Assyrian Historiography
by Albert Ten Eyck Olmstead
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A Source Study By ALBERT TEN EYCK OLMSTEAD Associate Professor of Ancient History


CHAPTER I Assyrian Historians and their Histories

CHAPTER II The Beginnings of True History (Tiglath Pileser I)

CHAPTER III The Development of Historical Writing (Ashur nasir apal and Shalmaneser III)

CHAPTER IV Shamshi Adad and the Synchronistic History

CHAPTER V Sargon and the Modern Historical Criticism

CHAPTER VI Annals and Display Inscriptions (Sennacherib and Esarhaddon)

CHAPTER VII Ashur bani apal and Assyrian Editing

CHAPTER VIII The Babylonian Chronicle and Berossus



To the serious student of Assyrian history, it is obvious that we cannot write that history until we have adequately discussed the sources. We must learn what these are, in other words, we must begin with a bibliography of the various documents. Then we must divide them into their various classes, for different classes of inscriptions are of varying degrees of accuracy. Finally, we must study in detail for each reign the sources, discover which of the various documents or groups of documents are the most nearly contemporaneous with the events they narrate, and on these, and on these alone, base our history of the period.

To the less narrowly technical reader, the development of the historical sense in one of the earlier culture peoples has an interest all its own. The historical writings of the Assyrians form one of the most important branches of their literature. Indeed, it may be claimed with much truth that it is the most characteristically Assyrian of them all. [Footnote: This study is a source investigation and not a bibliography. The only royal inscriptions studied in detail are those presenting source problems. Minor inscriptions of these rulers are accorded no more space than is absolutely necessary, and rulers who have not given us strictly historical inscriptions are generally passed in silence. The bibliographical notes are condensed as much as possible and make no pretense of completeness, though they will probably be found the most complete yet printed. Every possible care has been taken to make the references accurate, but the fact that many were consulted in the libraries of Cornell University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania, and are thus inaccessible at the time when the work is passing through the press, leaves some possibility of error. Dr. B. B. Charles, Instructor in Semitics in the University of Pennsylvania, has kindly verified those where error has seemed at all likely.—For the English speaking reader, practically all the inscriptions for the earlier half of the history are found in Budge-Kjing, Annals of the Kings of Assyria. 1. For the remainder, Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Literature, is adequate, though somewhat out of date. Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the, Old Testament, gives an up to date translation of those passages which throw light on the Biblical writings. Other works cited are generally of interest only to specialists and the most common are cited by abbreviations which will be found at the close of the study.]

The Assyrians derived their historical writing, as they did so many other cultural elements, from the Babylonians. In that country, there had existed from the earliest times two types of historical inscriptions. The more common form developed from the desire of the kings to commemorate, not their deeds in war, but their building operations, and more especially the buildings erected in honor of the gods. Now and then we have an incidental reference to military activities, but rarely indeed do we find a document devoted primarily to the narration of warlike deeds. Side by side with these building inscriptions were to be found dry lists of kings, sometimes with the length of their reigns, but, save for an occasional legend, there seem to have been no detailed histories. It was from the former type that the earliest Assyrian inscriptions were derived. In actual fact, we have no right to call them historical in any sense of the word, even though they are our only sources for the few facts we know about this early period. A typical inscription of this type will have the form "Irishum the vice gerent of the god Ashur, the son of Ilushuma the vice gerent of the god Ashur, unto the god Ashur, his Lord, for his own life and for the life of his son has dedicated". Thus there was as yet little difference in form from their Babylonian models and the historical data were of the slightest. This type persisted until the latest days of the Assyrian empire in the inscriptions placed on the bricks, or, in slightly more developed form, in the inscriptions written on the slabs of stone used for the adornment of palace or temple. For these later periods, they rarely have a value other than for the architectural history, and so demand no further study in this place. Nevertheless, the architectural origin of the historical inscription should not be forgotten. Even to the end, it is a rare document which does not have as its conclusion a more or less full account of the building operations carried on by the monarch who erected it.

It was not long until the inscriptions were incised on limestone. These slabs, giving more surface for the writing, easily induced the addition of other data, including naturally some account of the monarch's exploits in war. The typical inscription of this type, take, for example that of Adad nirari I, [Footnote: BM. 90,978; IV. R. 44 f.; G. Smith, Assyr. Discoveries, 1875, 242 ff.; Pognon, JA. 1884, 293 ff.; Peiser, KB. I. 4 ff.; Budge-King, 4 ff.; duplicate Scheil, RT. XV. 138 ff.; Jastrow, ZA. X. 35 ff.; AJSL. XII 143 ff.] has a brief titulary, then a slightly longer sketch of the campaigns, but the greater portion by far is devoted to the narration of his buildings. This type also continued until the latest days of the empire, and, like the former, is of no value where we have the fuller documents.

When the German excavations were begun at Ashur, the earliest capital of the Assyrian empire, it was hoped that the scanty data with which we were forced to content ourselves in writing the early history would soon be much amplified. In part, our expectations have been gratified. We now know the names of many new rulers and the number of new inscriptions has been enormously increased. But not a single annals inscription from this earlier period has been discovered, and it is now becoming clear that such documents are not to be expected. Only the so-called "Display" inscriptions, and those with the scantiest content, have been found, and it is not probable that any will be hereafter discovered.

It was not until the end of the fourteenth century B. C. with the reign of Arik den ilu, that we have the appearance of actual annalistic inscriptions. That we are at the very beginning of annalistic writing is clear, even from the fragmentary remains. The work is in annals form, in so far as the events of the various years are separated by lines, but it is hardly more than a list of places captured and of booty taken, strung together by a few formulae. [Footnote: Scheil, OLZ. VII. 216. Now in the Morgan collection, Johns, Cuneiform Inscriptions, 33.]

With this one exception, we do not have a strictly historical document nor do we have any source problem worthy of our study until the time of Tiglath Pileser I, about 1100 B.C. To be sure, we have a good plenty of inscriptions before this time, [Footnote: L. Messerschmidt, Keilschrifttexte aus Assur. I. Berlin 1911; Mittheilungen der Deutschen Orient Gesellschaft; cf, D. D. Luckenbill, AJSL. XXVIII. 153 ff.] and the problems they present are serious enough, but they are not of the sort that can be solved by source study. Accordingly, we shall begin our detailed study with the inscriptions from this reign. Then, after a gap in our knowledge, caused by the temporary decline of Assyrian power, we shall take up the many problems presented by the numerous inscriptions of Ashur nasir apal (885-860 B.C.) and of his son Shalmaneser III (860-825 B.C.). In the case of the latter, especially, we shall see how a proper evaluation of the documents secures a proper appreciation of the events in the reign. With these we shall discuss their less important successors until the downfall of the dynasty. The revival of Assyrian power under Tiglath Pileser IV (745-728 B.C.) means a revival of history writing and our problems begin again. The Sargonidae, the most important of the various Assyrian dynasties, comprising Sargon (722-705 B.C.), Sennacherib (705-686 B.C.), Esarhaddon (686-668 B.C.), and Ashur bani apal (668-626 B.C.), furnish us a most embarrassing wealth of historical material, while the problems, especially as to priority of date and as to consequent authority, become most complicated.

Before taking up a more detailed study of these questions, it is necessary to secure a general view of the situation we must face. The types of inscriptions, especially in the later days of the empire, are numerous. In addition to the brick and slab inscriptions, rarely of value in this later period, we have numerous examples on a larger scale of the so called "Display" inscriptions. They are usually on slabs of stone and are intended for architectural adornment. In some cases, we have clay tablets with the original drafts prepared for the workmen. Still others are on clay prisms or cylinders. These latter do not differ in form from many actual annals, but this likeness in form should not blind us to the fact that their text is radically different in character.

All the display inscriptions are primarily of architectural character, whether intended to face the walls of the palace or to be deposited as a sort of corner stone under the gates or at the corners of the wall. We should not expect their value to be high, and indeed they are of but little worth when the corresponding annals on which they are based has been preserved. For example, we have four different recensions of a very long display inscription, as well as literally scores of minor ones, also of a display character, from the later years of Sargon. The minor inscriptions are merely more or less full abstracts of the greater and offer absolutely nothing new. The long display inscription might be equally well disregarded, had not the edition of the annals on which it is based come down to us in fragmentary condition. We may thus use the Display inscription to fill gaps in the Annals, but it has not the slightest authority when it disagrees with its original.

It is true that for many reigns, even at a fairly late date, the display inscriptions are of great value. For the very important reign of Adad nirari (812-785 B.C.), it is our only recourse as the annals which we may postulate for such a period of development are totally lost. The deliberate destruction of the greater portion of the annals of Tiglath Pileser IV forces us to study the display documents in greater detail and the loss of all but a fragment of the annals of Esarhaddon makes for this period, too, a fuller discussion of the display inscriptions than would be otherwise necessary. In addition, we may note that there are a few inscriptions from other reigns, for example, the Nimrud inscription of Sargon, which are seemingly based on an earlier edition of the annals than that which has come down to us and which therefore do give us a few new facts.

Since, then, it is necessary at times to use these display inscriptions, we must frankly recognize their inferior value. We must realize that their main purpose was not to give a connected history of the reign, but simply to list the various conquests for the greater glory of the monarch. Equally serious is it that they rarely have a chronological order. Instead, the survey generally follows a geographical sweep from east to west. That they are to be used with caution is obvious.

Much more fortunate is our position when we have to deal with the annalistic inscriptions. We have here a regular chronology, and if errors, intentional or otherwise, can sometimes be found, the relative chronology at least is generally correct. The narrative is fuller and interesting details not found in other sources are often given. But it would be a great mistake to assume that the annals are always trustworthy. Earlier historians have too generally accepted their statements unless they had definite proof of inaccuracy. In the last few years, there has been discovered a mass of new material which we may use for the criticism of the Sargonide documents. Most valuable are the letters, sometimes from the king himself, more often from others to the monarch. Some are from the generals in the field, others from the governors in the provinces, still others from palace officials. All are of course absolutely authentic documents, and the light they throw upon the annals is interesting. To these we may add the prayers at the oracle of the sun god, coming from the reigns of Esarhaddon and Ashur bani apal, and they show us the break up of the empire as we never should have suspected from the grandiloquent accounts of the monarchs themselves. Even the business documents occasionally yield us a slight help toward criticism. Add to this the references in foreign sources such as Hebrew or Babylonian, and we hardly need internal study to convince us that the annals are far from reliable.

