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Elamite(ē`ləmīt'), extinct language of uncertain relationship that was once spoken in the ancient kingdom of ElamElam
, ancient country of Asia, N of the Persian Gulf and E of the Tigris, now in W Iran. A civilization seems to have been established there very early, probably in the late 4th millennium B.C. The capital was Susa, and the country is sometimes called Susiana.
..... Click the link for more information. , located in SW Asia. It appears to be unrelated to any other languages, although some scholars see a kinship between Elamite and Brahui, one of the modern Dravidian languagesDravidian languages
, family of about 23 languages that appears to be unrelated to any other known language family. The Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 200 million people, living chiefly in S and central India and N Sri Lanka.
..... Click the link for more information. . Elamite is an agglutinative language in that different linguistic elements, each of which exists separately and has a fixed meaning, are often joined to form one word. A number of stone inscriptions and clay tablets that have Elamite texts written in cuneiformcuneiform
[Lat.,=wedge-shaped], system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B.C. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, probably by the Sumerians (see Sumer).
..... Click the link for more information. survive. These texts cover a period of about 2,000 years that began at the end of the third millennium B.C.
the language of the people who inhabited the ancient state of Elam. The linguistic affinity of Elamite has not yet been established, although the most promising line of research would appear to lie in the study of Elamite-Dravidian relationships.
The earliest Elamite texts were written in the Old Elamite period (30th-22nd centuries B.C.) in “proto-Elamite,” which was markedly pictographic; this writing system has not yet been deciphered (seePICTOGRAPHIC WRITING). Toward the end of the period, Elamite adopted the Accadian cuneiform writing. An inscription on the Naram-Sin stele (23rd century B.C.) is the only text that has been preserved from the Old Elamite period.
Texts from the Middle Elamite period (14th–12th centuries B.C), including several bilingual Accadian-Elamite texts, are also known. Texts of the eighth century B.C., unlike those of the preceding periods, are extremely diverse in genre.
Elamite, an agglutinative language, was an official language of the Achaemenid Empire, and the most extensive Elamite texts date from this period. The language of the Achaemenid inscriptions was strongly influenced, however, by Old Persian, which is reflected in such areas as lexicon, syntax, and style and in the presence of numerous caiques.
REFERENCESD’iakonov, I.M. Iazyki drevnei Pererdnei Azii. Moscow, 1967.
Reiner, E. “The Elamite Language.” In Handbuch der Orientalistik: Altkleinasiatische Sprachen. Leiden-Cologne, 1969.
A. A. KOROLEV