Front Page Titles (by Subject) VIII: LETTERS ABOUT ELAM AND SOUTHERN BABYLONIA - Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters
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VIII: LETTERS ABOUT ELAM AND SOUTHERN BABYLONIA - Rev. Claude Hermann Walter Johns, Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters 
Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1904).
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LETTERS ABOUT ELAM AND SOUTHERN BABYLONIA
The downfall of Elamite powerIn Elam, during the reign of Ashurbânipal, there was a protracted series of revolutions, interspersed with invasions of, or by, Assyria. The result was the utter decay of Elamite power, and after Ashurbânipal’s final reduction of the country and sack of Susa, the land was an easy prey to the Aryan invaders. From the story, as told by Ashurbânipal, the Elamites richly deserved their fate, and lest we should suspect him of undue partiality, the matter-of-fact letters of his officers give us substantial grounds for crediting his view. It seems that Urtaku, who came to the throne of Elam in bc 675, was always on good terms with Assyria. We have a letter from Esarhaddon to him1 in very friendly terms. It begins:
A friendly letter from Esarhaddon to UrtakuLetter of Esarhaddon, King of Assyria, to Urtaku, King of Elam: I am well. Peace to thy gods and goddesses. There is peace in my land and with my nobles, peace be to Urtaku, King of Elam, my brother. There is peace with my sons and my daughters, peace be to thy nobles and thy land. Now what Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Bêl, Nabû, Ishtar of Nineveh, Ishtar of Arbela, the gods . . . have said, I have (fully?) accomplished.
This friendship at first maintained by AshurbanipalThe rest is obscure by reason of lacunæ. The reverse seems to be inscribed with numerals, perhaps relating to items of presents sent. Ashurbânipal kept up the friendship, and, when a famine broke out in Elam, allowed some Elamites to take refuge in his land, and afterwards restored them to their country. He also sent grain into Elam itself. But, perhaps as consequence of having spied out the land, the Elamites contrived to make Urtaku attack Assyria.The Elamites invade Babylonia He was incited to this act by Bêl-iḳisha, prince of the Gambûlai, who inhabited the marshes about the mouth of the Uknû, or Blue River, perhaps the modern Karoon, bordering on Elam. Bêl-iḳisha rebelled against Assyria, and with his troops joined Elam. Nabû-shum-êresh, the tik-en-na, apparently sheik of the district of Dupliash, another Assyrian subject, seems to have done the same. Marduk-shum-ibnî, the general of Urtaku, who led the invasion, was evidently not an Elamite, but perhaps a Chaldean, or renegade Babylonian. At any rate, the Elamites invaded Akkad and covered the land like grasshoppers. They laid siege to Babylon. On the approach of the Assyrian army, the invaders fled. Urtaku died.The punishment Bêl-iḳisha was killed by a wild boar. Nabû-shum-êresh was smitten with dropsy and died. “In one year the gods cut them off.” The throne of Elam fell to Teumman, a brother of Urtaku, who maintained a hostile attitude. Dunânu, son and successor of Bêl-iḳisha, joined Teumman. Ashurbânipal accordingly invaded Elam, defeated and slew Teumman, ravaged the land of Gambulû and captured Dunânu, who was taken to Nineveh and made to march in the triumphal procession, with the head of Teumman slung about his neck, and was finally tortured to death.
Nabû-ush-abshi’s letters as governor of Southern BabyloniaAll the time that Shamash-shum-ukîn was king in Babylon, Ashurbânipal seems to have retained the rule over Southern Babylonia. At any rate, the governors of the cities there wrote to him as their king and lord. The above-mentioned revolt in Gambulû was a direct concern of the governor of Erech, who seems to have suffered severely. As late as the twentieth year of Ashurbânipal, Nabû-ushabshi was governor there. We have many letters from him to the king. One1 refers to the above events:
To the king of countries, my lord, thy servant Nabû-ushabshi. Erech and E-anna (the temple of Ishtar at Erech), be gracious to the king of countries, my lord. Daily I pray to Ishtar of Erech and Nanâ for the well-being of the life of the king, my lord. The king, my lord, sent, saying, “Take troops and send against Gambulû. The gods of the king, my lord, assuredly know how, from the time that Bêl-iḳisha revolted from the hands of the king, my lord, and went to Elam, he plundered my father’s house and went about to kill my brother.”
