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Highlight: Neue Texte
Dominik Bonatz

Middle Assyrian cuneiform tablets from the 2010 excavation

In addition to 11 Middle Assyrian texts found in a deposit under the oldest floor of the Middle Assyrian House I in 2009 further 40 texts and text fragments were recovered from the same context (C-1035/C-1199) in 2010.

The tablets are unfired and several came out in a very fragile state of preservation suffering from the humidity of the terrain and salt efflorescence in the clay. Nevertheless, after careful cleaning and consolidation significant parts of the script can be read, 18 tablets yield almost complete, the others more or less fragmentary texts. Their translation is still in process therefore any textual inferences have to be considered as very preliminary.

The large tablets deal with distribution lists which confirm the existence of a palace administration in Tell Fekheriye. They provide a lengthy list of families and individual workmen employed by the local palace and supervised by special officials. The personal names indicate a mixed population with many individuals bearing Assyrian/Akkadian names but also a larger number of Hurrian names and some names of yet unknown ethno-linguistic affiliation.

The smaller tablets are documents dealing with civil affairs and letters, some of them containing orders to the officials in Tell Fekheriye. Three of these texts were found within their still unopened and sealed clay envelops.

Toponyms so far gathered from the texts are Waššukanni, Taidu, Kurda, and Alu-ša-Sîn-rabi as well as Assur and Ninua. They testify to an important place of communication within the Middle Assyrian ‘empire’ but are not yet sufficient evidence for the identification of the site itself. A chronological classification of the corpus is possible due the eponyms mentioned, most remarkably Mušabšiu-sibitti, who dates to the first half of the reign of Šalmaneser I (1263-1234 BC).

Another 40 texts and text fragments were found scattered in the area of the subsequent Middle Assyrian Houses I and II. They can be mostly dated to the later reign of Tukulti-Ninurta I (1233-1198 BC) and document the activities of some high ranking Assyrian officials to which also hundreds of seal impressions on bullae, jar-stoppers and door-sealings from the same area give evidence.