Elamites in Edinburgh

CDLN 2014:18

Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (ISSN: 1546-6566)

Published on 2014-07-15

© Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

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Klaus Wagensonner


Yale University

Despite its comparatively small size, the collection of cuneiform artefacts in the National Museums Scotland (NMS) surprises in its diversity in terms of periods and regions covered. Although approximately half of the texts and fragments date to the Ur III period and can be classified as administrative accounts, there is an interesting group of Sumerian literary works as well as legal texts dating to the Old Babylonian period. In the course of digitizing the collection of cuneiform artefacts kept in the museum's storage in June 2013 the stamped and inscribed bricks in the collection had been imaged as well. One among them is an inscribed brick which could be identified as a Middle Elamite royal inscription.

Brick inscriptions of the Middle Elamite period are usually hand-written rather than stamped (Potts 2010: 52), the latter being the usual model for bricks found at sites of their Mesopotamian neighbor. This difference and the greater complexity and length of the inscriptions found at sites of the Iranian plateau lead frequently to orthographical variants between witnesses of one inscription, no matter how standardized a text appears to be.

In 1995 Florence Malbran-Labat published a catalogue of brick inscriptions in the Louvre Museum, which originate from excavations in Susa, and aimed at presenting them within a chronological framework. Most noteworthy are the inscriptions by the kings of the so-called Shutrukid dynasty, a dynasty starting with king Šutruk-Naḫḫunte (ca. 1190-1155), who is famed for his invasion of Babylonia in the 12th century, from which he brought back some of the (at least nowadays) most iconic monuments from the ancient Near East, such as, for instance, the stela with the law code of Hammurabi or the Victory stela of Narām-Sîn.

Šutruk-Naḫḫunte's second son and successor Šilḫak-Inšušinak (ca. 1150-1120) is known from many building works, which he conducted in Susa, and which are commemorated on bricks such as the example in the NMS collection. These building works are summarized in Potts 1999: 238. The new witness NMS A.1960.228 in the collection in Edinburgh commemorates the restoration of the temple of the deity Kiririša-of-Liyan, literally the “Great Goddess of Liyan,” at the ancient site of Liyan, modern Bushire. (As Potts noted recently, this goddess is referred to as Kiriri$scaron;-of-Liyan in inscriptions from Susa, but is found without the place name at Chogha Zanbil and Liyan itself [Potts 2010: 63].) We have another interesting type of brick with an inscription by Šilḫak-Inšušinak dedicated to this goddess (published in Grillot & Vallat 1984). Šilḫak-Inšušinak's inscriptions deal with two building works at Liyan. After restoration of Kiririša's temple he conducted its decoration with glazed bricks (see Malbran-Labat 1995: 95-96, No. 42).

The inscribed text (Fig. 1) is identical to Malbran-Labat 1995: 90-92, No. 39, and is known from quite a few copies originating from the French excavations in Susa (for a list see p. 255 there). It is noteworthy that this commemorative text is also known in a shortened version from a couple of stamped bricks (see Malbran-Labat 1995: 91-92). The brick was previously in the possession of John Reddoch MacLuckie from the parish of Falkirk and is said to come from Bushire, the ancient Liyan, which is mentioned in the inscription. More is unfortunately not known about its whereabouts.

Fig. 1: Inscribed side of the brick (click for enlarged view)

The sign forms resemble those known from other contemporary sources (see Steve 1992). The text is ruled. As usually found on Middle Elamite brick inscriptions, the end of a line usually does not mark neither a word border nor the end of some semantic unit.

1. u3 mšil-ḫa-ak-din-šu-ši-na-ak ša-ak mšu-ut-ru-uk-dnaḫ-ḫu-un-te-ki2-ik li-ba-ak ḫa-ni-ik dki-ri-
2. ri-ša a-ak din-šu-ši-na-ak-ki2-ik su-un-ki-ik aš!an-za-an šu-šu-un-ka4 mdḫu-ban-nu-me-na si-ia-
3. an dki-ri-ri-ša li-ia-an-ir-ra-me ḫa-la-at-im-ma ku-ši-iš a-ak mi-ši-ir-ma-ma u3 sar-ra-aḫ
4. e-ri-en-tum8-im-ma pe3-ep-ši-im-ma ku-ši-iḫ a-ak ta2-ak-ki-me-u2-mi-ni fdnaḫ-ḫu-un-te-u2-tu2-me
5. mḫu-te-lu-du-uš-din-šu-ši-na-ak-me mšil-ḫi-na-ḫa-am-ru-dla-ka4-me-ma-ar-me mku-tir-dḫu-
6. ban-me fdiš-ni-ka4-ra-ab-bad3-me fu2-ru-tuk-del-ḫa-la-ḫu-me a-ak fu2-tu2-e-ḫi-iḫ-ḫi-(x)
7. pi-ni-gir3-me in-ti-ik-ka4 a-ak ir ki-in-ti ni-ka4-me-ma dki-ri-ri-ša na-pir2-u2-ri i du-ni-iḫ

