Fact corner

  • Language: Elamite
  • SIL-code: -
  • Language family: Isolate
  • Number of speakers: Extinct
  • Script: Proto-Elamite, Linear Elamite, Elamite Cuneiform


Proto-Elamite: the direction of reading is right-to-left, then downward when the end of line is reached.

Elamite is an extinct language spoken by the ancient Elamites. Elamite was the primary language in present day Iran from 2800–550 BCE. The last written records in Elamite appear about the time of the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great.

Elamite Scripts

There are written records of Elamite in three different scripts:

  • Proto-Elamite (ca. 3100 – 2900 BC)
  • Linear Elamite (last quarter of the third millennium BC.)
  • The Elamite Cuneiform script (ca. 2500 - 331 BC)

The following is an example of a proto-Elamite accounting tablet. The direction of reading is right-to-left, then downward when the end of line is reached.

The Verb

Elamite is agglutinative and predominantly suffixing.

The pure verb base can function as a verbal noun or "infinitive".

The verb distinguishes three forms functioning as finite verbs, known as “conjugations”.

  • Conjugation I is the only one that has special endings characteristic of finite verbs as such, as shown below. Its use is mostly associated with active voice, transitivity (or verbs of motion), neutral aspect and past tense meaning.
  • Conjugations II and III can be regarded as periphrastic constructions with participles; they are formed by the addition of the nominal personal class suffixes to a passive perfective participle in -k and to an active imperfective participle in -n, respectively. Accordingly, Conjugation II expresses a perfective aspect, hence usually past tense, and an intransitive or passive voice, whereas Conjugation III expresses an imperfective non-past action.

The Middle Elamite Conjugation I is formed with the following suffixes:



Categories: Isolate? | Extinct | Language

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