The article provides a historical analysis of cuneiform records concerning the circulation of unfree humans among the political-cultic elite in southern Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf during the Early Dynastic IIIb period, ca. 2475–2300 BCE. The analysis of the written data from the Adab city-state demonstrates that the royal house used the unfree as gifts to maintain a sociopolitical network on three spatial levels – the internal, local, and (inter)regional. The gift-givers and gift-receivers were mostly male adult members of the local and foreign elite, whereas the dislocated unfree humans were heterogeneous in terms of age, gender, and the ways they lost their freedom. The author relates the social profiles of both groups to the logistics of human traffic to reveal the link between social status and forms and nature of spatial mobility in the politically and socially unstable Early Dynastic Near East.
Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions are always narrated in the first-person voice of the king. Within this framing narrative, the device that we would call ‘direct speech’ is used only rarely, and judiciously. The texts that make the greatest use of this literary device both come from a period of particular innovation and experimentation in royal text forms: Esarhaddon’s Nineveh A and Ashurbanipal’s narratives about his campaign against Elamite king Teumman. In these examples, and in other texts of the time including Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty, the words of enemies stand out as particularly threatening – and yet also particularly useful, as a literary device employed to further Assyrian agendas. Royal narratives use enemy speech for one of two purposes: either to document criminality, or to show enemies, in defeat and despair, testifying to the might and rightness of their Assyrian conquerors. Looking at all examples of speech – from enemies, gods, and the Assyrian king – I distinguish between ‘direct speech’ (as a literary device) and ‘quotation’ (as a practice). Most, though not all, direct speech in the sources considered here is also quotation, in that it seeks to document and preserve speech made in some other prior form (a verbal statement, a letter, an omen on an animal’s liver). Quotations demonstrate royal legitimacy and enemy culpability, while literary invention allows enemy voices to be turned to new purposes, as forced testament to Assyrian supremacy.
This article treats a composition that was probably dedicated to Nergal, a god with a long cultic tradition in ancient Mesopotamia who was mainly related to war and death. The text was first edited by Böhl (1949; 1953: 207–216, 496–497), followed by Ebeling (1953: 116–117). Later, Seux (1976: 85–88) and Foster (2005: 708–709) translated and commented upon it. I will present a new reading of the invocation on the tablet’s upper edge, which confirms that the tablet originated in Uruk during the Hellenistic period. Furthermore, I will discuss the many Neo-Babylonian and Late Babylonian grammatical elements of this composition. The high frequency of these elements, typical of the vernacular language, is unusual for a literary text and suggests that not only the tablet, but also the composition of the text stems from the first millennium BCE, and perhaps, just like the tablet, from Hellenistic Uruk. The purpose of this contribution is, therefore, to show through an analysis of this text, that the conservative and poetic literary language was reworked and adapted to the cultural situation of the late period in Mesopotamian literary production.
This paper examines a remarkable variation in the new manuscript of En-metena 1 (RIME 126.96.36.199) kept in the Sulaymaniyah Museum in Iraq: a left-dislocated genitive construction is replaced by a simple genitive construction. Also, the manuscript shortens the text in a number of places. The paper reviews other known examples of text abridgements in royal inscriptions of the 3rd millennium BC and suggests that the composers of these inscriptions used similar techniques to manipulate the texts according to their function and use as the scribes who wrote the Assyrian royal inscriptions of the 1st millennium. The new manuscript provides a rare opportunity to observe a scribe who adapts an already existing text using his linguistic competence.
Neo-Assyrian letters are a broad and interesting corpus of data to investigate how ancient Assyrians dealt with the manufacture of statues, the shaping of royal and divine effigies, and the final arrangement of sculptures. This paper aims to analyse the ritual and practical aspects of the making of images in the Neo-Assyrian period with reference to this corpus of letters, which reveals how Assyrian kings, officials and sculptors worked together for this purpose. It explores the role of the personnel involved, the process of the creation, and the final display of statues. Based on the interplay of texts and archaeological data, the study reveals the intense activity of making statues of gods and kings in Assyria, with the administration supervising both projects for new statues and the maintenance of already existing ones.
The rock reliefs of Sirkeli represent an important testimony among the Hittite monuments with hieroglyphic inscriptions. In addition to the relief of King Muwatalli, a second relief was identified in 1994, whose hieroglyphic inscription seemed irretrievably lost. Based on a cooperation between the Swiss Archaeological Mission at Sirkeli and the Centro Interistituzionale Euromediterraneo of the University Suor Orsola in Naples, a 3D survey with technologically advanced instruments was carried out in 2017. This contribution presents the first results of this project and the new perspectives that they offer for further research.
This article discusses the use of the sign <URBS> (L.225) in Anatolian Hieroglyphic. In particular, it analyzes the attestations and contexts of use of the sign employed in combination with <mi> (L.391) (§ 2). It is well-known that the self-standing sign <URBS> was used as a determinative for city names, while the form with ligature +MI was employed as a logogram. A systematic analysis of the Anatolian Hieroglyphic corpus shows that this convention was very consistent. This article provides an updated corpus of attestations of the logographic usage; it is also shown that a less common form of this sign combination, without ligature (<URBS-MI>), was an alternative logographic writing in the early stage of the script, but the form with ligature (<URBS+MI>) became the standard after the 12th century. Possible exceptions to this convention and other inconsistent or problematic uses are discussed (§ 3). Conclusions include some considerations on the possible phonetic quality of the ligature +MI, and on the form of the Luwian word for “city” (§ 4). The final section discusses the use of the sign <URBS> in the spelling of the name Mursili, in light of the present analysis (§ 5).
The paper explores the uses of the Sumerian expression ser3-ku3, with a view to clarifying its sense.1 It argues that there are two main uses, ‘incantation’ and ‘hymn’, probably correlating respectively with one-word (‘univerbated’) and two-word incarnations of the expression. This hypothesis finds support in the phrase’s loan and translation into Babylonian.
The paper arises from my study of Babylonian šerkugû, which I argue to have the meaning ‘incantation’ (see fn. 16). This is a loan from Sumerian *ser3-ku3-ga. The form with -ga (arising from the addition of the ‘adjectival a’ to ku3.g ‘holy, pure’) is not currently attested in Sumerian. (I thank Pascal Attinger, pers. comm., for the observation that apparent attestations of ser3-ku3-ga, e.g. in Martu A 58, are in fact locatives in -a). It does however occur in spellings of Babylonian šerkugû (CAD Š/2, 316b).