Yet even internal evidence may be utilized. For example, when the king is said to have been the same year in two widely separated parts of the empire, warring with the natives, it is clear that in one of these the deeds of a general have been falsely ascribed to the king, and the suspicion is raised that he may have been at home in Assyria all the time. That there are many such false attributions to the king is proved by much other evidence, the letters from the generals in command to their ruler; an occasional reference to outside authorities, as when the editor of the book of Isaiah shows that the famous Ashdod expedition was actually led by the Turtanu or prime minister; or such a document as the dream of Ashur bani apal, which clearly shows that he was a frightened degenerate who had not the stamina to take his place in the field with the generals whose victories he usurped. Again, various versions differ among themselves. To what a degree this is true, only those who have made a detailed study of the documents can appreciate. Typical examples from Sargon's Annals were pointed out several years ago. [Footnote: Olmstead. Western Asia in the Reign of Sargon of Assyria, 1908.] The most striking of these, the murder of the Armenian king Rusash by—the cold blooded Assyrian scribe,—has now been clearly proved false by a contemporaneous document emanating from Sargon himself. Another good illustration is found in the cool taking by Ashur bani apal of bit after bit of the last two Egyptian campaigns of his father until in the final edition there is nothing that he has not claimed for himself.

The Assyrians, as their business documents show, could be exceedingly exact with numbers. But this exactness did not extend to their historical inscriptions. We could forgive them for giving us in round numbers the total of enemies slain or of booty carried off and even a slight exaggeration would be pardonable. But what shall we say as to the accuracy of numbers in our documents when one edition gives the total slain in a battle as 14,000, another as 20,500, the next as 25,000, and the last as 29,000! Is it surprising that we begin to wonder whether the victory was only a victory on the clay tablet of the scribe? What shall we say when we find that the reviser has transformed a booty of 1,235 sheep in his original into a booty of 100,225! This last procedure, the addition of a huge round number to the fairly small amount of the original, is a common trick of the Sargonide scribe, of which many examples may be detected by a comparison of Sargon's Display inscription with its original, the Annals. So when Sennacherib tells us that he took from little Judah no less than 200,150 prisoners, and that in spite of the fact that Jerusalem itself was not captured, we may deduct the 200,000 as a product of the exuberant fancy of the Assyrian scribe and accept the 150 as somewhere near the actual number captured and carried off.

This discussion has led to another problem, that of the relative order of the various annals editions. For that there were such various editions can be proved for nearly every reign. And in nearly every reign it has been the latest and worst edition which has regularly been taken by the modern historians as the basis for their studies. How prejudicial this may be to a correct view of the Assyrian history, the following pages will show. The procedure of the Assyrian scribe is regularly the same. As soon as the king had won his first important victory, the first edition of the annals was issued. With the next great victory, a new edition was made out. For the part covered by the earlier edition, an abbreviated form of this was incorporated. When the scribe reached the period not covered by the earlier document, he naturally wrote more fully, as it was more vividly in his mind and therefore seemed to him to have a greater importance. Now it would seem that all Assyriologists should have long ago recognized that any one of these editions is of value only when it is the most nearly contemporaneous of all those preserved. When it is not so contemporaneous, it has absolutely no value when we do have the original from which it was derived. Yet it still remains true that the most accessible editions of these annals are those which are the latest and poorest. Many of the earlier and more valuable editions have not been republished for many years, so that for our most contemporaneous sources we must often go to old books, long out of print and difficult to secure, while both translation and commentary are hopelessly behind the times. Particularly is this the case with the inscriptions of Sennacherib and Ashur bani apal. The greatest boon to the historian of Assyria would be an edition of the Assyrian historical inscriptions in which would be given, only those editions or portions of editions which may be considered as contemporaneous and of first class value. With such a collection before him, notable as much for what it excluded as for what was included, many of the most stubborn problems in Assyrian history would cease to be problems.

The historian of Assyria must test his sources before he can use them in his history. To do this, he must first of all be able to distinguish the primary sources which will reward future study from those which are secondary and are based on other and more contemporary documents which even now are actually in our possession. When these latter are cast aside as of no practical value, save perhaps as they show the peculiar mental operations of the Assyrian editor, we are then ready to test the remainder by the various methods known to the historian. The second part of this task must be worked out by the historian when he studies the actual history in detail. It is the discovery of what are the primary sources for the various reigns and of the value of the contributions which they make to Assyrian history that is to be the subject of the more detailed discussion in the following chapters.



(Tiglath Pileser I)

We shall begin, then, our detailed study of the sources for Assyrian history with the data for the reign of Tiglath Pileser I (circa 1100 B.C.). Taking up first the Annals, we find that the annalistic documents from the reign may be divided into two general groups. One, the Annals proper, is the so called Cylinder, in reality written on a number of hexagonal prisms. [Footnote: Photographs of B and A, Budge-King, xliii; xlvii; of the Ashur fragments, of at least five prisms, Andrae, _Anu-Adad Tempel_, Pl. xiii ff. I R. 9 ff.; Winckler, _Sammlung_, I. 1 ff.; Budge-King, 27 ff., with variants and BM numbers. Lotz, _Inschriften Tiglathpilesers_ I, 1880; Winckler, KB. I. 14 ff. Rawlinson, Hincks, Talbot, Oppert, JRAS. OS. XVIII. 150 ff.; Oppert, _Histoire des empires de Chaldee et d'Assyrie, 1865, 44f; Menant, 35 ff.; Rawlinson, Rp1, V. 7 ff. Sayce RP squared, I. 92 ff.; Muss-Arnolt in Harper, llff.; MDOG. 25, 21f; 28, 22; 29, 40; 47, 33; King, _Supplement_, 116; Andrae, _Tempel_, 32 ff.] First comes the praise of the gods and self praise of the ruler himself. Then follow the campaigns, not numbered as in the more developed style of later rulers, but separated into six sections, for the six years whose events are narrated, by brief glorifications of the monarch. Next we have the various hunting exploits of the king, and the document ends with an elaborate account of the building operations and with threats against the later ruler who should destroy the inscription or refuse credit to the king in whose honor it was made.

No relationship has been made out between the fragments, but the four-fairly complete prisms fall into two groups, A and C, B and D, as regards both the form of writing and the character of the text. All date seemingly from the same month of the same year, though from separate days. The most fragmentary of these, D, seems the best, as it has the smallest number of unique readings and has also the largest number of omissions, [Footnote: II. 21b-23a; III. 37b-39a; IV. 36.] all of which are clearly interpolations in the places where they are given. This is especially true of the one [Footnote: IV. 36.] which refers to the Anu-Adad and Ishtar temples, for not only is the insertion awkward, we know from the Obelisk [Footnote: II. 13.] that the Anu-Adad temple was not completed till year five, so that it must be an interpolation of that date. In spite of its general resemblance to D, especially in its omissions, B is very poorly written and has over two hundred unique readings. One of its omissions would seriously disarrange the chronology, [Footnote: IV. 40-42.] others are clearly unwarranted, [Footnote: II. 79081; V.4; VIII. 29b-33.] and one long addition [Footnote: VII. 17-27; also I. 35; different in VI. 37.] further marks its peculiar character. Our conclusion must be that it is a poor copy of a good original. C is between A and B, agreeing with the latter in a strange interpolation [Footnote: III. 2a-c.] and in the omission of the five kings of the Muski. [Footnote: I. 63b. King, Supplement, 116 follows C.] A is the latest but best preserved, while the character of the text warrants us in making this our standard as it has but few unique readings and but one improbable omission. [Footnote: VII. 105-8.] The same account, in slightly different form and seemingly later in date [Footnote: K.2815 is dated in the eponomy of Ninib nadin apal, the LAH MA GAL E official. He probably is after the rab bi lul official in whose year the hexagons are dated.] is also found in some tablet inscriptions. [Footnote: Budge-King, 125 n.3; K.2815, with different conclusion; 81-2-4, 220, where reverse different; K.12009; K.13840; 79-7-8, 280; 89-4-26, 28; Rm. 573: Winckler, AOF. III. 245.]

