Information on Ashurbanipal Scores, Part 1

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Of the seventy-one royal inscriptions edited in RINAP 5/1 [] and the thirty-nine texts of Ashurbanipal edited in Frame, Rulers of Babylonia: From the Second Dynasty of Isin to the End of Assyrian Domination (1157-612 BC) (RIMB 2) (which will also be included in RINAP 5/2), score transliterations of twenty-nine texts were provided in those two volumes. Some information on those inscriptions are provided below. To access the RINAP 5/RIMB 2 score transliterations, click on one of the "score" links below, click here [], or click on the "Browse Online Corpus" link to the left.


Fragments of at least three different clay prisms preserve parts of one of the earliest versions of Ashurbanipal's annals. This text included descriptions of Assyrian troops (with the aid of twenty-two Cypriot and Levantine rulers) defeating the Pharaoh Taharqa and his supporters, the capture of the city Qirbit, and the receipt of payment from Gyges of Lydia (on the instructions of the god Aššur that he had received in a dream). The prologue likely included an account of the nomination of Ashurbanipal as heir designate and a statement about his training in the House of Succession. The building report, at least in one exemplar, records that Ashurbanipal rebuilt the House of Succession at Nineveh, which his grandfather had (re)built; later inscriptions (text nos. 9 [Prism F] and 11 [Prism A]) record that his father Esarhaddon was born in that palace and that Ashurbanipal grew up there. Although none of the certain exemplars preserves a complete date, scholars generally think that this text, which they designate as "Prism E₁," dates to around Ashurbanipal's third or fourth regnal year (ca. 666–665); the terminus ante quem is the second Egyptian campaign, which took place after Tanutamon succeeded Taharqa as pharaoh in Egypt.

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It is generally assumed that Ashurbanipal had his scribes write out a new version of his annals shortly after the composition and issuing of text no. 1 (Prism E₁), perhaps in the following year (ca. 665–664). This inscription, which is commonly referred to as "Prism E₂," also includes reports of the defeat of Taharqa and his supporters in Egypt, the conquest of the recalcitrant city Qirbit, and the voluntary submission of Lydia's ruler Gyges. The account of how Gyges became Ashurbanipal's vassal in this text is significantly different from the version found in text no. 1 (Prism E₁). Moreover, the building report describes a different construction project at Nineveh: repairs made to (a section of) the citadel wall, for which Sennacherib is cited as a previous builder.

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Very few inscriptions written on clay or stone objects during the fourteen years after the issuing of text nos. 1 (Prism E₁) and 2 (Prism E₂) are extant today. It is, however, not the case for Ashurbanipal's third decade as king, starting with this version of his annals, copies of which were inscribed on eight-sided clay prisms during his twentieth and twenty-first regnal years (649–648; respectively, the eponymies of Aḫu-ilāʾī, governor of Carchemish, and Bēlšunu, governor of Ḫindānu). At least six prisms, and presumably many more, bore a lengthy inscription that divided its military narration into eight campaigns and recorded the rebuilding of a wing of the armory at Nineveh that his grandfather Sennacherib had constructed anew. Following the model of his earlier inscriptions (as well as those of his father Esarhaddon), this text, which is frequently referred to as "Prism B" in Assyriological publications, arranges the "campaigns" (girrus) geographically, and not chronologically. Ashurbanipal boasts that he defeated Egypt twice, forced Baʾalu of Tyre into submission, captured the city Qirbit, destroyed numerous cities in Mannea, fought many successful battles against various Elamite rulers (especially the arrogant and belligerent Teumman), conquered the Gambulian capital Ša-pī-Bēl and deported its anti-Assyrian leaders (Dunānu and his brothers), and plundered Arab tribes. Numerous other details are provided, including, for example, Yakīn-Lû of Arwad, Mugallu of Tabal, and Sanda-šarme of Ḫilakku (Cilicia) voluntarily sending tribute, along with their daughters; Gyges of Lydia defeating invading Cimmerians and sending a substantial payment to Assyria; Urtaku of Elam, Bēl-iqīša of Gambulu, and Urtaku's eunuch Marduk-šuma-ibni all dying from unusual circumstances within the same year; Aḫšēri of Mannea, Ummanigaš (Ḫumban-nikas II) of Elam, and Tammarītu of Elam all being deposed; and Kamās-ḫaltâ of Moab capturing Ammu-ladīn of Qedar and handing him over to Assyria.

