On the Present Edition

The present volume continues the edition of the correspondence of Sargon begun in SAA I, and the general scope and objectives of this edition remain unchanged. The basic objective is to provide an up-to-date edition of the corpus that can be profitably used both by the specialist and the more general reader. While every effort has been expended to make it as complete and reliable as possible, no claim is laid to absolute "perfection." This can be achieved only after the texts have been subjected to a detailed and thorough analysis and their contents has been fully integrated with other contemporary evidence, which is beyond the scope of the present edition.

The Order of Texts in this Edition

The order in which the texts are presented is, in principle, the same as in SAA I. The primary sorting criterion is prosopographical, so that all letters by the same sender, insofar as identifiable, appear together. The individual letter dossiers are arranged geographically, the general order being from west to east to south. Within each dossier, individual texts are arranged topically. Wherever possible within the limits of this arrangement, letters displaying similar orthographies, introductory formulae and other unifying features have been put together. No attempt at a chronological ordering of the material has been made. Senders whose identity or seat of office cannot be determined (or ones with only one extant letter) are to be found under "Varia and Unidentified" or "Miscellaneous Letters."

It goes without saying that a considerable number of fragmentary texts included in the volume would probably have been placed differently had they been completely preserved.

Texts Included and Excluded

As indicated by its title, the volume is meant to contain all Assyrian letters published or identified to date that can with reasonable certainty be assigned to the correspondence of Sargon and that were written by persons stationed in the northern and and northeastern provinces of Assyria. The basic problems and methods involved in the selection process have been reviewed in ARINH p. 118-134 and will not be further discussed here. It is necessary to point out once again, however, that some of the letters assigned to the Sargon correspondence may actually date from the beginning of the reign of Sennacherib (c. 705-702 BC), when the latter still resided in the North Palace, waiting for the completion of his SW Palace. There is generally no way of differentiating these letters from those written to or by Sargon, since the king is never identified by name.

Like SAA I, the present volume contains, in addition to letters from Nineveh, also a few Nimrud Letters. While as many as 17 letters found in Nimrud are related by subject matter and geographical provenience to texts edited in the present volume, only five of them have actually been included. The remaining 12 have been excluded since none of them can be proved to belong to the reign of Sargon, but some of them can certainly (NL 29, 49, 67, 100) and offers with a great likelihood (NL 75) be assigned to the of Tiglath-Pileser III. Since letters from the reign of Tiglath-Pileser seem to clearly outnumber those from the of Sargon in the Nimrud material, the likelihood for the unassignable letters to belong to Tiglath-Pileser's is considerable: Accordingly, we have considered it wisest to include only letters certainly assignable to Sargon's reign and leave the rest for a future volume on the correspondence of Tiglath-Pileser. The only deviation from this principle is NL 62 (no. 74), which may well date from the reign of Tiglath-Pileser (or Shalmaneser V) but has been included to supplement the otherwise very fragmentary dossier of Mahdê.

A large number of tiny fragments originally assigned to this volume were excluded as either not pertinent or not worth editing in their present condition. 24 fragments provisionally assigned to the volume or previously overlooked turned out, in the final analysis, to belong to the correspondence edited in SAA I. In order to make them available for study without further delay, it was decided to append them to the present volume.


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 specifically collated for this volume with the exception of four Nimrud Letters in the collections of the Iraq Museum.

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 question able readings. Broken portions of text and all restorations are enclosed with in 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.

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 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.

Crititcal 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 names 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 same pattern as the previous volumes. Please note, however, that the sorting program which previously treated short and long vowels as different letters has been modified, so that the order of short and long vowels now corresponds to that used in the major Assyriological Lexicons.

Giovanni B. Lanfranchi

Giovanni B. Lanfranchi, 'On the Present Edition', The Correspondence of Sargon II, Part II: Letters from the Northern and Northeastern Provinces, SAA 5. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1990; online contents: SAAo/SAA05 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/onthepresentedition/]

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