A second annalistic group is that postulated as the original of the so called Broken Obelisk. Of documents coming directly from Tiglath Pileser himself, the only one that can with any probability be assigned to this is the tiny fragment which refers to the capture of Babylon. [Footnote: K. 10042; Winckler, AOF. I. 387.] But that such a group did exist is proved by the extracts from it in the obelisk prepared by a descendant of Tiglath Pileser, probably one of his sons, Shamshi Adad or Ashur bel kala. [Footnote: Photograph, Budge-King, li; Paterson, Assyr. Sculptures, 63. I R. 28; III R. 4, 1; Budge-King, 128 ff. Lotz, op. cit., 196 ff.; Peiser, KB. I. 122 ff.; Talbot, JRAS. OS. XIX. 124 ff.; Houghton-Finlay, RP(1), XI. 9 ff.; Oppert, Hist., 132 ff.; Hommel, Gesch., 532 ff.; Menant, 49 ff. Proved to Tiglath Pileser, Lotz, op. cit., 193 f.; cf. Budge-King, 131 n. 4, though Streck, ZA. XVIII. 187 ff., still believes that it belongs to an earlier king. Found at Nineveh, though it deals with Ashur constructions.] Only the upper portion, probably less than half to judge by the proportions, is preserved, and even this is terribly mutilated. Fortunately, the parts best preserved are those relating to the years not dealt with in the Annals. The first half of the document is devoted to the campaigns of Tiglath Pileser, then come his hunting exploits, and only a bit at the end is reserved for the building operations of the unknown ruler under whom it was erected. Its source seems to have had the same relation to the earliest form of the Annals that the Obelisk of Shalmaneser III had to the Monolith, that is, it gave the data for the earlier part of the reign, that covered by the other source, very briefly, only expanding as it reached a period where the facts were not represented by any other document. That our earlier Annals, or perhaps rather, one of its sources, was a main source of our second type, is proved by the coincidences in language in the two, in one case no less than twenty signs the same, [Footnote: In year V we have ishtu...adi alu Kargamish sha matu Hatte...isu elippe pl mashku tahshe.] not to speak of the hunting expeditions. But this earlier Annals was not the only, or at least not the direct source for the Obelisk, nor was that source merely a fuller recension of it. Data for the first six years, not found in the earlier Annals, are given in the Obelisk, [Footnote: Obl. I. 17, reference to Marduk nadin ahe, King of Akkad; II. 1, one thousand men of land of...; II. 2, four thousand of them carried prisoner to Assyria, the position of which shows that it cannot, with Budge-King, 132 n., be referred to Ann. III. 2, the Kashi; II. 12, the Mushki (?); II. 13, temple of Ami and Adad. These all precede the Carchemish episode.] while our document also, for the first time in Assyrian historical inscriptions, dates the events by the name of the eponym for the year, and, still more unusual, by the month as well. That the Obelisk may be considered merely a resume of this original source is shown by the statement that he conquered other lands and made many wars, but these he did not record. [Footnote: Obl. IV. 37.] As they seem to have been given after the hunting feats, in the lost lower part of column IV, we may assume that all that preceded is taken from that source. Furthermore, we are given the other hunting exploits "which my [father] did not record." [Footnote: Obl. IV. 33.] The numbers of beasts killed, which the scribe intended especially to emphasize, have never, curiously enough, been inscribed in the blanks left for their insertion. [Footnote: E.g., Obl. IV. 4.]

Opposed to the Annals proper are the Display inscriptions in which chronological considerations and details as to the campaigns are subordinated to the desire to give a general view of the monarch's might. Two have been found in foreign lands, one at the source of the Tigris, [Footnote: Discovery, J. Taylor, cf. H. Rawlinson, Athenaeum, 1862, II. 811; 1863, I. 229. III R. 4, 6; Schrader, Abh. K. Preuss. Akad., 1885, I. Winckler, Sammlung, I. 30: Budge-King, 127 n. 1. Meissner, Chrestomathie, 6; Abel-Winckler, 5; Menant, 49. Winckler, KB. I. 48 f. Dated after the Arvad expedition as shown by reference to Great Sea of Amurru, and of same date as Melazgerd inscription, Belck, Verh. Berl.] the other near Melazgerd in Armenia. [Footnote: From Gonjalu, near Melazgerd, Belck-Lehmann, Verh. Berl. Anthr. Ges. 1898, 574. Photograph, Lehmann, Sitzungsber. Berl. Akad., 1900, 627. Is this one of the "cuneiform inscriptions near Moosh" reported to Taylor, Athenaeum, 1863, I. 229?] Drafts for similar inscriptions have been found on clay tablets, written for the use of the workmen who were to incise them on stone. Of these, one, which is virtually complete as regards number of lines, seems to date from year four as it has no reference to later events. [Footnote: S. 1874; K. 2805, Tabl. I of Budge-King, 109 ff. III R. 5; Winckler, Sammlung, I. 26 ff.; cf. Lotz, op. cit., 193; Tiele, Gesch., 159 n. 2; Meissner, ZA. IX. 101 ff. Meissner's restoration of these as parts of one tablet in chronological order will not stand in view of the fact that I is complete in itself while there are variations in the order of Nairi and totally different endings.] It would then be our earliest extant source. It is also of value in dating the erection of the palace whose mention shows that the tablet is complete. That the compiler had before him the document used by the Annals in its account of the Nairi campaign [Footnote: Ann. IV. 71 ff.] is proved by his writing "from Tumme to Daiene" for these are the first and last names in the well known list of Nairi states. The order of the tablet is neither chronological nor geographical. Another tablet dates from year five to which most of its data belong. In the first half, it follows the order of Tablet I, and in the remainder follows closely the words of its source in the Annals, merely abbreviating. [Footnote: K. 2806 with K. 2804, Tabl. II of Budge-King, 116 ff.] Possibly in its present form, it may be later than year five [Footnote: The badly damaged reverse of K. 2806 has one reference to the Euphrates which may be connected with Obl. III. 24, probably of year IX.] for a third tablet of year ten duplicates this first part. [Footnote: K. 2804, Tabl. V of Budge-King, 125 f.] Unfortunately, this latter gives next to no historical data, but its reference to the "Lower Zab" and to the "Temple of Ishtar" may perhaps allow us to date to this same tenth year the highly important tablet which gives a full account of the campaign in Kirhi and Lulume and which also ends with the restoration of the Ishtar temple. [Footnote: K. 2807; 91-5-9, 196. III R. 5, 4; Tablet IV of Budge-King, 121 ff. Winckler, AOF. III. 246. Hommel, Gesch., 511 f.] Here too and not with the Annals must be placed the fragment with the Arvad episode. [Footnote: Scheil, RT. XXII. 157. Restorations, Streck, ZA. XVIII. 186 n. 2. First attributed to Tiglath Pileser, Peiser, OLZ. III. 476; Winckler, ibid. IV. 296; cf. AOF. III. 247.—Bricks I R. 6, 5; Scheil, op. cit. 37; Winckler, Sammlung, I. 31; Budge-King, 127. Other inss., King, Supplement, 453, 488.]



(Ashur nasir apal and Shalmaneser III)

After the death of Tiglath Pileser, there is a period of darkness. A few bricks and other minor inscriptions give us the names of the rulers and possibly a bit of other information, but there is not a single inscription which is important enough to furnish source problems. It is not until we reach the reign of Tukulti Ninib (890-885) that we again have an Annals [Footnote: Scheil, Annales de Tukulti Ninip II, 1909; cf. Winckler, OLZ. XIII. 112 ff.] and not until the reign of his son Ashur nasir apal (885-860) that we have problems of the sources.

The problem of the sources for the reign of Ashur nasir apal may be approached from a somewhat different angle than we took for those of Tiglath Pileser. Here we have a single document, the so called Annals, which gives practically all the known data of the reign. Earlier writers on the history of Assyria have therefore generally contented themselves with references to this one document, with, at most, an occasional reference to the others. This should not blind us, however, to the fact that the problem of the sources is by no means as simple as this. Indeed, for far the greater portion of the events given in the Annals, we have earlier and better sources. We may therefore best attack the problem as to the sources of the reign by working out the sources of the Annals.

Taking up the introduction to the Annals, [Footnote: I R. 17 ff.; Budge-King, 254 ff. Le Gac, Les Inscriptions d'Assur-Nasir-Aplu III. 1907, 1 ff. Peiser, KB. I. 50 ff. H. Lhotzky, Annalen Asurnazirpals, 1885. Oppert, Expedition en Mesopotamie, 1863, I. 311 ff.; Rodwell, RP, III. 37 ff.; Sayce, RP squared, II. 134 ff.; Menant, 67 ff.; Manuel, 1880, 335 ff.] it at once strikes us as curious that it consists of a hymn to Ninib, at the entrance to whose temple these slabs were placed, and not of a general invocation to the gods, beginning with Ashur, such as we are accustomed to find in other annalistic inscriptions. Further, we have other slabs in which this Ninib hymn occurs as a separate composition, [Footnote: Slabs 27-30, Budge-King, 255 n.—Other invocations are the Bel altar at Kalhu, BM. 71, Budge-King 160; Strong, JRAS. 1891, 157; and the Ishtar lion BM. 96, II R. 66, 1; S. A. Strong, RP squared, IV. 91 f.; dupl. Budge-King, 206 ff.] and this leads us to assume that it is not the original introduction. This is still further confirmed by the fact that we do find such a required invocation in the beginning of the Monolith inscription. Clearly, this is the original invocation. The second section of the Annals begins with the praise of the monarch, and here too begins the parallelism with the Monolith. The last events mentioned in the Monolith date from 880 and it is thus far earlier than our present edition of the Annals, which contains events from so late a date as 867. To this extent, then, the Monolith is a better document. It was not, however, the direct source of the Annals, as is shown by certain cases where the latter has preserved the better readings of proper names. Indeed, we should not over rate the Monolith, for it too is a compilation like its younger sister, and is by no means free from obvious mistakes, though in general better than the Annals. [Footnote: BM. 847. Photograph, Budge-King, lxix; Paterson, Assyr. Sculptures, 64. I R. 27; Budge-King, 242 ff.; cf. 254 ff.; Le Gac, 129 ff. Peiser, KB. I. 118 ff. Menant, 66 f. Talbot, Trans. Roy. Soc. Lit., VII. 189 ff.; RP, VII. 15 ff.] For some portions of this earlier section, we have also separate slabs with small portions of the text, [Footnote: BM. 90830, cf. Budge-King, 255 n.; L. 48 f.] and these regularly agree with the Monolith as against the Annals. [Footnote: I. 57, transposition; I. 69, the significant omission of shadu; and a large number of cases where they agree in spelling as against the Annals.]

For the last of these years, 880, we have also the inscription from Kirkh, [Footnote: III R. 6; Budge-King, 222 ff.; Le Gac, 137 ff. Peiser, KB. I. 92 ff.] which contains data for this year alone, and ends abruptly with the return from Nairi. This might be expected from its location at Tushhan, on the border of that country, and we are therefore warranted in assuming that it was set up here immediately after the return from the campaign and that in it we have a strictly contemporaneous document. Judged by this, the Annals, and even the Monolith, do not rank very high. Important sections are omitted by each, in fact, they seem to agree in these omissions, though in general they agree fairly closely with the account set up in the border city. It would seem as if the official narrative of the campaign had been prepared at Kirkh, immediately after its close, by the scribes who followed the army. [Footnote: Cf. Johns, Assyr. Deeds and Documents, II. 168.] One copy of this became the basis of the Kirkh inscription while another was made at Kalhu and it was from this that the Monolith and Annals are derived. [Footnote: Ann. II. 109, where Mon. has 300 as against 700 of Kir. and Ann., shows Ann. did not use Kir. through Mon.; Kir. has 40 as against 50 of the others in II. 111, and 200 for 2000 in II. 115; proper names such as Tushha for Tushhan show nearness of Mon. to Kir., but the likeness can hardly be considered striking.] From this, too, must have been derived the slab which gives a fourth witness for this section. [Footnote: L. 48 f.]