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Fragments of numerous clay prisms are inscribed with a version of Ashurbanipal's annals that records eight campaigns and describes the rebuilding and widening of (part of) Nineveh's citadel wall, which had fallen into disrepair; Sennacherib is named as a previous builder. The prologue and military narration of this inscription, which is generally called "Prism D" in earlier publications, is identical to that of text no. 3 (Prism B), apart from a few minor textual variants. At least three of the exemplars of this text were inscribed during the post-canonical eponymy of Bēlšunu, governor of Ḫindānu (648).

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An inscription of Ashurbanipal recording only his building activities in Assyria and Babylonia (despite his older brother Šamaš-šuma-ukīn being the king of Babylon) is written on at least four fragmentary clay prisms. Unlike other extant prism inscriptions of his, this text does not contain any military narration; the absence of campaign reports is commonly attested for Ashurbanipal's Babylonian inscriptions, but not for his Assyrian ones. The lengthy prologue — which, as far as it is preserved, is identical (apart from minor variants) to those of text nos. 6 (Prism C), 7 (Prism Kh), and 8 (Prism G) — provides information on the following projects: (1) the completion and decoration of the Aššur temple at Aššur, Eḫursaggalkurkurra ("House of the Great Mountain of the Lands"); (2) the completion of Esagil ("House whose Top is High"), the temple of Marduk at Babylon, and the return of the statues of Babylon's tutelary deities; (3) the refurbishing and creation of ornate cult objects for Marduk and his consort Zarpanītu; (4) the setting up of statues of wild bulls in prominent gateways of Nabû's temple at Borsippa, Ezida ("True House"); (5) the decoration of the Ištar temples at Nineveh (Emašmaš) and Arbela (Egašankalama, "House of the Lady of the Land") (passage not preserved); (6) the refurbishing of a (forgotten) image of the goddess Šarrat-Kidmuri and the reinstitution of her cultic rites (not preserved): (7) the setting up of lion-headed eagles and divine emblems in Egalmeslam ("Palace, Warrior of the Netherworld"), the temple of Nergal at Tarbiṣu; and (8) the rebuilding of the temple of the moon-god Sîn at Ḫarrān, Ehulhul ("House which Gives Joy"), and the construction of its (twin) Emelamana ("House of the Radiance of Heaven"), the temple of Nusku. In addition, Ashurbanipal boasts that he had metal (silver, gold, and bronze) images made of himself and had them placed in the presence of his divine benefactors. The building report records the renovation and subsequent decoration of the Sîn-Šamaš temple at Nineveh, which had last been worked on by his father Esarhaddon; the building's Sumerian ceremonial name is not known and its archaeological remains have not yet been positively identified. One exemplar of this inscription, which was formerly referred to as "Prism TVar[iant]" (or "T-Type") and is now sometimes called "Prism I," was inscribed during the post-canonical eponymy of Bēlšunu, governor of Ḫindānu (648), around the same time as some copies of text no. 4 (Prism D).

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After the tragic death of Ashurbanipal's brother Šamaš-šuma-ukīn and the capture of Babylon in 648, the Assyrian king had his scribes prepare a new edition of his annals, one commemorating his victory over the king of Babylon and his numerous allies. That inscription is known from at least four badly damaged ten-sided clay prisms. Its prologue and much of its military narration were borrowed (with modifications and additions) from earlier versions of Ashurbanipal's annals, including all of the five previous inscriptions (text nos. 1–5). This text's prologue is more or less identical to text no. 5 (Prism I) — which records construction in five Assyrian cities (Aššur, Arbela, Ḫarrān, Nineveh, and Tarbiṣu) and two Babylonian cities (Babylon and Borsippa) — and its descriptions of the king's victories generally duplicate those of text nos. 3 (Prism B) and 4 (Prism D), apart from the new report about the Šamaš-šuma-ukīn rebellion (652–648) and events in Elam (648), including Ummanaldašu (Ḫumban-ḫaltaš III) deposing Indabibi; note that some passages in the first Egyptian campaign report (against Taharqa) were borrowed from earlier inscriptions, including text nos. 1 (Prism E₁) and 2 (Prism E₂). With regard to the events of the Babylonian rebellion, this inscription records that the siege ended when the gods cast Šamaš-šuma-ukīn into a fire; this vague statement could imply either that the king of Babylon took his own life or that he was murdered by one or more of his officials. Moreover, some of the harsh and heart-breaking conditions that Babylon's citizens had to endure while their city was besieged, including having to resort to cannibalism, are explicitly recorded. Although little of the building report is preserved, it is generally assumed that that passage recorded the renovation of a wing of the armory at Nineveh that Esarhaddon constructed since Ashurbanipal is known to have worked on that palace (text no. 3 [Prism B]), since Esarhaddon is named a previous builder, and since the word ekallu ("palace") appears in the concluding formulae. Scholars usually refer to this inscription as "Prism C"; one copy of this text (ex. 3b) was previously referred to as "Prism G" and "Prism K." Although no certain exemplar of this text preserves a date, it is generally thought that the inscription was written on clay prisms during the year after the fall of Babylon, in 647 (possibly the post-canonical eponymy of Nabû-daʾʾinanni, governor of Que).

