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Journal of Iran's Pre Islamic Archaeological Essays
New reflection on the religious position of the "Snake" in the works of the remnants of the ancient Elamite civilizationevidence)

 submission: - | acception: - | publication: 14/01/2019


Maryam Zohourian1*, Saman Farzin2, Mohamad Amin Hajizadeh3






Elam was an ancient pre-Iranian civilization centered in the far West and Southwest of what is now modern-day Iran, encompassing the lowlands of what is now Khuzestan and Ilam Province as well as a small part of southern Iraq. The modern name Elam stems from the Sumerian transliteration elam(a), along with the later Akkadian elamtu, and the Elamite haltamti. Elamite states were among the leading political forces of the Ancient Near East in classical literature; Elam was also known as Susiana, which is a name derived from its capital, Susa. Elam was part of the early urbanization during the Chalcolithic period (Copper Age). The emergence of written records from around 3000 B.C. also parallels Sumerian history, where slightly earlier records have been found. In the Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age), Elam consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered in Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium B.C., it was centered in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. Its culture played a crucial role during the Persian Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded Elam, when the Elamite language remained among those in official use. Elamite is generally considered a language isolate unrelated to the much later arriving Persian and Iranic languages. In accordance with geographical and archaeological matches, some historians argue that the Elamites comprise a large portion of the ancestors of the modern day Lurs, whose language, Luri, split from Middle Persian. The Elamites practiced polytheism. Knowledge about their religion is scant, but, according to Cambridge Ancient History, at one time they had a pantheon headed by the goddess Kiririsha/Pinikir. Other deities included In-shushinak and Jabru, lord of the underworld. According to Cambridge Ancient History, "this predominance of a supreme goddess is probably a reflection from the practice of matriarchy which at all times characterized Elamite civilization to a greater or lesser degree." Searching and exploring the ancients and ancient religions in every nation has led to the explanation of the biological, cultural, and anthropological characteristics of those peoples, and the symbolism of the remaining works has contributed greatly to it. One of these symbols is the role of snake in the ancient Islamic civilization. The ancient Elam is a land name in the southwest of Iran, which covered Khuzestan, Fars, and parts of Kerman, Lorestan, and Kurdistan provinces during the third to the first millennium B.C., according to the geopolitical divisions. One of the characteristics of the Elamites was that the female element was held in high esteem to the extent that they had a special place among gods. This superiority was emphasized to the extent that the goddesses were usually ranked higher compared to gods, and even in political and social affairs they had the opportunity to get exalted to the highest ranks. They could even become the king. Based on this, the ancient Elamite community should be considered as a female-dominated society. One of these characteristics was the particular respect that the Elamites always had for magic, the forces of the underworld and the female element. Worshipping snakes was yet another marked characteristic of theirs. It can be said that in addition to its positive aspect, which is known as the symbol of fertility, the snake has a negative aspect and a symbol of incapacity and seduction. In this article, we try to clarify the nature and identity of the serpent in the culture and religion of Elam by introducing the remains of this ancient civilization, such as inscriptions, figurines, dramatic designs, and so on having a role of the serpent.


Ancient Elam  Femininity  Femininity  Snake  Symbol. 

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