French Archaeologist Deciphers the 4500 Year Old Writing of the Kingdom of Elam

Linear Elamite is a Bronze Age writing system used in Elam, a civilization that stretched in the west & southwest of Iran and a small part of southern Iraq 4500 years ago. Known mostly from tablets and monuments, it’s a writing system that has defied translation, until now, as reported by Sciences et Avenir.

A French archaeologist, François Desset, deciphered the mysterious syllables of the writing system during ten years of study, using tablets that had been discovered in 1901 under the ancient site of Susa, Iran.

Desset specialises in the Bronze Age and the Neolithic Age in Iran, and is associated with the CNRS Archéorient de Lyon specializes in the Bronze Age and the Neolithic in Iran. His studies began to bear fruit in 2017, when Desset noticed a series of repeated characters on a silver funeral vase. He hypothesized that the text could be lists of names, identifying the names of two rulers, then that of the local goddess, Napirisha. These three words were the key he needed into reading a language that had been indecipherable for thousands of years. It took three years for Desset to decode the entire script, working syllable to syllable.

“Thanks to this work, I can now confirm that writing did not first appear in Mesopotamia alone but that two writings appeared at the same time in two different regions”, Desset explains.

There is the other key lesson of this discovery

Up until now, it was generally accepted that writing was born in Mesopotamia (cantered in modern-day Iraq), but this discovery has turned that certainty on its head.

“These new discoveries will finally allow us to access the own point of view of the men and women occupying a territory they designated as Hatamti, while the term Elam by which we have known him until then in fact only corresponds to ‘to an external geographic concept, formulated by their Mesopotamian neighbours,” François Desset explained to Sciences et Avenir.

All of his work will be published this year.

Read more at Le Figaro

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