Front Page Titles (by Subject) IX: MISCELLANEOUS ASSYRIAN LETTERS - Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters
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IX: MISCELLANEOUS ASSYRIAN LETTERS - 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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MISCELLANEOUS ASSYRIAN LETTERS
Letters about omens and predictionsA very interesting group may be made up of letters concerned with omens and predictions. The Assyrian kings were firm believers in omens. They did not venture upon any great undertaking without consulting the augurs. We have numerous letters telling the king what days were propitious for certain projects which he had formed. For the most part, the whole point is obscure to us. We know neither the purpose he had, the omens relied on, nor the real grounds of the decision. Very often translation is impossible. In some cases the publication of the innumerable omen texts may give some light on the subject, but usually it is quite impossible to see how these were made to apply to the actual case. It is very like the case of Nebuchadrezzar’s dream. We are without any data to work from.
About a fox’s falling into a wellHere is an example of some interest, and more easily understood than many:1
To the king, my lord, thy servant Nabûa. May Nabû and Marduk be gracious to the king, my lord. On the seventh of Kislev a fox entered into the city, and fell into a well, in the grove of Ashur. They got him out, and killed him.
Whether this was a good or evil omen, or even an omen at all, we do not know. Nabûa is a very common name. There are fourteen of fifteen astrological reports which bear his name. In these he appears as an inhabitant of the city Asshur. The name occurs some forty times in the contracts, but it is clear that there were several of the name. Perhaps the scribe who appears from bc 668 down to postcanon times may be our writer, but, as he lived at Nineveh, that is doubtful.
Regarding auspicious days for a journeyAnother case which is fairly intelligible is a letter of Balasi and Nabû-aê-erba,1 on a question of auspicious days for a journey. It reads:
To the king, our lord, thy servants, Balasi and Nabû-aê-erba. Peace be to the king, our lord. May Nabû and Marduk be gracious to the king, our lord. As to Ashur-mukîn-palêa, about whom the king, our lord, has sent to us, may Ashur, Bêl, Sin, Shamash, and Adad be gracious to him. May the king, our lord, see his well-being. Things are auspicious for a journey. The second is auspicious. The fourth extremely auspicious.
We have fairly frequent references to Ashur-mukîn-palêa in a way that shows that he was delicate. From a letter of Ardi-Nabû’s we learn that the order of seniority in the family of Esarhaddon was Ashurbânipal, Shamash-shumukîn, Sherûa-eṭirat (a princess), Ashur-mukin-palêa, Sharrushame-erṣiti-balâṭsu-(iḳbi). He is often named in the letters, usually as king’s son. But despite his delicate health he survived to be made high-priest of Sin at arrân, by his royal brother, and even as late as bc 648 his name occurs in the contracts.2
Balasi’s letters about astrologyBalasi is a frequent writer of astrological reports, some five and twenty being preserved, besides some fifteen letters. In the latter he is associated with Nabû-aê-erba no less than seven times, once with Ishtar-shum-êresh also. In these cases we probably have the same person. But the name occurs often in the contracts, and there belongs to at least three different men. Nabû-aê-erba was the writer of some five and thirty astrological reports, besides some seven or eight letters, usually with Balasi. The name belongs to several persons named in the contracts.
Ardi-Êa’s letters of congratulationArdi-Êa was also a frequent writer to the king. Besides three or four astrological reports, he wrote nine letters to the king. He is generally associated with Adadi-shum-uṣur, Ishtar-shum-êresh, Akkullânu, or Marduk-shâkin-shum. But one letter,1 written to Sargon II., and mentioning Merodach-Baladan II., clearly belongs to another Ardi-Êa. Most of his letters are defective. The most intelligible2 reads thus:
To the king, my lord, thy servant Ardi-Êa. Peace be to the king, my lord. May Nabû, Marduk, Sin, Ningal, and Nusku be gracious to the king, my lord. Sin, Ningal (and other gods) shall grant health, long days, to the king, my lord. Day and night I pray for the life of the king, my lord.
