Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin
§1.2. The joint study of the Middle Assyrian letter was beset with difficulties. Although each of us benefited from the criticisms of the other, it became clear that our interpretations of this artifact were sufficiently different and irreconcilable so as to preclude a common edition of this text. Fincke intends to publish elsewhere a hand copy of the text and perhaps photographs and an edition as well. The present edition is based on my own autopsy, on photographs supplied by the British Museum, and on Fincke’s several copies based on our joint study. It is proffered because of the aforementioned differences of interpretation, and especially because of the important historical implications for the understanding of Late Bronze Age history that, I believe, inhere in this document. The historical implications are unaffected by any differences of interpretation. In the course of studying this text, I approached Dr. Jaume Llop, who specializes in Middle Assyrian letters, and requested from him his unmediated impressions of this peculiar text. He responded promptly and with acumen. I am very grateful for his cheerful response to an unexpected imposition.
§2. Text Apparatus
§2.2.2. However, it was equally apparent that BM 103203 exhibits distinctly non-Nuzi characteristics and, indeed, resembles a Middle Assyrian document in both language and, it transpires, even in part of its contents. Rev. 1 and especially rev. 9 have language unattested at Nuzi: suḫḫuru (for Nuzi turru) and arḫiš (for Nuzi ḫammutta). Both terms, especially the latter, are present in Middle Assyrian usage. The subjunctive at obv. 4 (as observed by Fincke) and the imperative form of the verb at rev. 7 and its pronominal suffix are conspicuously Assyrian. These linguistic elements are unambiguous and alone justify a search for further Assyrian elements, perhaps not as readily apparent, as noted above. Indeed, on the basis of some of these elements, Fincke ingeniously restored l.e. 1-2 as an Assyrian eponym date formula. Although key signs are broken and/or are unusual in form, and although the second line of the formula seems to end with what, at first glance, seems the continuation of rev. 10, despite these obstacles (and others), the reconstruction of an eponym formula here seems reasonable. It makes sense in a letter at least partially written in an Assyrian dialect of Akkadian. And it yields a PN that is identical to the PN at obv. 3, an identity I do not consider coincidental. Thus, I conclude that the eponym official sent this letter, and, given the Assyro-Hurrian features of the document, he might well have been an Assyrian governor (likely the first) of the province of Arrapḫa in the Middle Assyrian period.
§2.2.3. In sum, this text is an isolate with a Nuzi ductus, tablet shape, verb form and a partially Arrapḫan onomasticon, on the one hand, and Middle Assyrian vocabulary, date formula and other administrative data, and some grammatical elements, on the other. It is not only an unusual letter, but an opaque one, bristling with problems. Though very well preserved in most places, five of the 20 lines (obv. 7-8, rev. 8-10) are all but intractable and others remain ambiguous. Happily, the clearest lines, at the start and at the end, turn out to be the most significant. For some historical implications of these comments, see further below, “further comments.”
l. 3. For this PN, see also l.e. 2 and the note to that line.
l. 3: dix (TE). On TE as dix/dex, compare Eichler 1973: 102 with 105.
l. 5: 1ki-pa2-ia. Kipaya is a common Hurrian name at Nuzi. For this hypocoristicon, see, for example, NPN 86b sub KIPAIA; AAN 82b sub KIPAIA.
ll. 7-8. One of these lines should contain a verb.
l. 2: ša. This is difficult syntactically. If su2-ḫi-ir (rev. 1) were to be considered a substantive, then it would be in the construct state and, therefore, should not be followed by ša in this line as a relative particle. I assume here an anticipatory relative particle linking ukullû and anše-<kur?-ra?>.
l. 2: anše-<kur?-ra?>:. If the scribe indeed meant anše, then the admittedly tentative, unified meaning ascribed to this letter fails.
l. 2: u2-ku!? (KI)-˹lu˺. It would make good sense if the last word represented food or fodder of some sort; and an agreeable reading from the root √ʾKL seems possible. But ukullû, the closest candidate, can be read only by assuming an anomalous ku! for the KI-sign. u2-ki-lu, on the other hand, yields no word recognized by the lexica.