With this year, 880, the Monolith fails us. But even if we had no other document, the Annals itself would show us that the year 880 was an important one in the development of our sources. At the end of the account for this year, we have a closing paragraph, taken bodily from the Ninib inscription, which may thus be assigned to 880. This is further confirmed by the manner in which, this passage in the Annals abstracts the last lines of the Monolith, [Footnote: Ann. II. 125-135a is the same as the Ninib inscription l-23a (BM. 30; Budge-King, 209 ff.), and this in turn is merely a resume of the close of the Monolith.] which is repeated almost in its entirety at the close of the Annals itself. The column thus ends a separate document, whose last line, giving a list of temples erected, seems to go back to one recension of the Standard inscription, which in its turn goes back to the various separate building inscriptions.

That the Annals itself existed in several recensions is indicated by the fact that, while there are no less than at least seventeen different duplicates of Column I, [Footnote: Le Gac, Introd.] there are but seven of II and five of III; that there is one of II only [Footnote: Le Gac, iii.] and one of III; [Footnote: Ibid. 126 f.] and that there is still another, in at least three exemplars, in which parts of the Standard and Altar inscriptions are interpolated between the Ninib invocation and the main inscription. [Footnote: Ibid, ii; 123 f. (B).]

The year 880 marks also the removal of the capital from Nineveh to Kalhu, [Footnote: First mentioned as starting point of an expedition in 879, Ann. III. 1.] which indicates that to this year we are to attribute the majority of the building inscriptions. But, as they are all more or less identical with the closing section of the Annals, we may best discuss them in that place. Continuing with the Annals, we now reach a section where it is the only source. And just here the Annals is lacking in its most essential feature, an exact chronology, no doubt because the dated year was not given in the source, though the months are carefully noted! In the last of the years given in this section, probably 876, we are to place the various bull and lion inscriptions, which in general agree with this portion of the Annals. [Footnote: Bulls 76, 77; Lions 809, 841. Budge-King, 189 ff. Le Gac, 181 ff. Made up of brief attribution to king, then regular building text, then duplicates of Ann. III. 84 ff.] One of these bull inscriptions, as well as the text of the great altar, adds a good bit in regard to the hunting expeditions, which may be dated, so far as they can be dated at all, to this year. [Footnote: Bull 77; Budge-King, 201 ff.; Peiser KB. I. 124 f.; Altar, L. 43 ff.; Le Gac, 171 ff.] Here too we must place the Mahir document, [Footnote: V R. 69 f.; Budge-King, TSBA. VII. 59 ff.; Budge-King, 167 ff. S. A. Strong, RP squared, IV. 83 ff.; Harper, 29 ff.] describing the erection of a temple to that deity at Imgur Bel, as is shown by the specific reference to a campaign to the Lebanon for the purpose of securing cedar. The years 875-868 seem to have been years of peace, for the only reference we can attribute to them is an expedition to the Mehri land for beams to erect a temple at Nineveh [Footnote: Ann. III. 91 f.] and so to this period we must assign the Ishtar bowl inscriptions. [Footnote: III R. 3, 10; Budge-King, 158 ff.; S. A. Strong, RP squared, II. 95.] Finally, we have the campaign of 867, the last fixed date in the reign of Ashur nasir apal, and the reason for compiling the latest edition of the Annals. For this year, and for this alone, this latest edition has the value of a strictly contemporaneous document. [Footnote: Ann. III. 92 ff.]

The last section of the Annals consists of the building account, found also in nearly all the other inscriptions, though naturally here it is in the form it last assumed. It may be seen in greater or less fulness in the so called Standard Inscription, [Footnote: L. 1 ff.; Schrader, Inschrift Asur-nasir-abals; Talbot, Proc. Soc. Antiquaries of Scotland, VI. 198 ff.; Meissner, Chestomathie, 7 f.; Abel-Winckler, 6. RP, VII. 11 ff.; Ward, Proc. Amer. Oriental Soc., X. xcix; Budge-King, 212 ff.; Le Gac, 153 ff. The number of slabs containing this inscription which may be found in the various Museums of Europe and America is simply amazing. No full collection or collation of these has ever been made. Many are still exposed to the destructive effects of the atmosphere at Nimrud and are rapidly being ruined. Squeezes of these were taken by the Cornell Expedition. Others at Ashur, MDOG., xxi. 52; KTA. 25. Several are in the newly opened section of the Constantinople Museum, cf. Bezold, Ztf. f. Keilschriftforschung, I. 269. An unknown number is in the British Museum, and were utilized by Budge-King, 1. c. Streck, ZA. XIX. 258, lists those published from European Museums. These are Edinburgh, Talbot 1. c.; Copenhagen, Knudtzon, ZA. XII. 256; St. Petersburg, Jeremias, ZA. I. 49; Bucharest, D. H. Mueller, Wiener Ztf, f. Kunde d. Morgenlandes, XIII. 169 ff.; Dresden, Jeremias, l. c.; Zuerich, Bezold, Literatur, 71; Cannes, Le Gac, ZA. IX. 390; Lyons, Ley, RT. XVII. 55; Rome, O. Marucchi, Museo Egizio Vaticano, 334; Bezold, ZA. II. 229. In addition, there are, according to Budge-King, l. c., copies at Paris, Berlin, Munich, the Hague, etc. For the Berlin inscriptions, cf. Verzeichnis der vorderasiatischen Altertuemer, 92 ff.; 101. No less than 59 are known to have been or to be in America. The majority have been listed by Ward, op. cit., xxxv, and Merrill, ibid. xci. ff.; cf. Bibliotheca Sacra, xxxii. 320 ff. Twelve in the possession of the New York Historical Society have not been on exhibition since the society moved into its new quarters, and are completely inaccessible, the statements in the guide books to the contrary notwithstanding. The Andover slab is published by Merrill, op. cit. lxxiii, and the one from Amherst by Ward, l. c. These were presented by Rawelinson and Layard to missionaries, and by them to the institutions named, as were the following: Yale University; Union College, Schenectady; Williams College; Dartmouth College; Middlebury College; Bowdoin College; Auburn (N. Y.) Theological Seminary; Connecticut Historical society at Hartford; Meriden (Conn.) Public Library; Theological Seminary of Virginia; Mercantile Library of St. Louis. An inscribed relief to which my attention has been called by Professor Allan Marquand, has been presented by Mr. Garrett to Princeton University. Three similar slabs, loaned by the late Mr. J. P. Morgan, are in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.—In this place we may also note the brick inscriptions in America, listed by Merrill, l. c., as well as the statute inscription, III R. 4, 8; Menant, 65; Schrader, Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, squared 184.] the short account so monotonously repeated on the slabs at Kalhu and so familiar to all who have visited any Museum where Assyrian antiquities are preserved. There seem to be two recensions, a longer and a shorter, [Footnote: Le Gac, xvii.] and some, to judge from the variations in the references, are much later than 880. The same inscription essentially is also found as the ending of the Ishtar, Mahir, Calah Palace, [Footnote: Budge-King, 173 ff.; Le Gac, 188 ff.] Calah wall, [Footnote: Budge-King, 177 ff.] Bulls, and Ninib inscriptions, [Footnote: Budge-King, 209 ff.] Variants are few, but are not without value in fixing the relative dates of the various recensions. For example, some of the Standard inscriptions, as well as the Ishtar and Mahir ones, insert a reference to "Mount Lebanon and the Great Sea" which would place them after 876, and this is confirmed by the reference to Liburna of Patina which occurs in the Annals and the Calah wall inscription. Of course, this gives only the upper limit, for it would be dangerous to suggest a lower one in the case of documents which copy so servilely. Some of the Standard inscriptions, as well as the Bulls, have a reference to Urartu, of great importance as the first in any literature to the country which was soon to become the worthy rival of Assyria. Absence of such reference in the regular Annals is pretty conclusive evidence that there were no warlike relations, so that these too are to be dated after 876. With this is to be compared the addition telling of the conquest of Nairi, found in the Ishtar, Mahir, and Calah Palace inscriptions, and which would seem to refer to the same period. The Suhi, Laqe, and Sirqu reference, through its omission in the Monolith, is also of value as adding proof that that inscription dates to 880. [Footnote: Minor inscriptions, L. 83 f.; G. Smith, Disc., 76; Budge-King, 155 ff., Le Gac, 172; the very fragmentary Obelisk, Le Gac, 207 ff.; KTA. 25; MDOG. 20, 21 ff.; 21, 15 ff. King, Supplement, no. 192, 470, 1805. Hommel. Zwei Jagdinschriften, 1879, with photographs; Andrae, Tempel, 86 ff.]

Much the same situation as regards the sources is found in the reign of his son Shalmaneser III (860-825). Aside from a few minor inscriptions, our main source is again the official account which has come down to us in several recensions of different date. The process by which these recensions were made is always the same. The next earlier edition was taken as a basis, and from this were extracted, generally in the exact words of the original, such facts as seemed of value to the compiler. When the end of this original was reached, and it was necessary for the editor to construct his own narrative, the recital becomes fuller, and, needless to say, becomes also a better source. If, then, we have the original from which the earliest portion of a certain document was copied or abstracted, we must entirely cast aside the copy in favor of the contemporary writing. This would appear self evident, but failure to observe this distinction has led to more than one error in the history of the reign. [Footnote: The majority of the inscriptions for the reign were first given in Layard, Inscriptions, and in the Rawlinson publication, cf. for first working over, Rawlinson, JRAS. OS. XII. 431 ff. The edition of Amiaud-Scheil, Les inscriptions de Salmanasar II, 1890, though without cuneiform text, is still valuable on account of its arrangement by years, as well as of its full notes, cf. also Winckler-Peiser, KB. I. 128 ff. The one edition which is up to date is N. Rasmussen, Salmanasser den II's Indschriften, 1907, though the same may be said of the selections in Rogers, 293 ff.]

