Elamite Silver Vessel

SKU OF.125

900 BC to 500 BC


2.75″ (7.0cm) high x 5.15″ (13.1cm) wide




Central Asia

Gallery Location



The Elamite Empire owns a rightful place in a list of the world’s most important and influential ancient cultures. Archaeological signatures for the area exist as far back as the sixth millennium BC. The empire itself was founded in around 3200 BC, and it lasted – in various guises – almost continuously until the mid first millennium BC; much of its history is also documented using the world’s earliest deciphered alphabet, which makes it of extraordinary value to historians and archaeologists. The earliest phases are somewhat unclear. The most extensively researched portions of the sequence start with the Old Elamite Period (OEP), which began around 2700 BC and saw the conquest of Elam by Enmebaragesi of Kish. King lists indicate a temporary domination of Sumer (Iraq) by later dynasties within the OEP, although Elam was herself briefly dominated by strong Sumerian rulers. Struggles with the Akkadians and repeated conquests in both directions characterised much of the Avan Dynasty; diplomatic relations between the Sumer and Elam improved, but perhaps only because the former’s power was waning. The Elamites sacked Ur in 2004 BC, and led Ibbi Sin into captivity. Later dynasties in the OEP saw burgeoning power structures throughout the Elamite Empire, leading to the rise of the Anshanite dynasties around 1500 BC and the arrival of the Middle Elamite Period (MEP). Akkadian influence waned during this period, and Elamite gained strength; Elamite influence likewise burgeoned, capturing and sacking cities and artworks from the Babylonians and other neighbours. The power of the empire waned dramatically towards the end of the MEP with the inbred king Khutelutush-In- Shushinak, who was the product of his father and sister. Under his unsteady rule, the Elamite Empire fell into obscurity for almost three centuries, allowing their foes to reclaim their territory and plunder. The rise of the Neo- Elamite period is little understood, but in time the empire regained its former strength.

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