the Lurs (lors) and Luristan

Who are the Lurs, often called the Kurds' cousin. The Kurds say the Lurs are tribes within the Kurdish tribe system. The Persians say Luri, the language that the Lurs speak is just a Persian dialect. Most Lurs say they are Lurs. Yet some of them say they are Kurds. Either way the Lurs will remain an important group of the Iranian people, along side the Kurds, the Baluchis and the Persians. To find out the origin of the Lurs we most refer to the time before the Arian people populated the Land, which is now called Iran. Before the Medes and the Persians came to Iran, other groups called the Kassites and the Elamites where apparently living there. These groups had settled in the big Luristan (which includes all parts, and not just Luristan province in today's Iran), and were soon mixed with the native people of the area. A new race called Lur was created. According to archaeologists Luristan has a long history of Palaeolithic, middle-aged, new-stone age and citizenship behind it self. The mountainous area of Luristan was the first place where humans started to agriculturing, villaging and cattle raising for the first time.

The Elamites were native Iranians or Asianic. There is no information available about their history or society. As far back as 4th millennium BCE, evidence of Elamites settlement in the plains of Khuz (northern Persian Gulf) exists. Researches done on the Elamites skeletons show their racial closeness to the Sumerians and Dravidians of Indus Valley, while their language, at least in its latest form, shows very little connections with these cultures. The Elamites pottery and crafts is strongly influenced by the Sumerian artefacts, as well as Muhenjudaro and Bactro-Margiana cultural artefacts. We might assume that Elamites arrived in their homeland, most likely via the sea from southern Indus Valley region, around 3,500 BCE. Prior to their arrival, the plains of northern Persian Gulf were among the oldest civilised areas in the world history and the site of Susa was inhabited as far back as 4,200 BCE and had come under the rule of the kings of Akkad. When the ancestors of Elamites arrived, they settled in that area under the rule of the Sumerian kingdom of Ur. The proto-Elamites adopted many of the Sumerian cultural characteristics such as the cuneiform writing, which replaced their own original pictographic writing system. Still, they kept their own unique cultural peculiarities such as maternal system of succession and their own religion. Women seem to have held a very important position in the Elamite society. They inherited and willed their property, they ruled and conducted business, and as mentioned before, they were agents of succession in the government. The maternal characteristics of Elamite culture survived up to the Neo-Elamite era (around 750 BCE), around which it started to give way to the Babylonian/Semitic paternalistic system of its neighbours. The Elamite history has been superficially divided into Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, based on the Egyptian system adopted by early Orientalists. This division does not hold firmly for Elam, but it is generally used as a matter of convenience. The Old Elamite Kingdom started a period of growth around the early 2nd millennium BCE. They first established their roots in the Khuz area, in the site of Susa (Shusha in Elamite), where Puzur-Inshushinak (r. ca. 2112-2095 BCE) built the first Elamite status in his own honour. Elamites initially attacked and destroyed Ur, and later invaded Babylonia around 2,000 BCE and founded the Larsa dynasty. By that time, they were already the masters of Uruk, Isin, and Babylon. Later, Hamurabi of Babylonia stopped the expansion of Elam, but Babylonians could not stop the great kings like Kutir-Nakhunte to revive the Elamite power a hundred years later (ca. 1700 BCE).

Around 1,600 BCE, Kassites attacked and invaded Elam and annexed it to their empire. This put an end to the Old Elamite kingdom which was ruled successively by Kassites, Babylonians, Hittites, and again by Kassites for another 400 years. In 1160 BCE, Shutruk-Nakhunte, a local ruler of Susa, drove the Kassites out of Elam and established a new dynasty and an Elamite Empire. The culture that allowed the foundation of the Elamite Empire created great cities of Awan, Anshan, Simash and especially Susa, the lowland capital of the Elamites ( This cities are today called Khozestan, Luristan, Pushtkou, Bakhtiyari mountains, Shosh, Ahwaz, Madakto/Darah shahr and Khaidalo/Khorram Abad). It also built the great Ziggurat of Chogha-Zanbil, the famous temple of Elam that now remains as the oldest standing archaeological building in Iran. The Elamite Empire was very short lived and it was soon invaded by Nebuchadnazzer of Baylonia in 1120 BCE. For 300 years, Elam, and Susa as its centre, was ruled as a Babylonian protectorate. During this time, the centre of the Elamite power was shifted to the east of their traditional territory and took refuge in the city of Anshan in the Zagros mountains. Elam once again rose to power in 750 BCE and took over their old capital of Susa. This New Elamite kingdom soon became a powerful state and started a campaign against the Babylonians and the new Assyrian Empire. This state, however powerful, could not stand against the overwhelming Assyrian expansion. In 645, Ashur-Banipal, the last powerful Assyrian emperor, invaded and raised Susa to the ground. This was the last blow on the Elamite power which at this point divided into small states and was soon ran over by the rising Median and Persian powers.

