On the Present Edition

Purpose and Scope

The present volume has a limited but challenging objective: to provide an edition of the Neo-Assyrian treaty corpus that meets the needs of both the specialist and the general reader. To this end, no effort has been spared to make it as accurate, reliable and easy to use as possible, and to provide the reader with the basic information necessary for understanding the texts edited in their original setting. On the other hand, we have purposely refrained from analysing the texts in detail and from comparing the Assyrian treaty practices with other similar systems, ancient or modern. These are matters better left to the users of the book, and fall out of the scope of the present edition.

General Structure

Structurally, the edition follows the norm established for the SAA series in the Editorial Manual of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus project. It consists of three principal parts: an introduction, a critical edition of the texts in transliteration and translation, based on fresh collation of the originals, and exhaustive computer-generated indices. In addition, a limited number of illustrations, copies and photographs of the originals are included. The principles followed in the preparation of each of these sections are defined in the Editorial Manual, and only some main points specific to the present volume will be discussed below.

Texts Included and Excluded

In line with the goals of the SAA series, the edition contains all extant treaties and loyalty oaths of the Neo-Assyrian empire identified to date regardless of the language in which they were drawn up. We have taken care to include even the smallest fragments that can certainly be shown to belong to the genre. The only exception is constituted by the Old Aramaic treaties from Sefire, which were imposed by an Assyrian overlord but drawn up in Aramaic and hence are not compatible with the scope of the SAA series.

In the interest of comprehensiveness, we have also included a text not strictly belonging to the category of treaties (no. 14). On the other hand, two small fragments (ABL 1186 and CT 35 33) previously tentatively assigned to the genre have been excluded as not pertinent.


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 recently collated either by the editors or a competent colleague.

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.

No. 6 is presented in composite transliteration (combining the evidence of all available manuscripts to produce a single continuous text) rather than in score transliteration (presenting all manuscripts separately line by line), because the latter way of presentation, ideal as it is for purposes of research, is not compatible with the format of the SAA series.

Since all the fragments of Text 6 cannot yet be assigned to definite manuscripts, the composite text presented here is not oriented after any particular manuscript. Rather, it is a conglomeration reflecting the idiosyncrasies of several different scribes. Syllabic and 'full' spellings have generally been preferred to logographic and defective ones at the sacrifice of orthographic consistency. Restorations (i.e. items not preserved in any manuscript) are enclosed in square brackets, while items found in some manuscripts but omitted as unnecessary in others are enclosed within parentheses. All variants, even insignificant ones, are listed in the critical apparatus.

In the interest of economy, the manuscript fragments of Text 6 have been assigned new sigla replacing the (abbreviated) excavation numbers (46A = ND 4346A, etc.) by which the texts are identified in earlier editions. A concordance of the sigla and the excavation numbers is found on p. LIXff. Capital letters indicate large fragments, lower case letters, smaller ones; fragments containing less than 10 lines of text are simply identified as "frg." For practical reasons, the order and numbering of lines follows BaM Bh 3.

A score transliteration of Text 6 in microfiche format is provided in the pocket inside the back cover.


The translations seek to render the tenor and meaning 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. Badly broken passages are generally translated only if the isolated words occurring in them yield some meaningful information. Uncertain and conjectural restorations and translations are indicated by italics. Interpretative additions to the translation are enclosed within parentheses. (In Text 6, parentheses also enclose words or phrases omitted as redundant in certain manuscripts.) All major restorations are enclosed within square brackets matching the corresponding items in the transliteration. Untranslatable passages are indicated by dots, unrestorable breaks by dots within parentheses.

Personal, divine and geographical names are rendered conventionally if a well-established and functional English or Biblical equivalent exists (e.g., Melqarth, Nineveh); otherwise, the name is given in transcription with length marks deleted. Month names are rendered by their Hebrew equivalents. The rendering of names 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 chiefly of references to collations of questionable passages either by the editor himself or by others. Other essential matters covered in the apparatus are textual variants, scribal mistakes corrected in the transliteration, and alternative readings or translations and problematic or ambiguous passages. Restorations based on easily verifiable evidence (parallels or duplicates) are basically not explained in the apparatus, conjectural restorations only if their conjectural nature is not made explicit by italics in the translation.

Copies and collations published at the end of the volume are referred to as "see copy" an "see coll." The abbreviations KW and SP identify collations and interpretations by the two editors whenever necessary.

The critical apparatus does contain some additional information relevant to the interpretation of the texts, but it is not a commentary. While references to related or associated texts are meant to facilitate the study of the texts until a true commentary in available, they are by no means exhaustive. Comments on individual names and lexical items are kept to a minimum and generally limited to new words and/or forms not to be found in the standard dictionaries or even specialized literature.

Glossary and Indices

The glossary and indices have been generated with the help of the computer and are for all practical purposes complete. The glossary, which is really a word index, contains all the occurrences of even the most common words, listed in alphabetic order under the relevant lemmas. The forms listed are not grouped semantically, and only the basic meanings of the words are given for the lemmas. Verbal adjectives are listed under verbs. References to the different manuscripts of Text 6 are indentified by ms. sigla following the line number. For the sake of clarity, half brackets, exclamation and question marks, as well as primes have been deleted from all references. The lemmas are given in their Assyrian form (e.g., uṣû not aṣû), with cross references under corresponding Babylonian forms. A complete list of the logograms occurring in the volume with their Assyrian readings precedes the glossary.

The name indices are styled like the glossary. To enhance their utility, identifications are consistently given (in parentheses) for every name whenever possible. The lemmas are again given in their normalized Assyrian form (Issar, Inurta, Ninua), which is not necessarily identical with the name form used in the translations (Ištar, Ninurta, Nineveh). Cross-references are given whenever necessary.

The subject index has been automatically generated from the translations and includes all the words occurring in them, with the exception of particles, common verbs and adjectives and the Assyrian names included in the name indices. Singular and plural forms have often been listed separately to obviate unnecessary checking.

Copies and Photographs of Tablets

In line with the general format of the SAA series, only previously unpublished texts are given in copy in the present volume. References to published copies or photographs are to be found under each text at the beginning of the translation column.

Simo Parpola

Simo Parpola, 'On the Present Edition', Neo-Assyrian Treaties and Loyalty Oaths, SAA 2. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1988; online contents: SAAo/SAA02 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/onthepresentedition/]

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