Miscellany and Fragments (33-36)

The ceremonies described in these texts are quite peculiar and were connected to specific events, not to given days of the cultic calendar. Their locations were different: we can recognize the Palace (no. 33) and an open space (no. 34), while others are quite fragmentary. All the texts included in this group are prescriptive texts: since these rites could be executed at various places and timings, it was particularly important that those who were involved were provided with the basic instructions for a proper performance.

Text no. 33 describes a king's official meal. Although its first publisher properly called it Dienstanweisung,[[14]] later scholars often referred to this text as a "ritual". However, looking at its format and contents, the best term to define it seems to be a "protocol" for a royal banquet. Similar to certain proceedings in temples for divine beings, the timing of food consumption also marked the daily schedule of the members of the royal court, who were tied to a strict set of rules concerning the timing and procedures of the daily Palace ceremony.

Royal family members, courtiers and nobles were not the only ones involved in this event, but a countless number of servants and footmen were in charge of cooking, serving, keeping the room clean and ensuring a pleasant atmosphere. The protocol thus appears, rather distinctly, as a series of indications given to different "protagonists" who needed to know how to move, speak and act within a well-defined, fully equipped set. It reveals a remarkable civic nature with the participation in the banquet of the highest officers of the empire, the LÚ.GAL.MEŠ, mentioned in its opening lines — while we find a reference to gods nowhere at all.[[15]]

The following tablet presents a completely different scenario in which women play a fundamental role (l. 4 MÍ.É.GI₄.A "the bride"; l. 29 DUMU.MÍ "the daughter"; l. r. 9 MÍ–É.GAL.MEŠ "the queens"): the importance of female performers on the occasion of funerary rituals is confirmed also by a letter addressed to Esarhaddon (SAA 10, 233). The burial rite was at least two days long, and included many actions without parallel in the other corpus texts, characterized by purification and apotropaic features. It included a double process, mirrored by the two sections of this ritual text. The first, shorter one (ll. 1-15) describes the display of the body of the dead on the bed and the second (ll. 16 to the end) refers to the funeral burning.[[16]]

14 Müller 1937, 84.

15 For a detailed description of the contents of this ritual see Errnidoro 2015.

14 See Parpola, LAS II (1983), 190.

Stefania Ermidoro

Stefania Ermidoro, 'Miscellany and Fragments (33-36)', Assyrian Royal Rituals and Cultic Texts, SAA 20. Original publication: Winona Laka, IN, Eisenbrauns, 2017; online contents: SAAo/SAA20 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/natureandcontent/nos3336/]

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