The Treaty of Naram-Sin

This royal treaty between Old Akkadian king Naram-Sin and an unnamed Elamite ruler is one of the oldest and most important witnesses for Old Elamite language, written in an Old Akkadian ductus. The document begins by invoking the names of Elamite gods, and includes also a few Sumerian and Akkadian deities. Old Elamite is poorly understood, and the text presents many difficulties, but since Scheil’s initial publication, one particularly important line has been often quoted:

“L’ennemi naramsinien est mon ennemi, l’ami naramsinien est mon ami!” (Scheil 1911: 6)

On top of this text’s linguistic and paleographic interest, it also offers a rare look at regional diplomacy during the Old Akkadian period, the presumed Sargonic ‘state archives’ never having been found (Westenholz: p 102). While Cameron suggested in 1936 that “the Elamite is obviously admitting his vassalage to the ruler of Agade”, Hinz (and following publications) later argued that the document does not represent one party’s submission to the other, but rather records an alliance between the two kings and the exchange of gifts presented by envoys (Hinz 1967: 95). Since Cameron (1936 pp. 34) it has been generally maintained that Hita, 11th king of Awan, is the most likely ruler represented by the text (though see comments by Lambert 1991: p 54). Naram-Sin is not deified in the text, perhaps suggesting that the agreement was concluded early in his reign, before his traditional scribal deification, or that the writing is a function of political posturing with respect to the Elamites (Hinz: 96).

This document is also a rare representative of an Elamite-speaking elite at Old Akkadian Susa, providing for a different characterisation of the city than the otherwise traditionally Old Akkadian administrative texts from the same site would have allowed (Lambert 1991: 54). It stands as an important early witness to a long history of cultural and political tension and interaction between Mesopotamia and the various entities associated with the name Elam.

Kathryn Kelley (Oxford University)

Concise Bibliography

Cameron, G.G. History of Early Iran (1936) Chicago/London: University of Chicago. pp 34-35.

Hinz (1967) “Elams Vertrag mit Naram-Sin von Akkade” ZA 24, pp 66-96. Including transliteration and translation (in German). No photo or copy published.

Lambert (1991) The Akkadianization of Susiana under the Sukkalmahs’ MHEOP 1, 53-7 Mesopotamie et Elam, Ghent: Mesopotamian History and Environment Occasional Publications 1.

Potts, D.T. The Archaeology of Elam (1999) pp. 111 ff.

Scheil, V. Textes Élamites-Anzanites MDP XI (1911) pp. 1-11.

Westenholz, A. “The Old Akkadian Period: History and Culture”. ObO 160/3. pp 90-93, 102. Photo of the obverse republished p. 93 fig. 16.

the_old_elamite_treaty_of_naram-sin.txt · Last modified: 2014/04/10 14:01 by kelley
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