entire record of human
settlement prior to the earliest unambiguous appearance of that state in the historical record?
The answer to a question such as this depends in large part on whether one believes there was
or was not a connection between the earliest Palaeolithic or Neolithic inhabitants of the region
and the later Elamites. In general, the position adopted here is that while, for example, the late
Pleistocene hunter-gatherers of the Zagros may have been related, either biologically or culturally, to the later Elamites, we have at present no way of determining that this was the case. As
this is a book devoted to Elam and not to Iranian prehistory, therefore, most of the archaeological cultures which preceded the Elamites in southwestern Iran will not be discussed. Having
said this, how far back in time should we look if our aim is to understand the genesis (or
ethnogenesis) of Elam?
The approach taken in this book has been to look at two of the core areas of later Elamite
activity – central Fars and Khuzistan, particularly the sites of Tal-i Bakun, Tal-i Malyan and
Susa – beginning in the later fifth millennium BC. The justification for this is not a firm belief
that the peoples of these areas can be justifiably considered ancestors of the Elamites. Rather,
it is because questions which arise in the study of Elam when it first emerges in the historical
record of the third millennium BC need to be addressed in the context of arguments made concerning, for instance, the original peopling of the site of Susa, or the derivation of the earliest
writing system used in the region and its relationship to later written Elamite (so-called Linear
Elamite). And because of the existence of a considerable body of literature devoted to the ‘ProtoElamites’, even if it is argued below that this is a misnomer, it is necessary to look at certain
aspects of the late fourth millennium in Fars and Khuzistan. Since the broad conclusion is that
we are not justified in assuming a link between Proto-Elamite and later Elamite culture, it is
unnecessary to review everything we know about the late fourth millennium at Susa, for
example. Rather, only those categories of material culture are examined which bear directly on
the question of whether or not the inhabitants of Susa and Fars c. 3000 BC can already be considered Elamites.
In discussing the early peoples of central Asia, the Russian anthropologist A.
Bernshtam commented, ‘In reference to the first millennium BC, we can talk about
ethnic names of the ancestors of the present peoples. Yet, we can not say anything positive about their ethnic affiliation. The Sarmatians-Alans of the first centuries AD do
not yet represent the Turkmens, the ancient Yenisey Kirgiz of the 3rd century BC are
not yet the Tien-shan Kirgiz, and the Bactrians of the end of the first millennium BC
t h e a r c h a e o l og y o f e l a m
Figure 3.1 Map of southwestern Iran showing the principal sites mentioned in Chapter 3.
The immediate precursors of Elam
are not yet the Tadzhiks’ (Bernshtam 1962: 119). The late Walther Hinz was less cautious in suggesting that the Elamites were ‘Proto-Lurs’, i.e. the ancestors of the inhabitants of modern day Luristan in western Iran (Hinz 1971b: 644). The problem of
ethnogenesis – the creation of ethnicity – is one which must be faced in the study of
Elam as well. Do the palaeolithic sites of Fars province represent the ancestors of the
later Elamites? If not, then what about the early Neolithic sites in the region? Can we
confidently claim that the Elamites are actually present in the prehistoric archaeological record of southwestern Iran? If not, when did Elam (Fig. 3.1) first appear?
These questions raise both a specific set of concerns revolving around the subject of
this book, as well as the broader problem of how one recognizes an ethnic and/or a linguistic group in the preliterate archaeological record. Fredrik Barth defined an ethnic
group as one which was (1) ‘largely biologically self-perpetuating’; (2) shared ‘fundamental cultural values’; (3) made up a ‘field of communication and interaction’; and (4)
had ‘a membership which identifies itself, and is identified by others, as constituting a
category distinguishable from other categories of the same order’ (Barth 1969: 10–11).
From this set of criteria it can be readily seen that ethnicity is constructed, and it need
not take very long for this to happen. Indeed, anthropologists have shown how ethnicity can be created ‘almost from historical scratch’ (Roosens 1989: 10). Cultural
symbols, territorial designations and linguistic identity can all be appropriated ab novo
in the interests of signalling ethnic identity to the members of one’s group and to the
outside world. While the symbolic and linguistic vocabulary used often comes out of
an already extant context or a prior, historical set of circumstances, the particular ‘spin’
put on these features and the combinations and modifications introduced can lead to
new forms which proclaim the arrival of a group on the political, economic, religious
and social scene. Ethnicity becomes particularly important in situations of competition and aggression, and it will be argued below that this is precisely what characterizes
the emergence of an Elamite identity. That, however, is a feature of the third millennium BC, and there can be no grounds for suggesting that any of the prehistoric assemblages known in southwestern Iran before that time represent the vestiges of the same
ethnic groups known to have inhabited the region in later periods. This conclusion,
moreover, is further strengthened when we consider the archaeological sequences of
Khuzistan and Fars prior to the mid-third millennium BC. We shall not review the
entirety of those sequences, however, but shall instead commence around 4000 BC by
looking at Susa and several sites in Fars, such as Tal-i Bakun and Tal-i Malyan, as a necessary introduction to what has often been termed ‘Proto-Elamite’ culture in Iran.
