The Correspondence of Assurbanipal, Part II: Letters from Southern Babylonia

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Grant Frame


G. Frame and S. Parpola. State Archives of Assyria 22. Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2023.

The present volume completes the critical edition of the political correspondence of Assurbanipal, the first part of which was published in SAA 21. The 163 letters edited here were sent from southern Mesopotamia and Elam, mostly by governors or other high-ranking local administrators and military commanders; almost all are addressed to the Assyrian king, although a few nonroyal letters are also included. As in SAA 21, the bulk of the correspondence dates from the civil war between Assurbanipal and Šamaš-šumu-ukin and provides dramatic eyewitness evidence of this turbulent time.

The volume does not contain a single letter authored by Assurbanipal, but almost all the letters originate from recipients of the royal letters in SAA 21 and deal largely with the same political and military events as the corresponding royal letters. Altogether, these letters convey a multifaceted picture of the prolonged conflict, enabling a detailed reconstruction of its brutal course and consequences. As a firsthand account of a cruel war, this collection of letters is unique in Mesopotamia, with comparable sources known only from Greek and Roman times.

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