On the Present Edition

The objective of the present volume is to make the corpus of Sargonid oracle queries and extispicy reports available in a convenient up-to-date edition that can be profitably used both by the specialist and the more general reader. Every effort has been expended to make it as complete and reliable as possible, by identification of previously unpublished fragments, repeated collation of the originals, and scrutiny of the manuscript by several experts in Neo-Assyrian.

The Order of Texts in this Edition

In its basic organization, the edition follows the norms established in the Editorial Manual of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project and exemplified by the previous volumes of the series. The order in which the texts are presented is, to some extent, chronological, in that queries from the reign of Esarhaddon, those from the reign of Assurbanipal, and extispicy reports from the reign of Assurbanipal (in this order) are presented as separate groups, and in that texts in the latter group dated by eponym year are, as far as feasible, presented in their chronological order. In view of the dating problems discussed in the Introduction, however, a systematic chronological arrangement of the whole corpus has not been attempted. Instead, texts within the three major groups have been divided into subgroups on the basis of their subject matter, and large subgroups (like the military queries) have been further subdivided by topical criteria. The order of the military subgroups is geographical.

Texts Included and Excluded

The edition is meant to contain all extant Sargonid oracle queries and reports identified to date. In order to make sure that all pertinent texts are included, the unpublished material described in the catalogues of Bezold, King, Lambert + Millard and Leichty as possibly belonging to the genre, as well as the uncatalogued Kuyunjik pieces currently being catalogued by Lambert and Finkel, have been sifted through as carefully as possible by the editor and various other people involved in the production of the book. We have taken care to include even the smallest fragments that can with certainty be shown to belong to the corpus. It is naturally possible that in spite of our efforts, some minor fragments may have escaped our attention. It can be confidently claimed, however, that whatever omissions there may be are insignificant fragments at best.

Four small fragments possibly belonging to the corpus (K 12686, 82-3-23,122, 83-1-18,572 and 83-1-18,874+892, the latter communicated by R. Borger) have been copied by the editor but were submitted too late to be included in the volume. All of them contain omens only and a few signs at most in each line. K 15042, K 17302, K 20556 and BM 123389 were excluded as not pertinent.


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 humanly possible. All the texts edited have been recently collated either by the editor or a competent colleague.

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 scribes.


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. For the first time this corpus is presented with the ezibs and the closing formulas fully translated. The translations of the ezibs and the omens have been set in smaller type than the queries themselves.

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 are indicated by dots.

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 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."

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 omens and lexical items, or Akkadian expressions necessarily left untranslated. The historical information contained in the texts is generally not commented upon.

Glossary and Indices

The glossary and indices, electronically generated, follow the pattern of the previous volumes. Please note that the sorting program treats short and long vowels as different letters and hence ābu, ālik pāni, ālu, āpiu and âru are listed after atû; bābu, bārtu and bārû after bašû, etc.

Ivan Starr

Ivan Starr, 'On the Present Edition', Queries to the Sungod: Divination and Politics in Sargonid Assyria, SAA 4. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1990; online contents: SAAo/SAA04 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/saao/saa04/onthepresentedition/]

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