To every province in its own script and every people in its own
language (Esther 3,12)
This situation was not different in the ancient world, where people speaking different languages also came into contact with each other and had to find ways to communicate with each other. In this contribution, multilingualism in Elam
Taking into account another point of view, one can formulate another bipolarity regarding multilingualism. One could argue that multilingualism should be defined as the co-existence of various languages in one community (or political entity, such as a kingdom), whereas others may believe that multilingualism is always situated on the individual level.
The character of the available historical sources divides the current contribution in two chapters: For the Old through Neo-Elamite
10.2 Multilingualism in the Elamite Period
10.2.1 Old Elamite Period (c. 2300–1500 BCE)
(1)Susa and its environment was part of the Akkadian Empire and was completely administered by an Akkadian-speaking governance.
(2)The Mesopotamian inhabitants of Susa were perhaps more creative in writing.
Nevertheless, the oldest Elamite text dates back to the Old Akkadian period, namely, the so-called Naram-Sîn
After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, Awan and Susiana were united in the kingdom of Puzur-Inšušinak
Conspicuously, Elamite appears only in inscriptions on statues of deities, whereas the monolingual Akkadian inscriptions appear on foundation cones or may have had a non-religious subject (e.g. his report on the submission of Šimaški). This implies that Elamite was used for religious inscriptions.15 In this sense, Elamite was a kind of lingua sacra
With the annexation of Susa by the Ur III-rulers, the Semitic as well as the Sumerian component of Susiana again became predominant. Both royal inscriptions and documentary texts
This superiority of Sumerian and Akkadian continues well into the following sukkalmaḫ-period (c. 1950–1500 BCE). Only a few royal inscriptions appear in Elamite17 (now written in Mesopotamian cuneiform) and no documentary texts are recorded in this language. Nonetheless, the presence of both Akkadian and Elamite names shows that both ethnic groups had some interaction
The context of the four Elamite inscriptions is different. The inscription of Siruktuh
A common feature of both Sumero-Akkadian and Elamite texts is the expression “for the life of” (Sumerian nam.ti.la.ni.šè [IRS 4,6,11,14–15,17–18], Akkadian ana balaṭašu [IRS 7], Elamite takkime ...intikka [EKI 3, 67]). Nevertheless, in the Elamite inscriptions the king acts for his life as well as for the life of others (a tradition continued in the Middle Elamite inscriptions), whereas in the Sumero-Akkadian texts he only acts on behalf of himself.
Despite the preponderance of Akkadian in the written tradition, the Elamite component still enjoyed an important status in the sukkalmaḫ-kingdom, as is clearly indicated by the Elamite character of the royal names and the four Elamite inscriptions. It seems, however, that this component was also expressed through images:
(1)In the highlands southeast of Susa royal ideology was transmitted
(2)The seal of Kuk-Simut, in which Idaddu II presents to him an axe (Elamite symbol). The accompanying inscription, however, is not in Elamite, but in Sumerian
10.2.2 Middle Elamite Period (c. 1500–1000 BCE)
In the beginning of the Middle Elamite period too, Akkadian remained the main lingua scriptura in Elam. The contents, however, became more Elamite, as can be seen in an inscription of Tepti-ahar (IRS 20). This development ends in the renewed production of Elamite royal inscriptions by the king Humpan-umena (fourteenth century BCE), next to the continued production of Akkadian inscriptions. The literary production, however, is purely Akkadian.24 Remarkably, the re-introduction of Elamite inscriptions was instigated by a person not originating from Susa, but rather from Liyan (near modern Bushehr), an area where Elamite was the most important language.
In particular Untaš-Napiriša
In the highlands Mesopotamian influence remained very limited. A late Middle Elamite administrative archive
10.2.3 The Neo-Elamite Period
With regard to the history of multilingualism, the Neo-Elamite period should be divided in two periods, with the destruction of Susa by the Assyrians
After the Middle Elamite period, Elam’s history was shrouded in darkness for three centuries until 743 BCE when historical sources again shed light on Elam’s history. Mesopotamian sources report that in that year Humpan-nikaš I, of whom nothing further is known, became king of Elam. His successor, Šutruk-Nahhunte II
After the reign of Šutruk-Nahhunte II the heavy political instability in Elam may be one of the causes for the complete decline of the production of royal inscriptions. For more than half a century neither Elamite nor Elamite texts were written in Elam, which makes it impossible to study the multilingual situation of the region in this period.
