On the Present Edition

This present volume is a thoroughly revised edition of the letters published in LAS I and LAS II, supplemented by letters from Babylonian scholars and joins and additions to the Assyrian corpus discovered since the publication of LAS II. All corrections and improvements to LAS I noted in LAS II have been included, and both the text and the translations have been carefully revised in light of further collations and progress in the understanding of the texts. In spite of all this, it is readily admitted that many problems of detail in the interpretation of the texts still remain unsolved, making the present volume a far cry from the perfection the ancient writers of these letters would have striven for and deserved.

The Order ofTexts in This Edition

As in LAS, the letters of the individual writers are grouped together into dossiers, which are arranged into chapters in the order determined by the professions of the writers. Each chapter opens with the letters of the chief scholar, and is closed by varia including broken letters and letters from minor scholars. Miscellaneous letters from individuals not certainly assignable to any professional group are inserted at the end as a separate chapter.

Otherwise, the order of the texts in LAS has been completely revised. Within each dossier, the texts are, insofar as possible, arranged in the chronological order determined in LAS II, and the dossiers are also arranged chronologically. Letters with joint authorship are not grouped separately but included in the dossier of the first sender or the sender who actually wrote down the letter. Undateable letters are inserted among dated letters on the basis of topical or orthographical affinities.

Presenting the Babylonian letters separately from the Assyrian ones, as in SAA 8, was considered but rejected for practical reasons.

Texts Included and Excluded

This volume includes all the texts published in LAS I and II, with the exception of 14 astrological reports edited in SAA 8, and 3 letters dropped as not properly belonging to the corpus. A list showing the disposition of all the LAS texts, prepared by Robert M. Whiting, is provided in the Index of Texts. ABL 1285, left out of LAS but edited in Festschrift Reiner, has been included as no. 294. Three previously unpublished Assyrian letters (K 496, K 20906, K 20907) and one previously unedited Assyrian letter (CT 53 206) are edited here for the first time as nos. 4, 63, 351 and 370. All the new texts were identified by the editor through the kind offices of I.L. Finkel.

The following numbers in this volume are letters from Babylonian scholars and were not edited in LAS: 109-21, 154-72, 178-80, 313, 371-74. A few texts listed in LAS II, Appendix Q 4, as belonging to the corpus were excluded and assigned to a future SAA volume (Letters from Assyrian and Babylonian Priests). On the other hand, a few letters published in CT 54 not listed in LAS II were recognized as belonging to the corpus and included in the present volume.


The transliterations, addressed to the specialist, render the text of the originals in roman characters according to standard Assyriological conventions and the principles outlined in the Editorial Manual. Every effort has been taken to make them as accurate as humanly possible. All the texts edited have been thoroughly collated by the editor, and difficult and questionable passages have been recently recollated by I.L. Finkel and M.J. Geller.

Results of collation are indicated with exclamation or question marks. Single exclamation marks indicate corrections to published copies, double exclamation marks, scribal errors. Question marks indicate uncertain or questionable readings. Broken portions of the text and all restorations are enclosed within square brackets. Parentheses enclose items omitted by ancient scribes.


The translations seek to render the meaning and tenor of the texts as accurately as possible in readable, contemporary English. In the interest of clarity, the line structure of the originals has not been retained in the translation but the text has been rearranged into logically coherent paragraphs where possible.

Uncertain or conjectural translations are indicated by italics. Interpretative additions to the translation are enclosed within parentheses. All restorations are enclosed within square brackets. Untranslatable passages are represented by dots.

Month names are rendered by their Hebrew equivalents, followed by a Roman numeral (in parentheses) indicating the place of the month within the lunar year. Personal, divine or geographical names are rendered by English or Biblical equivalents if a well established equivalent exists (e.g., Esarhad­don, Nineveh); otherwise, they are given in transcription with length marks deleted.

Critical Apparatus

The primary purpose of the critical apparatus is to support the readings and translations contained in the edition, and it consists largely of references to collations of questionable passages and to parallels in the omen literature, astrological reports, and other letters which are used for restorations. Collations given in copy at the end of the volume are referred to briefly as "see coll." Collations included in Waterman's RCAE and Ylvisaker's grammar (LSS 5/6) are referred to as "W" and "Y" followed by page number, those done by Finkel and Geller are marked "(ILF)" and "(MJG)" respectively.

The critical apparatus does contain some information relevant to the interpretation of the texts, but it is not a commentary. For the convenience of the reader, the dates of the letters established in LAS II are noted for each text, usually in terms of the Assyrian calendar, and generally without justification; it is presumed that the reader will consult LAS II for the Julian dates and other information in case of need. To facilitate reference to the commentary in LAS, the LAS number of each text is systematically given in the critical apparatus whenever appropriate. References to studies on individual letters published after the appearance of LAS II and cross-references to other letters dealing with the same topic are also given, though with no claim to completeness. Comments are kept to a minimum, and are mainly devoted to problems in the text. The historical and technical information contained in the texts is generally not commented upon, but occasional references to such discussions in LAS II are provided.

In this context it is appropriate to set aright an erroneous statement in LAS II, p. 382 n. 672, concerning the table for converting Assyrian dates into Julian ones (Appendix A 2). It is said there that the table follows the conventions of Parker and Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology, p. 26ff, while it does not. If the new moon is visible for the first time at 7 p.m. on 26th September, then Parker and Dubberstein tell you that the first day of the month is 27th September (midnight to midnight), but LAS II App. A 2 would tell you that the first day is 26th September. I am grateful to C.B.F. Walker for bringing this slip to my notice.

Glossary and Indices

The glossary and indices, electronically generated, follow the pattern of the previous volumes. Note that in contrast to the two basic dictionaries, verbal adjectives are for technical reasons listed under the corresponding verbs, with appropriate cross-references. Scribal glosses are distinguished from other glossary entries by "g" appended to the source reference. The glossary and other indices were prepared primarily by Raija Mattila and thoroughly checked by the editor.

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola, 'On the Present Edition', Letters from Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars, SAA 10. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1993; online contents: SAAo/SAA10 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 [http://oracc.org/saao/saa10/onthepresentedition/]

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