Adadi-shum-usur’s lettersThe great group of writers with whom he is associated is responsible for a large number of letters. Adadi-shum-uṣur wrote some thirty-five letters and five or six astrological reports. He is especially prolix in his introduction. Here is a specimen:3
To the king, my lord, thy servant Adadi-shum-uṣur. Peace be to the king, my lord. May Nabû and Marduk be excessively gracious to the king, my lord. The king of gods shall decree the name of the king, my lord, to the kingdom of Assyria. Shamash and Adad, in their changeless regard to the king, my lord, have confirmed him in the kingdom of all lands. A gracious reign, settled days, years of righteousness, plenteous rains, copious floods, high prices. The gods are reverenced, the fear of God increased, the temples are flourishing. The great gods of heaven and earth are exalted in the reign of the king, my lord. Old men dance, young men sing, the women and girls are given in marriage, the bridegrooms marry wives, marriages are consummated, sons and daughters are begotten, children are born. To those that have sinned and look for death, the king, my lord, has given new life. Those that for many years were captive, thou hast freed. They that many days were sick have recovered. The hungry are satisfied. The lean grow fat. The plantations are covered with fruits. Only I and Ardi-Gula among them have our soul depressed, our heart disturbed. Lately has the king, my lord, shown love for Nineveh, to his people, to his chiefs,A plea for his son to be appointed to the court saying, “Bring your sons, let them stand before me.” Ardi-Gula, my son is he, let him stand with them, before the king, my lord. We with all the people will rejoice indeed, and dance for joy. My eyes are set upon the king, my lord. They that stand in the palace, all of them, love me not. There is not a friend of mine among them, to whom I might give a present, and they would receive it, and take up my cause. Let the king, my lord, take pity on his servant. Among all those people, I hope none of my slanderers may see the purpose of their hearts against me.
Judging from the frequent mention of Ardi-Gula in other letters and that he wrote to the king about his sons, Ashurbânipal and Shamash-shum-ukîn, we may be sure the old courtier got his request, and that he was writing to Esarhaddon. The letters of Adadi-shum-uṣur concern domestic affairs, the sickness of one, an auspicious day, the health of another, rarely does he mention any news of public interest. The persons about whom he writes are the members of the royal family, Esarhaddon’s children and the above-named circle of officials. The king sent him to see certain sick folk,1 he writes about an eclipse, or a ring, or something of the sort. He usually gives a very long introduction; often the real message occupies only a few lines.
Miscellaneous lettersMarduk-shâkin-shum is another of the same group, with twenty-five letters. They are of the same domestic nature as the last. Ishtar-shum-êresh is the writer of a score of letters and about thirty astrological reports. He was evidently a younger member of the group, son of Nabû-zêr-lîshir, and chief scribe to Ashurbânipal. In the reign of Esarhaddon he ranked as a mašmašu. Akkullânu, who was an êrib bîti, of Ashur, writes sixteen letters and some dozen astrological reports.
Nabûa’s letters about the calendarWe have seen that in the second epoch the king had to fix the time when intercalary months should be inserted. In this period the calendar was very carefully regulated by astronomical observations. As a new month began on the day on which the new moon was seen, it is clear that a month would often exceed twenty-nine days, but that a new moon might sometimes be seen on the twenty-ninth. Nabûa, the astronomer of the city Asshur, sends a number of such letters as:1
On the twenty-ninth, we kept watch, we did not see the moon. Nabû and Marduk be gracious to the king, my lord. From Nabûa of Asshur.
So Nabû-shum-iddin writes:2
To the Gardener, my lord, thy servant Nabû-shum-iddin, the rabûte of Nineveh. Nabû and Marduk be gracious to the Gardener, my lord. On the fourteenth we kept watch on the moon. The moon suffered an eclipse.
The gardener, or rather irrigator, may be a royal title. At present these observations are useless to us in our attempts to fix chronology, as we do not know the month and year of many of them.
The queendowager’s importanceThe queen-mother was always an important personage in the state and she had very great influence indeed at court. But probably few ladies ever obtained a higher degree of power than did Naki’a, or Zakutu as she was also called, the wife of Sennacherib and mother of Esarhaddon. She had a sister Abirami.3 The queen-mother resided in Lairu, but there seem to have been more than one city of the name. Her necklace, or some part of it, is in private possession and has been described by Professor Scheil.1 She survived her son, and, with her grandsons, Ashurbânipal, Shamash-shum-ukîn, and the nobles of Assyria, issued a proclamation to the empire, declaring Ashurbânipal the true heir to the throne.
