Elam, a kingdom in south-western Iran, was often in conflict with Assyria. Assurbanipal defeated and beheaded the perjurious Elamite king Teumman (c. 664-653) in 653.[[67]] After his death, the Elamite monarchy became very unstable and fragmented. Short-lived kings appeared in succession. In nine years between 653 and 645, seven kings were enthroned. Two of them had a second tenure (Tammaritu II, Ummanaldasu III) and two kings bore the same name (Tammaritu I, Tammaritu II). Furthermore, it is not clear whether a given king ruled Elam in its entirety because two kings could be enthroned in different places at the same time (Ummanigaš II in Elam and Tammaritu I in Hidalu). These kings, some of them enthroned by Assurbanipal as Assyrian puppets, frequently provided military aid and refuge for Babylonians and Sealanders, although some Elamite kings had friendly relations with Assurbanipal. In addition, a civilian administration consisting of elders and citizens existed in Elam.

No. 116, datable after the defeat of Teumman in 653, is a missive from the elders of Elam to Assurbanipal. The elders are concerned about the deterioration of social order caused by the Persians, and they request Assurbanipal to install Tammaritu I in Hidalu and Kudurru in Yahdik. According to the royal inscriptions of Assurbanipal, he did in fact install Tammaritu I as the king of Hidalu. In a fragmentary letter (no. 59), which appears to be the second part of a longer missive, Assurbanipal calls Tammaritu I his brother and wishes him well. This suggests that the Assyrian king wanted to establish friendly relations with him. Kudurru, however, was not installed; instead, the king chose Ummanigaš (Huban-nikaš) II as the king of Elam.[[68]]

The revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin deteriorated the relationship between Assyria and Elam because Ummanigaš allied with Šamaš-šumu-ukin. Assurbanipal's inscriptions record that Ummanigaš did not honour the treaty, accepted bribes from Šamaš-šumu-ukin, went to his aid,[[69]] and carried away property of Esaggil and Ezida.[[70]] In no. 58, addressed to Menanu, an Elamite elder, Ummanigaš is described as a traitor to whom the king had rendered favours but who had broken his treaty by siding with his adversary and trespassing on his territory. According to this letter, Menanu had previously promised Assurbanipal that he would battle Ummanigaš, but he did not contact the king for 19 months. Assurbanipal blames him for the lack of communication and urges him to reply. However, it does not seem that Menanu sent a reply because Nabû-bel-šumati of the Sealand is called the "whore of Menanu" in no. 43.

We know from the royal inscriptions that Ummanigaš II was killed by Tammaritu II, who held the kingship of Elam c. 652-649. However, according to Assurbanipal's inscriptions, he too received bribes from Šamaš-šumu-ukin, came to his aid, and rushed to fight against the Assyrian troops.[[71]]

Indabibi, a servant of Tammaritu II, revolted against him and occupied the throne of Elam for three years (c. 649-648), while Tammaritu sought refuge in Nineveh.[[72]] In no. 60, a fragmentary letter dated 649, Assurbanipal calls Indabibi his brother and wishes him well. A peaceful relationship between the two kings is also indicated by Edition B of Assurbanipal's inscriptions, which states that Indabibi released the Assyrians who the perfidious Nabû-bel-šumati had seized and forwarded to Elam, and sent them back to Assurbanipal together with a messenger of "goodwill and peace."[[73]]

However, around the time when the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin was being crushed, Indabibi turned hostile towards Assurbanipal. In one of his letters, Bel-ibni reports that Indabibi had written to his herald ordering him to mobilize his forces against Assyria.[[74]] Edition C of Assurbanipal's inscriptions, composed after Edition B,[[75]] also documents an adverse turn in relations between Assurbanipal and Indabibi. It does not repeat Edition B's story of a messenger of "goodwill and peace," but instead reveals that Assurbanipal sent a messenger to Indabibi threatening that he would destroy Elamite cities, deport the Elamite people, and replace Indabibi with someone else if the latter did not return the Assyrians. This messenger did not reach Indabibi because the Elamites heard of the message, killed Indabibi, and enthroned Ummanaldasu III (c. 648-645).[[76]]

About a month before the fall of Babylon (648*-IV-5) Assurbanipal sent no. 61 to a herald, Ummanšibar,[[77]] who would play a pivotal role in the replacement of the Elamite king and in the extradition of Nabû-bel-šumati.[[78]] The letter indicates that Ummanšibar had contacted Bel-ibni and suggested a plan of action that completely satisfied Assurbanipal (see below).

