On the Present Edition

Texts Included and Excluded

the correspondence of the Assyrian kings Sargon (721-705) and Sennacherib (704-681) with their subjects in Babylonia. According to the outlined principles, fragmentary letters of all sizes were included even if they were in such poorly preserved condition that they could only be assigned to this corpus because of linguistic and factual hints. With the necessary restraint, 207 texts could be identified that belong to this corpus: 9 1 are based on the collection by R. F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters Belonging to the Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum (ABL) (London-Chicago 1892-19 14); and 1 14 on the collection in Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum (Part 54); Neo-Babylonian Letters from the Kuyunjik Collection (London 1979) provided as a copy of the cuneiform; 2 numbers ( 138 = K 19564, 207 = K 20570) were hitherto unpublished.[[82]]

The Order of the Texts

The texts are ordered, as mentioned above (and necessitated by the requirements of research), not according to the reigns of Sargon and Sennacherib, but approximately by region and location of origin. A more precise subdi vision is possible if several documents can be assigned to individual senders because of the senders' names, the duct us of writing, stylistic elements, and/ or the topic of the letters.


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 SAA Editorial Manual. Every effort has been taken to make them a s accurate as possible. All the texts edited have been copied and/or collated by the editor, some of them several times.

Results of collation are indicated with exclamation or question marks. Single exclamation marks indicate corrections to published copies, double exclamation marks, scribal errors. Question marks indicate uncertam or questionable readings. Broken portions of the text and all restorations are enclosed within square brackets. Parentheses enclose items omitted by ancient scribes. Numbers that appear at the edge of a break where part of the number might be missing are followed by "[+x" or preceded by "x+]," and it must be borne in mind that "x" may be zero.


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 where possible.

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 represented by dots. Quotation marks are used a s follows: double quotation marks ('"') indic ate direct speech quoted in the original text; single quotation marks(") indicate quotations within quoted text, or indicate li teral or conventional translations of words or phrases that may have had a different meaning or sense in the original.

Month names are rendered by their Hebrew equivalents, followed by.a Roman numeral (in parentheses) indicating the pl ace of the month within the lunar year. Personal, divine or geographical names are rendered by English or Biblical equivalents if a well establi shed 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 modem or classical equivalents.

Critical Apparatus

The primary purpose of the critical apparatus is to support the readings and translations contained in the edition; and the appartus 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 are noted with italics in the translation. Collations reproduced at the end of the volume are referred to briefly as "see coll." These collations were made by me in the 1960s.

If translations were published recently, they follow after the remark "previous edition(s)." The most important references are: G. Vera Chamaza, AOAT 295[[83]] and M. Dietrich, AOAT 253;[[84]] older translations, as for example those n RCAE[[85]] or in SLA,[[86]] are not cited because they can be found in G. Vera Chamaza, AOAT 295.

Glossary and Indices

The electronically generated glossary and indices, prepared by Parpola, follow the pattern of the previous volumes. Note that in contrast to the two basic dictionaries, verbal adjectives are for technical reasons mostly listed under the corresponding verbs, with appropriate cross-references.

The references to professions attached to the index of personal names have been provided by a computer program written by Simo 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.

82 It is possible that there are further NB letters dating to the reign of Sargon and Sennacherib which cannot be assigned because of a lack of specific details.

83 Galo W. Vera Chamaza, Die Omnipotenz Aššurs. Entwicklungen in der Aššur-Theologie unter den Sargoniden Sargon II., Sanherib und Asarhaddon (AOAT 295, Monster 2002).

84 Manfried Dietrich, "Bel-ibni, König von Babylon (703-700). Die Rolle des Königs in den neubabylonischen Briefen," in M. Dietrich - 0. Loretz (Hrsg.), dubsar anta-men. Studien zur Altorientalistik. Festschrift für Willem H. Ph. Römer (AOAT 253, Münster 1998), 81-108.

85 L. Waterman, Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire (Ann Arbor 1930-1936).

86 R. H. Pfeiffer, State Letters of Assyria (New Haven, CT 1935) — the following are the equivalents of SLA texts in the present volume: SLA 1 = 22, 2 = 149, 33 = 152, 34 = 136, 57 = 9, 64 = 75, 70 = 89, 75 = 59, 76 = 73, 79 = 142, 158 = 17, 201 = 53 und 247 = 8.

Manfried Dietrich

Manfried Dietrich, 'On the Present Edition', The Neo-Babylonian Correspondence of Sargon and Sennacherib, SAA 17. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 2003; online contents: SAAo/SAA17 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/onthepresentedition/]

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