Crafting under Divine Protection During the Middle Elamite Period

Recorded: February 18, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium

by Elizabeth Carter (University of California, Los Angeles)

Crafting under Divine Protection during the Middle Elamite Period

During the last half of the second millennium BCE, the Middle Elamite (c 1600–1500–1000 BCE) kings built a number of temples both in Khuzestan and the central Zagros. Inscribed baked bricks used in their construction describe the various types of religious buildings, the divinities to whom they are dedicated, and sometimes specify their decorations and furnishings (Potts 2010). The later Middle Elamite rulers appear particularly active in this endeavor. The excavations at Kabnak (Haft Tepe) and Al-Untash Napirisha (Chogha Zanbil) have revealed craft production areas within their sacred precincts. Administrative texts from Kabnak and Anšan (Tal-e Malyan) record the receipt and disbursement of metals, some destined for the production for temple furnishings. This fragmentary data suggests that the demand for minerals and other luxury items during the Late Bronze Age led to the establishment by the crown of a network of strategically located temples that allowed the late Middle Elamite rulers to control key points between Susa and the central Zagros and thus to exploit the mineral resources of the Persian Gulf and the Iranian highlands.