Each of these editions ends with the account of some important campaign, the need of writing up which was the reason for the collection of the events of previous years which were not in themselves worthy of special commemoration. The first of these is the one which ends with the famous battle of Qarqara in 854. This has come down to us in a monumental copy which was set up at Kirkh, the ancient Tushhan, and which has been named the Monolith inscription. [Footnote: III R 7f; Rasmussen, cf.; 2 ff. Photograph, Rogers, 537; Hist., op. 226. Amiaud-Scheil, passim; Peiser, KB. I. 15off. Menant, 105 ff.; Sayce, RP, III. 83 ff.; Scheil, RP squared, IV. 55 ff.; Craig, Hebraica, III. 201ff.; Harper, 33 ff.; cf. Jastrow, AJSL. IV. 244 ff.] For the events of 860-854, then, we need go no further than this, for it is strictly contemporaneous with the events it describes. No actual errors can be pointed out in it, a seeming distortion of the chronology being due simply to the desire of the scribe to indicate the unity of two campaigns, carried out in different years, but against the same country. [Footnote: II. 66.] How moderate are its numbers is shown by comparing its 14,000 killed at Qarqara with the 20,500 of the Obelisk, the 25,000 of the Bulls, and the 29,000 of the recently discovered statue from Ashur. As we shall see below, it is correct in giving no campaign for 855, though the Bulls inscription, written a generation later, has not hesitated to fill the gap. This is the only edition which seems to be entirely original and a comparison with those which are in large part compilations is favorable to it in every way. In fact, the oft repeated reproach as to the catalogue nature of the Shalmaneser writings, is due to the taking of the Obelisk as a fair sample, whereas it stands at the other extreme, that of a document almost entirely made up by abridgement of other documents, and so can hardly be expected to retain much of the literary flavor of its originals. The Monolith, on the other hand, free from the necessity of abridging, will hold its own in literary value with the other historical writings of the Assyrians.

The next edition was prepared in 851, at the conclusion of the Babylonian expedition. The document as a whole is lost, but we have excerpts in the Balawat inscription. [Footnote: Pinches, PSBA. VII. 89 ff.; The Bronze Ornaments of the Palace Gates of Balawat, 1880; Rasmussen, XIff.; Amiaud-Scheil, passim; Delitzsch, Beitr. z. Assyr., VI. 133 ff.; Winckler KB. I. 134 ff. Scheil, RP squared, IV. 74 ff.] For the years 859, 857, and 856, the excerpts are very brief, but fortunately this is of no importance as we have their originals in the Monolith. No mention is made of the years following until 852-851 which are described so fully that we may believe we have here the actual words of the document. It is interesting to notice that there is no particular connection between the reliefs on the famous bronzes [Footnote: Pinches, Bronze Ornaments, a magnificent publication. A cheaper edition of the reliefs, with valuable analysis of and comments on the sculptures, Billerbeck; Beitr. z. Assyr. VI. 1 ff. Additional reliefs owned by G. Schlumberger, Lenormant, Gazette Arch., 1878 p1. 22 ff. and p. 119 ff. Still others, de Clerq, Catalogue, II 183 ff., quoted Billerbeck, 2. I have not yet seen King, Bronze Reliefs from the Gates of Shalmaneser, 1915.] and the inscription which accompanies them. The latter ends in 851, the pictures go on to 849. The more conspicious pictures were brought up to date, but, for the inscription which few would read, a few extracts, borrowed from the edition of two years previous, sufficed. Incidentally, it shows us that no new edition had been made in those two years. For the years before 853, the practical loss of this edition need trouble us little as it seems merely to have copied the original of the Monolith. That it might have had some slight value in restoring the text of that lost original seems indicated by a hint of a fuller text in one place [Footnote: II.6 f.] and a more moderate number of enemies slaughtered in another. [Footnote: Balawat kills but 300 while Monolith slaughters 3400.] For the events of 853, as given in this edition, we have only the abstract of it in the Bulls inscription. [Footnote: Bull 75 ff.]

The year 845, the year of the expedition to the sources of the Tigris, seems to mark the end of a third period, commemorated by a third edition, extracts from which are given in the inscriptions on the Bulls. [Footnote: Discovery, Layard, NR. I. 59. L. 12 ff.; 46 f.; Rasmussen, XVff.; 42 ff. Amiaud-Scheil, passim; Delitzsch, op. cit., 144 ff.; Menant, 113 ff.] That it actually began with the year 850 is shown by the use of a new system of dating, by the king's year and the number of the Euphrates crossing. Comparison with passages preserved in the Balawat extracts shows that the work of excerpting has been badly done by the editor of the third edition. The capture of Lahiru is placed in the wrong year, [Footnote: Bull 79; cf. Balawat IV. 6.] the graphical error of Ukani for Amukkani shows it derived from the Balawat edition, while variations between the two copies of the bull inscription indicate that we cannot be sure of the exact words of the original. [Footnote: Variants in Amiaud-Scheil, passim. The most striking is the different text with which they end, of. Amiaud-Scheil, 58 n. 1.] And we can also point to deliberate falsification in the insertion of an expedition to Kashiari against Anhitti of Shupria, when the older edition, the Monolith, knew of no expedition for the year 855. It has already been shown elsewhere that this is closely connected with the attempt of the turtanu (prime minister) Dan Ashur to date his accession to power to 856 instead of 854, and to hide the fact of the palace revolution which seems to have marked the year 855. [Footnote: Cf. below under the Obelisk, and, for fuller discussion, Olmstead, Jour. Amer. Or. Soc. XXXIV. 346 f.]

From various hints, it is possible to prove that a fourth edition was prepared in 837, the end of the wars with Tabal. The most striking evidence for this is the fact that, after this year, the Obelisk suddenly becomes much fuller, a clear proof that the author knew that he was now dealing with events not previously written up. We may see, then, in the Obelisk account from 844 to 837 an abstract of the lost edition of 837. But we are not confined to this. One actual fragment of this edition is the fragment which deals with the events of 842 and is so well known because of its reference to Jehu. [Footnote: III R. 5, 6; Rasmussen, XXI; 56; Delitzsch, Assyr. Lesestuecke, 51f Amiaud-Scheil, 58; Winckler, KB. I. 140; Ungnad, I. 112; Rogers, 303 f.] The first half of this is also intercalated after the introduction to one of the Bull inscriptions, and before year four, thus showing that it was inserted to bring the edition of 845 up to date. [Footnote: L. 12f; Rasmussen, XIX; 53.] Based on this edition, though only in very brief abstract, seems also the so called throne inscription from Ashur, whose references to Damascus, Que, Tabal, and Melidi form a group which can best be correlated with the events of the years 839, 840, 838, and 837, respectively. [Footnote: Discovery, Layard, NR. II. 46 ff.; cf. G. Smith, TSBA. I. 77. L. 76f; Craig, Hebraica, II 140 ff.; Rasmussen, XXXVIII; 84 ff.; Amiaud-Scheil, 74 ff.; Delitzsch, Beitr. z. Assyr., VI. 152f; cf. Jastrow, Hebraica, V. 230 ff.] Another Ashur inscription on a royal statute gives selections from the events of the reign, up to 835, but its main source is evidently the same. [Footnote: Andrae, MDOG. 21, 20 ff. 39 ff.; Delitzsch, ibid. 52; KTA. 30; Langdon, Expository Times, XXIII, 69; Rogers, 298f; 529.]

But the strongest proof of the existence of this edition is to be found in the two fragments of clay tablets which are not, like all the preceding, epigraphical copies of the originals, but form part of the original itself. [Footnote: Boissier, RT. XXV. 82 ff.] These two bits are written in the cursive style, and, though their discoverer believed them to belong to separate documents, the fact that one so closely supplements the other, and that they have the same common relation to the other editions, justifies us in assuming that they really do belong together. At first sight, it might be argued that they are to be restored from the text of the Obelisk, with which they often agree verbally. Closer inspection shows, however, that they contain matter which is not found in that monument, and that therefore they belong to an earlier and fuller edition, yet the resemblance to the Obelisk is so close that they cannot be much earlier. On the other hand, the Bulls inscription can be compared for the events of 854-852 and this has all that our tablets have, plus a good bit more. They therefore belong between these two editions, and the only time we can place them is 837. Since the clay tablets so fully abstract the Bulls inscription wherever the latter is available for comparison, we may assume that in 857-855 they give the minimum of that inscription. Thus we have the editions of 845, of 837, and of 829, in a common line of descent. Although for 857-856, there are numerous verbal coincidences with the Balawat excerpts, it must be noted that not all the plus of our tablets appears in that document, and we can only assume a common source, a conclusion which well agrees with our characterization of the Balawat inscription as a series of mere extracts. That this common source was also the source of the Monolith seems proved by a certain similarity of phraseology as well as by the reference to Tiglath Pileser in connection with Pitru, but this similarity is not great enough fully to restore our plus passages. Unfortunately for the student of history, our tablets do not add any new facts, for, in the parts preserved, we already had the earlier representatives of the original sources from which the edition was derived. It does, however, throw a most interesting light on the composition and development of these sources.

Last and least valuable of all is the Obelisk. [Footnote: Discovery at Kalhu, Layard, NR. II. 282. Layard, Monuments of Nineve, I. 53 ff.; L. 87 ff.; Abel-Winckler, 7f; Rasmussen, XXXIIIff.; 80 ff. Amiaud-Scheil, passim; Winckler, KB. I. 128 ff.Oppert, Exped. I. 342; Hist. 108 ff.; Menant, 97 ff. Sayce, RP, V. 29 ff.; Scheil, RP squared, IV. 38; Jastrow, Hebraica, V. 230. Mengedoht, Bab. Or. Rec., VIII, lllff.; 141ff.; 169 ff. Photographs and drawings too frequent for notice. Casts are also common, e. g., in America, Metropolitan Museum, N. Y. City; University of Pennsylvania; Haskell Museum, University of Chicago; Boston Museum of Fine Arts.] Because of its most interesting sculptures and because it gives a summary of almost the entire reign, it has either been given the place of honor, or a place second to the Monolith alone. The current view is given by one of our most prominent Assyriologists as follows: "The first rank must be ascribed to the Black Obelisk, and for the reason that it covers a greater period of Shalmaneser's reign than any other.... It is clear then, that for a study of the reign of Shalmaneser II the black obelisk must form the starting point, and that, in direct connection with it, the other inscriptions may best be studied, grouping themselves around it as so many additional fragmentary manuscripts would around the more complete one which we hit upon, for a fundamental text." [Footnote: Jastrow, l. c.]