Fortunately, after the Assyrian sack of Susa
(1)Royal inscriptions are now without exception recorded in Elamite. Kings such as Hallutaš-Inšušinak (IRS 58; MDP 53 25), Šilhak-Inšušinak II (IRS 78), Tepti-Humpan-Inšušinak (EKI 85; IRS 59–62), Atta-hamiti-Inšušinak (EKI 86) stopped producing Akkadian royal inscriptions. The early Neo-Elamite phenomenon of officials who create their own inscriptions is continued by Hanni (EKI 75–76) and the Persepolis Bronze Tablet
(2)Elamite is no longer exclusively used for royal inscriptions. Furthermore, various documentary texts
This does not mean that Akkadian simply disappeared from Elam. There are a small number of documentary Akkadian texts,28 drafted in a completely Babylonian
In addition, it seems as if the communities, contrary to earlier periods, had little contact with each other. This is made clear by the absence of Elamite names in the Babylonian texts and the absence of Babylonian names in Elamite texts.
Highly important is the appearance of a third ethnic element in the Elamite texts. In the so-called Acropole Texts
The contacts between both population groups again postulate people who knew both languages. Unfortunately, we do not have any traces of these interpreters.
10.3 Multilingualism in the Achaemenid Period
When in 331 Darius III
This story is an extremely beautiful example of one of the principal characteristics of the Achaemenid Empire
The linguistic problems faced by the Achaemenid kings were indeed not few; they had to keep together and organize a vast empire
One can assume that multilingualism was a main aspect of Achaemenid rule and that many interpreters were active in various administrative centres. It is therefore interesting to study multilingualism at the individual level.
In contrast to the older periods the Achaemenid source material is more informative concerning this issue. Various administrative formulas at the end of, for example, letter-orders give us some information on the multilingualism of the Achaemenid Empire
|P||(1) PN1 ydʿ ṭʿm znh
(2) PN1 bʿl ṭʿm
|PN1 i.rḫ pȝy wȝḥ||(1) hi tupaka PN1 turnaš
(2) *patigāma PN1 lišta
|D||PN2 sprʾ||PN2 pȝr i.ir sš tȝy šʿ.t||tumme PN2-mar tušta|
|T||PN3 ktb (only once)||sš PN3||PN3 talliš(ta)|
Tab. 10.1: Achaemenid administrative formulas
|P||(1) PN1 knows this command
(2) PN1 is the master of the command
|PN1 knows this command||(1) PN1 knew about this
(2) PN1 delivered the command
|D||PN2 is the sēpiru (scribe)||PN2 is he who wrote this letter||PN3 received the draft from PN2|
|T||PNx wrote (only once)||PN3 wrote||PN3 wrote|
Tab. 10.2: Achaemenid administrative formulas (English translation)
The formulas can be found in five archives. The first one, the Fortification Archive
The second archive, called the Persepolis Treasury Archive, is composed of various Elamite texts and one Babylonian text. The documents date from 492–457 BCE, that is, year 30 of Darius I to the seventh year of Artaxerxes I
The third one is the so-called Arsames Correspondence
The fourth archive is an Aramaic archive from Bactria
Finally the fifth one is also the smallest one: three letters dealing with the appointment of a new priest in the Chnum-Temple. On the one hand, the correspondents are the priests of this temple and on the other, Pherendates, satrap of Egypt. The archive
It is interesting to note that the formulas are only attested in letters written by the satrapal administration
In the Elamite texts some variant formulas, clearly equivalents of formula P, are attested: in five Treasury texts
What can be deduced from these formulas?
