During the first third of Shalmaneser III’s reign (859-824 BCE), the great Assyrian monarch was mostly preoccupied by the expanding western frontier of his kingdom and to a lesser degree by the northern frontier. While throughout these years he campaigned in either direction or both, in two sequential years, 851-850 BCE, he led his army southward, to Babylonia. Within this ʻquarter of the land’ he peacefully visited Babylonia proper and campaigned to its adjacent eastern neighbors: the Diyāla region in the north, and the land of the Chaldeans in the south. In this article I propose seeing Shalmaneser’s inscription preserved on the bronze edging of the doors of the gate of Imgur-Enlil (Tell Balawat) as the ideological and propagandistic part of the king’s endeavor to keep the south peaceful, so as to free himself to complete his western adventure. Composed in order to convey a special message, this unique inscription was built up of a variety of literary materials carefully organized to meet the expectations of a complex audience. First, I analyze the components of the text, emphasizing their linkage to other texts within and outside the corpus of royal inscriptions, an analysis that suggests that the text appealed to various tastes. Finally, given that the place where the text was eventually displayed in antiquity and later found in modern times is not where it was first presented, I suggest a new geographical, temporal and historical setting for the text.
Clumsy or Talented?
The Fluctuation between the First and Third Person in the Text on the Tell al-Rimāḥ Stela
The fluctuation between the first and third person in the text on the Tell al-Rimāḥ Stela has been regarded either as a way, in which Nergal-ēreš takes to himself credit for the described achievements, or as a clumsiness of the scribe who conflated multiple source materials into the text. While the textual features may suggest that the inscription was copied from written source, it seems that the scribe deliberately omitted the description of entrustment of receiving tribute, which is supposed to be described in the source text. Another possibility is that in the original text, all the verbs are expressed in the first person, and in this case, our scribe intentionally changed the first person of the verb in the description of receiving tribute to the third person. The unusual use of the third person in the text might have been employed by the scribe so that the subject of the verb could alternatively be construed as Nergal-ēreš, instead of Adad-nērārī III. This scribal art, however, does not reflect the intention of Nergal-ēreš but of Adad-nērārī, the most possible commissioner of the inscription. The apparent clumsiness found in the change between the first and third person might alternatively be regarded as a scribal technique to achieve two purposes: to credit the king for the military exploits; and to lead the readers to alternatively see Nergal-ēreš as a possible candidate for the one who received the tribute.
The article examines the chronographic styles and literary features of the major inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria (745-727 BC), and discusses the characteristics of the king’s self-presentation expressed there. First, the article deals with the structure of the king’s major inscriptions, while discussing the date and circumstances of their composition. Then, it examines Tiglath-pileser III’s self-presentation in those inscriptions, paying attention to the traditions and innovations involved therein. The examination reveals two major points concerning the royal image presented by Tiglath-pileser III’s inscriptions, i.e., (1) the revival of the traditional image of the king as the great commander, who unremittingly marches and conquers distant lands, and (2) the innovative image as the absolute imperial builder-administrator, who reorganizes the world on a solid provincial system. The self-presentation was obviously made against the historical background of the king’s reign, in which he established the foundation of Assyrian empire following the long period of turmoil and political instability during the reigns of his predecessors.
The last seven years of Esarhaddon’s reign were marked by intensive and varied royal historiography. This is demonstrated in some of his Babylon Inscriptions, in three comprehensive editions of res gestae, in the Letter to God, and in several monuments that were discovered at Zincirli, Tell Aḥmar, Nahr el-Kelb and Qaqun. The study of these inscriptions with special attention to the time factor and to events of clear political significance (Esarhaddon’s rise to the throne and his struggle for royal legitimacy, his steps toward reconciliation with the Babylonians and his military campaigns against Egypt – the first disastrous, the second victorious) enables us to ascertain the stages, aims, and methods of his historiography.
Prism A (Rassam) is the last of the six editions of the royal annals of Ashurbanipal prepared in the 640s. Of all the extant texts from this king’s reign, it presents the longest and fullest account. The author of Prism A made use of materials from the preceding editions and, as was the common practice, added reports of events to the account given in Prism F two years earlier. Among the characteristics of Prism A are: (1) An increased number of campaign reports; (2) Reworking of previous reports using literary manipulations, and in some cases, corrected data; (3) Emphasis upon the endorsement given to the monarch by all of the gods, expressed in reports of prophetic messages and dreams; (4) Increased mention of the adê-treaties as the rationale behind divine punishment of rebels. Prism A’s thoroughly rewritten presentation of the royal achievements was undertaken in the twenty fifth year of Ashurbanipal’s reign. The author of Prism A reshaped the earlier image of Ashurbanipal, and as its campaigns reports and final scene proved, the entire world lay at the feet of the Assyrian monarch. And it may just be that the initiator and inspiration behind this grand literary project was Ashurbanipal himself, who saw himself as a most literate monarch.
Circumstantial evidence suggests that the Akkadian counterpart of Baltil, written with the signs BAL and KI in the bilingual inscription of Šamaš-šumu-ukīn, RIMB 2, B.6.33.1, could be interpreted as a ‘heretical’ exegesis of the toponym, alluding to ki-bal = māt nukurti ‘Enemy Land’ and/or to words derived from BAL = nabalkutu ‘to rebel.’ If this is the case, the inscription describes the return of Marduk’s statue in a tone similar to the one describing the return of his statue from Elam to Babylon during the reign of Nabuchadnezzar I.
