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Women in the Neo-Elamite and Persian Periods

Authored by: Maria Brosius

Women in Antiquity

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138808362
eBook ISBN: 9781315621425
Adobe ISBN: 9781317219910


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Prior to the Persian settlement on the Iranian plateau in the early centuries of the first millennium bce the region had been inhabited by the Elamites, an ancient people whose first historical records date back to the fourth millennium. The Elamites, who called themselves Haltamti, were ruled by kings whose core power extended from Khuzestan to Persis. After 1500 bce the royal title “King of Anshan and Susa” reflected the Elamite claim to two royal capitals on either side of the Zagros Mountains, the city of Anshan in Persis, and Susa in Khuzestan. The Elamites possessed a distinctive language and cuneiform script of their own; their pantheon, which included the goddess Kiririša and the gods Napiriša and Inšušinak, was distinct from that of Mesopotamia. Elam’s lifelong political enemy was Assyria, having repeatedly come under her control over the centuries. When the Assyrian king, Aššurbanipal, finally destroyed the Elamite capital Susa in 646 bce, petty kingdoms arose in the region. By this time, Persian tribes had settled alongside the indigenous Elamite population, having migrated into the region at some time after 1000 bce. The collapse of the Assyrian empire, which began with the death of Aššurbanipal in 627 bce, aided the Persians’ gradual rise to power. Under their king, Cyrus II (c.559–530 bce), the conquests of the kingdoms of Media, Lydia, and Babylonia led to the foundation of the first Persian empire, which came to be known as the Achaemenid empire.

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