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Ancient country of the Middle East. It was located in what is now southwestern Iran, at the head of the Persian Gulf and east of ancient Babylonia; its capital was Susa (the country, thus, is sometimes known as Susiana). It had close cultural ties to Mesopotamia and was in conflict with Sumer and Akkad from c. 2700 BC. In the 13th century BC, it became a dominant power that included most of Mesopotamia east of the Tigris and reached almost to Persepolis. Its domination ended when Nebuchadrezzar I of Babylon (r. 1124–03 BC) captured Susa. Later, Elam formed a satrapy of the Persian Achaemenian dynasty, and Susa became one of its capitals.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Elam, visit Britannica.com.