On the Present Edition

Purpose and Scope

The aim of the present edition is to make the corpus of Neo-Assyrian royal rituals and cultic texts available both to the specialist and the general reader in a reliable, well organized and thoroughly indexed edition. Although every effort has been made to make it as adequate and functional as possible, no claim is laid to absolute perfection. This can be achieved only after the texts have been subjected to a detailed and thorough analysis and their contents has been fully integrated with other contemporary evidence, which remains out of the scope of the present edition.

Texts Included and Excluded

The edition contains, with one exception,[[1]] all Neo-Assyrian royal and cultic rituals known to date, as well as a number of other important cultic texts closely related to the royal rituals, dating from the same period and likewise written in Neo-Assyrian. In the interest of comprehensiveness, even the smallest fragments that can be certainly shown to belong to the genre have been included.

In addition, two important rituals from the MA period (nos. 7 and 29) were also included because they were found in NA contexts and probably belonged to the library-archives of the Aššur temple, from which many of the royal rituals published here also come (see p. LXVI). No. 7, the royal coronation ritual forming part of the New Year's festival in Nisan, is one of the best preserved texts of the corpus, and it likely remained in use in the NA period because of its great importance to the Assyrian royal ideology and its excellent physical condition, which made the preparation of a new copy unnecessary.

All other royal and cultic rituals dating from the MA period and written in Middle Assyrian were excluded, e.g.

All royal and cultic rituals from the NA period and found in Assyrian royal archives but written in Standard Babylonian were likewise excluded. Although these rituals were certainly regularly performed at the NA royal court and some of the relevant texts may even have been composed or edited in Assyria, including them in the present volume would have greatly increased the demands of the editorial work and in practice prevented its completion.

The following SB royal and cultic rituals, among others, were thus excluded from the volume:

A number of royal decrees pertaining to Assyrian temples and their personnel, similar to nos. 50-51, have already been edited in SAA 12 (nos. 68-81) and were therefore excluded from the volume. The cultic commentaries edited as SAA 3 36-40 were likewise not re-edited here.

Transliterations and Translations

The primary purpose of the transliterations and translations is to establish a reliable standard text. All the texts in the British Museum and the Vorderasiatisches Museum have been specifically collated for this volume by the editor, some of the former several times. Exclamation marks invariably indicate results of collation and mainly imply correction of incorrect readings found in earlier editions and/or copies. Definite scribal errors corrected in the transliteration are indicated with double exclamation marks and the readings of the original are given in the critical apparatus.

Restorations and emendations have in general been made sparingly. All restorations are enclosed within square brackets both in the transliteration and translation. Uncertain and conjectural restorations and translations are indicated by italics. Scribal omissions and interpretative additions to the translation are enclosed within parentheses. Badly broken passages are generally translated only if the isolated words occurring in them yield some meaning information.

The translations seek to render the original tenor and meaning of the letters in readable English. Personal, divine and geographical names are rendered in the conventional way if a well-established and functional English or Biblical equivalent exists (e.g., Sargon, Nineveh); otherwise, the name is given in transcription with length marks deleted. The divine name Aššur is distinguished from the homophonous city name (Assur). Month names are rendered by their Hebrew equivalents (Nisan, Shebat, Adar), with Roman numerals indicating the place of the month within the lunar year occasionally added in parentheses. Weights and measures are whenever feasible rendered by their Biblical equivalents (mina, shekel, homer, seah, with metric equivalents occasionally supplied within parentheses). If no suitable equivalent exists, a modem approximation is used (e.g., qa = litre). The rendering of professions is a compromise between the use of accurate but impractical Assyrian terms and inaccurate but practical modem or classical equivalents. For the rendering of technical terms and phrases see pp. LXXII-LXXV.

Each text has a heading summarizing its contents in the briefest possible way. A complete list of these headings, meant to facilitate a quick overview of the corpus from a topical point of view, is included among the indices at the end of the volume.

Critical apparatus

The primary purpose of the critical apparatus is to support the readings and translations established in the edition. It chiefly consists of references to previous editions and/or studies of the texts, published copies and photographs, and collations of difficult passages. Other essential matters covered are textual variants and parallels, scribal mistakes corrected in the transliteration, alternative readings or translations of ambiguous passages, and discussions of grammatical and lexical problems. Restorations based on easily verifiable evidence (parallels or duplicates) are basically not explained in the apparatus, conjectural restorations only if their conjectural nature is not made explicit by italics in the translation.

Collations by the editor published in copy at the end of the volume are referred to simply as "see coll."

The critical apparatus does contain some additional information relevant to the interpretation of the texts, but it is no commentary. While references to related or associated texts are meant to facilitate the study of the texts until a true commentary is available, they are by no means exhaustive. Comments on individual names and lexical items are kept to a minimum and generally limited to new words and/or forms not to be found in the standard dictionaries or even specialized literature.

Glossary and Indices

The glossary and most of the indices in this book have been automatically generated from the data base also serving as the source of the transliterated text and are for all practical purposes complete. The glossary contains all the occurrences of even the most common words arranged in alphabetic order under the relevant lemmas. The forms listed are not arranged semantically, and generally only the basic meanings of the words are given. The lemmas are given in Assyrian form (e.g., uṣû not aṣû), with cross-references under corresponding Babylonian forms. A complete list of logograms with their Assyrian readings precedes the glossary.

The name indices are styled like the glossary. To enhance their utility, identifications are consistently given (in parentheses) for every name whenever possible. The lemmas are again given in their normalized Assyrian form (Issar, Inurta, Ninua), which is not necessarily identical with the name form used in the translations (Ištar, Ninurta, Nineveh). Cross-references are given whenever necessary.

The English subject index has been automatically generated from the translations and includes all the words occurring in them, with the exception of particles, common verbs and adjectives and Assyrian names included in the name indices. Singular and plural form have been often listed separately to obviate unnecessary checking.

Copies and Photographs of Tablets

In line with the general format of the SAA series, only previously unpublished copies or photographs are included in the present volume. References to published copies or photographs are to be found in the apparatus criticus.

1 The small fragments K 11617, K 14863 and 79-7-8, 343 published by Stefan Maul in his article "Die Frühjahrsfeierlichkeiten in Assur" (2000), which appeared too late to be included in the proofs prepared in 2001. Inclusion later on proved inconvenient for practical reasons. All the fragments probably belong to the same tablet as K 2724+ (no. 12) but add little to its content, except for line 7' of K 11617, which shows that preparations for the Shebat-Adad­Nisan cycle of royal rituals began already well before the king's triumphal entry into Assur on Shebat, 16. Maul's edition of the text is superb and deserves to be read in its entirety.

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola, 'On the Present Edition', 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/onthepresentedition/]

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