On the Present Edition

The objective of the present edition is to make the corpus of Nineveh legal texts available in an up-to-date critical 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 Every effort has been expended to make it as complete and reliable as possible, by identification of previously unpublished fragments, repeated collation of the originals, careful comparison of the transliterations to previously published editions, and scrutiny of the manuscript by several experts in Neo-Assyrian. We fully realise, of course, that despite our best efforts, we have not been able to provide a "perfect" edition.

Because of the considerable size of the Nineveh legal corpus it will be edited in two parts. The present volume contains the early part of the corpus through the reign of Esarhaddon, while Pt. II [http://oracc.org/saao/saa14] will contain texts from the reigns of Assurbanipal and his successors as well as the undatable texts of the corpus. A major group of texts from the reign of Assurbanipal (the dossier of Remanni-Adad) has exceptionally been included in Pt. I, partly because the early part of this dossier belongs to the reign of Esarhaddon, partly because including it here helps keep the size of Pt. II within reasonable limits.

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 basically chronological, in that texts from different reigns are presented as separate chapters, and within these chapters texts not assignable to major dossiers or archives are presented in strictly chronological order under the heading 'Varia.' In order to make the archival structure of the corpus stand out as clearly as possible, major dossiers are presented under each reign as separate groups before the 'Varia' sections. The order of the dossiers from the same reign is chronological, and within each dossier texts are presented in chronological order, insofar as possible. Texts with lost eponym dates follow after dated texts.

We are aware that this is not in every respect an ideal arrangement, since virtually contemporary texts may now be widely separated from each other in different dossiers. However, the disadvantages of an all-out chronological arrangement, obscuring the archival structure of the corpus, would have been much greater. We trust that the reader will be able to quickly locate chronologically related texts dispersed through the volume with the help of Table II and the indices [of SAA 6 printed version].

Texts Included and Excluded

As indicated by its title, the present volume is supposed to contain all legal texts from Nineveh down to the beginning of the reign of Assurbanipal. 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 Kuyunjlk pieces currently being catalogued by Lambert and Finkel, have been sifted through as carefully as possible by the editors and other people involved in the production of the book, particularly J. N. Postgate. Since the provenance of many Kuyunjik tablets cannot be determined with certainty, it is theoretically possible that a few texts from other sites are included in this edition. Conversely, it is also possible that texts of unknown provenance excluded from the volume actually are Nineveh texts.

One of the texts included in the volume (no. 31) is certainly not from Nineveh; It was found in French excavations of Dur-Šarruken behind Sargon's main throne-room suite. The reason for its inclusion is that it fits well with the other texts from the reign of Sargon and is simply too important to be omitted from the volume.

The curious 'bird' text published as no. 288 was likewise included in the volume because of its importance, despite the fact that it is of uncertain date and could accordmgly as well have been included in Pt. II.


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.

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 normalization of West Semitic names generally follows the conventions of Zadok West Semites. West Semitic phonemes not expressed by the writing system (/o/ etc.) have generally not been restituted in the normalizations, and the sibilant system follows the NA orthography.

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 and elucidation of 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 [of SAA 6 printed version], electronically generated, generally follow the pattern of the previous volumes. The glossary contains all lexically identifiable words occurring in the texts with the exception of suffixless numbers 1-99. The references to professions attached to the index of personal names have been provided by a computer programme written specifically for the volume by Parpola. It is hoped that these will be helpful in the prosopographical analysis of the texts, but it should be noted that the programme omits certain deficiently written professions and the references are accordingly not absolutely complete.

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola, 'On the Present Edition', Legal Transactions of the Royal Court of Nineveh, Part I: Tiglath-Pileser III through Esarhaddon, SAA 6. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1991; online contents: SAAo/SAA06 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/onthepresentedition/]

Back to top ^^
SAAo/SAA06, 2014-. Since 2015, SAAo is based at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Historisches Seminar (LMU Munich, History Department) - Alexander von Humboldt Chair for Ancient History of the Near and Middle East. Content released under a CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/] license, 2007-20.
Oracc uses cookies only to collect Google Analytics data. Read more here [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/doc/about/cookies/index.html]; see the stats here [http://www.seethestats.com/site/oracc.museum.upenn.edu]; opt out here.