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Numerous clay prism fragments discovered in the ruins of Ezida ("True House"), the Nabû temple at Kalḫu, bear an edition of Ashurbanipal's annals that mostly duplicates the contents of text no. 6 (Prism C). This text's prologue and most of its military narration, apart from one new campaign report, duplicate verbatim (with minor orthographic variants) those sections of the previous inscription (text no. 6). This Nimrud version of the annals records Ashurbanipal's first war against the Elamite king Ummanaldašu (Ḫumban-ḫaltaš III; probably in 647) and describes the renovation of (part of) Nabû's temple at Kalḫu; the early Neo-Assyrian king Adad-nārārī III (810–783) is named as a previous builder of Ezida. One exemplar (ex. 1) was inscribed in the post-canonical eponymy of Nabû-nādin-aḫi, governor of Kār-Shalmaneser (probably 646); for the date, see the introduction and the commentary of text no. 6 (Prism C). This text is sometimes referred to in previous scholarly literature as "Prism CKalach," "Prism CND," or "Prism K[alac]h"; it is designated "Prism Kh" in this volume.

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A Nineveh version of the annals that is similar to text no. 7 (Prism Kh) is known from five or six fragmentary, ten-sided clay prisms. In addition to some alterations in the military report — including the reordering of the reports of Ashurbanipal's first war against the Elamite king Ummanaldašu (Ḫumban-ḫaltaš III) and his skirmishes with various Arab groups — this inscription includes a brief description of the defeat and capture of the Arabian queen Adiya. The building report states that Ashurbanipal rebuilt and widened Nineveh's wall, just like he did in text no. 4 (Prism D). The best preserved exemplar (ex. 1) was inscribed sometime during the post-canonical eponymy of Nabû-nādin-aḫi, governor of Kār-Shalmaneser (probably 646). Although the month (and day) that the prism was written are completely missing, it is assumed that this recension of the annals was issued shortly after that of text no. 7 (Prism Kh). This suggestion is based on the editorial changes in the descriptions of Ashurbanipal's victories, including the addition of the account of Adiya's capture into the narrative of the events in Arabia of this text. In more recent scholarly publications (starting in 1996), this inscription is occasionally referred to as "Prism G."