Then comes a break, in which the fragments indicate that Nabû-ushabshi prayed daily for revenge. Then we read:
now as the king, my lord, has sent, I will go and fulfil all his bidding. If on any ground, over there, the inhabitants of Gambulû will not obey, if it be pleasing to the king, my lord, let a messenger come and let us assemble all Akkad and we will go with him, we will win back the land and give it to the king, my lord. I have sent. Let the king, my lord, do what he will. Preserve this letter.
The last request is very unusual, but we are glad it was obeyed. Another of his letters refers to the intrigues of Pir’-Bêl, son of Bêl-eṭir. This Bêl-eṭir may be the son of Nabû-shum-êresh, who, with his brother, Nabû-nâ’id, was carried captive to Nineveh, along with Dunânu, and there made to desecrate the bones of their father. But it seems possible that we have here to do with another Bêl-eṭir, as these events seem earlier in the history. After the same introduction as before, the letter2 reads:
Pir’-Bêl, the son of Bêl-eṭir, sometime after he and his father went, some ten years ago, to Elam, came again from Elam to Akkad, he and his father. When they came, whatever was evil against Assyria, they kept on doing in Erech. Afterwards when they went back to Elam, Bêl-eṭir, his father, died in Elam; and he in Marchesvan brought letters to me, and to Aplîa, the governor, we sent the letters on by Daru-Sharru, the body-guard.
After some broken lines:
“Now a certain servant of . . . came with him to Erech.”
if he say to the king, my lord: “I have come from the land of Elam,” let not the king, my lord, believe him. From the time when in the month of Marchesvan, he brought the letters and we sent them to the king, my lord, until now, he has not returned to Elam. If the king, my lord, desire to verify these words, Idûa, a servant of Kudur, who brought him to Erech, the contents are known to him [there are some very obscure phrases in the next two lines], and those letters, what lies are written, let him tell the king, my lord, and as to those letters, which, in the month of Marchesvan we sent to the king, my lord, by the hands of Daru-sharru, if the king, my lord, does not understand, let the king, my lord, ask Daru-sharru, the body-guard. To the king, my lord, I have sent, let the king, my lord, be aware.
Letters about presents sent to the sanctuary of ErechOne event, very characteristic of the times, is the subject of three letters. The sanctuary of Ishtar, at Erech, was celebrated far and wide, and on one occasion the King of Elam sent gifts to it. These Nabû-ushabshi seems to have been unable to possess himself of, or to send to the king. Thus, we read:1
To the king of countries, my lord, thy servant, Nabû-ushabshi [after the same introduction as before]; the sheep of the temple and of the city Puḳudu are detained in the city Ru’ua, two shepherds of them, one belonging to the temple, and the second from Puḳudu, three white horses with harness and trappings of silver, and fittings of bronze. On the trappings were written . . . which the King of Elam had sent to Ishtar of Erech. The horses, which they brought, I will now preserve. Before the king, my lord, I was afraid and in the temple I will not place them, until the shepherds bring the three horses. To the king, my lord, I have sent, and the bronze inscribed fittings, when I see them, I will send on to the king, my lord. What the king my lord will, let him do.
The king replied:1
To Nabû-ushabshi, concerning the horses about which thou didst send, as yet thou hast not sent them to me. I have sent Ashurgimil-tirru, the abarakku, and troops with him. Whatever is good to do, that do; whether the River arru be dammed, or whether those people come, and as to the contents of the letter which thou didst send. Bêl-eṭir, Arbaia, the colonels, two hundred horses in their hands, I have sent to thee; let them stand on your side, let them do the work.
Evidently in consequence of this, we have another letter,2 where both writer and recipient are unknown. It is much injured, and while there are a few sentences intelligible, it is not easy to say to what they refer. But on the reverse after the first six or seven lines, the words of the last letter are repeated verbatim. It is perhaps another letter from the king to Nabû-ushabshi. The governors of Lairu and Arbaa are said to be with the receiver of the letter.
[1 ] G. Sm., p. 24.
[1 ] H. 269.
[2 ] H. 266.
[1 ] H. 268.
[1 ] H. 273.
[2 ] H. 543.