Preface

The present volume has a long and rather complicated history beginning in the mid-seventies. In spring 1976, the electronic Corpus of Neo-Assyrian Texts (CNA), which I had started building up in 1966 but which until then comprised only about 400 texts, rapidly grew by some 600 NA legal texts computerized under my direction at the University of Helsinki Computation Centre for a planned new edition of this material (Kwasman 1988). Heartened by this leap forward, I decided to add to the database also the long-neglected corpus of NA cultic and ritual texts, on which I had started working with Karlheinz Deller a few years earlier. I subsequently prepared, in collaboration with Deller, new transliterations of all the texts assignable to this genre, and in 1978, my student George Moore, who was working on a dissertation on Hittite rituals, converted this material to machine-readable form. We used a (for the time) novel input method instead of the clumsy punched-card medium: typing the texts onto a special kind of paper with an electronic typewriter equipped with an OCR-A typing element, and having the typewritten pages scanned and output to tape by the Scan-Data Corporation. The scanned data were then sent to the Burroughs mainframe of the University of Helsinki and integrated with the CNA database.

My work on the rituals continued in the following years, albeit on a small scale. In summer 1978, while collating legal texts in the British Museum, I discovered a previously unidentified fragment of a royal ritual, which I later joined to another fragment of the same ritual (no. 22 in this volume). In Spring 1979, I identified and copied at the Oriental Institute a fragment of a tākultu text (no. 45 below) for the still unpublished edition of the Khorsabad tablets, which I was then preparing with J. A. Brinkman. In September 1979, I collated numerous NA cultic and ritual texts at the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin, making several joins. The same year, W G. Lambert sent me transliterations of close to 100 tiny NA tablet fragments, which he had come across during his work on the third supplement to the catalogue of the K collection of the British Museum (Lambert 1992). Six of these turned out to fragments of the "Equ house" ritual edited in this volume (no. 16). Having made three joins to it, I prepared a new transliteration of the text and sent it to Deller, who was able to join the other three fragments to the same tablet. In July 1985, returning from work on the CAD, I briefly visited the British Museum, collating K 9622 (no. 2) and joining K 13312 to it.

As Deller had already edited many of the relevant texts for Brigitte Menzel's Assyrische Tempel (1981), he was the obvious choice for editing a volume on Royal Rituals and Cultic Texts in the State Archives of Assyria series, which was officially launched at the end of 1985. It was agreed that the volume would be number two in the series, with a scheduled date of publication in early 1988. Unfortunately, several unexpected commitments prevented Deller from concentrating on the work during the academic year 1986-87, so that the projected timetable could not be held. Nevertheless, during an intensive work period in Helsinki between September 26 and October 3, 1986, Deller was able to translate 17 important texts (nos. 1-6, 8-11, 15-18, 37 and 50-51) and discuss several key technical terms with me. Deller's translations were computerized by Laura Kataja on February 11-18, 1988, and subsequently checked and edited by me.

Deller continued working on the volume intermittently during the following years, but owing to his many other obligations and advancing age, progress was slow, and the sequential number assigned to the volume in the publication schedule kept changing with the appearance of new volumes in the series, until it had become "SAA 15" in 1998. By that time it had become clear that Deller would not be able to finish the work and the task had to be shouldered by myself, notwithstanding the other heavy demands of the SAA Project.

In order to be better able to concentrate on the task, I applied for leave of absence from my academic duties for the spring term of 1999 and accepted the invitation to participate in a research group entitled "Narratives of Rituals: Reconstruction in Religious Studies" meeting at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from January 1 to July 30, 1999. In summer 1998, I went through the corpus translating all the texts not translated by Deller, revised the order of texts, drafted an apparatus criticus, and compiled preliminary proofs in SAA style. This material served as a basis for a course on "Assyrian Royal Rituals and Cultic Texts" that I offered at the University of Helsinki in Fall 1998. Towards the end of the course, I paid a short visit to the British Museum, collating 42 texts and fragments. In Jerusalem, I analyzed the rituals from several different points of view, discussed them on several occasions with the members of the research group, and presented two papers on the subject, "Decoding the Language of the Assyrian Royal Rituals: Methodological Considerations" on May 8, and "Types of Animal Sacrifice in the Corpus of Assyrian Royal Rituals" on June 13, 1999. I returned to Finland via the British Museum, recollating 19 texts on July 10-11.