Letter of Nâ’id-Marduk to herIt is, of course, uncertain whether the person addressed as mother of the king is always Zakûtu, since we cannot always date the letters. But the letter of Nâ’id-Marduk,2 which names Ummanigash as King of Elam, was certainly addressed to her. Nâ’id-Marduk was a son of Merodach Baladan, who, in the reign of Esarhaddon, when his brother Nabû-zêr-kînish-lîshir was killed by Ummanaldash II., threw himself on the mercy of Esarhaddon and was by him made ruler of his ancestral domain of Bît Jakin, as a vassal king. He speaks for himself:
To the mother of the king, my lord, thy servant Nâ’id-Marduk. Peace be to the mother of the king, my lord. May Ashur, Shamash, and Marduk give health to the king, my lord. May they decree the cheer of heart of the mother of the king, my lord. From Elam they came to me, saying, “They have seized the bridge.” When they came, I sent to the mother of the king, my lord. Now let the bridge be restored and the bolts of the bridge strengthened. They say, “They have burnt it.” I have not sent them, we do not know. They came, it was gone. To the mother of the king, my lord, I will send. Do thou, my lord, send troops. The son of Ningal-iddina has gone to the King of (Elam?) and taken the side of ubanigash. [Several lines follow with only fragments of sentences.] “Since these are trustworthy reports, whatever the Chaldees in future send to the gods of the king, my lord. If a messenger of the King of Elam does not bring messages to me, he shall enter and I will see him, and whatever is his message, he shall explain until I understand.” They came on the second of Ab, his messenger came to me to the border; he did not pass over to hinterland, and I sent my messenger to the palace. My lord, may he decide, and what is right for the house of my lord, fulfil.
It is evident that the writer regards the queen-mother as so thoroughly identical with the king that he does not scruple to address her as “my lord.” Despite several lacunæ the general sense is clear. After the break the passage in quotation-marks seems to be quoted from a report made to the writer. The sons of Ningal-iddina were Sin-tabni-uṣur, Sin-balâṭsu-iḳbi, and Sin-shar-uṣur, all of whom were in important commands in Southern Babylonia. It seems probable that the events referred to in this letter are those which led up to the Elamite invasion of Babylonia, when they came raiding as far as Sippara. Esarhaddon was away at the time in the west. There is no record of how they were driven back.
King’s letter to herHere is a letter from the king to his mother:1
Message of the king to the king’s mother: I am well. Peace be to the king’s mother. Concerning Amushe’s servant, what thou didst send me, as the king’s mother has told me, I will at once order. What thou hast said is extremely good. Wherefore should amunai go?
The meaning is obscured for us by our complete lack of information as to the persons concerned. We may conjecture that amunai was the servant of Amushe, but we do not know. However, we see that the queen-mother gave good advice.
Aplfa’s cordial letter to herZakûtu must often have been a prey to great anxiety, left in command as she was in Assyria, with her warrior son nearly always away and such awkward neighbors as the Elamites. But she was on the whole faithfully served. It seems that the proud nobles of Assyria became restless during Esarhaddon’s long absences, for we learn from the Babylonian Chronicle that, in bc 670, Esarhaddon put a number of them to death. Here is a letter, however, from an attached subject:2
To the mother of the king, my lady, thy servant Aplîa. May Bêl and Nabû be gracious to the mother of the king, my lady. Every day I pray Nabû and Nanâ for life and health and length of days, for the king of lands, my lord, and for the mother of the king, my lady. May the mother of the king, my lady, be bright. A messenger of good news from Bêl and Nabû has come from the king of lands, my lord.