Despite its troublesome history, Elam holds a great place in the history of civilisation, especially from the Iranian point of view. Elamites have been accused of cultural stagnation and lack of innovation. While it is true that many of their cultural characteristics, especially writing system, was adopted from the Mesopotamian civilisations, it is undeniable that the Elamites possessed a distinctly Elamite culture. They kept their own religion and built great temples to their gods, including Inshushinak, the protector of Susa, and a goddess who probably became Ardauui Sura Anahita of the Achaemenid religion. Their government system, especially in its succession procedure, was unique for its time. Contrary to the agricultural economy of Mesopotamian, the Elamite economy was based greatly on trade, but also on mining and export of raw material such as tin that was crucial for the powerful empires of Babylon and Assyria. They also for a long while acted as a buffer zone between Mesopotamia and the internal nomads of Iran, in the process, forming a great hybrid culture of Elamite, Babylonian, and Sumerian characteristics. As far as the later civilisations of Iran are concerned, Elam was the major transmitter of the achievements of older civilisations to the Median and Achaemenid empires. The modified cuneiform that was developed by Elamites from the Sumerian models, constituted an early form of Syllabry that made it possible to create the Old Persian alphabetic cuneiform. Elamite architecture was the model of Achaemenid palaces, and the court procedure of the Persian court was completely modelled after the Elamite costumes. Also, the sciences and knowledge of Elam and Mesopotamia, mathematics and astronomy, was transmitted to the Persian Empire by the Elamite scribes who made their language one of the three official languages of the empire. Maybe the greatest tribute paid to Elam was the selection of their old capital, Susa, as the main capital of the Achaemenids. Cultural legacy of Elam has affected their successors more than many might imagine.

The Kassites are said to be the native Lusitanian. They were the important mountainous tribes of Zagros. Their trade was agriculture and their language differed from the language of the Elamite. The Kassites were brave warriors. Under the command of king Agum-Kak-Reme they overthrew the Babylon in 1595 B.C. and rolled until 1180 B.C. The Kassites dominance of Babylon resulted in the introduction of horse to the Babylonian army, probably the result of earlier Kassites contacts with the Central Asian nomads. The Kassites also extended their dominance to the Elamite kingdom of southwest Iran and put an end to the Old Elamite kingdom. They extended their lands to the borders of Egypt on one side, and as far north as the Urartu territory in Caucasus and Anatolia. Their last king, Anllil-nadin-akhe, was defeated by the Elamite king and was taken prisoner to Susa where he died in 1180, putting an end to the Kassites power in Mesopotamia. The remaining of the Kassites tribes, who had managed to keep their own identity, retreated back to the high mountains of Luristan, where they eventually became part of the strong kingdoms of Elam and eventually the Persian Empire. In the end they lost to the Elamites. How ever the Kassites stayed independent during the times of the Medes and the Achaemenians. The Achaemenian had to pay taxes whenever they cross the areas of the Kassites for a military campaign. Alexander the Great attacked with a huge army and controlled the area of the Kassites for only 40 days. During the time of the Sassaians, Luristan was called Pehle/Pehlo, which was later controlled by the mountain Arabs. Pehle was divided. Luristan of today and Pushtko/Ilam was named Mehragan Kodak and Masabzan. Cities included in Mehragan Kodak (or Luristan in the time of the Sassanians) were Samireh and Shahpor Khast/Khoram Abad. Shahpor Khast is said to be built by the Sassaian king Shapor det first. How ever it is the Slokians and the Ashkanians who have influenced Luristan most in this period. Sloki coins, the Kogo cave and Ashkanian grave yards in the villages of Chemshk and Teshken in Luristan are signs left by these dynasties.

During the middle of the first century Muslim Arabs defeated the Sassanians, and took control over Luristan and other places within the Sassanian dynasty. This Muslim victory had great influence on the people of Luristan, their culture and mostly their religion. Zoroastrianism was replaced by Shii Islam. The Caliphs ruled in Luristan until the third century, when the Shii government Al Boye was established.

Luristan was later in the years 348-406 A.C. controlled by the Kurdish dynasty of Al Hesnoiye. This dynasty, which included Luristan (all Luri cities), Kurdistan (province in Iran), Kermansha and Hamadan, was founded by Bin Hussain Barzikani. After Bin Hussain, his son Badr took over, and made Luristan the centre of his territories with Shahpor Khast/Khorram Abad as Capital city of his Dynasty. Soon he became the most powerful Emir in West-Iran. By this time he had gotten Al Boyes and Abbasi Caliphs attentions. The Abbasi Caliph called him Naser al Dawleh. Badr spent many years quarrelling with his son Hallal. Al Boye took advantage of this and overthrew the Al Hesnoiye dynasty in 406 A.C.

