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Middle 3rd millennium-331 BCEMiddle 3rd millennium-331 BCE


Elam /
Elamite language



Tablet of Linear Elamite script, and language. Louvre Musuem, Paris.
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Tablet of Linear Elamite script, and language. Louvre Musuem, Paris.

Extinct language spoken in the ancient country of Elam, corresponding to modern southwestern Iran.
Elamite is only partly understood by scholars — it had no relationship to Sumerian, Semitic or Indo-European languages, and there are no modern descendants of it. It stands out as a Language isolate, but there have been two main suggestions, like a relation to Dravidian languages and that it forms a subfamily to the Afro-Asiatic language group.
Documents in Elamite found, date to three historical periods. During the first of these periods which begins in the 3rd millennium BCE, writing in Elamite was done using a semi-pictographic script, inscribed on clay tablets. This writing system, called Proto-Elamite, had more than 1,000 signs, that has yet to be deciphered.
For a relatively short period in the last part of the 3rd millennium BCE of time a new writing system, based on Proto-Elamite, came along. This system, possibly of a syllabic nature, is known as Linear Elamite. It is also un-deciphered by modern scholars.
During Elamite's second historical period, cuneiform was introduced. Elamite used 130 symbols, which was more effective than other cuneiform writing systems. This writing system would also be used in the third historical period.
Among the structural qualities of Elamite grammer was the use of the suffix -p which formed plural.

History
Middle 3000 BCE: The Elamites develop a semi-pictographic writing system called Proto-Elamite.
Around 1600: cuneiform script is introduced.
6th: Last period of Elamite, during the reign of the Achaemenian kings of Persia. Elamite was used along side Akkadian and Old Persian.
331: With the takeover over Persia by Alexander the Great, the last tablets in Elamite are written.




By Tore Kjeilen