Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

The Royal libraries of Nineveh: New evidence for king Ashurbanipal's Tablet Collecting

Abstract

The two tablets published here for the first time, BM 45642 and BM 28825, are edited together for good reason, for the historical background of both texts is very probably the same episode in King Ashurbanipal's drive to acquire scribal learning. Where BM 28825 concerns the reception of the Assyrian king's demand for tablets among the citizens of Babylon, BM 45642 deals with the reaction of scholars of nearby Borsippa to a similar royal message. BM 45642 is the better preserved of the two tablets, and allows a fuller understanding of both texts' formal characteristics and of the contextual background. Consequently we present it first.

The text inscribed on BM 45642 (81-7-6, 35) is a letter, though not a typical one. It begins with an extremely deferential address to Ashurbanipal (11. 1–4). Following a series of standard royal epithets, the address pays homage to the Assyrian king as the divinely appointed suzerain of Assyria and Babylonia. It goes on to record Nabû's patronage of the king, and to acknowledge his skill in Nabû's special field of writing, an expertise already well known from Ashurbanipal's own inscriptions. These clauses are chosen with care, for the writer is evidently a scholar from Borsippa, Nabû's cult-centre. With them he invokes a certain feeling of mutual fellowship. The name of the sender is expected at the end of the address, but although the end of 1. 4 is broken there does not seem to be a name there, and we have restored instead nilt[apra umma] “we send word as follows”. In this the text departs from normal Neo-Babylonian usage, perhaps because it is not a regular letter but, as becomes clear, a formal and collective communication on behalf of all the scholars of Borsippa.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Annus Amar 2002. The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia. SAA Studies 14 (Helsinki).
Borger R. 1956. Die Inschriften Asarhaddons, Königs von Assyrien. Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 9 (Graz).
Borger R. 19691970. Bemerkungen zu den akkadischen Kolophonen. Welt des Orients 5: 165–71.
Brinkman J. A., and Kennedy D. A. 1986. Documentary evidence for the economic base of early Neo-Babylonian society: A survey of dated Babylonian economic texts, 721–626 B.C. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 35: 190.
Dijk J. van 1989. Ein spätaltbabylonischer Katalog einer Sammlung sumerischer Briefe. Orientalia 58: 441–52.
Ebeling Erich 1949. Neubabylonische Briefe. ABAW NF 30 (Munich).
Fincke Jeanette 2004. The British Museum's Ashurbanipal library project. Iraq 66: 5560, republished in Dominique Collon and Andrew George (eds.), Nineveh. Papers of the XLIXe Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, London 7–11 July 2003 (London, 2005).
Frahm Eckart in press. Headhunter, Bücherdiebe und wandernde Gelehrte: Anmerkungen zum altorientalischen Wissenstransfer im ersten Jahrtausend v. Chr. Colloquien, Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft 4.
George A. R. 1986. Sennacherib and the Tablet of Destinies. Iraq 48: 133–46.
George A. R. 1997. Assyria and the western world. In Parpola S. and Whiting R. M. (eds.), Assyria 1995. Proceedings of the 10th Anniversary Symposium of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, Helsinki, September 7–11, 1995 (Helsinki): 6975.
George A. R. 2003. The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic. Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts. 2 vols. (Oxford).
Howard M. 1955. Technical description of the ivory writing-boards from Nimrud. Iraq 17: 1420.
Hunger Hermann 1968. Babylonische und assyrische Kolophone. AOAT 2 (Kevelaer and Neukirchen-Vluyn).
Klengel-Brandt E. 1975. Eine Schreibtafel aus Assur. Altorientalische Forschungen 3: 169–71, Pls. 21–2.
Lambert W. G. 1957. Ancestors, authors and canonicity. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 11: 1–14, 112.
