On the Present Edition

This volume includes all the cuneiform documents thought to have been found on the acropolis at Nineveh dealing with the administration of the military establishment and the provincial administration. Apart from the sealings, the great bulk of this material was first published by Johns in Assyrian Deeds and Documents, mostly in Vol. II (1901) but some already in Vol. I ( 1898), or in Assyrian Doomsday Book (1901). In addition, we include a number of texts from the 1954 excavations at Tell Nebi Yunus (see SAAB 6 [1992] 1-19) and other, usually small, fragments recently identified in the Kuyunjik collection. A number of joins have been made within the material since Johns prepared his copies, both by Johns himself and by others; of the recent joins the majority have been made by Dr. T. Kwasman (cf. SAAB 4 [1990] 77-78). Copies of fragments not previously published in copy have been prepared by Postgate and appear at the end of the volume.

Selection and Arrangement of Texts

With the exception of four sealings in French collections that come from Khorsabad (nos. 61-64), this volume, like part I, has been restricted to texts from Nineveh. While there are unquestionably many texts from other sites that bear upon the topic, and perhaps are more clearly connected with provincial and military administration than some presented here, practical considerations directed their exclusion.

One or two of the texts in part I might equally well have been included here (e.g. SAA 7 127, 128 or 136), and it may well be that some documents in this volume would be more appropriate in part I (e.g. nos. 40 and 47 ; in fact, no. 40 is quite possibly a fragment of SAA 7 136). The criteria for inclusion here were often subjective, frequently amounting to little more than an intuition that a tablet was concerned with provincial or military administration or taxation, or that it showed some similarity to such a tablet and so belonged with it.

One significant group of texts that was excluded from this volume is grants of land or tax exemption to individuals by Assyrian kings. While these texts must have had some impact on provincial administration, much of the land involved being located in the provinces, these texts are clearly not administrative texts per se. On the other hand, there must have been an office in the imperial administration responsible for keeping track of these possessions and exemptions as well as for informing provincial governors of individuals and properties to be excluded from their tax rolls. We can expect this office to have had, if not copies of the actual grant documents, at least copies of the pertinent information from them as to the owners and locations of the exempted property. Thus we can expect the one class of documents (grants, non-administrative) to give rise to a second (lists of exempted properties for administrative purposes). It is our belief that this second class of documents is represented by some of the texts presented in this volume under Schedules of Land and People. Note also no. 153 which is an administrative memorandum concerning a votive donation, not the actual votive dedication itself.

Unfortunately for our ability to distinguish these administrative texts from the grant texts, the grants are not always self-contained documents on one tablet but may have one or more companion tablets containing only a schedule of the exempted properties and persons, with only the name of the principal grantee given in the grant tablet itself. There are, however, a number of criteria for distinguishing schedules to grants from administrative lists of land and people as well as from census texts (for further details, see the Introduction to SAA 12). It was decided to utilize these criteria to keep the schedules to grants separate and to exclude all grants and schedules thereto from the present volume in order to keep them together in a volume dedicated to the royal grants and edicts. At the same time, it was decided to move forward the publication of the grants volume so that it would appear at about the same time as the present volume. While it is possible that this decision may result in the inclusion of a few fragments of administrative texts in the grants volume and surely results in the separation of the administrative lists of the exempted land and people from the source documents from which it must have been copied or excerpted, it is the only decision that preserves the integrity of both classes of texts .

As in part I, there is no right way of arranging texts of this sort, especially when they include small fragments. In some groups the few dated pieces have been placed first, and on the whole large, multi-column, tablets or fragments of them have preceded single column pieces. But neither of these criteria gives sufficient guidance for the detailed ordering, and again we have simply tried as much as possible to put like with like and not worry too much.


