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Elamite states were among the leading political forces of the Ancient Near East.

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It is considered to be the site of Proto-Elamite cultural formation.During its early history, it fluctuated between submission to Mesopotamian and Elamite power.They were Anshanites, Marhashians, Shimashkians, Zabshalians, Sherihumians, Awanites, etc.That Anshan played a leading role in the political affairs of the various highland groups inhabiting southwestern Iran is clear.The history of Elam is conventionally divided into three periods, spanning more than two millennia.

The period before the first Elamite period is known as the proto-Elamite period: Proto-Elamite civilization grew up east of the Tigris and Euphrates alluvial plains; it was a combination of the lowlands and the immediate highland areas to the north and east.

The earliest levels (22—17 in the excavations conducted by Le Brun, 1978) exhibit pottery that has no equivalent in Mesopotamia, but for the succeeding period, the excavated material allows identification with the culture of Sumer of the Uruk period.

Proto-Elamite influence from the Mesopotamia in Susa becomes visible from about 3200 BC, and texts in the still undeciphered Proto-Elamite writing system continue to be present until about 2700 BC.

At least three proto-Elamite states merged to form Elam: Anshan (modern Khuzestan Province), Awan (modern Lorestan Province) and Shimashki (modern Kerman).

References to Awan are generally older than those to Anshan, and some scholars suggest that both states encompassed the same territory, in different eras (see Hanson, Encyclopædia Iranica).

Its culture played a crucial role during the Persian Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded Elam, when the Elamite language remained among those in official use.