The Chronology of the Letters: Dated and Datable Letters

In general, the royal correspondence of Assyria is not dated.[[15]] The correspondence of Assurbanipal is no exception. However, among the letters edited in this volume, 15 royal letters and a letter from Ummanaldasu III (no. 122) are fully or partly dated.[[16]] The dating of the rest of the missives is based on prosopographical information and on their contents. Most of the letters can be at least roughly dated since they largely pertain to the period of the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin and its aftermath, which includes the military campaigns against Elam and the extradition of Nabû-bel-šumati.

For reference, here are the most important chronological landmarks related to the revolt and its aftermath found in chronicles, royal inscriptions, economic texts, and letters.

669-VIII-10Esarhaddon died of disease.[[17]]
669-XIAssurbanipal ascended the throne of Assyria.[[18]]
668-II-14/24/25Šamaš-šumu-ukin ascended the throne of Babylon.[[19]]
652-II-23The first dated letter that records the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin (no. 3)
650-IV-11Babylon was besieged.[[20]]
648-VThe revolt was crushed.[[21]]
(647-IIIThe first campaign against Ummanaldasu III.[[22]])
(646-VIII/IXThe second campaign against Ummanaldasu III.[[23]])

In the following tables, the dated and datable letters are shown.

Table Ia. Dated and datable royal letters

Recipient(s) Letter Date Grounds or Reference for Dating
BabyloniansNo. 1668Allusion to the beginning of his reign, see Parpola 2004a, p. 227, n. 2.
BabyloniansNo. 2Before 652-II-23Similarities to No. 3 and reference to "the first fighting," see Parpola 2004a, pp. 227-28.
BabyloniansNo. 3652-II-23Dated.
BabyloniansNo. 4648An ultimatum to the Babylonians. Probably just before the end of the siege of Babylon.
BabyloniansNo. 5648Probably related to the siege of Babylon.
BabyloniansNo. 6647?Possibly after the siege of Babylon.
BabyloniansNo. 7647-646After the siege of Babylon.
Babylonians? (or Urukians)Nos. 8-9652Allusion to the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin.
ŠadunuNo. 13647?Possibly after the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin.
Zakir and KabtiyaNo. 16652-VII-5Dated.
Illil-bani, governor of Nippur and NippuriansNo. 18652-648Allusion to the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin. Cf. No. 29.
NippuriansNos. 19-21650-648Probably related to the siege of Babylon.
Nabû-ušabši, governor of UrukNos. 22-25650Reference to the critical situation of Ur and the governor of Mazamua who was sent to Uruk and then to Ur.
Nabû-ušabši, governor of UrukNo. 26652-648A reference to the Bit-Amukanians who appear rebellious.
Nabû-ušabši, governor of UrukNo. 27650-II-25Dated.
Nabû-ušabši, governor of UrukNo. 28650-III or laterDated in month III. Reference to a new treaty that was concluded after Uruk was relieved.
Nabû-ušabši, governor of Uruk and UrukiansNo. 29652-648Parallel between no. 18 and this letter.
Kudurru, governor of Uruk and UrukiansNo. 32XII-12Dated.
Kudurru, governor of Uruk and UrukiansNo. 33646*-II-24Dated.
Sîn-tabni-uṣur, governor of UrNo. 37650Sîn-tabni-uṣur's endurance of enemy and famine for two years.
Sîn-tabni-uṣur, governor of UrNo. 38649Sîn-tabni-uṣur's third year in his office.
Kissikians?No. 39649Reference to Sîn-šarra-uṣur.
Citizens of Ur?No. 40652-648Allusion to the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin.
Sîn-tabni-uṣur, governor of UrNo. 41649Reference to Sîn-šarra-uṣur submitting to Assurbanipal.
KissikiansNo. 42649Reference to Sîn-šarra-uṣur submitting to Assurbanipal.
SealandersNo. 43650-II-5Dated.
Bel-ibni, general of the SealandNos. 44-48650-648Bel-ibni being appointed as the general of the Sealand in 650 bce, see no. 43.
PNN and SealandersNo. 49652-648Allusion to the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin.
GambuliansNo. 50Before 664Reference to Bel-iqiša, the leader of the Gambulians, who revolted against Assyria and died in 664.
GambuliansNo. 51653Possibly related to the campaign against the Gambulu in 653.
RašiansNo. 53647Reference to Tammaritu (II), who participated in the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III.
Ambappi and RašiansNo. 55647References to Ummanaldasu and Tammaritu pointing to the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III.
Ambappi?No. 56647?Allusion to the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III because of the references to Elam, Bit-Imbî, Ummanaldasu (III), the wife of Teumman, and his sons.
NN of Raši?No. 57646*-XII-27Dated.
Menanu, elder of ElamNo. 58c. 652References to Ummanigaš II as a traitor, Tammaritu, and Šamaš-šumu-ukin as a rebel. Menanu's severance of communication with the king for 19 months.
Tammaritu (I), king of ElamNo. 59652The letter could be "the first message" from Assurbanipal to Tammaritu (II).
Indabibi, king of ElamNo. 60649-[III?-3?]Dated.
UmmanšibarNo. 61648*-IV-25Dated.
Tammaritu (II), the previous king of ElamNo. 63[647]-VI-16Dated. The name of the eponym is not preserved but the contents allude to the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III.
Tammaritu (II), the previous king of ElamNo. 64647A reference to a massacre in Bit-Bunakka by the Assyrian troops that took place during the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III.
Elders of ElamNo. 65647*-XIDated.
Ummanaldasu (III), king of ElamNo. 66647The king requests the delivery of Nabû-bel-šumati or Nabû-qati-ṣabat. Cf. ABL 792 + 1286.
Elders of Elam?No. 67652-647An allusion to the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin or the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III.
NNNo. 68648?A reference to Indabibi.
Elders of Elam?No. 72648-647An allusion to the end of the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin or the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III.
Hundaru, king of DilmunNo. 75647-VI-13Dated.
City lords of BašimuNo. 76646Possibly related to the conquest and destruction of Bašimu during the second campaign against Ummanaldasu III.
Bel-ēṭirNo. 77648?Possibly related to the end of the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin.
Nabû-šar-ahhešu?No. 80652-VII-3Dated.
NNNo. 82646*Dated. Only the name of the eponym is preserved.
NNNo. 83648-V or laterPossibly after the siege of Babylon.
NNNo. 85647-646Possibly related to the first and second campaigns against Ummanaldasu III.