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The inscription generally referred to as "Prism F" ("Prism Aa" in earlier literature) is one of the best known and most cited versions of Ashurbanipal's annals. This text is presently attested on two nearly complete clay prisms and approximately two hundred fragments of clay prisms and vertical cylinders discovered at Nineveh and Aššur; the latter object type is not otherwise attested as a medium for Assyrian royal inscriptions (see the commentary for details). The king's scribe(s) responsible for the composition of this inscription reworked the contents of all of the earlier reports of the military campaigns, greatly abridging the contents of those passages; moreover, for the first time (as far as it is possible to tell), entire campaign accounts were omitted (see below). In addition, the lengthy prologue that had been used for many inscriptions during the previous three years (648–646) was abandoned in favor of a shorter introduction that solely provided details about Ashurbanipal's nomination as heir designate of Assyria and his royal training in the House of Succession; for example, compare i 1–33 of this inscription to text no. 6 (Prism C) i 1´–ii 3´ and text no. 7 (Prism Kh) i 1–101´. The reworked and updated military narration was divided into six campaign reports. These are: (1) the second Egyptian campaign, during which Tanutamon was defeated and Thebes was thoroughly plundered; (2) the forcing of Baʾalu of Tyre into submission, along with the voluntary submission of several Anatolian and Levantine rulers (including Gyges); (3) the conquest of several important Mannean cities, which brought about a coup against their ruler Aḫšēri; (4) the defeat and beheading of the Elamite king Teumman, the capture of the Gambulian capital Ša-pī-Bēl, and the violent dethronements of Ummanigaš (Ḫumban-nikas II) and Tammarītu in Elam; and (5–6) the two wars against Ummanaldašu (Ḫumban-ḫaltaš III) of Elam, during the second of which the Elamite royal city Susa was looted and destroyed. Accounts of the first Egyptian campaign (against Taharqa), the conquest of the city Qirbit, the war against Urtaku of Elam, the Šamaš-šuma-ukīn rebellion, and the battles against various Arabian rulers were not included in the narrative. With regard to the second war against Ummanaldašu (the fifth Elamite campaign; probably 646), Ashurbanipal states that he brought out of Susa a statue of the goddess Nanāya — along with numerous other royal and divine objects looted from Babylonia or sent there as bribes by former kings of Babylon, including his own brother Šamaš-šuma-ukīn — returned her to her rightful place in Uruk, and (re)installed her in her temple Eḫiliana ("House of the Luxuriance of Heaven"). Nanāya is reported to have resided in Elam 1,635 years, which would imply that her statue had been carried off during the Old Akkadian period. The revamped prologue, which borrows some of its material from texts composed during Ashurbanipal's first decade as king (including text nos. 1 [Prism E₁] and 2 [Prism E₂]), directly ties into the focus of the building report: the construction of a replacement House of Succession at Nineveh. In addition to providing numerous details about the new palace, including the construction of a Syrian-style portico (a bīt-ḫilāni), Ashurbanipal claims to have created a botanical garden, just as his father Esarhaddon and his grandfather Sennacherib had done when they had built palaces. Numerous exemplars (including exs. 1–2) are dated to the post-canonical eponymy of Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu, governor of Samaria (probably 645). As far as the dates are preserved, the prisms and cylinders were inscribed during the second to fifth months of the year (from Ayyāru to Abu).

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One nearly complete clay prism and fragments of several other prisms discovered at Nineveh are all inscribed with an inscription of Ashurbanipal recording some of his building activities in Assyria and Babylonia, information about his second war against the Elamite king Ummanaldašu (Ḫumban-ḫaltaš III), including the return of Nanāya to her temple in Uruk, and the rebuilding of one of the akītu-houses (New Year's temples) at Nineveh. Unlike the previous inscription (text no. 9 [Prism F]), this text's prologue utilized the temple-building prologues of several earlier inscriptions (text nos. 5–8), but with some omissions, abbreviations, and additions. The most notable changes are: (1) the passages describing how the gods endowed Ashurbanipal with extraordinary intelligence and how he completed temples begun by his father Esarhaddon were omitted: (2) the report describing the wealth of abundance during Ashurbanipal's reign was significantly abbreviated; (3) a ten-word account of the reconstruction of Edimgalkalama ("House, Great Bond of the Land"), the temple of Great Anu (Ištarān) at Dēr, was added; and (4) the building report of text no. 5 (Prism I), which records the construction of the Sîn-Šamaš temple at Nineveh, was incorporated. The sole report of Ashurbanipal's victories on the battlefield included in this inscription, an account of his fifth Elamite campaign, is a greatly abbreviated version of the report that had been composed anew for text no. 9 (Prism F). Apart from the mention of Nanāya returning to her temple Eḫiliana ("House of the Luxuriance of Heaven"), no reference is made to the vindictive destruction and plundering of Susa. The building report states that Ashurbanipal had one of the akītu-houses of Ištar/Mullissu at Nineveh rebuilt and lavishly decorated; the New Year's temple in question was the one that was inside the citadel and that had been last renovated by his great grandfather Sargon II, and not Ešaḫulezenzagmukam ("House of Joy and Gladness for the Festival of the Beginning of the Year"), the entirely new akītu-house that his grandfather Sennacherib had starting building outside the city wall, just north of the Nergal Gate. Two exemplars (exs. 1–2) bear dates stating that they were inscribed in the post-canonical eponymy of Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu, governor of Samaria (probably 645), during the fifth (Abu) and sixth (Ulūlu) months of the year. This inscription is commonly referred to by scholars as "Prism T[hompson]."

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Jamie Novotny & Joshua Jeffers

Jamie Novotny & Joshua Jeffers, 'Information on Ashurbanipal Scores, Part 1', RINAP Scores, The RINAP Scores sub-project of the RINAP Project, 2019 []

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