Having suppressed the revolt, Assurbanipal moved to punish Elam for having aided Šamaš-šumu-ukin and providing asylum to his accomplice Nabû-bel-šumati in Elam. In the third month of an unknown year, probably 647 (assuming that Assyria conducted no campaign before the end of the revolt),[[79]] he launched a campaign against Ummanaldasu III. On their way to Elam, the Assyrian troops conquered Bit-Imbî in Raši. When they approached Elam, Ummanaldasu abandoned his royal city Madaktu and ran away to his mountains. UmbaHABua sat on the throne of Elam but he also fled. Possibly at this time (or 653), a certain Na'id-Aššur, probably an Assyrian general, also sent no. 118 to the king reporting that he has freed eight Assyrians who were being held captive in Elam and sent them to the palace.

As mentioned above, Assurbanipal made the previous Elamite king Tammaritu II participate in the campaign and installed him as king in Susa. During the campaign, he sent three letters (nos. 62-64) to Tammaritu. No. 62 is a reply to no. 121, written by Tammaritu while waiting in Der for the arrival of the Assyrian army. In no. 63, dated [647*]-VI-16, Assurbanipal already calls Tammaritu the king of Elam and mentions the Rašians, Nabû-bel-šumati, and Ummanaldasu in broken contexts. Towards the end of the letter, he urges Tammaritu to return his favours and guard and remember the treaty to which he had made Tammaritu swear. In no. 64, he rejoices at a massacre in Bit-Bunakka, a city located on the border of Babylonia and Elam near Raši, and at the news of Tammaritu's victory over the Dinšarrians in Elam. Tammaritu also wrote letters to Assurbanipal; in nos. 119 and 120, he thanks him lavishly for his good deeds. Later, however, he revolted against the Assyrian king, who reacted angrily, conquered many cities of Elam and forced Tammaritu to submit and pull his chariot. The events during the campaign and Tammaritu's treachery are recorded in the inscriptions of Assurbanipal.[[80]]

The sanctuary of Nabû-bel-šumati in Elam undermined the already-strained relations between Assyria and Elam. Assyria adopted a serious stance on the capture of Nabû-bel-šumati. Bel-ibni started working on this issue in the final year of the revolt or during the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III, namely, 648 or 647.[[81]]

Assyria could not capture Nabû-bel-šumati during the first campaign. However, Elam finally took the action necessary to resolve the Nabû-bel-šumati matter. According to one of Bel-ibni's letters, ABL 792 + 1286, Ummanšibar secretly sent his friend Bel-upahhir, for whom Bel-ibni had interceded before the king, to Bel-ibni on the 6th of Shebat (XI). The year is not mentioned, but no. 65, which Assurbanipal sent to the elders of Elam as a direct response to ABL 792+, is dated 647*-XI. Thus ABL 792+ was certainly written in 647 as well. Bel-upahhir asked Bel-ibni to forward a message of the Elamites to the Palace: the Elamites were wondering why the Assyrian king had treated them so harshly. Ummanšibar also informed Bel-ibni that Elam was willing to extradite Nabû-bel-šumati to Assyria, but only in dignity. He then explained what the messages of Assurbanipal were supposed to be to the Elamite people and Ummanaldasu. To the former, he recommended that the king order them to deliver Nabû-bel-šumati to him and threaten them with dire consequences if they do not comply. To the latter, he suggested that the king promise to make peace with Ummanaldasu if he seizes Nabû-bel-šumati and the criminals with Nabû-bel-šumati, and sends them to the king. Moreover, he informed Bel-ibni that he had brought Nabû-bel-šumati down from the mountains and was keeping him under guard. Finally Bel-ibni urges the king to send a messenger to Elam with the recommended messages, and promises that all the criminals will be caught overnight and sent to the Palace. Towards the end of the letter, Bel-ibni informs the king that he will visit him with 1,000 captives in Adar (XII), which fits the month in which Ummanšibar wrote to Bel-ibni (XI) and the date of no. 65 (647*-XI).