ll. 5-6. These lines should describe recompense, or the like, for the “forgotten” provender of rev. 3-4. But the interpretation adopted here is not without problems. The amounts on rev. 5-6 seem disproportionately large relative to the amount noted on rev. 3. Furthermore, J. Llop brings my attention to the disturbing fact that dabin is elsewhere (but not in Middle Assyrian texts) measured by units of dry volume, not by weight, as proposed here.
l. 5: dabin. This processed grain (Akk. tappinnu) is attested in Middle Assyrian, if only barely (and never at Nuzi). See CAD T 183b sub tappinnu 1b (KAR 61 obv. 11) and 2 (KAR 90 obv. 9). But note that, even there, the grain is not meant for animals.
l. 6. Goat hair would be employed for horse trappings. Cf. HSS 14, 254 rev. 2-4 (also weighed in minas). Alternatively, goat hair might be employed to pay for fodder. Cf. HSS 13, 227 rev. 3 with rev. 7, 10.
l. 7. This is an Assyrian imperative with 3mp Assyrian dative suffix. -šu-nu-<ti> is also possible, realizing an alternative dative in Assyrian.
l. 8. This line should contain a substantive.
l. 9: ar-ḫi-iš. This is a common term in Assyrian (for Middle Assyrian, see CAD A/2 256b sub arḫiš f), but seemingly totally absent at Nuzi. ḫamutta is the equivalent term in Nuzi letters. See JEN 495 obv. 8; HSS 14, 525 rev. 3; EN 9/1, 135 obv. 8; and passim. After arḫiš, if a verb appears in Middle Assyrian, it should be an imperative (again, see CAD A/2 256b sub arḫiš f). But perhaps this line ends with a substantive. See further, note to rev. 10.
l. 10. The sense of this line eludes me. If its contents are syntactically related to rev. 9, then the end of the line should be a verb in the imperative.
l. 10: a!? (ZALAG2). This follows a suggestion of Llop, who correctly assigns the sign to this place rather than to l.e. 2, after ki.
l. 2: 1ki-dix(TE)-˹ku˺-be. The same PN appears at obv. 3. It is possible, but highly unlikely, that the writer and the eponym are two different individuals. Kidin-kūbe is an attested Middle Assyrian eponym (Freydank 1991: 148). As is the case here, the /n/ of “Kidin” is not represented in the eponym formula of KAJ 29 rev. 12. This eponym’s patronymic, Bēr-nādin-aḫḫē, cannot have been written on this line. On the effaced surface after the PN, there is space for only one or two signs. Further on, the end of this line, undamaged, is blank.
§2.4. Further Comments
§2.4.2. Kirkuk (i.e., Arrapḫa City) seems a better candidate than Nuzi itself for the origin of this letter, and this for several reasons. First, hundreds, if not thousands, of administrative texts have been found at Nuzi. Most of these are from Nuzi’s final period. None suggests Assyrian control of the town. Second, this letter should not be from Nuzi in any case, since stratum II was destroyed by Assyria, not captured and administered.
§2.4.3. Conversely, we know very little (except for some military rosters) of the administrative archives of Kirkuk, and the fate of the capital is as yet unknown. Arrapḫa’s archives might reveal Assyrian presence, and the present text might have been at home in that context. If BM 103203 does come from Arrapḫa, then it shows that Assyrian administration was present in the wake of the Assyrian victory over her nearest eastern neighbor (see Maidman 2011: 87-93; cf. Maidman 2010: ch. 1). Therefore, Assyria did not destroy this center during the Assyria-Arrapḫa War. It occupied it.
§2.4.4. BM 103203 is an unusually important document for the history of the Late Bronze Age, for it extends the political and chronological horizon of the upper Tigris. It adds to our knowledge of Assyria’s aggressive activity early in the reign of Aššur-uballiṭ I. As for the history of Hurrian Arrapḫa, it may well constitute, as Speiser once characterized a Nuzi text (Chiera & Speiser 1927: 59 re JEN 525), a “swan song,” not of one family of Nuzi (as Speiser opined), but of the world of Nuzi itself.
Version: 3 August 2014