Text Types, Manuscripts and Tablet Formats

Most of the rituals published in this volume involve the king as the main protagonist. Their scene is mostly the temple of Aššur, although many of them involve processions to or take place in other temples of the city of Assur as well. Typologically, the royal rituals fall into two major groups: rituals performed on certain specific days of the Assyrian cultic year, and ones connected with special occasions (e.g., a military campaign) or performed for certain purposes, but not fixed in relation to the cultic year. Formally, there is little recognizable difference between the two groups: both involve similar cultic acts (prostrations, incensations, offerings, prayers, etc.) performed in similar sequences and with the participation of the same kind of cultic personnel: priests, liturgists, singers. The calendrical rituals bear dates connecting them with the last two months of the year, Shebat and Adar, as well as with Nisan, the first month.

Besides prescriptive texts describing ritual acts to be performed by the king, edited in Chapter 1, the corpus also contains reports on the actual performance of such rituals (Chapter 2). One of them (no. 9), dated to the year 650 BC, covers a period of about four weeks from Shebat 16 till Adar 10, during which the king was almost daily occupied with performing rituals in the city of Assur. A text written for the chanter priests who officiated in these rituals also deals with the same period; it lists all the penitential psalms to be chanted after the sacrifices performed by the king, with short references to the accompanying cultic events (see no. 12). Several further texts detail the songs and ritual acts to be performed by singers participating in the rituals. Finally, the corpus includes two ceremonials for non-cultic occasions, the royal dinner and the funeral of a queen (nos. 33-34), as well as several texts recording cultic reforms effected by different kings and miscellaneous regulations concerning the cult of Aššur and the performance of the relevant rituals (nos. 50-55). These texts have many points in common with the ritual texts proper, which form the bulk of the corpus.

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola, 'Text Types, Manuscripts and Tablet Formats', 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/textsmanuscriptsandformats/]

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