This view might be accepted were the problem one of the "lower criticism". Unfortunately, it is clearly one for the "higher" and accordingly we should quote the Black Obelisk only when an earlier edition has not been preserved. There is no single point where, in comparison with an earlier one, there is reason to believe that it has the correct text, in fact, it is, as might be expected in the case of a show inscription, filled with mistakes, many of which were later corrected, while in one case the engraver has been forced to erase entire lines. [Footnote: Cf. the textual commentary in Amiaud-Scheil, passim, and especially 65 n. 6.] Its date is 829, a whole generation later than the facts first related, and it can be shown that it is a formal apology for the turtanu (prime minister), Dan Ashur, glorifies him at the expense of his monarch, and attempts to conceal the palace revolution which marked his coming into power by changing the date of his eponomy from 854 to 856 and by filling in the year 855 with another event. Nor is it without bearing in this connection that it was prepared in 829, the very year in which the revolt of Ashur dan apal broke out as a protest against the control of his father by the too powerful turtanu. [Footnote: Cf. Olmstead, Jour. Amer. Or. Soc., l. c.] As these last years of the reign were years of revolt, there is no reason for believing that there was another edition prepared, and the narrative of this revolt in the Annals of his son Shamshi Adad points in the same direction.

Of documents which do not belong to this connected series, the most important is the recently discovered lion inscription from Til Barsip. Aside from its value in identifying the site of that important city and an extra detail or two, its importance is not great, as it is the usual type of display inscription. [Footnote: R. C. Thompson, PSBA. XXXIV. 66 ff.; cf. Hogarth, Accidents of an Antiquary's Life, op. 175.] The Tigris Tunnel inscription also has its main importance from the locality in which it was found. [Footnote: Scheil, RT. XXII. 38.] Other brief inscriptions add a bit as to the building operations, which, curiously enough, are neglected in the official annals series. [Footnote: L. 77 f.; Amiaud-Scheil, 78; Rasmussen, XLI; 88 f. Layard, NR. II. 46; I. 281. Bricks in America, Merrill, Proc. Amer. Or. Soc., X. c; Bibl. Sacra. XXXII. 337 ff.; Streck, Ztf. Deutsch. Morg. Gesell., 1908, 758; Scheil, RT. XXVI. 35 ff.; Pinches, PSBA. XXXII. 49 f., of year I; KTA. 26 ff.; 77; MDOG. 21, 20f; 22, 29 ff.; 22, 77; 28, 24f; 31, 15; 32, 15 ff.; 36, 16 ff.; 48, 27; Andrae, Tempel, 41ff; Taf. XX. XXIIf.]



The main source for the reign of Shamshi Adad (825-812) is the official Annals which exists in two recensions. One, written in archaistic characters, from the south east palace at Kalhu, has long been known. After the usual introduction, it deals briefly with the revolt of Ashur dan apal. No attempt is made to differentiate the part which deals with his father's reign from that of his own, and the single paragraph which is devoted to it gives us no real idea of its importance or of its duration. Then follow four expeditions, the first two given very briefly, the last rather fully. As the years of the reign are not indicated, there is considerable difficulty in obtaining a satisfactory chronology. [Footnote: IR. 29 ff. Scheil, Inscription Assyr. Archaique de Samsi Ramman IV, 1889. Abel, KB. I. 174 ff. Oppert, Hist., 122 ff.; Menant, 119 ff.; Sayce, RPi, I. 11 ff. Harper, 45 ff. For errors in writing cf. Scheil, VI; for use of rare words, ibid. VII.] The other carries the record two years further, but has not yet been published. [Footnote: MDOG. 28, 31 f. Through the courtesy of Dr. Andra, I was permitted to see this in the excavation house at Ashur in 1908.—Cf. also the palace brick, Scheil, RT. XXII. 37.]

The long list of expeditions which the Assyrian Chronicle attributes to the reign of Adad nirari (812-783) indicates that he must have composed Annals, but they have not as yet been discovered. Of extant inscriptions, the earliest is probably that on the statue base of Sammuramat (Semiramis), in which she is placed before her son and emphasis is laid on the fact that she is the widow of Shamshi Adad rather than that she is the mother of the reigning monarch. [Footnote: MDOG. 40, 24 ff. 42, 34 ff.] Next in time comes the inscription on the famous Nabu statue in which Adad nirari is placed first, but with Sammuramat at his side, and which accordingly marks the decline of the queen mother's power. [Footnote: Rawlinson, Monarchies, II. 118 n. 7; Photograph, Rogers, 511; Religion, op. 86; I. R. 35, 2; Abel-Winckler, 14; Abel, KB. I. 192 f.; Rogers, 307 f.; Winckler, Textbuch3, 27 f.; Meissner, Chrestomathie, 10; Menant, 127 f.] Near the end of his reign must be placed the two Kalhu inscriptions in which Sammuramat is not mentioned. One refers to the conquests from the sea of the rising sun to the sea of the setting sun, a statement which would be possible only after the conquest of Kis in 786. This is the document which throws a vivid light on the early history of Assyria, but the remainder is lost [Footnote: Layard, NR. II. 20. L. 70; I. R. 35, 3; Delitzsch, Lesestuecke2, 99; Abel-Winckler, 13. Abel, KB. I. 188 ff. Sayce, RP, I. 3 ff.; S. A. Strong, RP squared, IV. 88f; Harper, 50 f.] and a duplicate adds nothing new. [Footnote: L. 70.] The other Kalhu inscription adds considerable material, but in a condensed form which makes it most difficult to locate the facts in time. The historical portion is divided into three sections which seem roughly to correspond with the chronological order. First comes a list of the peoples conquered on the eastern frontier, arranged geographically from south to north. As but two of these names are listed in the Assyrian Chronicle, and as each occurs several times, it is impossible to locate them exactly in time. The second section deals in considerable detail with an expedition against Damascus but the Chronicle does not list one even against central Syria. The fulness of this account shows that it took place not far from the subjugation of Kaldi land, the narrative of which ends the document and shows it to have been written not far from 786, its date in the Chronicle. [Footnote: Rawlinson, Athenaeum, 1856, 174; I R. 35, 1; Winckler, Textbuch3, 26 f. Abel, KB. I. 190 ff. Ungnad, I. 112 f.; Rogers, 306 f. Talbot, JRAS. XIX. 182 ff.; Harper, 51 f.; Meissner, Chrestomathie, 9; Menant, 126 f.—Nineveh brick, I R. 35, 4. Abel, KB. I. 188 f. Ashur inscriptions, KTA. 35 f.; MDOG. 22, 19; 26, 62.]

For the remaining reigns of the dynasty, we have only the data in the Assyrian Chronicle. No annals or in fact any other inscription has come down to us, and, so far at least as the annals are concerned, there is little likelihood of their discovery, as there is no reason to believe that any were composed in this period of complete decline. But, curiously enough, from this very period comes the document which throws the most light on the earliest period of Assyrian expansion, the so called Synchronistic history. [Footnote: II R. 65, 1; III R. 4, 3; Winckler, Untersuch., 148 ff.; CT. XXXVI. 38 ff.; cf. the introduction of Budge-King; King, Tukulti Ninib. Peiser-Winckler, KB. I. 194 ff.; G. Smith, Disc. 250 f.; Sayce, TSBA. II. 119 ff.; RP, III. 29 ff.; RP squared, IV. 24 ff.; Barta In Harper, 195; cf. Winckler, AOF. I. 114 ff.; Belck, Bettr. Geog. Gesch., I. 5 ff.] Adad nirari is the last ruler mentioned, but the fact that he is named in the third person shows that it was compiled not earlier than the reign of his successor Shalmaneser IV.

Our present copy is a tablet from the library of a later king, seemingly Ashur bani apal. [Footnote: Maspero, Hist., II. 595, dates its composition to this reign.] In form, it marks an advance over any historical document we have thus far studied, for it is an actual history for many centuries of the relations between Assyria and Babylonia. But it is as dry as possible, for only the barest facts are given, with none of the mass of picturesque details which we have learned to expect in the annals of the individual kings. Nevertheless, its advance over preceding documents should not be over estimated. Its emphasis on treaties and boundaries has led to the idea that it was compiled from the archives as a sort of diplomatic piece justificative in a controversy with Babylonia over the possession of a definite territory. [Footnote: Peiser-Winckler, KB. I. 194 n. 1.] Its true character, however, is clearly brought out in its closing words "A succeeding prince whom they shall establish in the land of Akkad, victory and conquest may he write down, and on this inscribed stone (naru), eternal and not to be forgotten, may he [add it]. Whoever takes it, may he listen to all that is written, the majesty of the land of Ashur may he worship continually. As for Shumer and Akkad, their sins may he expose to all the regions of the world." [Footnote: IV. 32 ff.]

