Preface

A new edition of the corpus of oracular queries from the reigns of Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal has been long overdue since those of Knudtzon and Klauber. The late Jussi Aro planned to do so, but subsequently abandoned the project. I was able to acquire his copies of unpublished texts known to him at the time and have been able to identify additional tablets (many of them fragments) belonging to this corpus.

I would like to thank the staff of the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities for their unfailing courtesy during my numerous visits to the British Museum, first under an NEH Fellowship and subsequently for annual short visits.

Professor W.G. Lambert has always been helpful and Professor Simo Parpola made numerous valuable suggestions which resulted in substantial improvements.

Ulla Jeyes's book "Old Babylonian Extispicy" appeared too late for use.

Detroit, December 1989

Ivan Starr

Supplementary Note

This volume is the largest of the series to date and makes available a major corpus of texts narrowly circumscribed by function, date, and place of origin. Its importance was recognized early in the development of cuneiform studies and has not diminished since. Since a number of people have contributed directly or indirectly to the present work, we feel it is appropriate to append a few words about the recent history and expansion of the corpus to the usual acknowledgments.

The late Jussi Aro worked on an edition of the corpus for many years in the early sixties. He prepared new transliterations of all previously published texts, added to the corpus 32 new texts, five of which he was able to join to texts previously published by Knudtzon and Klauber, and spent much time at the British Museum making collations and copying the new texts. In addition, he did extensive background research in related text genres (extispicy omens, haruspex rituals and tamītu texts) as well as the chronology and historical background of the corpus, and was working on an introduction and commentary to the texts when, in 1965, he was appointed Professor of Semitics at the University of Helsinki. Realising that the demands of this office would make it impossible to complete the edition within foreseeable time, he passed portions of his manuscript to a student of A.K. Grayson, who had expressed interest in continuing the work. Aro's original transliterations, copies and notes, dispersed in several folders and notebooks in his Nachlass, are at present being kept at the Department of Asian and African Studies, University of Helsinki, and have been at the disposal of the Project during the preparation of this volume. Extracts from Aro's notes have been included in the volume where it seemed appropriate and copies and collations originating with him have been so marked.

Aro's copies eventually passed to Ivan Starr, who started working on the edition in the early seventies. In the course of several visits to the British Museum, he collated problematic passages, identified 41 new texts, of which 38 were copied by him, and made two joins. He was already working on a manuscript for publication when, in January 1986, he was invited to publish his edition in the SAA series. The basic manuscript of the present volume, i.e. the introduction, critical apparatus and commentary, as well as the bulk of the transliterations and the English translations, was subsequently submitted by Starr in the course of the following years.

Since the manuscript provided by Starr had originally been intended for publication elsewhere, it was necessary to revise it substantially to fit the SAA format as set forth in the Project's Editorial Manual. This revision is the work of Simo Parpola. While checking the transliterations, he added to the corpus 14 new texts, made 11 joins and three indirect joins, collated 49 texts, and made two copies for inclusion in the volume. He further translated 76 fragmentary texts left untranslated by Starr as well as several texts identified late in the production of the volume, revised the order of the texts, and thoroughly edited the translations, introduction and commentary provided by Starr, making additions of his own or from Aro's notes where necessary. The translations of the ezibs and the closing formulas to the texts, not included in the original manuscript, are likewise his work. He also provided the headings for the texts and prepared the list of logograms, glossary, and indices.

In the late stages of the preparation of the volume, I.L. Finkel collated 32 texts and provided transliterations for six newly identified texts; C.B.F. Walker collated five texts; J.N. Postgate collated three texts; all three checked potential joins.

The bibliography and list of abbreviations was compiled by Raija Mattila. Laura Kataja converted the typewritten manuscript provided by Starr into electronic format and entered most of the collations and corrections. Proofreading was done by I. Starr, S. Parpola, R.M. Whiting, J.N. Postgate, G.B. Lanfranchi, and F.M. Fales. Members of the Editorial Committee, J.N. Post­gate and F.M. Fales, also made valuable comments on the style and accuracy of the transliterations and translations. Photocomposition was supervised by Hannes Hägglund, L. Kataja and R. Mattila, and the preliminary pasteup was done by R. Mattila and H. Hägglund.

Robert M. Whiting

Ivan Starr

Ivan Starr, 'Preface', 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/saa04preface/]

 
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