Although, as discussed below, this is a misnomer, the term is so well-entrenched in the
archaeological and historical literature of Western Asia that it must be dealt with
before moving on to the first truly Elamite remains in the region.
The origins of Susa: the Susa I period
In describing the genesis of the great urban centre of Uruk in southern Mesopotamia,
H.J. Nissen stressed that it was originally composed of two discrete areas, identified in
t h e a r c h a e o l og y o f e l a m
the cuneiform sources as Kullaba and Eanna, which were only joined into a single
entity towards the end of the fourth millennium BC, and finally circumvallated several
centuries later in Early Dynastic I (c. 2900 BC) times (Nissen 1972). Susa presents us
with a somewhat analogous situation, at least in its earliest phase of occupation.
Although G. Dollfus has suggested that Susa may have been a ‘“city” of little hamlets’,
and not a continuously occupied, 15–18 ha2 area as has often been assumed (Dollfus
apud Pollock 1989: 289), this is not quite accurate. The only evidence of occupation in
Susa’s earliest period, which we shall call Susa I times, occurs in two discrete areas
which the early French excavators referred to as the ‘Acropole’, or acropolis (site of the
French chateau built in the late nineteenth century), and the ‘Apadana’ mound, socalled because of the palace constructed there in the Achaemenid period by Darius the
Great (see Chapter 9). Apart from these two areas, the rest of Susa (e.g. the so-called
‘Ville Royale’, the ‘Donjon’ and the ‘Ville des Artisans’) was apparently unoccupied in
the site’s earliest phase of settlement (Steve and Gasche 1990: 25, n. 47). Soundings conducted at various points on the Apadana mound suggest that it covered an area of c. 6.3
ha, while trenches on the Acropole reached Susa I levels wherever they were put down,
suggesting that its original extent was on the order of 7 ha (Steve and Gasche 1990: 26).
The Apadana was, moreover, encircled by a packed mud (pisé) wall no less than c. 6 m
wide at its base. It cannot be said whether the entirety of both the Apadana and the
Acropole were in turn contained within an outer wall, but Steve and Gasche would not
rule out the possibility.
The date of Susa’s foundation is unclear but the earliest C14 determination from the
Susa I levels on the Acropole falls between 4395 and 3955 cal. BC while the latest date
from the period can be placed between 3680 and 3490 cal. BC (Voigt and Dyson 1992:
Table 2; see also Weiss 1977). The wide span of time represented by these dates may be
due to contamination, but on the other hand a ceramically contemporary complex at
the village site of Tepe Jaffarabad (Dollfus 1978) spans the period from 4140–3865 to
3890–3655 cal. BC and is thus generally consistent with the Susa dates.
It has been suggested that the original stock of the Susian population came from
many of the surrounding villages which were abandoned as a prelude to Susa’s foundation (Pollock 1989: 283), and that the burning of at least a portion (see also Kantor and
Delougaz 1996) of the site of Choga Mish may have had something to do with the foundation of Susa (Hole 1983: 321), possibly, as Hole has suggested, ‘a deliberate attempt
to reestablish some kind of a center and vacate the area of the previous one’ (apud
Pollock 1989: 292). Whatever the raison d’être behind Susa’s foundation, and it may
have been very mundane indeed, the site’s subsequent development was soon distinguished by a number of architectural developments which would seem to exceed the
scope of activities normally associated with village life (Dollfus 1985: 18–19).
If we begin with the Apadana first, although only partially excavated, the Susa I
Building (‘Bâtiment de Suse I’) exposed in part of trench 25 (Chantier 25) was constructed of packed mud (pisé) faced with rose-coloured plaster. The walls of the building, which were only preserved to a height of 1.15 m, were nevertheless 2.10 m thick.