Ritual practices performed by Assyrian kings are associated with the foundation and conclusion of both palace and temple building. The Akkadian terms signifying initiation are: tašīltu, celebration; tašrītu, inauguration; tērubtu, entry of the gods. The longest text concerning the inauguration of a palace is that of Assurnaṣirpal for his new palace in Kalḫu at which over 69,000 persons, as well as the gods, were present. The inauguration of Sargon’s palace at his new capital, Dūr-Šarru-ukīn, was different; it was two-staged, first the gods were invited into the palace and are feted, this was followed by the celebration of the king and his dignitaries. The inauguration celebrations of palaces built by Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal all exhibited two stages, a divine aspect of hosting the gods, and a royal popular one. On the other hand, the main element in descriptions of temple inaugurations is the entry of the god into his dwelling. This was accomplished by the king “grasping the hand of the god” and leading him to his abode. This ceremony was followed by sacrifice, festivities and the presentation of gifts. While there are parallel elements in both types of inaugurations, they are fundamentally different. Palaces are built for kings, temples for the gods. Temples are initiated when the god takes up his residence therein. Palace inaugurations were held in order to honor the king as royal builders.
The Marduk Prophecy is a literary composition in the guise of prophetic speech by Marduk. It is supposed to be written to praise Nebuchadnezzar I’s triumph over Elam during his reign. However, all the three surviving exemplars of this text are from the seventh-century B.C. Assyria: two from Nineveh and another from Assur. This article discusses how the Marduk Prophecy was read and re-interpreted in Nineveh at that time. Between the Marduk Prophecy and the royal literature during the reign of Ashurbanipal, the following common themes can be recognized: (1) reconstruction of the Babylonian temples, above all Esagil; (2) conquest of Elam; and (3) fulfillment of divine prophecies. On the basis of these, the author proposes that in the seventh-century Nineveh the Marduk Prophecy was regarded as an authentic prophecy predicting the achievements of Ashurbanipal, and that this is the main reason why this text was read at his court.
The article deals with the kalû priest and his repertoire (kalûtu) in Assyria. It is argued that the office of kalû was a Babylonian institution, gradually imported into Assyria, until its final acceptance in Assyrian religion in the seventh century BCE. The article first discusses individual kalûsand their ancestral affiliation according to Assyrian sources. Then it proceeds to survey the copyists of kalûtu literature and the Neo-Assyrian libraries in which kalûtu tablets were found. Following, the serialization of the kalûtu literature in Nineveh is discussed vis-à-vis evidence from other Assyrian cities on the one hand, and Babylonia on the other hand. In addition, the way in which the Assyrian king related himself to the kalûtu literature is examined. Finally, the article points at some possible influences of the kalûtu literature on Neo-Assyrian literature.
Esarhaddon’s Succession Oath Documents (ESOD) are presently known through: the Nimrud version (more than nine copies) published in 1958, the Aššur version (three fragments) published in 1939-1940 and 2009, and the Tayinat version excavated in Tell Tayinat (ancient Kunalia; Turkey) in 2009 and published in 2012. At least both the Nimrud and the Tayinat version have nearly the same text, except for the lines in §1 concerning the recipients of the Documents. While the Nimrud version is addressed to the small rulers in the district of ‘Media’ with their respective personal names, the Tayinat version was issued to the Assyrian governor of Kunalia along with sixteen other titles without any personal names. There seem to be several templates of the ESOD, which vary according to the different recipients.
The first verb of §30 has turned out to be in the indicative, not in the subjunctive as the present author had expected before (in Watanabe 1987), and an improved translation of the whole section can now be undertaken. In §34, it is proclaimed: “Aššur is your god! Aššurbanipal is your lord!” And from the lines in §35 restored by the Tayinat version, we can understand the demand that the sealed tablet of the ESOD should be honoured (protected) ‘as your (own) god.’
Although we don’t know the exact reason why the Nimrud version was found in Nimrud, the fact that the Tayinat version was excavated in situ, on the podium in the back chamber of the precinct, convinces us that other tablets must have in principle been enshrined all throughout the largest Assyrian domination, which could have served as effective background for Josiah’s reformation and the establishment of monotheism based on the written covenant. Furthermore, the demand of exclusive loyalty to Aššurbanipal in the ESOD has possibly been transferred to the demand of exclusive adoration of Yahweh.
The Broken Staffs
Disinheritance in Emar in the Light of the Laws of Ḫammurabi § 169 and the Nuzi Texts
In the Emar texts, there are found two references to gišḫaṭṭa šebēru, “to break a staff,” a symbolic act denoting disinheritance of a son. Here, the staff seems to represent the status of son who supports his parent(s). Among them Emar VI 256 is particularly noteworthy, since it suggests that a certain Addu broke two staffs in total to disinherit his son Ḫulaʾu. This reminds us of the Laws of Ḫammurabi § 169, which prescribes that father may disinherit his son only if he commits a grave offense a second time. The present writer posits that this pardon once of son’s grave offense before disinheriting him was a desirable practice, though not an institution, in Emar as it was in Nuzi. The above equation between gišḫaṭṭu and the status of son in general has hitherto been attested only in Emar, not in OB Sippar as well.
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