For a short time Kakoye dynasty, which was a part of the Al Boye rolled in Luristan. In year 435 A.C., the Barsighans (part of the Seldjoghy dynasty) under command of Ibrahim Yenal, brother of Tagharol Saljoghy attacked and occupied Luristan. Once again Shahpor Khast together with Alshotr was the heart of a governorship. Today a stone dated back to 513 A.C. belonging to Esfehsalar Kabir (the great ..) Abo Said Barsegh Ben Barsegh is founded in Khorram Abad and some tomb stones in Alshotr. This Dynasty was finally in the end of the sixth century driven from Luristan by the forefathers of Lur Kochek (Little Lur). The forefathers of Lur Kochek established a government that governed over Luristan of today and Ilam/Lur kochek. This dynasty was called Khorshidi after its ancestor Shoja al Din Khorshid (Khorshid=the sun). Khorshidi (who worked for the man in charge in Khozestan and Luristan Seldjoghian Hesam al Din Shoheli) was one of the leaders of the famous Djangroie tripe in Luristan. Therefore the word Attabak comes from Turkish, atta means father and bak or beg means great or big. From 570 to 1006 A.C. the dynasty of the Attabak Lur Kochek with their 24 kings rolled in Luristan. The famous kings were Shodja al Din, the establisher, Hesam al Din Khalil ( about 640 A.C.), and Malek Ezad al Din (750-804 A.C.). The dynasty of the Attabak Lur Kochek stayed in power against the Kharezmshahian, the Mongoles, the Teymourians, the Turcomans and the Safoy kings. The last king of Attabak Lur Kochek, Shahordi Khan was killed by Shah Abbas Safoie ? .

After this Shah Abbas ?, left Hussain Khan Wali, a relative of Shahordi Khan in charge of Luristan. The Walis period of ruling lasted 1006-1348 A.C. They ruled during the time of the dynasties like the Safoye, the Afshariye, the Ghadjariye and the Pehlevi. The Walis ruled in Poshtko (Ilam) and Pishko (Luristan of today) until the beginning of the Ghadjariye period. They also made Khorram Abad city in Pishko (or Luristan of today) their capital city, since this was in that time the most advanced and cultivated province in Iran. But as the Ghadjariyes got stronger, changes were made in Luristan. Their king Agha Mohammed Khan Bani was for some reason angry with the Lures of Zandiye, and therefore he wanted to punish all Lures for this. He searched and found the Walis` weak points. He forced many Lur tribes to move to Ghazwin. His successor Fath Ali Shah analysed Luristan very well and increased his influences on Pishko. Soon and afterwards Pishko was directed by the Ghadjariyes.

The Ghadjariyes ruling, which was all about rubbing and the kings own personal profit, torn down the once advance and cultivated Pishko. The economy of Pishko got worsened. People started to move out of the area, which resulted in deduced population. After the fall of the Ghadjariyes, Reza Khan Pehlevi of the Pehlevis took over. Serious actions were taken out against many provinces including Luristan of today (Pishko). This led to direct fights between the government of Iran, which was now a Pehlevi government/Shah government and the people of the villages in Pishko. The Lures were at last defeated and both Luristan of today (Pishko) and Poshtko were incorporated into the Shah governed Iran. All power was gathered in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. The Islamic revolution in 1979, destroyed the Pehlevis, and has up to now suppressed the people of Iran, especially the Lur people.

The long story of the Lurs shows that they are neither Kurds nor Persians, but an independent people alongside the other groups in Iran. As for the origin of the word Lur, there are many theories. Some say the word comes from a man named Lur. Others say Lur is for Lahr which in Indo-Iranian means camp or horse stall. Many think the word is name of places like: a city in Manrod/Mairod (Home of the forefathers of the Lurs), abbreviation for Alwar a city in Northwest Dezfol or Lir which means mountains that are covered with trees.

The Luri people speak Luri, Bakhtiari and Laki. Most Luri tribes, especially in Lur Kochek or Luristan of today speak Luri. Some tribes in Alshotr, Kohdasht, Norabad, Ilam and Kermansha speak Laki. In Lur Bozorg: Bakhtiari, Kuhgiloye and Mamasani tribes speak Bakhtiari. All dialects are influenced by the language of the Elamites and the Kassites. The language of the Lur people belongs within the Indo-European languages. It is most related with Persian. Both Persian and Luri come from the language of the Parthians of the 8th century A.C.

Map of Luristan in Western Iran. The Dasht-i Kavir desert lies to the East, and the Tigris plain to the west.
Bronze horse-bit of Luristan type, with cheek-pieces showing a composite monster with an animal's body, wings, and a horned human head. 10th - 7th century BC. Bronze standard in the form of a master of animals struggling with two rampant beasts. 10th - 7th century BC. Historical Background: Lorestan has since long been a residential region and many historical sites identified in the city testify that the city had been the military key of Khuzestan. Lorestan had been among lands in ancient Ilam and many potteries, coins and winged admiralty brass statues, unearthed in the city in the course of archaeological excavations, testify the notion.

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