There is a suggestion in the mention of Nanâ that Aplîa wrote from Erech. He may be the Aplîa afterwards associated with Bêl-ibnî and Kudur in the south. If so, we may suppose that the messenger came from Esarhaddon, from Egypt, by way of Southern Babylonia. One would suppose that a messenger from Canaan, or the west, would reach Nineveh, before Chaldea. But, of course, the queen-mother may have been at Lairu. Only it is doubtful whether she lived there, while Esarhaddon was away.
It is more likely still that the Aplîa is the same as the râb ali of Lairu, who in bc 678 was over the house of the queen-mother there.1
Asharîdu’s letter of loyaltyAnother letter2 conveys assurance of fidelity:
To the mother of the king, my lord, thy servant Asharîdu. May Nabû and Marduk be gracious to the mother of the king, my lord. Daily I pray to Nêrgal and Lâz for the life and health of the king, and the king’s mother, my lords. There is peace in the city and temples of the king and now I keep the watch for the king, my lord.
That Asharîdu is the same as the writer of some thirty astrological reports who was the son of Dankâ, a atnu, and servant of the king, may be doubted. He is more likely to be the author of several letters who seems to have been connected with Borsippa. Another letter3 is from Nêrgal-sharâni in response to another about some sacrifices, sent by the queen-mother. He prays for a thousand years of rule for Esarhaddon, so there can be no mistake about the period. He recounts the preparations made—an ox, two sheep, and two hundred geese. But he says that Ninḳai, the handmaid of the queen-mother, for some reason, will not perform the sacrifice. The queen-mother is asked to send authority for someone to open the treasury and perform the work. The letter is defective and obscure by reason of unknown words. Nêrgal-sharâni may be the same Ashur-shum-uṣur who so often writes to the king about this time. Again Nabû-shum-lîshir writes to the queen-mother1 about a woman, Kallati, who was intrusted to the writer in the house of Shama’, and about some sheep.
Medical lettersAnother group includes the letters which refer to medical treatment. Here especially Dr. C. Johnston, himself a medical man, has made a most valuable start in his Assyrian Epistolary Correspondence, and we can hardly do better than to follow his guidance. As a rule, what these ancient peoples said and thought of disease is very obscure to us. Many terms were then, as now, used in the medical vocabulary which were well known in ordinary language, but which were given a distinctly different technical meaning. Great attention was paid to surgery and medicine, as is shown by the clauses in the Code.2Medical records numerous There are also a great number of tablets dealing with medicine, some of which have been published. Long ago Professor Sayce discussed one such text under the title, “An Ancient Babylonian Work on Medicine,”3 and from the British Museum Catalogue fully four hundred and fifty such texts are known. Dr. C. F. H. Küchler in his Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Assyrischen Medicin has made great progress toward settling the reading and meaning of certain words and phrases. Dr. Baron Felix von Oefele, who has devoted much study to ancient medicine in general, has made noteworthy contributions to the study, by his articles in learned journals. Still, the great obstacle is that so much of the materia medica, which was a very full one, is unknown; and the diseases appear under names which do not assist us in determining the meaning. The medical treatises considered affections of all parts of the body, and made much of symptoms. They prescribe roots and oils and a great variety of powdered drugs. Some of the treatment is evidently based on extended trial and observation.Exorcism as well as hearing the duty of a physician But also much reliance was placed on charms, and diseases were associated with demons. To drive away the demon, as well as cure the pain, was the doctor’s duty. There was full recognition of the mental factor in sickness.
A letter reporting the progress of a diseaseWith considerable hesitation the following two letters from the physician Ardi-Nanâ to the king Esarhaddon are given, in which Dr. C. Johnston’s rendering is closely followed. In the first, Ardi-Nanâ reports on the state of a patient, perhaps one of the young princes, who was suffering from a disease of the eyes, or perhaps facial erysipelas. He was progressing so well that the physician piously opines that some god has taken the case under his care. The gods who were special patrons of the healing art were Ninip and Gula, whose blessing the physician accordingly invokes. We read:1
To the king, my lord, thy servant Ardi-Nanâ. May it be peace in the highest degree to the king, my lord; may Ninip and Gula give cheer of heart and health of body to the king, my lord. It is extremely well with that poor man whose eyes are diseased. I had applied a dressing to him, it covered his face. Yesterday, at evening, I undid the bandage which held it, I removed the dressing which was upon him. There was pus upon the dressing as much as the tip of the little finger. Thy gods, if any of them has put his hand to the matter, he has indeed given his order. It is extremely well. Let the heart of the king, my lord, be cheered. In seven or eight days he will be well.