Lambert W. G. 1976. A Late Assyrian catalogue of literary and scholarly texts. In Eichler Barry L. (ed.), Kramer Anniversary Volume. Cuneiform Studies in Honor of Samuel Noah Kramer. AOAT 25 (Kevelaer and Neukirchen-Vluyn): 313–18.
Lambert W. G. 1989. The laws of Hammurabi in the first millennium. In Lebeau M. and Talon P. (eds.), Reflets des deux fleuves: Volume de mélanges offerts à André Finet (Leuven): 95–8.
Lambert W. G. 1992. Addenda et corrigenda to W. G. Lambert, Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets of the Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum, Third Supplement (1992). Nouvelles assyriologiques brèves et utilitaires 1992, 4: 95–6 No. 129.
Lieberman Stephen J. 1990. Canonical and official cuneiform texts: Towards an understanding of Assurbanipal's personal tablet collection. In Abusch Tzvi, Huehnergard John and Steinkeller Piotr (eds.), Lingering over Words. Studies in Ancient Near Eastern Literature in Honor of William L. Moran (Atlanta): 305–36.
MacGinnis J. 2002. The use of writing boards in the Neo-Babylonian temple administration at Sippar. Iraq 64: 217–36.
Mallowan M. E. L. 1954. The excavations at Nimrud (Kalḫu), 1953. Iraq 16: 59–16, Pls. 10–36.
Maxwell-Hyslop K. R. 1983. Dalbergia Sissoo Roxburgh. Anatolian Studies 33: 6772.
Mayer Werner R. 1992. Ein Hymnus auf Ninurta als Helfer in der Not. Orientalia 61: 1757.
Nemet-Nejat K. R. 2000. An administrative text about writing boards (557 B.C.E.). Baghdader Mitteilungen 31: 249–58.
Neugebauer O. 1955. Astronomical Cuneiform Tablets 1 (London).
Parpola Simo 1972. A letter of Šamas-šumu-ukīn to Esarhaddon. Iraq 34: 2134.
Parpola Simo 1983. Assyrian library records. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 42: 129.
Postgate J. N. 1986. Middle Assyrian tablets: The instruments of bureaucracy. Altorientalische Forschungen 13: 1039.
Postgate J. N. 1992. Trees and timber in the Assyrian texts. Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture 6: 177–92.
Reade J. E. 1986. Introduction. In Erie Leichty, Catalogue of the Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum VI. Tablets from Sippar 1 (London): xiiixxxvi.
Schaudig Hanspeter 2001. Die Inschriften Nabonids von Babylon und Kyros' des Grossen samt den in ihrem Umfeld entstandenen Tendenzschriften. Textausgabe und Grammatik. AOAT 256 (Münster).
Stol Marten 1998. Einige kurze Wortstudien. In Maul S. M. (ed.), Festschrift für Rykle Borger zu seinem 65. Geburtstag am 24. Mai 1994: Tikip santakki mala bašmu … Cuneiform Monographs 10 (Groningen): 343–52.
Streck Michael P. 1995. Zahl und Zeit. Grammatik der Numeralia und des Verbalsystems im Spätbabylonischen. Cuneiform Monographs 5 (Groningen).
Symington Dorit 1991. Late Bronze Age writing-boards and their uses: Textual evidence from Anatolia and Syria. Anatolian Studies 41: 111–23.
Tallqvist Knut 1938. Akkadische Götterepitheta. Studia Orientalia 7 (Helsinki).
Villard P. 1997. L'éducation d'Assurbanipal. Ktèma 22: 135–49.
Villard P. 1998. Kisir-Aššur et la bibliothèque de Ninive. Nouvelles assyriologiques brèves et utilitaires 1998, 1: 19 No. 16.
Warnock Peter, and Pendleton Michael 1991. The wood of the Ulu Burun diptych. Anatolian Studies 41: 107–10.
Weidner E. F. 19411944. Die astrologische Serie Enûma Anu Enlil. Archiv für Orientforschung 14: 172–95.
Wiseman D. J. 1955. Assyrian writing-boards. Iraq 16: 313, Pls. 1–3.
Woodington N. R. 1982. A Grammar of the Neo-Babylonian Letters of the Kuyunjik Collection (Doctoral dissertation, Yale University).
Wunsch Cornelia 2000. Das Egibi-Archiv. 2 vols. Cuneiform Monographs 20A–B (Groningen).
Wunsch Cornelia 2003. Urkunden zum Ehe-, Vermögens- und Erbrecht aus verschiedenen neubabylonischen Archiven. Babylonische Archive 2 (Dresden).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

IRAQ
  • ISSN: 0021-0889
  • EISSN: 2053-4744
  • URL: /core/journals/iraq
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 3 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 141 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.