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A group of epigraphers claims to have deciphered the Linear Elamite script, a system of writing used in the ancient kingdom of Elam (located in modern-day southern Iran) from 2300 to 1880 BC. François Desset, Kambiz Tabibzadeh, Matthieu Kervran, Gian Pietro Basello, and Gianni Marchesi recently published their research in the journal Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie. Linear Elamite was first discovered in 1903 on monuments excavated at Susa. The real key to deciphering Linear Elamite was the publication in 2018 of eight silver beakers from Tal-e Malyan that bore the script. These beakers featured Elamite royal inscriptions from various kings who reigned from 2000 to 1880 BC. The authors of the study recognized that these inscriptions shared titles, formulas, and similar phraseology with later Elamite text written in cuneiform. The comparison of a single language written in two different scripts allowed these scholars to decipher Linear Elamite; they caution, however, that there is much work to do since knowledge of Elamite grammar and vocabulary is still in its infancy. This development is of interest to the field of biblical studies: the kingdom of Elam is named as one of the nations that developed its own language after the Tower of Babel (Gn 10:22, 10:31, 11:1–9), and Kedorlaomer (the Hebrew version of the Elamite name Kudur-Lagamar) is named as one of the kings involved in the Battle of Siddim (Gn 14:1–16). According to a literal, straightforward understanding of biblical chronology, both of these events would have occurred within the period in which Linear Elamite was in use.


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