There is also another letter1 from Ardi-Nanâ to the king, but part of it is too defective to render. It begins in exactly the same way as before, save that greeting is also sent to the king’s son.
For the cure which we wrought on . . . we were given five-sixths of a shekel. The day he came, he recovered, he recovered his strength, he stayed until. . . . Concerning the patient who had blood run from his nose, the messenger has told me, saying, “Yesterday, at evening, much blood ran.” Those dressings are not with knowledge. They have been placed upon the breathing passages of the nose and oppress the breathing and come off, because of the bleeding. Let them be placed within the nostrils, they will preserve the breath and the blood will be held back. If it is right in the sight of the king, in the morning I will come and prescribe for him. Now let me hear his well-being.
The messenger here was a rab mu-gi, in which title it has been proposed to see the original of the Rabmag of Jeremiah xxxix. 3. He was a high official charged with the care of horses and chariots, and here sent to hear news of the patient. There is no evidence that he had any medical knowledge himself. In another letter,2 Ardi-Nanâ writes concerning Ashur-mukîn-palêa, a younger son of Esarhaddon and brother of Ashurbânipal. He bids the king not to fear. The young prince seems to have been in the doctor’s care. Further he writes about the health of a tooth (of the prince’s?) about which the king had sent to inquire. He had greatly improved its condition (literally, uplifted its head). In another letter,3 also partly defective, he directs the king to anoint himself as a protection against draughts (?), to drink pure water, and to wash his hands frequently in a bowl. Presently the rash (?) will disappear. In another still more defective letter4 he mentions the plant martakal, to which magical efficacy was ascribed. Another long letter,1 after the same complimentary opening as the others, goes on:
Continually has the king, my lord, said to me, thus, “The nature of my disease is this, thou hast not seen to it, its recovery thou hast not effected.” Formerly I said before the king, my lord, “The ulcer is incurable (?), I cannot prescribe for it.” Now, however, I have sealed a letter and sent it. In the presence of the king, let them read it, I will prescribe for the king, my lord. If it be agreeable to the king, my lord, let a magician do his work on him. Let the king apply a lotion (?). Shortly the sore will be loosed. This lotion of oils (?) let the king apply two or three times. The king will know if the king says . . .
The rest is obscure, simply because we do not know what the disease, or remedy, was.
Shamash-mîtu-uballiṭ, probably the youngest son of Esarhaddon, writes to the king, but whether to his father or his brother Ashurbânipal does not seem clear, about the health of a lady, in whose well-being the king seemed to take interest.2
To the king, my lord, thy servant Shamash-mîtu-uballiṭ. Verily peace be to the king, my lord, may Nabû and Marduk be excessively gracious to the king, my lord. Verily the king’s handmaid, Baugâmelat is excessively ill, she can eat nothing. Forsooth let the king, my lord, send an order and let a doctor come and see her.
Letters regarding the appointment of officialsThere is also an interesting letter concerning the appointment of a successor to a dead official,3 sent by a writer whose name is lost:
To the king, my lord, thy servant, . . . verily peace to the king, my lord. May Ashur and Beltu be gracious to the king, my lord. Concerning the overseer of the house of the seers, who is dead, as I said in the presence of the king, my lord, to wit, his son, his brother’s son, are alive. Now his son, his brother’s son, and Simânai, the son of Nabû-uballiṭ, and the son of the father’s brother, of Ashurnâ’id, the deputy priest, with them, shall come into the presence of the king, my lord. Whoever shall find favor in the sight of the king, my lord, let the king, my lord, appoint.
