On the Present Edition

This volume includes all letters dealing with temple administration or cultic affairs that can be assigned to the reign of Esarhaddon or Assurbanipal that have not been published in other SAA volumes. Most of the letters were written by priests or by temple administrators, or, in the case of the letters written by the king, to such officials. A number of letters, presumably written by some of the same individuals, have already been published in SAA 8 and SAA 10. The following texts edited in this volume are written in Babylonian: 3-7, 173-183, 185.

The Order of Texts in this Edition

The texts have primarily been organized by geographical areas and within those areas by individuals. Letters dealing with the same topic have been grouped together where possible, but there is generally no attempt at any chronological order, nor is there any systematic attempt to assign letters to the reign of a specific king.

Texts Included and Excluded

All letters written by identified or identifiable priests and temple administrators that have not already been published in other SAA volumes are included here, as are letters from the king to such individuals. In addition, fragmentary pieces that contain any references to temple administration or cultic matters have been included. Letters that form part of Sargon II's correspondence have been excluded with the exception of two letters from Assur that provide some contextual continuity.


The transliterations, addressed to the specialist, render the text of the originals in roman characters according to standard Assyriological conventions and the principles outlined in the Editorial Manual. Every effort has been taken to make them as accurate as possible. The texts have been collated at various times by Simo Parpola and Peter Machinist. Some additional collations have been done by Nicholas Postgate and last-minute collations were undertaken by Mark Geller.

Results of collation are indicated with exclamation marks. Single exclamation marks indicate corrections to published copies, double exclamation marks, scribal errors. Question marks indicate uncertain or questionable readings. Broken portions of text and all restorations are enclosed within square brackets. Parentheses enclose items omitted by ancient scribe's or explanatory material inserted by the editors. Numbers that appear at the edge of a break where part of the number might be missing are followed by "[+x" or preceded by "x+]," and it must be borne in mind that "x" may be zero.


The translations seek to render the meaning and tenor of the texts as accurately as possible in readable, contemporary English. In the interest of clarity, the line structure of the originals has not been retained in the translation but the text has been rearranged into logically coherent paragraphs where possible.

Uncertain or conjectural translations are indicated by italics. Interpretative additions to the translation are enclosed within parentheses. All restorations are enclosed within square brackets. Untranslatable passages or words are indicated by dots. Quotation marks are used as follows: double quotation marks ("") indicate direct speech quoted in the original text; single quotation marks (") indicate quotations within quoted text, or indicate literal or conventional translations of words or phrases that may have had a different meaning or sense in the original.

Month names are rendered by their Hebrew equivalents, followed by a Roman numeral (in parentheses) indicating the place of the month within the lunar year. Personal, divine and geographical names are rendered by English or Biblical equivalents if a well-established equivalent exists (e.g., Esarhaddon, Nineveh); otherwise, they are given in transcription with length marks deleted. The normalization of West-Semitic names generally follows the conventions of Zadok West Semites. West Semitic phonemes not expressed by the writing system (/o/ etc.) have generally not been restituted in the normalizations, and the sibilant system follows the NA orthography.

The rendering of professions is a compromise between the use of accurate but impractical Assyrian terms and inaccurate but practical modern or classical equivalents.

Critical Apparatus

The primary purpose of the critical apparatus is to support the readings and translations established in the edition, and it consists largely of references to collations of questionable passages, scribal mistakes corrected in the transliteration, and alternative interpretations or restorations of ambiguous passages. Restorations based on easily verifiable evidence (e.g., parallel passages found in the text itself) are generally not explained in the apparatus; conjectural restorations only if their conjectural nature is not apparent from italics in the translation. Collations given in copy at the end of the volume are referred to briefly as "see coll." All collations given in copy are by Simo Parpola.

The critical apparatus does contain some additional information relevant to the interpretation of the texts, but it is not a commentary. Comments are kept to a minimum, and are mainly devoted to problems in the text, elucidation of lexical items or Akkadian expressions necessarily left untranslated. The historical information contained in the texts is generally not commented upon. Additional comments have occasionally been provided by members of the Project staff. The contributors' signatures in the critical apparatus are: (MJG) Mark Geller, (SP) Simo Parpola, (KR) Karen Radner, (RMW) Robert Whiting.

Glossary and Indices

The glossary and indices, electronically generated, generally follow the pattern of the previous volumes. The glossary contains all lexically identifiable words occurring in the texts. As a departure from previous glossaries, suffixless numbers 1-99 have been included. The references to professions attached to the index of personal names have been provided by a computer program written by Simo Parpola; it is hoped that these will be helpful in the prosopographical analysis of the texts, but it should be noted that the programme omits certain deficiently written professions and the references are accordingly not absolutely complete.

Logograms without a known Akkadian equivalent are included in alphabetical order in the glossary written in small capitals. The glossary and indices were prepared by the SAA staff and checked by Steven Cole.

Robert M. Whiting

Robert M. Whiting, 'On the Present Edition', Letters from Assyrian and Babylonian Priests to Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal, SAA 13. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1998; online contents: SAAo/SAA13 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/onthepresentedition/]

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