Assurbanipal immediately reacted to ABL 792 + 1286. He sent no. 65 to the elders of Elam in 647*-XI and no. 66 to Ummanaldasu. In no. 65, he explains that Elam had been treated harshly because of Nabû-bel-šumati and his accomplices, Nabû-qati-ṣabat and Kiribtu, and demands that these people be sent to him. If this is done, he promises to promptly return the exiled Elamite gods and make peace; if not, he will make the future even more horrible to them than in the past. As Waters pointed out, the wording of this letter is quite similar to that recommended in ABL 792 + 1286.[[82]] No. 66 was very probably sent around the same time as no. 65. Assurbanipal requires the extradition of Nabû-bel-šumati and Nabû-qati-ṣabat "who threw his lord [into] fire [and who ...] has been staying in [your] presence."[[83]] However, neither of the elders of Elam or Ummanaldasu managed to deliver him to Assyria on this occasion. It is likely that Nabû-bel-šumati escaped from Ummanšibar, but the circumstances of his escape are not known.

Eventually, Nabû-bel-šumati was captured by the šarnuppu-persons[[84]] of Elam and this time he could not escape extradition to Assyria. Bel-ibni reports the capture of Nabû-bel-šumati to Assurbanipal in ABL 281. This epistle is not dated but was certainly composed after ABL 792 + 1286 because Ummanšibar, who had exchanged messages with Bel-ibni, is in this letter reported to have fled to Šuharisungar and contact with him had been lost. Bel-ibni goes on to say that the unstable political situation caused a severe famine in Elam and makes a subsequent report on Ummanaldasu: having returned to Madaktu, he pleaded his case with all his allies, saying that before he fled, he had proposed to seize Nabû-bel-šumati and give him to the king of Assyria so that the king would not send his troops against Elam.

Bel-ibni then emphasizes the discretion needed to capture Nabû-bel-šumati. He suggests that a sealed document from the king about the seizure of Nabû-bel-šumati be brought to him so that he can secretly send it to Ummanaldasu, and adds that if a messenger of the king openly came to the Elamite king, Nabû-bel-šumati would hear of it and hand over his full ransom to his magnates to save himself. After that, Bel-ibni reveals the location of Nabû-bel-šumati. He says that Umhuluma', who had been the patron of Nabû-bel-šumati and had given the revenue-crop originally apportioned to the šarnuppu-persons to him, was killed. As Elam was racked by famine, all the šarnuppu-persons surrounded Nabû-bel-šumati and captured him along with Nishur-Bel, his major-domo, and demanded that he return the grain that constituted their rations. "They brought him to justice and repeatedly indicted him with Ummanaldasu, and the Elamite king did not rescue him [from] their [hand]s."

Nabû-bel-šumati died in Elam. There has so far been no letter that describes the circumstances of his death. However, being afraid of being extradited alive to Assyria, he probably committed suicide. According to the royal inscriptions (Edition A), Nabû-bel-šumati heard that Assurbanipal's messengers had entered Elam, became afraid, then instructed his groom to kill him, while other inscriptions (IIT) state that he and his groom killed one another with their daggers.[[85]]

Ummanaldasu sent no. 122 to Assurbanipal on 646*-IV-26. He calls the Assyrian king "my brother" in the greeting. He blames the Martenians living along the border for the presence of Nabû-bel-šumati in Elam and the subsequent battles between Assyria and Elam. He says that he has seized Nabû-bel-šumati and sent him to the king as Assurbanipal wished, though he does not say whether Nabû-bel-šumati was dead or alive.