It is clear that succession was not purely hereditary. Even when the son was alive, he might be passed over in favor of a cousin, or for a still more distant relation. There are many other interesting cases where the king inquires for the proper persons to be placed in the offices vacated through death or deposition. For example, when Esarhaddon began to set in order the temple services, he heard the following report:1
To the king, my lord, thy servant Akkullânu. Peace be to the king, my lord. Nabû and Marduk be gracious to the king, my lord. In the long desuetude of the customary rights of Ashur, regarding which the king, my lord, sent word to his servant, saying, “Who among the magnates have not complied, have not given, be it much or little (their default),” yesterday I could not write to the king, my lord. Now these are the magnates who have not given their dues: the governors of Baralza, Raṣappa, Kalzi, Isana, Bêlê, Kullania, Arpadda; these have failed to pay their dues. Raṣappa, Baralza, Diḳuḳina, the chief of the vineyards, Daian-Adadi, Isana, alziatbar, Birtu, Arzuina, Arbailu, Guzana, Sharish, Dinunna, Rimusu, all these have not given the barley and wheat due from them. And as to the overseer of the bakehouse, the overseer of the larder and the chief purveyors, concerning whom the king, my lord, inquired, they are removed from their posts, and this is alleged as the reason: The overseer of the bakehouse is a child, Sennacherib removed him; Ashur-zêr-iddin, the priest of Nineveh, slandered him. I was frightened at the troubles. He had not committed any great crime. . . . The overseer of the larder had broken (?) a dish of Ashur’s, for this deed thy father removed him from charge of Ashur’s dish, and appointed a turban-maker’s son; he is without education. And concerning the chief purveyors, Sennacherib made a reduction of their allowances, and the son of the turban-maker receives the rest. Now for six years he has been dead and his son indeed stands in his office. Justice has been in abeyance since Sargon. Sennacherib was the remover. This is according to their reasons. The king, my lord, as he will, let him do.
The text is difficult, partly because some signs are defaced, partly because some words could be read more ways than one, and others are obscure. It seems quite clear that the cult of Ashur had greatly suffered. We know from the arrân census that certain lands were charged with dues to the temples, others with salaries to officials. The list of defaulters is of geographical value. The deposition of rightful temple officers and the intrusion of unworthy substitutes, on slight grounds, is charged to Sennacherib. He was evidently estranged from the cult of Ashur. Doubtless a comparison of other letters will clear up some of the obscurities, but sufficient is clear to indicate the importance of such documents.
Women’s lettersIt is of interest to note that we have a few letters sent by women. We may select the following:1
To the scribe of the palace, my lord, thy handmaid Sarai. Bêl, Bêltu (of Nineveh?), Bêltu of Babylon, Nabû, Tashmetum, Ishtar of Nineveh, Ishtar of Arbela, be gracious to my lord. Long days, health of mind, health of body, may they give to my lord. The servants of my lord, whom the governor of Bît Naialani took, seven souls in all, he gave to Marduk-erba. Now the people are here, they have come to me and say thus: “Say to the scribe of the palace, Do not cause them to enter into the house of Marduk-erba.” The šâu has sealed for them, now he is with them.
Evidently the lady Sarai had great influence with the scribe of the palace; perhaps she was his wife. The reason why the governor took certain servants of his and gave them to Marduk-erba is not clear. Perhaps they were sold for some government claim. It seems that the lady wished to keep them back, but that the purchaser had called and was about to take them away, unless the scribe in some way intervened.
Private lettersA few quite private letters found their way into the archives of Nineveh, unless indeed this is a mere freak of the discoverers. Thus:1
Note from Marduk to Kurigalzu, his brother: Bêl and Nabû seek the peace of my brother. Wherefore have I not seen thy messenger? Until he enter Borsippa, when I see thy messenger, my heart shall drink the wine of joy. Let my brother send so many pots.
Here is another from Borsippa:2
Note from Bêl-upaḳ to Kunâ, his father: Peace be to my father. Daily I pray to Nabû and Nanâ for my father’s health of life and I have fulfilled the duty to Ezida (the temple of Nabû at Borsippa) for thy sake. When I inquired of Mâr-bîti (a divine name) for thy sake, a fixed time of peace was taken up to the fourth day. Thy workman is informed concerning everything whatever is safe according to his (the god’s) word.