(1)In the Aramaic texts only two persons are involved,48 whereas in the Demotic
(2)A research of the ethnic affiliation of the names of the officials who are the actors in these formulas has led to interesting results:49 the people who are in charge of the command nearly all have Old Iranian names. Exceptions are Anani (West-Semitic
In the Elamite Fortification texts the people mentioned in formula D have Iranian and Semitic names (Babylonian as well as West-Semitic), but the latter are clearly more frequently attested than the former ones (78 vs. 32 times).
Concerning formula D, a shift is visible in the Elamite Treasury texts
The Aramaic texts do not seem to make a distinction between the sēpiru and the actual scribe. A formula PN sprʾ may as well mean “PN is the sēpiru” as “PN is the scribe” and it is possible that one person incorporated both functions, as the final product was written in Aramaic and not, for example, in Elamite. Only in TAD A 6.2 three roles are involved, with Nabû-ʿaqab’s role being the equivalent of Elamite PN talliš.
In the Aramaic texts the names of formula P are predominantly Iranian (*Bagasravā [two times], *Ṛtavahyā [three times], *Ṛtaxaya-). One person with a West-Semitic name (Anani) is also attested in this function. The sēpiru have Old Iranian, West-Semitic
In the Egyptian text the sēpiru bears an Egyptian name, which could point to a knowledge of Egyptian by this person.
(3)The people who actually “wrote” the documents have Iranian and Elamite names in the Elamite documents and an Egyptian name in the Egyptian document.
As formula D is the level where many Semitic
One can immediately connect this with the Elamite expression teppir, an appellative the bearers of which are described as “(writing) on parchment”
The other class of scribes, called ṭupšarru in Akkadian and probably *tallir
In the Bactrian Aramaic texts the actions behind formulas P and D are mostly carried out by one person, which is an evolution compared to the earlier Aramaic texts. The formulas themselves, however, are comparable to the earlier ones and this indicates that the administrative linguistic system was really imperially imposed by the Achaemenids on all areas of their realm. They are:
(1)PN sprʾ ydʿ ṭʿmʾ znh “PN the sēpiru is in charge of the command”: A1:12, A3:3–4, A4:6, A5:3, A6:11, A7:2.
(2)PN1 sprʾ wPN2 bʿl ṭʿm “PN1 is the sēpiru and PN2 is in charge of the command”: A2:7.
PN bʿl ṭʿm: A5:5.
These formulas are similar to the Aramaic ones attested in Egypt. This really shows the imperial character of this system, which was applied throughout the Empire.
The names of the persons concerned (three scribes, named *Daizaka-, *Hašavaxšu- and *Nurafratara-, and one person, *Āθviya- in charge of the command) are all Iranian,51 so the ethnicity of the people or the origins of the names does not play a role here. As Vaxšu is the name of a Bactrian deity, the person named *Hašavaxšu is in all likelihood of Bactrian
The administrative pattern corresponds completely with the one discussed above. As there are only two languages involved, one could expect two officials, but in most letters only one name is mentioned. Probably the person in charge of the command was also the sēpiru. Only once (in the letter A2) two persons are mentioned: the sēpiru and the one who is in charge of the command.
In conclusion, two patterns can be distinguished: one where only two languages are involved and one where three languages are involved:
(1)Two languages (Old Persian and Aramaic): An Iranian high official dictates an order (*patigāma-) in Old Persian to PN1 (bʾl ṭʿm), who is responsible for the correct effectuation of it (“he knows about it”).
PN1 delivers the order to PN2 (formula P), a sēpiru/teppir who makes an Aramaic translation, which could be recopied if circumstances required this (e.g. in case of TAD A 6.2, copied by Nabû-ʿaqab).
(2)Three languages (Old Persian, Aramaic, Egyptian/Elamite): An Iranian high official dictates an order (*patigāma-) in Old Persian to PN1 (bʾl ṭʿm), who is responsible for the correct effectuation of it (“he knows about it”). This corresponds to the formula P.
PN1 delivers the order to PN2 (formula P), a sēpiru/teppir who makes an Aramaic version as well as a version in the local vernacular, the draft (tumme) to PN3. It is this draft that he hands over to a local scribe (formula D).