The thickness of the walls (compare this with the .4–.6 m thick walls at the ‘rural
The immediate precursors of Elam
hamlet’ of Tepe Djafarrabad, Wright and Johnson 1985: 25) and the unusual interior layout of the rooms have led Steve and Gasche to interpret the Susa I Building as something more than a ‘simple private habitation’. On the other hand, the fact that a grave
of the following Susa II period was dug into the building suggests that neither it nor the
immediate environs were part of a religious precinct. Rather, Steve and Gasche are
more inclined to view this as the residence of a ‘chief’ of the settlement of Susa, a seat
of civil authority, in contrast to what they interpret as a seat of religious power on the
Acropole (Steve and Gasche 1990: 22). Whatever its function, it is clear that the Susa I
building was not founded when Susa itself was established, for it stood on c. 2.5 m of
earlier archaeological strata of the Susa I period. However, Steve and Gasche are
inclined to date the foundation of the Susa I Building to the same time as the construction of the second of the two major features founded on the Acropole (Steve and Gasche
1990: 26).
Early in the Susa I period (Susa IAAcropole 27), a low mudbrick platform, referred
to by the early French excavators of Susa as the massif funéraire, was constructed on
the Acropole (Fig. 3.2). This platform, the function of which has been repeatedly discussed over the years, is said by its excavators to have stood 3–4 m above the surrounding ground level and to have been roughly 8–12 m in diameter at its base, appearing
thus as a truncated cone (Hole 1990: 2). More recent excavations suggest that the massif
was rectangular, measuring c. 714 m, with a preserved height of 1.7 m, all built of
unbaked mudbrick (Hole 1990: 4). Whatever its shape, this feature appears to have
served as a focal point for the burial of at least some of Susa’s inhabitants in this period.
As the excavations of most of the area took place early in this century, the information
available is contradictory and the excavation methods employed leave much to be
desired, but it has been alleged that some 2,000 individuals were buried in graves both
beneath and dug into the platform, and that these burials included both primary and
secondary interments as well as fractional burials in brick cists (see Pollock 1989: 286;
Hole 1989: 164–6). Some scholars see this as a supra-local cemetery for the dead of a
cluster of settlements around Susa (Vértesalji 1989). Alternatively, it has been interpreted as ‘a mass grave resulting from a catastrophic loss of life’ rather than a cemetery
used over time (Hole 1990: 1). The areal extent of the Susa I graves has been estimated
at anywhere from 120 to 750 m2. The graves are most famous for their tall, finely made
ceramic beakers decorated in geometric and naturalistic patterns (Fig. 3.3) in black
paint on a white ground (Hole 1983; 1984).
Hole interprets the massif funéraire as the foundation of a religious structure,
‘perhaps even for priestly residences’ (Hole 1990: 5). It was followed in time (Susa IB
Acropole 26–25) (perhaps one or two generations, according to Hole 1990: 7) by the construction of another platform, known as the haute terrasse, a stepped construction
some 10.08 m high which was erected on top of over a metre of ‘residential midden’
(Hole 1990: 6), clearly signalling that the construction of the platform was not coincident with the foundation of the settlement, but followed it by an indeterminable period
of time. The upper surface of this second platform is reckoned to have measured c.
7065 m, and to have stood on a somewhat larger socle, 2 m high (Canal 1978: 173),
t h e a r c h a e o l og y o f e l a m
Figure 3.2 The Acropole in Susa I times (after Harper, Aruz and Tallon 1992: Fig. 23).
the south side of which was 80 m long. The exterior of the ‘first stage’ of the platform,
i.e. that portion above the socle, was decorated with inlaid ceramic cones in groups of
four or five (Canal 1978: 173), ‘plaque mosaics and clay models of goat horns’ (Pollock
1989: 285). According to Hole, this, too, may have served as the support for the residence of a priest or some other ‘highly decorated monumental buildings’ (Hole 1990: 7).
Each of these structures will remain enigmatic because of less than adequate excavation and recording, but there can be no denying that the size and height of the haute
terrasse is considerable. S. Pollock compares it with the chateau, measuring
651258–9 m, built by the early French excavators at Susa (Pollock 1989: 284), and
P. Amiet has noted that it was much larger than the contemporary temple platform at
the Ubaid site of Eridu in southern Mesopotamia (Amiet 1988b: 7). The imitation goat
horns in clay recall the striking image of a stepped monumental building with three
The immediate precursors of Elam
Figure 3.3 Principal motifs on Susa I pottery (after Vanden Berghe 1959: Fig. 20).
sets of protruding horns (Pl. 3.2) on a cylinder seal impression from Susa dated to late
period II (Amiet 1987b: Fig. 1; see also Potts 1990a). It is, moreover, noteworthy that
both the Susa I Building on the Apadana and the haute terrasse were destroyed by fire.
