Nippur was an extraordinarily important city religiously and ideologically. It also had great strategic significance because of its location.[[35]] Therefore, the city necessarily became a focal point in the revolt of Šamaš-šumu-ukin. In the early of part of the reign of Assurbanipal, it was firmly under Assyrian control and at least one Assyrian official, Aššur-belu-taqqin, was stationed there as a prefect (šaknu). The prefect is mentioned in no. 17. Assurbanipal praises the elders of Nippur for having captured three members of the Ru'ua tribe, one of the Aramean tribes who dwelled near Nippur on the banks of the Tigris,[[36]] and orders them to keep the captives under guard. He then changes the subject and explains why half of the 15 elders of Nippur were prevented from seeing him when they came for the royal audience. He attributes the blunder to the governor and the prefect of Nippur, and secondly to the palace supervisor.

The local governor Illil-bani and Nippurians were loyal to Assyria during the revolt. However, the city fell to the rebels for a short period between Kislev (IX) and Shebat (XI), 651.[[37]] After these three months, it returned to the Assyrian side. The unknown author of nos. 106 and 107 (duplicate of no. 106), who could be Illil-bani,[[38]] reports that Marduk-šarru-uṣur has gone to Tammaritu in order to obtain bread and states that he had earlier reported that Šamaš-šumu-ukin would become hostile.

Illil-bani and Nippurians also engaged in military activities during the revolt. In no. 18, Assurbanipal urges them to watch all the roads in order to capture an unnamed person. He promises that he will reward the person who seized the man with his weight in gold. He quotes the episode in which his grandfather, namely, Sennacherib, gave silver to Adda-barakka who apprehended the Babylonian king Šuzubu.[[39]] Taking into account that the person rewarded had seized a rebellious Babylonian king, this episode strongly suggests that the unnamed man was none else than Šamaš-šumu-ukin. The lines 5-9 of this letter have a parallel in no. 29 addressed to Nabû-ušabši and the Urukians. Both nos. 19 and 20 deal with an unnamed besieged city. In the former, the king request the Nippurians to strengthen the level of watch on the city, while in the latter he informs them that his army is surrounding an unnamed man who is shut up in his city with all his forces. In no. 21, the king warns them that an anonymous man is trying to get out the city, and then orders that guard be strong. Since Babylonians, Babylon, and Marduk are mentioned in broken contexts within this letter, nos. 19-21 virtually certainly pertain to Babylon under siege.

35 Cole 1996, 1.

36 Streck 2006-2008, 471; Brinkman 1984, 12-13.

37 An economic text IM 57923 (= K.116) from Nippur was dated on the third (?) day of Kislev (IX), 651, by the regnal year of Šamaš-šumu-ukin. It means that Nippur fell into the rebels' hands. Shortly after that, Nippur appears to have come under the control of Assyria because IM 57901 (= J.8, duplicate IM 57902) and IM 57902 (= J.9) were dated on the 18th of Shebat (XI), 651, by the regnal year of Assurbanipal. See Brinkman and Kennedy 1983, 21 and 34.

38 Nippur (en.lí is mentioned in SAA 21 106 r. 8.

39 Ito, 2013.

Sanae Ito

Sanae Ito, 'Nippur', 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 []

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SAAo/SAA21, 2014-. Since 2015, SAAo is based at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Historisches Seminar (LMU Munich, History Department) - Alexander von Humboldt Chair for Ancient History of the Near and Middle East. Content released under a CC BY-SA 3.0 [] license, 2007-20.
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