Edition A records that when Nabû-bel-šumati died, Ummanaldasu was afraid and laid the corpse of Nabû-bel-šumati in salt, and gave it to Assurbanipal's messenger, along with the head of the groom who had cut him down with his weapon, and had them brought before Assurbanipal. No. 117, probably from the elders of Elam, relates to these events. Assurbanipal did not allow the corpse of Nabû-bel-šumati to be buried, but cut off its head and hung it from the neck of Nabû-qati-ṣabat, the simmagir-official of the king's treacherous brother Šamaš-šumu-ukin, who had gone with him to Elam.[[86]]

67 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 97-105 and 224-226, B IV 87-VI 16 // C V 93-VII 9; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 37-38 and 226, F II 53-71 // A III 27-49.

68 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 38 and 226, A III 44-49 // F II 67-71; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 104 and 226, B VI 6-9 // C VI 137-VII 2; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 192 H3 III' 1-2; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 277 and 293, IIT 101-102.

69 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 108-109 and 229, B VII 3-8; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 41 and 233, A III 136-138.

70 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 148 and 229, C VII 120-129.

71 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 41-42 and 233-234, A III 136-IV 8 // F III 6-16 // B VII 43-53 // C VIII 33-42.

72 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 42-43 and 234, A IV 11-41 // F III 19-32; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 110-112 and 230, B VII 56-76 // C VIII 43-48, partly parallel to G1B II' 38-47 and G2B II' 11'-17'.

73 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 112-113 and 231-232, B VII 77-92 // C IX 45-58.

74 ABL 622 + 1279.

75 Novotny 2008, 127-128 and 132.

76 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 153-155 and 232, C IX 59-86; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 193 and 232, Edition H4 1'-5'.

77 ABL 281:10-11, cf. Waters 2000, 68-69.

78 ABL 281, ABL 460, ABL 792 + 1286, see also no. 65.

79 Waters 2000, 69-70 and 117-118; Frame 1992, 293-295.

80 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 45-47 and 237-239 A IV 110-V 62 // F III 33-IV 16; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 71 and 249-250, A X 17-20; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 158-163 and 236-237, C IX 87-91 and C IX 1'-89' (Novotny's Kh, see Novotny 2008, 127-130 and 133); Borger and Fuchs 1996, 166 and 237, Edition G1D I' 1'-6' and G1E II' 29'-37'; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 278, 281, and 293-294, IIT 104-105 and 118-121.

81 The author of a Neo-Babylonian letter, ABL 460 datable to 648 or 647, probably Bel-ibni, proposes that when Assurbanipal's troops reach Der they should not stay overnight but seize Nabû-bel-šumati and his fellow criminals. He adds that the troops should release any Assyrians being held by Nabû-bel-šumati and his comrades and then send them to Assurbanipal. Bel-ibni also reports in ABL 462, datable to 647 as it mentions the first campaign against Ummanaldasu III, that he wrote to Umhuluma', who is known to be a patron of Nabû-bel-šumati from ABL 281, and the royal officials of all Elam urging them to seize Nabû-bel-šumati as well as the messengers of Šamaš-šumu-ukin and to send them to him.

82 Waters 2000, 78, n. 54.

83 Von Soden (1972) identified Nabû-qati-ṣabat in nos. 65 and 66 with Nabû-qati-ṣabat, the simmagir-official of Šamaš-šumu-ukin mentioned in Edition A VII 47-50 (Borger and Fuchs 1996, 60 and 243). Cf. Frame 1992, 154, n. 101 and PNA 2/II, 859b-860a, nos. 5-6.

84 Stolper 1978. He proposed that the meaning of šarnuppu is "those who require apportionment," "who are entitled to apportionment," "intended recipients of apportionment" or the like.

85 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 59 and 242-243, Edition A VII 16-37; Borger and Fuchs 1996, 278-279 and 293, IIT 107-110.

86 Borger and Fuchs 1996, 59-60 and 243, A VII 38-50.

Sanae Ito

Sanae Ito, 'Elam', 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/saao/saa21/thecontentsoftheletters/elam/]

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