Work on the volume had progress well and was fast approaching completion in August 1999 when, unfortunately, precisely at this point, it had to be interrupted for many years because of the demands of various short and long-term projects directed by me. I managed to update the critical apparatus and compile the glossary and indexes in November 2001, but between 2003 and early 2016 I had to single-mindedly concentrate on two dictionary projects, Assyrian-English­Assyrian Dictionary (published in 2007) and The Etymological Dictionary of the Sumerian Language (2016), which required an exceptionally heavy investment of my time and energy in order to be completed.

On May 26, 2010, responding to a query of Beate Pongratz-Leisten concerning the status of the volume, I wrote that the text part was virtually finished in 1999, but the introduction had remained unfinished because of other time-consuming tasks, and asked whether she would be willing to give me a push to get it done by contributing a chapter on the royal rituals and the tākultu texts. She readily accepted, and having received from me the unedited proofs of the text part, glossary and indices prepared in 2001, she provided the essay on "Assyrian State Rituals" (published here as the second chapter of the Introduction) on August 25, 2012, and visited Helsinki two days later to discuss it with me.

A year later, in October 2013, I was fortunate to enlist the assistance of Stefania Ermidoro, who contributed significantly to the completion of the volume by carefully proofreading the transliterations, translations, glossary and name indexes and writing the first chapter of the Introduction. The help received from her decisively strengthened my determination to get the volume finally finished and published. I corrected the typos, defects and inconsistencies pointed out by her in the transliterations, translations and glossary in April-May 2014, and those in the name indexes two years later, in May 2016. The remaining editorial work on the volume was completed in the summer and fall of 2016.

Of the many people who, in a way or another, were involved in production of the volume or contributed to the understanding of the texts, I wish to thank especially the following:

Dr. Julian Reade of the British Museum, who once again provided and edited the illustrations;

Prof. Beate Pongratz-Leisten (New York University) and Dr. Stefania Ermidoro (University of Venice Ca' Foscari), who read the preliminary proofs and wrote two chapters for the Introduction;

M.A. Stephen Donovan, who revised the English of Stefania's contribution; Dr. Veysel Donbaz of the Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri, and Dr. Angelika Berlejung of the University of Leipzig, who kindly made available their copies of Neo-Assyrian ritual texts, reproduced below on pp. 222-242;

My students and co-workers in Helsinki and Chicago, especially Laura Kataja, Tuviah Kwasman and George "Bud" Moore, who assisted in text entry, and Dr. Robert M. Whiting, who created the first set of proofs;

Dr. Helmut Freydank and Joachim Marzahn of the Vorderasiatisches Musum, Berlin, who served me with tablets in 1979, and the staff of the Near East Department of the British Museum, who always took good care of me during my numerous visits to the Students' Room;

Profs. lthamar Gruenwald of Tel Aviv University and David Shulman of the Hebrew University, who invited me to the research group "Narratives in Rituals" at the Institute of Advance Studies, and the members of the group, particularly Profs. Bruce Kapferer, Cristiano Grottanelli, Dieter Betz, Yael Ben-Tor and Uri Rabin, from whom I learned a great deal about sacrifices, rites of legitimation and consecration, cultic objects, circumambulation (in India and Tibet) and many other subjects relevant to the understanding of the NA rituals and cult.

I dedicate this book to the memory of my gentle and modest teacher, friend, and collaborator, Karlheinz Deller, who in his academic life consistently placed Assyriology and the best of his students before his personal ambitions and laid the foundations of Neo-Assyrian studies.

December 2016

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola, 'Preface', 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/saa20preface/]

 
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