PN3, a local scribe
10.4 Concluding Remarks
Generally, an evolution can be seen from the pre-Achaemenid period, where multilingualism exists but is somehow uncontrolled and not systematically dealt with, to the Achaemenid period, where an imperial administration
In the Suso-Elamite state, a dichotomy between Akkadian-speaking people and Elamite-speaking people is clearly visible. This dichotomy was present in the Old, Middle and Neo-Elamite periods, though the position of Akkadian
Elamite as a written language
The arrival of Persian-speaking
In order to tackle this multilingualism and to convert it into an administrative advantage, the Achaemenids put Aramaic
One should be conscious of the fact that the study conducted here covers only a small part of multilingualism within the Achaemenid Empire
Amiet, P. (1992). Sur l’histoire élamite. Iranica Antiqua 27:75–94.
Azzoni, A. (2008). The Bowman MS and the Aramaic Tablets. In: L’archive des Fortifications de Persépolis: État des questions et perspectives de recherches: Actes du colloque organisé au Collège de France par la “Chaire d’histoire et civilisation du monde achéménide et de l’empire d’Alexandre” et le “R éseau international d’études et de recherches achéménides” (GDR 2538 CNRS), 3-4 novembre 2006. Ed. by W. F. M. Henkelman P. Briant and M. W. Stolper. Persika 12. Paris: De Boccard, 253–274.
Bloomfield, L. (1933). Language. New York: Holt.
Brandenstein, W. and M. Mayrhofer (1964). Handbuch des Altpersischen. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Brixhe, C. (2004). Corpus des inscriptions paléo–phrygiennes: Supplément II. Kadmos 43:1–130.
Cameron, G. G. (1948). Persepolis Treasury Tablets. Oriental Institute Publications 65. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Castellino, G. R. (1972). Two äulgi Hymns (BC). Studi Semitici 42. Roma: Università: Istituto di Studi del Vicino Oriente.
D’jakonov, I. M. and V. P. Neroznak (1985). Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt. Vol. 1. Ed. by B. Porten and A. Yardeni. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Department of the History of the Jewish People. Texts and studies for students. Jerusalem: Magnes.
Diebold, A. R. (1964). Incipient Bilingualism. In: Language in Culture and Society: A Reader in Linguistics and Anthropology. Ed. by D. Hymes. New York: Harper and Row, 495–508.
Diodorus Siculus (1963). Library of History. Vol. 8: Books 16.66–17. Loeb Classical Library 422. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Translated by C. Bradford Welles.
Dossin, G. (1962). Bronzes inscrits du Luristan de la collection Foroughi. Iranica Antiqua 2:149–164.
Driver, G. R. (1965). Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century BCE. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon.
Farber, W. (1975). Eine elamische Inschrift aus der 1. Hälfte des 2. Jarhtausends. ZA 62(74–86).
Grosjean, F. (1982). Life with Two Languages: An Introduction to Bilingualism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Hallock, R. T. (1969). Persepolis Fortification Tablets. Oriental Institute Publications 92. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
– (1978). Selected Fortification Texts. Cahiers de la D élégation archéologique française en Iran 8:109–136.
Haugen, E. (1969). The Norwegian Language in America: A Study in Bilingual Behavior. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Henkelman, W. F. M. (2003). Persians, Medes and Elamites: Acculturation in the Neo-Elamite Period. In: Continuity of Empire (?): Assyria, Media, Persia. Ed. by G. B. Lanfranchi, M. Roaf, and R. Rollinger. Ancient Near East Monographs 5. Padova: S.a.r.g.o.n., 181–231.
– (2008). The Other Gods Who Are: Studies in Elamite–Iranian Acculturation Based on the Persepolis Fortification Texts. Achaemenid History 14. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten.
Hinz, W. (1987). Elams Übergang ins Perserreich. In: Transition Periods in Iranian History: Actes du Symposium de Fribourg-en-Brisgau 22–24 mai 1985. Ed. by Ph. Gignoux. Studia Iranica, Cahiers 5. Leuven: Peeters, 125–134.