I, Šilḫak-Inšušinak, son of Šutruk-Naḫḫunte, beloved servant of Kiririša and Inšušinak, king of Anzan and Susa: Ḫumban-Numena has built the temple of Kiririša-of-Liyan with fired bricks, and when it was about to collapse, I restored it. With fired brick(s) I rebuilt. And for the sake of my life and those of Naḫḫunte-Utu, Ḫuteluduš-Inšušinak, Šilḫina-ḫamru-Lakamar, Kutir-ḫuban, Išnikarab-ḫuḫun, Urutuk-el-ḫalaḫume and Utu-eḫiḫi-Pinigir, for this purpose and for our continuity I bestowed it upon my deity Kiririša.


3. For the most recent treatment of the irregular verbal form mi-ši-ir-ma-ma see Kozuh 2014: 135-137. Krebernik 2006: 176 translates the phrase *zammi-k ak miši-r-ma-k, “(Tempel) war schwach geworden und drohte einzustürzen” ([the temple] became weak and was in danger to collapse); see also Hinz & Koch 1987: II. 937, “in seinem allmählichen Verfallensein” (in its process of being dilapidated). The expression *miši-r-ma-ma u sarra-ḫ erentum-imma pepši-mma kuši-ḫ, “when it was about to collapse, I restored it; I rebuilt.”

4. The list of Šilḫak-Inšušinak's family members has parallels in other inscriptions as well, most notably in König 1965: No. 54, where the various family members are invoked: Naḫḫunte-utu is identified as ru-tu4 ḫa-ni-ik-u2-ri-[me], “my chosen wife.” The names of the children which follow are described as pu-ḫu ku-ši-ik-u2-pe, “the children procreated by me.”

5. The only variant in this witness is in the spelling of the PN Šilḫina-ḫamru-Lakamar. Instead of la-ka4-ma-ar-me or la-ka4-mar-me (the latter attested in brick No. 1819; see Malbran-Labat 1995: 90) this witness – probably erroneously – inserts me and writes la-ka4-me-ma-ar-me. The inanimate suffix for abstract nouns -me still refers back to *takki-me, “life,” in line 4, and follows every element in the chain (see Stolper 2004: 86, 5.2).

7. For the term ir kinti (written ir ki-in-ti) see Malbran-Labat 1995: 86 with further literature. Kozuh 2014: 139 translates “continuity”; see also Michaud 2000: 15.

The building projects of the Middle Elamite king Šilḫak-Inšušinak as attested in the countless commemorative and building inscriptions known from Iranian sites such as the ancient sites of Susa or Liyan testify to his dedication towards restoring old sanctuaries and shrines of the major deities in the Elamite pantheon. The restoration of buildings is the common denominator of a majority of the Middle Elamite building inscriptions (Potts 2010: 50).



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  1984 “Dedicace de Šilhak-Inšušinak à Kiririša”. IrAnt 19:21-29, 3 plates.
Hinz, W. & H. Koch
  1987 Elamisches Wörterbuch (in 2 Teilen). Teil II: I-Z, AMI Ergänzungsband 17. Berlin.
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  2014 “Elamite and Akkadian Inscribed Bricks from Bard-e Karegar (Khuzistan, Iran)”. In: M. Kozuh, W. F. M. Henkelman, C. E. Jones & C. Woods (ed.) Extraction & Control. Studies in Honor of Matthew W. Stolper (SAOC 68; Chicago):131-161.
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Cite this Article
Wagensonner, Klaus. 2014. “Elamites in Edinburgh.” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes 2014 (18). https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2014-18.
Wagensonner, Klaus. (2014). Elamites in Edinburgh. Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2014(18). https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2014-18
Wagensonner, Klaus (2014) “Elamites in Edinburgh,” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2014(18). Available at: https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2014-18 (Accessed: April 17, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-04-17]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Wagensonner,  Klaus},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Notes},
	issn = {1546-6566},
	number = {18},
	year = {2014},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {Elamites in {Edinburgh}},
	url = {https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2014-18},
	volume = {2014},

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TI  - Elamites in Edinburgh
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