Inscribed objects

(Eckart Frahm)

Inscribed objects appeared in the operations 1, 2, and 4.


Operation 1:

The most important epigraphic find in operation 1 was a cuneiform tablet with a letter in which Mukin-Ashur informs Duri -Ashur and some of his colleagues about a shipment of duhsu-leather and several other matters. The letter belongs to the 7th century archive of Duri-Ashur already known from previous excavations in the area. The same may hold true for two legal documents from the Late Assyrian period which were likewise found in Operation 1. The first one is a record of a corn loan given by Kisir-Ashur to Dianu and dated to XI/6/651, the other one a badly damaged copper loan document. Fragments of “namburbi" amulets complete the small corpus of inscribed objects unearthed in Operation 1.


Operation 2:

In operation 2, a clay sherd was found which gives the designation of the vessel to which it belonged (adagurrum) and the name of its owner (Idi-Ashur). The object enlarges the small corpus of Old Assyrian textual material known from Ashur. In the dump, the fragment of a beautifully written Middle Assyrian extispicy text regarding the gall-bladder came to light. So far, no duplicates of this text are known. Furthermore, it could be established that a fragmentary clay cone found in 2000 in the debris of the Middle Assyrian street bears an inscription of Puzur-Ashur III (1st half of the 15th century), which provides a terminus post quem for the respective archaeological remains.


Operation 4:

The most important group of texts was found in a room of Operation 4 which can be dated to the Middle Assyrian period. Nearly 200 fragments, the majority of them very small, of administrative documents issued by the palace administration were unearthed at this spot. They were unbaked and therefore in a precarious state of preservation. Since the restauration of the fragments and their decipherment proved to be particularly time-consuming (not more than about 30 fragments were restaured during the excavation), the remarks we can give on them are necessarily quite preliminary. The texts seem to be linked, by their contents, to tablets, kept in the museums of Istanbul and Berlin, which belong to an archive classified by Pedersén, ALA 1, 68-81, as "M 7". The time span covered by the new texts reaches from the reign of Adad-nerari I (1295-1265), whose palaces are mentioned in one of the texts, to the early 12th century (the Kassite king Meli-shipak being named in another tablet). Several eponyms are attested, mostly pointing to dates during the reign of Tukulti-Ninurta I.

 Two types of texts can be distinguished: on the one hand, there are small tablets which record the distribution of modest amounts of various commodities by palace officials who bear the abarakku-title, on the other hand larger tablets were found (of which only fragments are preserved) which seem to represent the results of a central book-keeping covering longer periods. Some of the texts should be shortly described:

 A large tablet with an elaborate seal impression representing, among other things, a beardless king, a temple, and a double-faced deity lists vast amounts of copper, tin and lead, and smaller amounts of oil and cedar products which are issued to numerous individuals. Other texts refer to finished metal products (rings, shaving blades, pickaxes, nail-cutters), leather objects, garments, agricultural products, and parts of trees and animals used for the construction of bows.

 New evidence for the Middle Assyrian horse trade comes from a tablet which, in tabular form, lists horses of different ages which had been brought to Assyria from the Nairi region by a certain Marduk-ketti-e-tamsi.

 Another document enumerates teams of horses and rugs sent to Assyria by the Babylonian king Meli-shipak. It seems that the recipient of these goods was the Assyrian ruler Ninurta-apil-Ekur of whom we know that he had spent some time in Babylonia in exile before he ascended the Assyrian throne.

 The small tablets refer to disbursements of metal objects, cedar beams, vessels(?) from which a cupbearer was to pour out beer for the king, and clothes which were to be dyed with blue purple. Two tablets mention a certain Eriba-Shamash, an employee in the royal kitchen, who is given, by the abarakku, a number of plants and spices.

Three inscribed objects found in Operation 4, but unrelated to the aforementioned archive, are to be mentioned seperately: a sherd giving the names of Tukulti-Ninurta (I) and of a certain Ittabsi-den-Ashur, an official who may be identified with the eponym bearing this name, an unbaked lexical fragment listing rarely used cuneiform signs, and a baked and well-written Middle Assyrian tablet which represents the earliest manuscript so far attested of the third tablet of the "Emesal vocabulary". The tablet is written by the well-known scribe Sin-shuma-iddina, son of Ninurta-uballissu, and is dated to the eponymate of Ashur-ismanni.


In all the operations, bricks with royal inscriptions were found which were reused for the construction of private houses. Many of them bear the so-called “kisirtu-inscription" of Adad-nerari I. A brick fragment from the tomb of Sennacherib was unearthed in a funerary context in Operation 2.