The so-called Nimrud Letters were the first Neo-Assyrian documents that I was able to acquaint myself with in the autumn of 1995. At that time, Professor Simo Parpola was teaching an introductory course on the Neo-Assyrian language at the University of Helsinki. The Nimrud Letters came as an unexpected shock for an undergraduate student who had only been studying Old Babylonian before this. This new experience was not just bewilderment, but also something that one might call love at first sight, or at least a challenge that started to vex my mind. As much as these letters fascinated me by their variable contents then, they have been doing so in many different ways ever after; and there is no reason to pretend that this process will be over with the publication of this volume.

Thanks to the pioneering work of the late H. W. F. Saggs, all the important letters from Calah (Nimrud) have been accessible to Assyriologists in marvellous hand copies since 2001. Nevertheless, apart from his copies, his edition of these letters left a lot of room for improvement, and with the publication of the present volume, we hope to present more reliable interpretations of these important letters and clarify several details pertinent to the reign of Tiglath-pileser III in particular.

It needs to be specified that before Saggs' The Nimrud Letters, 1952 appeared in 2001, he had already published 105 of these letters between 1955-1974 in the journal Iraq. They were transliterated and entered into the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project's database by Parpola in the 1970s. After 2001, with The Nimrud Letters, 1952, the transliterations of these 105 Assyrian and Babylonian letters were updated according to the cuneiform copies of Saggs' new volume (aka CTN 5) and all the previously unpublished letters were added to the Helsinki database. This was done in collaboration with Parpola and me.

I want to express my most sincere thanks to my teacher and mentor Simo Parpola without whose experience and expertise this volume would not have been published. Moreover, I have been able to discuss these letters with him on several occasions over the years, ever since his introductory course on the Neo-Assyrian language in 1995. It has been an indescribable honour and comforting feeling to have him "on my side" in this project: with his unstinting efforts, he was always ready to correct mistakes and suggest improvements to the manuscript. In fact, this Nimrud Letters volume is the outcome of a truly collaborative project between Simo and me.

My thanks are also due to Prof. F. M. Fales with whom I have been able to discuss some specific issues of the corpus. It was also through him that I got to know his pupil De vis Moras set, who, in 2005, had just prepared his Master's thesis on the Nimrud Letters. Therefore, we felt it natural to collaborate in preparing the Introduction to this volume. In 2006, Devis wrote the first drafts of the following sections of the Introduction: "Different Types of Introductory Formulae", "Relations between Assyria and her Neighbours in the Second Part of the Eighth Century BC" and its subsections, and "Deportations". Later on, I updated and augmented all these sections in correspondence with the latest interpretations of these letters. The tables on the correspondents and deportations we prepared together.

I am grateful to Prof. S. Ponchia as well as her pupils to whom I was able to present some of my interpretations as a test case when I was sojourning at the University of Verona in late 2005. Furthermore, I would like to thank Prof. G.B. Lanfranchi for his generosity and helpfulness every time I visited Padua.

Here in London, Prof. K. Radner has been very helpful in many ways when I was preparing this volume. I am especially in debt to Karen for her unflagging enthusiasm and patience when I was finishing this manuscript at University College London. I would also like to express many thanks to Dr. Julian Reade for providing excellent illustrations for yet another SAA volume, to Prof. J. N. Post gate for his full support of this project and for an opportunity to speak about the Nimrud Letters in Cambridge.

Dr. J. Novotny and Prof. S. Yamada were very kind in letting me see an advanced draft of RINAP 1 on Tiglath-pileser III's royal inscriptions prior to its publication. I owe them my warmest thanks. I am extremely grateful to Robert Whiting for all his technical instructions and for improving the language, especially in the critical apparatus and the editions of the volume, and to Silvie Zamazalová for editing my English in the Introduction.

Greta Van Buylaere passed on to me many good ideas; this was especially the case as regards the letters from the west. I also want to thank Greta for her invaluable technical assistance while preparing the manuscript of the volume.

Fortunately, I have been able to visit the British Museum on several occasions between 2007 and 2011 to collate the Nimrud Letters in their custody, and these visits have always been very pleasant. My sincere thanks are due to the personnel working in the study room of the Museum's Department of the Middle East study room of the museum, and to Jon Taylor and Christopher Walker in particular.

Finally, it gives me great pleasure to express my sincere thanks to all the institutions that have made it possible for me to study the extraordinary, ancient letters published in this volume. I want to emphasize that without grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Ehrnrooth Foundation and the fruitful collaboration with the University of Verona, and, more recently and above all, the opportunity to work on the British Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project "Mechanisms of Communication in an Ancient Empire", led by Karen Radner at University College London, I would not have been in a position to prepare this volume.

London,August2012 Mikko Luukko

Mikko Luukko

Mikko Luukko, 'Preface', The Correspondence of Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud, SAA 19. Original publication: Winona Laka, IN, Eisenbrauns, 2012; online contents: SAAo/SAA19 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 []

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SAAo/SAA19, 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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