Preface

The production of this first volume of the State Archives of Assyria series has been an interesting experience involving a great deal of pioneer work on new computer-aided publication methods. Large sections of the book have been generated automatically from a computerized data base originally created for totally other purposes than publication — a procedure with few if any precedents in the field of Assyriology. Treading unknown paths can be dangerous and one is much better off if one has dependable companions on the road. The author of this book had the good fortune of having such companions, and he is the first to acknowledge that without their help the book could not have been published in its present form nor by the projected date.

The book owes particularly much to Sakari Laurila, Director of the Helsinki University Press, who was not deterred by the risks involved in a novel publication method but, on the contrary, took it as a challenge, and furthered the publication process in every possible way from the beginning to the end. I believe the typographical appearance of this volume proves right his thesis that "scientific publications do not necessarily have to look dull".

In the planning of the printing process we were fortunate to profit from the experience gained by the Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Project in a similar publication venture. Thanks are due especially to Dr. Louis D. Levine, technical adviser to the RIM project, who not only provided us with ample documentation on the RIM computer and photocomposition system but also with valuable practical advice.

The untold hours invested by the staff of the Helsinki University Press in the planning, experimentation and implementation of the printing process cannot be properly acknowledged in a few words. Special thanks are due to Tuula Salakari and Tapani Mansner for their achievement with the code converter, to Kaija Suhonen-Leskinen and Tuula Hauhia for a well done job of photocomposition, and to Harri Jarvinen for help rendered during the paste-up phase.

The extremely complicated typographical encoding of the electronic manuscript was handled by means of computer programs specifically written for this purpose by Raija Mattila and Laura Kataja of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus project staff. A donation by the Olivetti (Finland) Corporation considerably eased the processing of the material, which was carried out with the project's Olivetti M24 microcomputer. Apart from her role in the encoding process, I am greatly indebted to Raija Mattila also for the indispensable assistance she rendered me during the final phases of the printing process.

Several British colleagues provided invaluable help both in the course of the collation of the originals in the British Museum and on other occasions. I wish in the first place to extend my thanks to Mr. Nicholas Postgate, who looked through all the translations in this volume and provided many valuable suggestions, and to Dr. Julian Reade, who edited the illustrations in this volume. The decision to provide the present edition with illustrations stems from our conviction that pictorial evidence can significantly contribute to the interpretation of the texts, and it is my hope that we can continue the experiment in the future volumes of the SAA series as well.

My work on the originals in the British Museum was, as usual, greatly expedited by the courtesy of the staff. Dr. Christopher Walker, Deputy Keeper of the Department, went to any length to make my stay in the Students' Room as rewarding as possible. Dr. Irving Finkel, Deputy Keeper, generously allowed me to go through unnumbered Kuyunjik fragments in search for further texts for this volume, and over the years collated several tablets and checked numerous joins for me. I am also indebted to Chris Gravett and Peter Rea for efficient and speedy supply of tablets, and to Ken Uprichard for skillful treatment of tablets and handling of joins.

The three previously unpublished fragments and the British Museum photographs reproduced in this volume are published by the kind permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.

The Nimrud Letters in the collections of the Iraq Museum edited in the preset volume were collated for me by Dr. Jeremy Black, Director of the British Archaeological Expedition to Iraq. Owing to the circumstances, the collation could not be undertaken until less than two months before the publication of this volume, and the results reached me literally at the last minute. Luckily they could still be included in the transliterations, translations and the critical apparatus, but unfortunately no more in the indices and the glossary.

I am most grateful to Dr. Kimmo Koskenniemi of the Department of General Linguistics, University of Helsinki, who introduced me into the art of programming and thus made the creation of the computer-generated text, glossary and indices possible.

Virginia Johnson kindly edited my English in the Introduction.

Last, but certainly not least, I wish to acknowledge the financial support provided by the Academy of Finland, without which the research behind this volume and the present series in general would not have been possible. This book is dedicated to Sisko, Inka and Antti.

May 1987

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola, 'Preface', The Correspondence of Sargon II, Part I: Letters from Assyria and the West, SAA 1. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1987; online contents: SAAo/SAA01 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/saa1preface/]

 
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