Reports and listsAs before remarked, many letters are notices of the movements of horses. These are really obscure in that we do not know what the real purpose of the reports was. They are very similar to many reports which lack the form of address that marks a letter. Many of the terms applied to the horses are also obscure and there is no way to translate them. In other cases we have reports to the king or his officials on various every-day subjects. A list of slaves assigned to one or more men, a list of guests, men of high rank, sent to stay with certain officials, lists of furniture and effects, including books, sent to arrân with one of the princes, all serve to throw light upon the daily life at the court of Nineveh. Incidentally we have many hints for history as well as life and manners. But such lists and reports do not lend themselves to translation.
Inquiries of the oraclesA group of texts, very similar to the letters, only with an especial character of their own, are the inquiries addressed by Esarhaddon and Ashurbânipal to the oracle of the sun-god. Their great interest lies in the fact that they usually state the events which cause the king’s anxiety and so make important contributions to history. But the larger part of them consist of a detailed statement of what omens have been observed by the augurs on examining the entrails of the sacrifices. On these it is probable that the sun-god was to base his opinion. He would know and declare what they portended.
MetrologyOccasionally a letter serves to make a contribution to some subject which is of interest apart from the events of the day. Thus, information is furnished regarding metrology in a letter primarily concerned with materials for the repair of a temple or palace.1 There we read of “six articles of mismakanna wood, six a apiece, one cubit long and one cubit thick.” The thickness is clearly a cubit each way, and we learn that a cubit cube contained six a. There are many letters and fragments which concern beams of wood and stones sent from great distances for buildings and repairs. When these are all published and considered together, no doubt they will clear up the difficulties which at present render translation impossible.
Diary of a journeyA fragmentary report—it may have been a letter—gives a diary of a journey. If we could complete it, or find a few more like it, we should have a knowledge of geography such as we have not for any other part of the world for early times.2 We may summarize it as follows: On the sixth, the writer went from Bagarri to Sarî, from Sarî to Arzuina, from Arzuina to Tel-Arzuina. He stated the distances from city to city, but these are now lost. This was the first journey. The second journey was from Tel-Arzuina to Dûr-sisite. The third journey was from Dûr-sisite to Maturaba, from Maturaba to Dûr-Taliti. The fourth journey was from Dûr-Taliti to Babiti, from Babiti to Lagabgalagi. The fifth journey was from Lagabgalagi to the river Radânu, thence to Asri. The sixth journey was from Asri to Arrakdi. The seventh journey was from ualsundi to Napigi, thence to Dûr-Ashur. Here we get the whole distance from Arrakdi to Dûr-Ashur as two kaspu, twenty-four uš, twenty-four u. The identification of these places would be of enormous value for a determination of the Assyrian measures of length. The distances are correct to the cubit. The eighth journey was from Dûr-Ashur to Tarzini, thence to Banbala. The ninth journey was from Banbala to Ishdi-dagurrai, thence to Gupni-Bêl-arrân, one kaspu, five uš, fifty-four u. The tenth journey was from Gupni-Bêl-arrân to Dûr-Adadi-rîmâni, thence to Dûr-Tukulti-apil-esharra, on the seventeenth. Several of these places are already known. Others may be identified with some certainty. The whole would have a great value if preserved complete.
[1 ] H. 142.
[1 ] H. 77.
[2 ] , 1053.
[1 ] H. 30.
[2 ] H. 28.
[3 ] H. 2.
[1 ] H. 1.
[1 ] H. 825.
[2 ] H. 816.
[3 ] , 70.
[1 ] Rec. Trav., xx., p. 200.
[2 ] W. Sm., p. 7.
[1 ] H. 324.
[2 ] H. 303.
[1 ] , No. 301.
[2 ] H. 254.
[3 ] H. 368.
[1 ] H. 263.
[2 ] §§ -21.
[3 ] II.
[1 ] H. 392.
[1 ] H. 108.
[2 ] H. 109.
[3 ] H. 110.
[4 ] H. 111.
[1 ] H. 391.
[2 ] H. 341.
[3 ] H. 577.
[1 ] H. 43.
[1 ] H. 220.
[1 ] H. 345.
[2 ] H. 219.
[1 ] H. 566.
[2 ] , No. 1096.