Obviously, then, this tablet of clay is only a copy of an earlier naru or memorial inscription on stone, and we should expect it to be only the usual display inscription. This is still further proved by the introduction, mutilated as it is, "... to the god Ashur ... his prayer ... before his face I speak.... eternally a [tablet] with the mention.... the majesty and victory [which the kings of Ashur mad]e, they conquered all, [the march] of former [expedi]tions, who conquered..... [their booty to their lands they br]ought..." Clearly, this is the language of a display inscription and not of a diplomatic piece justificative. So we can consider our document not even a history in the true sense of the word, merely an inscription erected to the glory of Ashur and of his people, but with the "sins of Shumer and Akkad," in other words, with the wars of the Babylonians against "the land" [Footnote: Cf. Belck, Beitr. Geog. Gesch. I. 5 ff.—The double mention of Ashur bel kala and Shalmaneser points to double sources, one the original of BM. 27859, Peiser, OLZ. XI. 141.] and with the sinful destruction of Assyrian property they caused, also in mind. When we take this view, we are no longer troubled by the numerous mistakes, even to the order of the kings, which so greatly reduce the value of the document where its testimony is most needed. [Footnote: Cf. Winckler, AOF. I. 109 ff.] We can understand such "mistakes" in a display inscription, exposed to view in a place where it would not be safe for an individual to point out the truth. But that it could have been used as a piece justificative, with all its errors, when the Babylonians could at once have refuted it, is incredible.

The accession of Tiglath Pileser IV (745-728) marks a return to warfare, and the consequent prosperity is reflected in an increase of the sources both in quantity and in quality. [Footnote: For inscriptions of reign, cf. Rost, Keilschrifttexte Tiglat-Pilesers III; cf. also Anspacher, Tiglath Pileser, 1 ff.] Tiglath Pileser prepared for the walls of his palace a series of annals, in three recensions, marked by the number of lines to the slab, seven, twelve, or sixteen, and seemingly by little else. Originally they adorned the walls of the central palace at Kalhu, but Esarhaddon, a later king of another dynasty, defaced many of the slabs and built them into his south west palace. Thus, even with the three different recensions, a large part of the Annals has been lost forever. For years, the great problem of the reign of Tiglath Pileser was the proper chronological arrangement of this inscription. Thanks to the aid of the Assyrian Chronicle, it is now fairly fixed, though with serious gaps. Once they are arranged, little further criticism is needed, for they are the usual type, rather dry and uninteresting to judge from the extant fragments. [Footnote: Detailed bibliography of the fragments, Anspacher, Tiglath Pileser, 3 ff.; Discovery, Layard, NR. II. 300. L. 19 ff.; III R. 9 f. Rost, de inscriptione Tiglat-Pileser III quae vocatur Annalium, 1892; Rost, Iff.; 2 ff.; Winckler, Textbuchs cubed, 28 ff. Ungnad I. 113 ff.; Rogers, 313 ff.; Schrader KB. II. 24 ff.; Rodwell, RP, V. 45 ff.; Menant, 144 ff. For discussion of arrangements of fragments, cf. G. Smith, Ztf. f. Aegyptologie, 1869, 9 ff.; Disc., 266; Schrader, Keilschrift und Geschichtsforschung, 395 ff.; Abh. Berl. Akad., 1880; Tiele, Gesch., 224; Hommel, Gesch., 648 ff.] Perhaps separate notice should be given to the sculptured slabs in Zuerich with selections from the Annals. [Footnote: Boissier, PSBA. I have not seen his Notice sur quelque Monuments Assyr. a l'universite de Zuerich, 1912.]

Next to the Annals comes the clay tablet from Kalhu, from which, if we are to judge by the proportions, less than a half has survived. [Footnote: Usually called the Nimrud inscription, a cause of confusion. K. 3751. Photograph of obverse, "but upside down, Rogers, 541; History, op. 267. II R. 67; Rost, XXXVff; 54 ff. Schrader, KB. II. 8 ff.; Erneberg, JA. VII. Ser. VI. 441ff.; Menant, 14oft; Smith, Disc., 25eff.; Strong, RP cubed, V. 115 ff.; J. M. P. Smith, in Harper, 52 ff.; Rogers, 322.] Thus, owing to the method used by the Assyrians in turning the tablet for writing, only the first and last parts are preserved. Unfortunately, the greater part of what is preserved is taken up with an elaborate introduction and conclusion which we would gladly exchange for more strictly historical data. The other contents are, first an elaborate account of the wars in Babylonia, next of the wars on the Elamite frontier, a brief paragraph on Ulluba and Kirbu, and then the beginning of the war with Urartu. Each of these paragraphs is marked off by a line across the tablet. Thus far, it is clear, we have a geographical order for the paragraphs. After the break, we have an account of the Arab tribes on the border of Egypt. It is therefore clear that the order was continued in the break which must have contained the most of the Urartu account and whatever was said about Syria. The fulness with which the extant portion chronicles the Babylonian affairs makes it probable that the part now lost in the break dealt with Armenian and Syrian relations with equal fulness. The next paragraph seems to be a sort of summary of the various western rulers who had paid tribute, and the length of this list is another proof of the large amount lost. The very brief Tabal and Tyre paragraphs, out of the regular geographical order, are obvious postscripts and this dates them to year XVII (729), unless we are to assume that the scribe did not have them in mind when he wrote the reference to that year in the introduction. That they really did date to the next year, 728, is indicated by the fact that the Assyrian Chronicle seems to have had a Tyre expedition in that year. [Footnote: Cf. Olmstead, Jour. Amer. Or. Soc., XXXIV. 357.] If so, then our inscription must date from the last months of Tiglath Pileser's reign. Though written on clay, it is clearly a draft from which to engrave a display inscription on stone as it begins "Palace of Tiglath Pileser." The identity of certain passages [Footnote: I. 5, 9 ff., 16, 22, 47.] with the Nimrud slab shows close connection, but naturally the much fuller recital of the tablet is not derived from it. We have also a duplicate fragment from the Nabu temple at Kalhu and this is marked by obvious Babylonianisms. [Footnote: DT. 3. Schrader, Abh. Berl. Akad. 1880, 15 ff., with photograph. For the Babylonian character, cf. Rost, 11.]

With the Nimrud clay tablet is easily confused the Nimrud slab. [Footnote: Layard, NR. II. 33. L. 17 f. Schrader, KB. II. 2 ff.; Rost, 42 ff.; Oppert, Exped., 336; Smith, Disc., 271; Meissner, Chrestomathie, 10 f.; Menant, 138 ff.] This dates from 743 and is thus the earliest inscription from the reign. But its account is so brief that it is of but trifling value. It assists a little in, conjecturing what is lost from the tablet and mention of an event here is naturally of value as establishing a minimum date. But where both have preserved the same account, the tablet is the fuller, and, in general, better, even though it is so much later. [Footnote: Other inscriptions, III R. 10, 3, the place list; 83-1-18, 215, Winckler, AOF. II. 3 f.; painted fragments, Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, 140 f.]



The sources for the reign of Sargon (722-705) [Footnote: Collected in Winckler, Kellschrifttexte Sargons, 1889.] have already been discussed in detail elsewhere. All that is here needed is a summary of results. [Footnote: Olmstead, Western Asia in the Days of Sargon of Assyria, 1908, 1 ff.] They fall into three well marked groups. The first includes the early inscriptions of the reign, which are miscellaneous in character. [Footnote: Sargon, 17 ff.] The circumstances under which Sargon came to the throne are indicated by a tablet from the second year which is of all the more value in that it is not a formal annals or display inscription. [Footnote: K. 1349; Winckler, Sammlung, II, 1; AOF. I. 401 ff.] The Nimrud inscription comes from Kalhu, the earliest capital of Sargon. Unfortunately, it is very brief and is not arranged in chronological order. Aside from the rather full account of Pisiris of Carchemish, sufficient to date the inscription soon after its capture, we have only the briefest of references, and its value would be nothing, could we only secure the original, perhaps the earliest edition of the Annals, on which it is based. [Footnote: L. 33f; Winckler, Sargon, I. 168 ff. II. 48; Lyon, Assyr. Manual, 9f; Pelser, KB, II. 34 ff.; Menant, 204 ff.] A brief fragment may be noted because of its mention of the sixth year, though we cannot be sure of the class to which it belongs. [Footnote: K. 1660; Winckler, Sammlung, II. 4.] Other fragments are either unpublished or of no importance. [Footnote: K. 221+2669; K. 3149; K. 3150; K. 4455; K. 4463, Winckler, Sammlung, II. 6; K. 4471, ibid. II. 4; DT. 310; 83-1-18, 215. The unpublished fragments known from Bezold, Catalogue, ad loc.]

As a proved source for the second group, the newly discovered tablet should begin our study. [Footnote: Thureau-Dangin, Relation de la Huitieme Campagne de Sargon, 1912.]From the standpoint of source study, it is of exceptional value as it is strictly contemporaneous and yet gives a very detailed account in Annals form of the events of a single year. The tablet was "written", probably composed, though it may mean copied, by Nabu shallimshunu, the great scribe of the King, the very learned, the man of Sargon, the eldest son of Harmaki,—seemingly an Egyptian name,—and inhabitant of the city of Ashur. It was brought (before the God Ashur?) in the limmu or eponym year of Ishtar duri, 714-713, and tells us of the events of 714. It is written on an unusually large tablet of clay and is in, the form of a letter. It begins "To Ashur the father of the gods... greatly, greatly may there be peace. To the gods of destiny and the goddesses who inhabit Ehar sag gal kurkurra, their great temple, greatly, greatly may there be peace. To the gods of destiny and the goddesses who inhabit the city of Ashur their great temple, greatly, greatly may there be peace. To the city and its inhabitants may there be peace. To the palace which is situated in the midst may there be peace. As for [Footnote: So Thureau-Dangin, ad hoc.] Sargon the holy priest, the servant, who fears thy great godhead, and for his camp, greatly, greatly there is peace." So this looks like a letter from the king to the god Ashur, to the city named from him, and to its inhabitants. Yet it is a very unusual rescript, very different from those which have come down to us in the official archives, especially in the use of the third person in speaking of the king, while in the regular letters the first is always found. Further, in the body of the supposed letter, the king, as is usual in the official annals, speaks in the first person.

However it may be with the real character of the "letter," there can be no doubt as to its great value. To be sure, we may see in its boast that in the campaign but six soldiers were lost a more or less severe stretching of the truth, but, at least in comparison with the later records, it is not only much fuller, but far more accurate. Indeed, comparison with the later Annals shows that document to be even worse than we had dared suspect.

