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Neo-Babylonian Trial Records

Neo-Babylonian Trial Records

Shalom E. Holtz
  • Book Info
    Neo-Babylonian Trial Records
    Book Description:

    New translations of fifty transliterated texts for research and classroom use

    This collection of sixth-century B.C.E. Mesopotamian texts provides a close-up, often dramatic, view of ancient courtroom encounters shedding light on Neo-Babylonian legal culture and daily life. In addition to the legal texts, Holtz provides an introduction to Neo-Babylonian social history, archival records, and legal materials. This is an essential resource for scholars interested in the history of law.


    Fifty new English translationsTransliterations for use in advanced Akkadian coursesBackground essays perfect for courses dealing with ancient Near Eastern history and lawExplanatory essays preceding each text and its translation

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-945-8
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Series Editor Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Theodore J. Lewis

    Writings from the Ancient World is designed to provide up-to-date, readable English translations of writings recovered from the ancient Near East.

    The series is intended to serve the interests of general readers, students, and educators who wish to explore the ancient Near Eastern roots of Western civilization or to compare these earliest written expressions of human thought and activity with writings from other parts of the world. It should also be useful to scholars in the humanities or social sciences who need clear, reliable translations of ancient Near Eastern materials for comparative purposes. Specialists in particular areas of the ancient...

  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Conventions and Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. Remarks on the Transcriptions and Translations
    (pp. xiv-xv)
  6. Chronology of Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Kings (605–424 BCE)
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The rediscovery of the Code of Hammurabi in the early twentieth century at Susa has ensured that, even among the general public today, ancient Mesopotamia is remembered for its legal legacy. This legacy, however, extends beyond formal law collections like Hammurabi’s, to include thousands of much less familiar legal records that attest to the practical use of law in the day-to-day affairs of people who lived millennia ago in the region that stretches from the Persian Gulf to the Levant. Ancient scribes, writing in cuneiform script on clay tablets, recorded transactions, such as loans, contracts, sales, marriages, and adoptions. These...

  8. Chapter 1 Preliminaries to Trials
    (pp. 13-66)

    Consideration of the parties involved in this case indicates that the very act of theft was probably quite bold. Specifically, Nergal-nāṣir, the man from whose house the temple property was stolen, was serving as the “chief farmer” (ša muḫḫi sūti) at the time of the present document’s composition (Kümmel 1979, 105; Joannès 2000b, 213). When they broke into his house, the thieves not only took property illegally, but also flouted Nergal-nāṣir’s authority as an important temple functionary. In addition, Nergal-nāṣir’s role in the management of the Eanna’s agricultural enterprises might also explain why the agricultural implements were in his house...

  9. Chapter 2 Completed Trials
    (pp. 67-146)

    As the case unfolds, the plaintiff’s claim seems unfounded: the defendant, the well-known Nabû-aḫḫē-iddin (see Documents 44–48), has his proofs of payment, and the plaintiff’s own sons testify against her. Two additional documents from the Egibi archive shed light on the situation, but do not necessarily strengthen the plaintiff’s claim. First, the actual contract recording the sale of the slave in question is preserved as Evetts 1892, Ngl No. 23, and is dated, as the present document states, to 3.V.1 Ngl (12 August, 559 BCE), about three and a half years before the lawsuit. Etillu, a son of Bēlilitu...

  10. Chapter 3 Four Trial Dossiers
    (pp. 147-204)

    To cuneiformists, Gimillu, son of Inni-šuma-ibni, is perhaps the best-known character from the Neo-Babylonian archives. He entered the Eanna bureaucracy towards the end of the reign of Nabonidus (539 BCE), and is first attested as the “overseer of the remainders” (ša muḫḫi rēḫāni) owed to the Eanna temple by its livestock farmers. Very quickly, he seems to have learned how to abuse this position; within less than a year, he was on trial for embezzling cattle and other temple property (Document 38). Despite his malfeasance, for some reason he remained in office. He continued his misdeeds but was nevertheless...

  11. Normalized Texts
    (pp. 205-240)

    Reading and translating any Akkadian text begin with two basic steps of interpretation: transcription and normalization. Transcription, also known as transliteration, is the representation of the cuneiform signs on the tablet in Latin characters, based on readers’ understandings of what appears. From a transcription, a trained Assyriologist should be able to draw (or imagine) the cuneiform writing on the original text. At times this step requires little more than a quick glance at the tablet, but a scribe’s poor handwriting or millenia of wear and tear can present some serious challenges.

    Normalization, the second interpretive step, brings the syllabic transcription...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-248)
  13. Index of Personal Names
    (pp. 249-272)