Hoffmann, C. (1991). An Introduction to Bilingualism. Longman Linguistics Library. London: Longman.
Hughes, G. R. (1984). The So-called Pherendates Correspondence. In: Grammata Demotika: Festschrift für Erich Lüddeckens zum 15. Juni 1983. Ed. by H.-J. Thissen and K.-Th. Zauzich. Würzburg: Zauzich, 75–86.
Jones, C. E. and M. W. Stolper (2008). How Many Persepolis Fortification Tablets Are There? In: L’archive des Fortifications de Pers épolis: État des questions et perspectives de recherches: Actes du colloque organisé au Collège de France par la “Chaire d’histoire et civilisation du monde ach éménide et de l’empire d’Alexandre” et le “R éseau international d’études et de recherches achéménides” (GDR 2538 CNRS), 3-4 novembre 2006. Ed. by W. F. M. Henkelman P. Briant and M. W. Stolper. Persika 12. Paris: De Boccard, 27–50.
Kahle, P. (949). Das zur Zeit Jesu in Palästina gesprochene Aramäisch. In: Theologische Rundschau. N.F. 17. Ed. by R. Bultmann and E. Dinkler. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 201–216.
Kent, R. G. (1953). Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexikon. 2nd ed. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
Lambert, M. (1971). Investiture de fonctionnaires en Élam. Journal Asiatique 259: 217–221.
– (1974). Deux textes élamites du IIIe millénaire. Revue d’Assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale 68:3–14.
– (1979). Le prince de Suse Ilishmani et l’Elam, de Naramsin à Ibisîn. Journal Asiatique 267:11–40.
Lewis, D. (1977). Sparta and Persia. Cincinnati Classical Studies 1. Leiden: Brill.
Mackey, W. F. (1967). Bilingualism as a World Problem / bilinguisme: ph énomène mondial. Montréal: Harvest House.
– (1970). The Description of Bilingualism. In: Readings in the Sociology of Language. Ed. by J. Fishman. The Hague: Mouton, 554–584.
Malbran-Labat, F. (1996). Akkadien, bilingues et bilinguisme en Elam et en Ougarit. In: ed. by F. Briquel-Chatonnet. Paris: Maisonneuve, 33–61.
Naveh, J. and Sh. Shaked (2012). Aramaic Documents from Ancient Bactria (Fourth Century BCE). From the Khalili Collections, London: The Khalili Family Trust.
Orel, V. E. (1997). The Language of Phrygians. Anatolian and Caucasian Studies. Delmar: Caravan Books.
Phrygian (Anatolian and Caucasian Studies) (1985). Delmar, New York: Caravan Books.
Potts, D. T. (1999). The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State (Cambridge World Archaeology). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Romaine, S. (1989). Bilingualism. Language in Society 13. Oxford: Blackwell.
Salvini, M. (1998). Elam iv: Linear Elamite. In: Encyclopedia Iranica. Vol. 8. Ed. by E. Yarshater. Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 330–332.
Seidl, U. (1986). Die elamischen Felsreliefs von Kurangun and Naqsh–e Rustam. Deutsches archäologisches Institut. Abteilung Teheran. Iranische Denkmäler. Reihe 2: Iranische Felsreliefs 12. Berlin: Reimer.
Shaked, S. (2004). Le satrape de Bactriane et son gouverneur: Documents aram éens du IVe s. avant notre ère provenant de Bactriane. Persika 4. Paris: De Boccard.
Stolper, M. W. (1986). A Neo–Babylonian Text from the Reign of Halluöu. In: Fragmenta Historiae Elamicae: m élanges offerts à M.–J. Steve. Ed. by L. De Meyer and H. Gasche. Paris: Recherche sur les civilisations, 235–246.
– (2004). Elamite. In: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages. Ed. by R. D. Woodard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 60–94.
Stolper, M. W. and J. Tavernier (2007). From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 1: An Old Persian Administrative Tablet from the Persepolis Fortification. ARTA:1–28.
Tavernier, J. (2004). Some Thoughts on Neo–Elamite Chronology. ARTA 3:1–44.