Comparison of the newly discovered inscription with the parallel passages of the broken prism B shows that this is simply a condensed form of its original. The booty seems to have been closely copied, but the topographical details are much abbreviated. The discovery of this tablet, while supplying the lacunae in Prism B, has made this part useless. But all the more clearly is brought out the superiority, in this very section, of the Prism over the later Annals. Naturally, we assume the same to be true in the other portions preserved, in fact, the discovery of the tablet has been a brilliant confirmation of the proof long ago given that this was superior to the Annals. [Footnote: Olmstead, Sargon, 11 ff., with reconstruction of the order of the various fragments, as against Prasek, OLZ. XII. 117, who sharply attacked me "ueber den historischen wert den Stab zu brechen."] Unfortunately but a part of these fragments has been published [Footnote: Winckler, Sargon, II. 45 ff. cf. I. xif. Photograph, Ball, Light from the East, 185. Thureau-Dangin, op. cit., 76 ff.] and the difficulties in the way of copying these fragments have made many mistakes. [Footnote: To judge by a comparison of Winckler's text with that prepared by King for Thureau-Dangin, l.c.] But a few of these fragments have as yet been translated or even discussed. [Footnote: Winckler, Sargon, I. 186 f.; AOF. II. 71 ff.; Mitth. Vorderas. Gesell., 1898, 1, 53; Thureau-Dangin, l.c.] For all parts of the reign which they cover, save where we have the tablet, they are now clearly seen to be our best authorities, nearer in date to the events they chronicle and much freer from suspicion than the Annals. The most urgent need for the history of the reign is that the fragments which are still unpublished [Footnote: Cf. Bezold, ZA. 1889, 411 n. 1.] should be published at once with a collation of those previously given. Even a translation and examination of the fragments already published would mark a considerable advance in our knowledge of the period. [Footnote: For detailed study of Prism B, cf. Olmstead, l.c.]

Very similar to Prism B is our other broken prism, A. [Footnote: Winckler. Sargon, II. 44; 1. 186 ff.; Untersuch. Altor. Gesch., 118 ff.; Textbuch3, 41 f.; Rogers, 329 f.; G. Smith, Disc., 288 ff. Boscawen, Bab. Or. Rec. IV. 118 ff. The Dalta episode and the beginning and end are still untranslated.] Both were found at Nineveh [Footnote: G. Smith, Disc., 147.] and this of itself proves a date some distance from the end of the reign when Sargon was established at Dur Sharruken. [Footnote: Cf. Olmstead, Sargon, 14 n.] Prism A is of much the same type as the other, in fact, when we see how the Ashdod expedition, begun in the one, can be continued in the other, [Footnote: As in Winckler, Sargon, I. 186 ff.] we are led to believe that the two had a similar text. If, however, the Dalta episode in each refers to the same event, then they had quite different texts in this part of the history. Which of the two is the earlier and more trustworthy, if they did not have identical texts, and what are their relative relations cannot be decided in their fragmentary state, but that they are superior to the Annals is clear. Like Prism B, Prism A is worthy of better treatment and greater attention than it has yet been given.

The third group consists of the documents from about the year 707, which have come down to us inscribed on the walls of Sargon's capital, Dur Sharruken. [Footnote: For discussion of this group, cf. Olmstead, Sargon, 6 ff.] The earliest document of this group is naturally the inscription of the cylinders which were deposited as corner stones, [Footnote: Place, Nineve, II. 291 ff.; Oppert, Dour Sarkayan, 11 ff.; I R. 36; Lyon, Keilschrifttexte Sargons, 1 ff. Winckler, Sargon, II. 43; Menant, 199 ff.; Peiser, KB. II. 38 ff. Barta, in Harper, 59 ff.] indeed, it closely agrees with the deed of gift which dated to 714. [Footnote: Cf. Olmstead, Sargon, 178 f.] The same inscription is also found on slabs. [Footnote: Menant, RT. XIII. 194.] It is the fullest and best account of the building of Dur Sharruken, and from it the other documents of the group seem to have derived their building recital. Nor are other phases of the culture life neglected, as witness, for example, the well known attempt to fix prices and lower the high cost of living by royal edict.

The remaining inscriptions of the group are all closely related and all seem derived from the Annals. The display inscription gives the data of the Annals in briefer form and in geographical order. Numbers are very much increased, and its only value is in filling the too numerous lacunae of its original. [Footnote: Botta, Mon. de Nineve, 95 ff.; Winckler, Sargon, II. 30 ff.; I. 97 ff. Oppert-Menant, Fastes de Sargon.-JA. 1863 ff.; Menant, 18 ff.; Oppert, RP, IX. 1 ff.; Peiser, KB. II. 52 ff.] Imperfect recognition of its character has led many astray. [Footnote: The error in connecting Piru and Hanunu, for example, already pointed out by Olmstead, Sargon, 10, is still held by S. A. Cook, art. Philistines, in the new Encyclopedia Britannica.] Other inscriptions of the group are incised on bulls, on founda-slabs, on bricks, pottery, and glass, or as labels on the sculptures. Save for the last, they are of absolutely no value for the historian as they simply abstract from the Annals. As for the Cyprus stole, its location alone gives it a factitious importance. [Footnote: For full bibliography of the minor inscriptions, cf. Olmstead, Sargon, 6 f. For others since found at Ashur, cf. KTA. 37-42; 71; MDOG. 20, 24; 22, 37; 25, 28, 31, 35; 26, 22; 31, 47; Andrae, Tempel, 91ff.; Taf. XXI; Genouillac-Thureau-Dangin, RA. X. 83 ff.]

The one important document of the group, then, is the Annals. That, with all its value, it is a very much over estimated document, has already been shown. [Footnote: Olmstead, Sargon, 3 ff.] There are four recensions, some of which differ widely among themselves and from other inscriptions. For example, there are three accounts of the fate of Merodach Baladan. In one, he is captured; [Footnote: Display 133.] in the second he begs for peace; [Footnote: Annals V.] in the third, he runs away and escapes. [Footnote: Annals 349.] Naturally, we are inclined to accept the last, which is actually confirmed by the later course of events.

But it is only when we compare the Annals with earlier documents that we realize how low it ranks, even among official inscriptions. Already we have learned the dubious character of its chronology. The Assyrian Chronicle has "in the land" for 712, that is, there was no campaign in that year. Yet for that very year, the Annals has an expedition against Asia Minor! It is prism B which solves the puzzle. In the earliest years, it seems to have had the same chronology as the Annals. Later, it drops a year behind and, at the point where it ends, it has given the Ashdod expedition as two years earlier than the Annals. [Footnote: Cf. Ohmstead, Sargon, 11.] Even with the old data, it was clear that the Prism was earlier and therefore probably more trustworthy; and it was easy to explain the puzzle by assuming that years "in the land" had been later padded out by the Annals, just as we have seen was done for Dan Ashur under Shalmaneser III. Now the discovery of the tablet of the year 714 has completely vindicated the character of Prism B while it has even more completely condemned the Annals as a particularly untrustworthy example of annalistic writing.

In the first place, it shows us how much we have lost. The tablet has 430 lines, of which a remarkably small portion consists of passages which are mere glorifications or otherwise of no value. Out of this mass of material, the Annals has utilized but 36 lines. That this is a fair sample of what we have lost in other years is hardly too much to suspect. Further, it would seem that the Annals used, not the tablet itself, but, since it has a phrase common to the Annals and the Prism, [Footnote: Ann. 125 f.; Prism B, Thureau-Dangin, op. cit., 76 f.] but not found in the tablet, either the Prism itself or a common ancestor.

The cases where we can prove that the editor of the Annals "improved" his original are few but striking. It is indeed curious that he has in a few cases lowered the numbers of his original, even to the extent of giving three fortified cities and twenty four villages [Footnote: Ann. 105.] where the tablet has twelve fortified cities and eighty four villages. [Footnote: Tabl. 89.] On the other hand, by a trick especially common among the Sargonide scribes, the 1,235 sheep of the tablet [Footnote: Tabl. 349.] has reached the enormous total of 100,225! [Footnote: Ann. 129; of. Thureau-Dangin, op. cit., 68, n. 4 for comparison of numbers. The same phenomenon can be constantly seen in the huge increases of the numbers of the Display inscription as compared with its original, the Annals.] More serious, because less likely to be allowed for, is the statement that Parda was captured [Footnote: Ann. 106.] when the original merely says that it was abandoned by its chief. [Footnote: Tabl. 84.] But the most glaring innovation of the scribe is where, in speaking of the fate of Rusash, the Haldian king, after his defeat, he adds "with his own iron dagger, like a pig, his heart he pierced, and his life he ended." [Footnote: Ann. 139.] This has long been doubted on general principles, [Footnote: Cf. Olmstead, Sargon, 111.] but now we have the proof that it is only history as the scribe would like it to have been written. For the new inscription, while giving the conventional picture of the despair of the defeated king, says not a word of any suicide. [Footnote: Tabl. 411ff.] However, the tablet does elsewhere mention the sickness of Rusash, [Footnote: Ibid. 115.] and it may well be that it is to this sickness that we must attribute his death later. [Footnote: Cf. Thureau-Dangin, op. cit., xix.] The complete misunderstanding of the whole campaign by earlier writers [Footnote: Compare, for example, the brief and inaccurate account in Olmstead, Sargon, 112 ff., with that in thureau-Dangin, op. cit. on the basis of the new tablet] furnishes the clearest indication of the unsatisfactory character of our recital so long as we must rely entirely on the Annals. It is the discovery of conditions like these which forces us to subject our official inscriptions to the most rigid scrutiny before we dare use them in our history. [Footnote: Botta, Monuments de Ninive, pi. 70 ff.; 104 ff.; 158fL.; Winckler, Sargon II. pl. 1 ff. Oppert in Place, Ninive, II. 309 ff.; Les Inscriptions de Dour Sarkayan, 29 ff.; RP: VII. 21 ff.; Menant, 158 ff.; Winckler, De inscriptione quae vocatur Annalium, 1886; Sargon, I. 3 ff.]

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