Still Sorting the Mail: The Assyrian Imperial Impress in Elam and Parsumaš

Recorded: April 13, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 1
Citation: Waters, Matthew. "Still Sorting the Mail: The Assyrian Imperial Impress in Elam and Parsumaš." Pourdavoud Center: Achaemenid Workshop 1 (April 13, 2023).

by Matthew Waters (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

Collated transliterations and updated translations of the Assyrian correspondence from Ashurbanipal’s reign relating to the south and southeast, primarily Elam and Babylonia, are among the latest and last State Archives of Assyria volumes to be published (S. Parpola, SAA XXI, 2018, and G. Frame, SAA XXII, forthcoming). There remains still much to be learned from this correspondence, not only about the dissolution of Elam in the 640s BCE but also, and not coincidentally, the geopolitical situation in southwestern Iran and the Elamite borderlands that impacted the rise of the kingdom of Parsa (Assyrian Parsumaš) under Cyrus the Great’s forebears, the so-called Teispid Dynasty. This paper will explore the state-of-the-question based on observations from these Assyrian and other sources: additional pieces of the puzzle may be added to help contextualize the rise of this new power. As one example, Ashurbanipal’s obsession with the Chaldean rebel, Nabû-bēl-šumāti – and the latter’s own evasiveness buoyed by Elamite aid – brought increased Assyrian involvement into Elamite affairs. As a consequence, Assyrian geopolitical concerns reached deeper into Fars, squeezing Elam between the Assyrian imperial impress and a nascent Persian power.

About the Speaker

Matt Waters (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is Professor of Ancient Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, whereat he also recently served as Department Chair of Languages for six years. Waters is the author of four books, most recently King of the World: The Life of Cyrus the Great (Oxford 2022), and several dozen articles and related publications. He has held fellowships from the Institute of Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Center for Hellenic Studies, and the Loeb Classical Library Foundation.