Both the age of Johns' copies and the technical difficulty of the texts themselves have necessitated unusually heavy collation. Some of the texts were collated by Postgate in the 1970's for his editions in TCAE; more than half of the remaining texts in the volume were collated by S. Parpola in 1982. The results of both were incorporated in the Helsinki archive which forms the basis of the transliterations. For the current edition each text was collated again by Postgate: that is to say, the entire text was matched to the transliterations, not just passages which seemed doubtful. This is essential, if only because the ADD copies have not infrequently omitted whole lines or even sections of a text. However, a first collation is often insufficient, and broken or difficult passages have often been checked two or three times. We do not however imagine that these are definitive: every further collation yields fresh results.

The Text Editions

Again, the ideal would have been to recopy every piece. This would have been especially valuable because the format of administrative texts, with their columns and rulings, often implicitly conveys information not present in the words alone, and the ADD copies do not usually transmit this. Unfortunately, such an undertaking would have extended by years the time needed to complete the volume and was simply not practicable.

Results of collation are indicated with exclamation marks. Single exclamation marks indicate corrections to published copies, double exclamation marks, scribal errors. Question marks indicate uncertain or questionable readings. Broken portions of text and all restorations are enclosed within square brackets. Parentheses enclose items omitted by ancient scribes or explanatory material inserted by the editors. An asterisk (*) after the figure 4 (and occasionally other figures) means that the figure is written with horizontal, rather than the usual vertical wedges. Numbers that appear at the edge of a break where part of the number might be missing are followed by "[ +x" or preceded by "x+ ] ," and it must be borne in mind that "x" may be zero.

The transliterations were in principle established by Postgate, and the translations by Fales, in each case with frequent input from the other editor and from the editorial staff in Helsinki. The Introduction is largely the work of Fales.

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 indicated 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 and 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. The normalization of West-Semitic names generally follows the conventions of Zadok West Semites. West Semitic phonemes not expressed by the writing system (/o/ etc.) have generally not been restituted in the normalizations, and the sibilant system follows the NA orthography.

The rendering of professions is a compromise between the use of accurate but impractical Assyrian terms and inaccurate but practical modern or classical equivalents.

Critical Apparatus

The primary purpose of the critical apparatus is to support the readings and translations established in the edition, and it consists largely of references to collations of questionable passages, scribal mistakes corrected in the transliteration, and alternative interpretations or restorations of ambiguous passages. Restorations based on easily verifiable evidence (e.g. , parallel passages found in the text itself) are generally not explained in the apparatus; conjectural restorations only if their conjectural nature is not apparent from italics in the translation.

Collations given in copy at the end of the volume are referred to briefly as "see coll."

The critical apparatus does contain some additional information relevant to the interpretation of the texts, but it is not a commentary. Comments are kept to a minimum, and are mainly devoted to problems in the text, elucidation of lexical items or Akkadian expressions necessarily left untranslated. The historical information contained in the texts is generally not commented upon.

Glossary and Indices

The glossary and indices, electronically generated, generally follow the pattern of the previous volumes. The glossary contains all lexically identifiable words occurring in the texts with the exception of suffixless numbers 1-99. The references to professions attached to the index of personal names have been provided by a computer programme written by Simo Parpola; it is hoped that these will be helpful in the prosopographical analysis of the texts, but it should be noted that the program omits certain deficiently written professions and the references are accordingly not absolutely complete.

Logograms without a known Akkadian equivalent are included in alphabetical order in the glossary written in small capitals. The glossary and indices were prepared by Raija Mattila.

F.M. Fales & J.N. Postgate

F.M. Fales & J.N. Postgate, 'On the Present Edition', Imperial Administrative Records, Part II: Provincial and Military Administration, SAA 11. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1995; online contents: SAAo/SAA11 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 [http://oracc.org/saao/saa11/onthepresentedition/]

Back to top ^^
SAAo/SAA11, 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 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/] license, 2007-20.
Oracc uses cookies only to collect Google Analytics data. Read more here [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/doc/about/cookies/index.html]; see the stats here [http://www.seethestats.com/site/oracc.museum.upenn.edu]; opt out here.