– (2008). Multilingualism in the Fortification and Treasury Archives. In: L’archive des Fortifications de Persépolis: État des questions et perspectives de recherches: Actes du colloque organisé au Collège de France par la “Chaire d’histoire et civilisation du monde achéménide et de l’empire d’Alexandre” et le “R éseau international d’études et de recherches achéménides” (GDR 2538 CNRS), 3-4 novembre 2006. Ed. by W. F. M. Henkelman P. Briant and M. W. Stolper. Persika 12. Paris: De Boccard, 59–86.
– (2010a). Iranians in Neo–Elamite Texts. In: Elam and Persia. Ed. by J. Alvarez–Mon and M. B. Garrison. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 191–262.
– (2010b). Migrations des savoirs entre l’Élam et la Mésopotamie. Res Antiquae 7: 199–222.
Vallat, F. (1986). The Most Ancient Scripts of Iran: The Current Situation. World Archaeology 17:335–347.
– (1990). Deux inscriptions royales en élamite de l’époque des Epartides (sukkalmah). Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brefs et Utilitaires 137.
Van den Berghe, L. (1963). Les reliefs élamites de Malamir. Iranica Antiqua 3:22–39.
Weinreich, U. (1968). Languages in Contact: Findings and Problems. The Hague: Mouton.
The Sumerian King List has three attestations of Elam: (1) ii 35–37: “Enmebaragesi of Kish attacked Elam” (c. 2675 BCE); (2) iv 5–6: “Ur was attacked and its kingship carried to Awan” and (3) iv 17–19: “Awan was attacked and its kingship carried to Kish,” cf. Potts (1999, 87).
Awan is a region to the north of Susiana and underwent less Mesopotamian influence than its southern neighbor.
Not taking into account the problematic so-called Proto-Elamite texts, of which it is not certain that they denote the Elamite language. See, however, Irving Finkel’s contribution in this volume.
Castellino (1972, 257 (C122)). E
me nim níg eme-ge-ra-gimx ḫe-en-ga-zu-àm. In another text the king boasts about speaking five languages.
One of Siruktuh (c. 1800 BCE; ZA 64, 74–86), one of Siwe-palar-huhpak (second quarter of the eighteenth century BCE; EKI 3) and two of Temti-Agun (c. 1726–1710 BCE; EKI 67 and 70C; cf. Vallat (1990)).
This does not work the other way round: building inscriptions could also be engraved on other materials, such as the edge of a basin (MDP 6 16–19), a lentil-shaped tablet (MDP 28 5) or a clay cylinder (MDP 28 4).
One may wonder why curses appeared in Akkadian. Was this because it was a Mesopotamian issue? Or rather because the enemy to whom the curse was directed was most likely a Mesopotamian? Malbran-Labat (1996, 47–48).
The only monolingual Akkadian texts to deal with the construction of a canal and of a wall. In addition, many architectural expressions have an Akkadian origin, Malbran-Labat (1996, 48–49). Furthermore, the fact that Akkadian is also used for inscriptions on precious objects may be mentioned in this regard. Note also the Akkadian city gate names at Tchogha Zanbil, whereas the gate as temple entrance is indicated by its Elamite name sip.
Recently studied by Brixhe (2004, 118–126), who in addition to the already known month name anamaka, recognizes some numbers, two forms of the noun kna- “woman, wife” and a nom. pl. makeres, which he does not translate, but which is considered a proper name by Orel (1997, 442) and which is translated to “workers” (El. kurtaš) by D’jakonov and Neroznak (1985, 121). In any case, the administrative character of this text is clear.
The archive also contains a Babylonian text, but the contents of this one are completely different to the contents of the archive, which concern the functioning of a single administrative organization in the region of Persepolis.
In one text (TAD A 6.2) three persons are involved (Anani in formulas P and D, Nabû-ʿaqab in formula T; Sasobek in a Demotic formula T), but the third person is an Egyptian scribe, who apparently drafted a lost Demotic version of this document, Tavernier (2008, 71).
See the contribution by Salverda to this volume.