However, the subsequent fate of these two areas differed. On analogy with the situation observed at Tell ed-Der in Mesopotamia, a formation of greenish soil on top of the
haute terrasse (Acropole sounding 2) bespeaks a period of abandonment and exposure
to the open air lasting well into the middle of the fourth millennium when material of
Late Uruk (Susa II) type appeared above it. The Susa I Building, on the other hand, seems
to have been quickly filled in with domestic debris of the Middle Uruk period, suggesting that there was no hiatus of occupation on the Apadana (Steve and Gasche 1990: 27).
With roughly forty small settlements around it on the Susiana plain, Susa in the Susa
t h e a r c h a e o l og y o f e l a m
I period was at least four times larger than any of its neighbours (Wright and Johnson
1985: 25; see also Hole 1985) and clearly, by virtue of its stepped platform, in possession of a monumental structure which, regardless of its exact function, must have been
unusual in the context of Khuzistan in the late fifth and early fourth millennium BC.
Whether, therefore, we wish to describe it using terms such as ‘ceremonial centre’, or
to characterize its level of social organization as a ‘chiefdom’, as some scholars have
chosen to do, is another matter. Certainly a number of stamp seals recovered at Susa
in layers of this period show a figure whom P. Amiet has described as the ‘proto-royal’
(Amiet 1986c: 44; 1988c: 33; 1992a: 77) ancestor of the ‘priest-king’ (roi-prêtre) of the
Susa II period (Amiet 1988b: 8). Amiet has linked the glyptic tradition of Susa at this
time with that of the highlands of Luristan (Amiet 1979a: 196), but as the Luristan seals
on which this conclusion is based were all acquired on the art market (by the Louvre
Amiet 1979c: Figs. 1–14) one must be very cautious in this regard. The few which have
come from controlled excavations in Luristan such as Dum Gar Parchineh and Hakalan
are in general much simpler and covered with geometric decoration (Vanden Berghe
1987: Fig. 12) and do not display the human iconography of the Susa exemplars which
Amiet finds so suggestive of political authority. On the other hand, in the course of over
a century, the Susa excavations have yielded no fewer than 261 stamp seals and sealings dating to the Susa I period (Amiet 1986e: 17), and the variety of sealing types would
certainly suggest that the seals were being employed by persons in positions of administrative authority (see also Amiet 1988b: 8) to control the flow of goods in and out of
one or more offices or centres of redistribution. Certainly some of the Susa I sealings
came off doors which had been locked and sealed (Amiet 1994e: 56; 1994f: 88–9; for the
principal of sealing doors see Fiandra 1982).
The Late Bakun period in Fars
In Fars province, settlement contemporary with Susa I is best known from the excavations of levels III and IV at Tal-i Bakun A (for the chronology, I follow Voigt and Dyson
1992: 139) which represent the last phase of the Bakun (4500–3900 BC) and the beginning of the Lapui phase (3900–3400 BC) (these dates follow Sumner 1988b: 315).
Although the architecture of levels III and IV at Tal-i Bakun A consisted largely of
multi-roomed dwellings (Fig. 3.4) and nothing was found which can compare to either
the haute terrasse or the massif funéraire of Susa I, it is nonetheless important to note
that, in at least two respects, the communities of highland Iran at this time were just
as sophisticated as their lowland counterparts. In line with the indications of copper
metallurgy at Susa in period I, sites on the Plateau – such as Tepe Ghabristan, where a
smelting or refining workshop has been excavated c. 60 km south of Qazvin; Tepe Sialk,
where moulds for the open casting of adzes and conical-headed pins in period III4 were
found; and Tal-i Mushki in Fars, where a single faience bead was recovered – already
point to growing sophistication in metallurgy by the fifth millennium BC and, indeed,
it is generally thought that the stimulus for Susa’s metallurgical development derived
in large measure from contacts with the highlands (Moorey 1982: 85).
The immediate precursors of Elam
Figure 3.4 The Tall-i Bakun A administrative area (after Alizadeh 1988: Fig. 6).
Turning to the comparative evid…
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