On the Present Edition

Texts Included and Excluded

This volume contains all the Neo-Babylonian letters datable to the reign of Esarhaddon that have not yet been edited in the SAA series, as well as Neo-Babyloman letters to Assurbanipal and Sin-šarru-iškun from northern and central Babylonia. There were two principal reasons for combining these two groups of letters into a single volume. Whereas less than a hundred letters of the present volume can be certainly dated to Esarhaddon's reign, there are more than fifty fragmentary letters from northern and central Babylonia that may date from his reign, but also from the reign of Assurbanipal. Combining these letters with corresponding Assurbanipal material made it possible to edit all NB letters from Kuyunjik sent to seventh-century Sargonid kings from northern and central Babylonia in a single volume. It also made sense in that letters sent to Assurbanipal from northern and central Babylonia are relatively few (only about 60) in comparison which letters sent to that king from southern Babylonia (about 300), which can now also be published in a single volume.

The corpus of NB letters from Nineveh was combed on three occasions for texts to be included. The original plan was to include only letters from Northern and Central Babylonia in the volume. In January 2001, this plan was given up in favour of the present one, and the 125 texts already collated and edited were supplemented with 34 Esarhaddon letters. To make sure that all the pertinent texts would be included, after the completion of the basic manuscript, Parpola once more went through the corpus, adding 47 texts to the volume (nos. 4-5, 24, 26, 29, 38-39, 66-67, 78, 81, 96, 98-99, 102, 104-105, 114-130, 134-142, 151, 161, 170, and 179). Some of these are only small fragments and not necessarily pertinent, but it was found better to include them in the present volume than leave them to a later Assurbanipal one. As pointed out in the critical apparatus, a few texts included in this volume (see nos. 5, 113, 170 and 201) may actually predate the reign of Esarhaddon and thus rather belong to the NB correspondence of Sargon and Sennachenb published in SAA 17. Two texts originally included in the volume (ABL 1076 and CT 54 73) were excluded as non-pertinent, and have been edited as parts of the Sargon correspondence in SAA 17 (nos. 83 and 175).

The Order of the Texts

The letters are arranged according to the same general principles as in previous volumes. All identifiable letters by the same sender have been grouped together into dossiers, and the dossiers have been ordered geographically according to the provenances of the letters, starting with letters from northern Babylonia. 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.

Letters from the king and the crown prince are edited in Chapter 1; geographically and chronologically unattributable letters are placed last in the Esarhaddon section. Chapters 8 and 9 contain miscellaneous denunciations, private letters, petitions, and scholarly letters, many of them undoubtedly not written in Babylonia but somewhere in Assyria. Texts from the reigns of Assurbanipal and Sin-šarru-iškun are presented separately in a section of their own.


The translations seek to render the original tenor and meaning of the letters in readable, contemporary English. 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 normalisation of West-Semitic names follows PNA.

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, alternative interpretations and other texts used for restorations. Collations given in copy at the end of the volume are referred to briefly as "see coll." Collations included in Ylvisaker's grammar (LSS 5/6) are referred to as "Y" followed by page number.

The critical apparatus does contain some additional information relevant to the interpretation of the texts, but it is not a commentary. For the convenience of the reader, references to studies of individual letters and related letters in the Esarhaddon corpus are occasionally given, but with no claim to completeness. Comments are kept to a minimum, and are mainly devoted to problems in the text, The historical and technical information contained in the texts is generally not commented upon.

Glossary and Indices

The electronically generated glossary and indices follow the pattern of the previous volumes. Note that the references to professions in the index of personal names have been supplied by a computer programme which does not recognise certain deficiently written professions, and hence these references are not likely to be exhaustive.

Frances Reynolds

Frances Reynolds, 'On the Present Edition', The Babylonian Correspondence of Esarhaddon and Letters to Assurbanipal and Sin-šarru-iškun from Northern and Central Babylonia, SAA 18. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 2003; online contents: SAAo/SAA18 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/onthepresentedition/]

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