Table Ib. Dated and datable letters to the king

Sender(s) Letter Date Grounds or Reference for Dating
Šamaš-šumu-ukin, king of BabylonNo. 103Before 652Good relationship between Assurbanipal and Šamaš-šumu-ukin.
Šamaš-šumu-ukin, king of BabylonNo. 104664 or earlierReference to the prince Ummanigaš and Bel-iqiša of Gambulu.
Illil-bani, governor of Nippur?Nos. 106-107652-649A reference to the hostility of Šamaš-šumu-ukin. No. 107 is the duplicate of No. 106.
Nabû-bel-šumati of the SealandNo. 109653See Mattila 1987, pp. 29-30.
Bel-iqišaNo. 111Before 664Bel-iqiša died in 664, see Frame 1992, p. 119, n. 93.
GambuliansNo. 112653The king's response to this letter is no. 51.
Elders of ElamNo. 116653An allusion to the situation after Teumman's defeat.
Elders of ElamNo. 117646References to the corpse of Nabû-bel-šumati.
Ummanaldasu (III)No. 122646*-IV-26Dated.
NNNo. 128After 651References to Šamaš-šumu-ukin and Nabû-bel-šumati.
NNNo. 139647References to the chief eunuch, Tammaritu (II), and troops.

Table Ic. Non-royal letters

Sender(s) Letter Date Grounds or Reference for Dating
Ea-zera-qiša, the leader of Chaldean Bit-Amukani, to Humbuštu, his motherNo. 155650-II-25See no. 27 and reference to the defeat of Šamaš-šumu-ukin. Cf. Frame 1992, 173, n. 204.
NN to NN ("lord")No. 160c. 650?References to the chief of trade Nabû-šumu-iqiša having withdrawn from Elam, horses, and supplies.


15 Fales pointed out that 95% of Neo-Assyrian letters are not dated. See Fales 2013, 92.

16 Nos. 3, 15, 27, 28, 32, 33, 43, 57, 60, 61, 63, 65, 75, 80, 82, 122.

17 Grayson 1975, 86, no. 1 iv 30-32 and 127, no. 14:28-30.

18 Grayson 1975, 127, no. 14:34.

19 Grayson 1975, 86, no. 1 iv 34-36 and 127, no. 14:35-36.

20 Grayson 1975, 130, no. 15:19.

21 The last economic documents dated by the regnal year of Šamaš-šumu-ukin: BM 134973 on 648-V-28 from Borsippa and BM 40577 on 648-V-30 from Babylon, see Brinkman and Kennedy 1983, 36.

22 Two campaigns against Ummanaldasu III are not dated, but concerning their chronology, see Frame 1992, 293-295 and Waters 2000, 117-118. The first campaign is recorded in the following inscriptions: Borger and Fuchs 1996, 159-163 and 236-237, Edition C IX 1'-89'; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 166 and 237, Edition G1E II' 29'-37' and G1D I' 1'-6'; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 46-48 and 237-238, Edition A IV123-V 40 // Edition F III 46-81; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 157, K 2656+ 17-20; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 71 and 249-250, Edition A X 17-20; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 281 and 294, IIT 118.

23 The second campaign is described in the following inscriptions: Borger and Fuchs 1996, 49-59 and 239-243, Edition A V 63-VII 8 // Edition F IV 17-VI 21; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 54, 167-168, 239 and 242, Edition T IV 36-V 32.

Sanae Ito

Sanae Ito, 'The Chronology of the Letters: Dated and Datable Letters', The Correspondence of Assurbanipal, Part I: Letters from Assyria, Babylonia, and Vassal States, SAA 21. Original publication:Winona Laka, IN, Eisenbrauns, 2018; online contents: SAAo/SAA21 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/thechronologyoftheletters/]

 
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