About the Project

Sargon Bull

A colossal statue of a human-faced winged bull (a lamassu) from Sargon II's palace at Dūr-Šarrukīn. This protective figure is one of a pair that guarded a gateway of the royal palace. Louvre, AO 19857. Photo by Karen Radner.

From the end of the fourth millennium BC until the first century CE, ancient Mesopotamian rulers had countless cuneiform inscriptions commemorating their deeds written on tablets, prisms, cylinders, rock faces, steles, wall and threshold slabs, and many other types of objects, both large and small. Thousands of these officially commissioned compositions written in Akkadian and Sumerian have been discovered throughout the Near East, in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran in particular, but also in Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Egypt, and even Greece. These royal or official inscriptions contain information on the history, religion, economy, and culture of the people living in those areas, in particular the Assyrians and Babylonians who are frequently mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and who appear in the works of some classical historians (for example, Josephus, Berossus, and Herodotus).

Most of these inscriptions, however, have never been published or translated into a modern language. Many of the texts that have been published were done so before our knowledge of ancient languages was as advanced as it is today, and thus a significant portion of the relevant publications are dated, buried in obscure monographs or journals, and out of print. The time is ripe to prepare systematically, corpus by corpus, editions of every text, to publish these editions in print in a standard format, and to make the results available online. Thus, the Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period (RINAP) Project will make available the information in a clearly defined and extremely important group of texts from ancient Mesopotamia: the royal inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian kings Tiglath-Pileser III, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon (744-669 BC) preserved on tablets, prisms, cylinders, stone steles, and other artifacts from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, and other parts of the Middle East. These texts are of central importance for the construction of the basic skeleton of Assyrian and Near Eastern political history during this seventy-five year period when Assyria controlled most of the Near East.

Objectives

RINAP has three main objectives:

  1. To locate, collate, and edit every official inscription of the Neo-Assyrian rulers from 744 to 669 BC
  2. To enter all of these data into an electronic format in a manner that will facilitate advanced data retrieval and analysis and that will be compatible with existing online platforms (in particular, The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative [http://cdli.ucla.edu/] and The Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/])
  3. To publish in print and online all of these texts for use by scholars, students and the interested public in a manner that follows the best methodology in Assyriology

Duration

In 2007, Grant Frame initiated the RINAP Project in order to continue the now-defunct Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia (RIM) Project's task of making the official inscriptions of the rulers of ancient Mesopotamia available in up-to-date, scholarly editions. RINAP will deal with the inscriptions of rulers of Assyria from 744 BC to 669 BC and is presently envisioned as a six-year project (2008-2014). The National Endowment for the Humanities [http://www.neh.gov/] (NEH) has awarded Grant Frame funding for July 2008-June 2010, July 2010-June 2012, and July 2012-June 2014.

Scope and Dissemination

Hinnis

A block of the collapsed monumental façade of the weir at Hinnis which Sennacherib had constructed to bring a steady supply of water to Nineveh. The relief shows Sennacherib and the god Aššur. Photo by Karen Radner.

In the Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia (RIM) Project's Assyrian Periods sub-series (RIMA), A. Kirk Grayson published all of the then-known official inscriptions of Assyrian rulers from the third and second millennia and from the first millennium down to the time of Aššur-nārārī V (754-745 BC); that text corpus was published in three volumes (RIMA 1-3). Before the RIM Project officially ceased to exist, work on several further volumes of Assyrian royal inscriptions had already begun. In 2006, Grayson passed on responsibility for the materials and manuscripts to Grant Frame.

The RINAP Project will publish in print and online all of the known royal inscriptions that were composed during the reigns of the five kings who sat on the Assyrian throne immediately after Aššur-nārārī V: Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC), Shalmaneser V (726-722 BC), Sargon II (721-705 BC), Sennacherib (704-681 BC), and Esarhaddon (680-669 BC). Thus, the RINAP Project carries on where the now-defunct RIM Project's RIMA sub-series ended. As currently conceived, the Project will not complete the publication of the corpus of Assyrian royal inscriptions, as RINAP will not include the official inscriptions of Ashurbanipal (668-ca. 631 BC) and his successors (ca. 630-609 BC). That work will be carried out by Jamie Novotny and Greta Van Buylaere.

The six hundred to six hundred and fifty known royal inscriptions composed between 744 BC and 669 BC will be published by Eisenbrauns [https://www.eisenbrauns.com] in five volumes. The texts of Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V will be edited together in a single volume; those of Sargon II and Esarhaddon will each be edited in a single volume; and the inscriptions of Sennacherib will be edited in two volumes. Editions [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/rinap/corpus] of these same inscriptions will also be available on RINAP Online, along with complete, searchable Akkadian and Sumerian glossaries and an index of names. Moreover, indices of the nine volumes published in the RIM Project's three main sub-series will be accessible on this site.

Jamie Novotny

Jamie Novotny, 'About the Project', The Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period, The RINAP Project, 2014 [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/rinap/abouttheproject/]

 
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