Foreword

Part of the basic manuscript of this volume was prepared by Peter Machinist between 1988 and 1994. During this period, he prepared translations of the letters originally assigned to the volume and wrote a first draft of the critical apparatus. Machinist made two trips to the British Museum to collate the texts; Parpola has collated many of the texts over the years beginning in 1966. Proofs of this preliminary manuscript were provided to Machinist in 1994. At this point, other publication projects were given higher priority and the manuscript of this volume was allowed to steep for some time.

With the reconstitution of the State Archives of Assyria Project on a firmer basis in 1997, the manuscript of the current volume was reexamined with an eye to completing its publication as quickly as possible. A large number of texts were added (including the "horse reports" and a number of letters written in Babylonian). Unfortunately, Machinist was not able at the time to drop everything else to complete the manuscript within a year so the task of completing the volume was turned over to Steven Cole, then working with the SAA Project, with Machinist's concurrence. In addition to translating the new texts, Cole also revised Machinist's translations to make the style consistent throughout and updated the critical apparatus. As neither Machinist nor Cole is, strictly speaking, a specialist in Neo-Assyrian, Parpola continued to collaborate closely on the translations.

As a consequence, the joint editorship of this volume is more of a sequential effort than a collaborative one, with Parpola providing the continuity. In addition, Cole had the further disadvantage of not having had an opportunity to see or collate any of the tablets. The Introduction was written by Cole with parts (the chapter on prophecy and the section "On the Present Edition") written by Robert Whiting. The order of the texts in the volume has been revised several times, the most recent being in December 1998 when a number of additional texts were attributed to specific sites by Karen Radner and a number of the texts written in Babylonian were excluded as being more appropriate to future volumes.

The texts in this volume are particularly difficult, even exceeding the normal difficulties with letters, in that their interpretion depends on numerous technical terms referring to temples, cult and ritual that are not well understood. Parpola's experience with the ritual texts (which will be the subject of a forthcoming SAA volume) has provided expertise on which both editors of the volume have had to rely.

Our thanks are due to the Trustees of the British Museum and to the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin for permission to publish texts and illustrative material in their keeping and to the British Museum photographic department for its prompt and professional service. Our thanks also go to Mark Geller of the University of London for last-minute collations. Thanks are also due to Raija Mattila for proofreading and editorial work and for pasting up the collations, to Mikko Luukko whose critical reading of the texts uncovered a number of errors, and to Kalle Fabritius for proofreading and typesetting assistance.

We are grateful to the University of Helsinki for continued financial support for the State Archives of Assyria Project and for the recognition granted to the Project through the University's Centres of Excellence program.

Helsinki, January 1999

Robert M. Whiting

Robert M. Whiting

Robert M. Whiting, 'Foreword', Letters from Assyrian and Babylonian Priests to Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal, SAA 13. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1998; online contents: SAAo/SAA13 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/saa13foreword/]

 
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