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Labnanilu allik Ana Sadi

Beitrlge zu altorientalischen und mittelmeeris chen Kulturen

Festschriftftir Volfgang Rollig Herausgegeben

von B eate Pongratz- Leisten Flartmut Krihne Paolo Xella

/Ycftr LqV

1997 VerlagButzon & BerckerKevelaer NeukirchenerVerlagNeukirchen-Vluyn

The Man Without a Scribe and the Questionof Literacy in the Assyrian Empirex

letterhithertobeK 652 (ABL 151) is a shortbut difficult Neo-Assyrian lievedto refer to the making of a royal imageand relief figuresfor Assyrian government derivesfrom E,.Klauber, who in officials. This interpretation (Leipzig, the Beamtentum 1910),p. 103f, rendered his study Assyrisches words la-a-ni and a-su-mu occurringin the text as ,,Bild" and ,,Relief' them with the inscribedstelaeof Assyriankings respectively and compared and governorsactually found at Assur and other Assyrian sites. At first glance, this interpretationmakes senseand has, in fact, been generally of the letter (L, Waterrnan, RCAE [1930],no. accepted. Later translations 151; R, Pfeiffer, SZI [935], no. 143; ChicagoAssvrianDictionary,B only in [1965]213,Al2 [1968]348f, andL [973] 79) differ from Klauber minor points:
[Waterman] ,,To the king my lord, your servantSinna'id.May it be well with the king my lord. ,,In regard to that which the king my lord has written me, he should surnmon (i-ie-si-a) a scribe.Let him designan image(la-a-ni) of the king, a relief figure (a-su-mu) for the governorof the city of Arrapha,a relief figure for ..." fPfeiffer] ,,To the king, my lord, your servantSin-naid.Greetingsto the king my lor d. is giving orders(i-ie-si-a)concerning what the king my lord has ,,Thesecretary written me, that they shouldmake an imageof the king, a bas-relief for the prefectof Arrapkha, a bas-relief for..." [CAD] .,As to what the king my lord haswritten me, (,..) let them draw an image of the king. let them... a relief figurefor the governor of Arrapha, let them... a relief figurefor PN." S ee als o A HU ' . p . 7 7 , s .v . " , , B ilds t ele( ?),

* It givesme greatpleasure to dedicate this articleto WolfgangRollig, a long-time memberof the advisory committeeof the Neo-AssyrianText CorpusProject,whose work has always been a sourceof inspirationto me. Abbreviationsare thoseof the ChicagoAssyrianDictionarv andAkkadisches Handwrirterbuch, with the following additions: KAI : H. Donner and W. Rollig, Kanaanriische und aramciische (2nd ed.,Wiesbaden, Inschriften 1966);NL : H.W.F. Saggs, ,,TheNimrud Letters," Iraq l7 (1955)2l ff, etc.,citedby textnumbers.


S, Parpola

This consensusdoes not mean, however, that the letter has necessarily been correctly understood.Quite the contrary. All the published translations suffer from numerous flaws making them totally obsolete today.r In particular, the idea that the letter would refer to the making of a royal image and relief figures has to be abandoned. Thc word lanu did not mean ,,image" in Neo-Assyrran,' nor has the word a-su-mu (a hapax legomenon)any connection to ,,relief figures" except its assonance to tsabylonianasumitttt ,,stela."3 Overall, the text contains many unusual and problcmatic features, some of which (like thc form i-ie-si-a in line 7) are anomalous cnough to raisc the suspicion that something is wrong with the cuneiform copy on which the translationshave been based. Collation of the original confirms this suspicion. Insteadof i-ie-si-a, thc tablet actually reads i-ie-e!-a. This word also occurs in rev. 3. anclin general the reverse of the tablet, indicated as largely damaged in the copy, turns out to be completely readable.o The alleged lct-a-niin obv, 7 acrually rcaclsla-o-sil.
ana bEt (obv. 5) does not mean ,,in regard to" (waterman), ,,concerning" (pfeilfer) or ,,as to" (cAD), but ,,where(to)", rarely ,,when" (see the examples cited in n. I I below); iipurannlni (obv. 6) does not mean ,,wrote me" but ,,sentme" (see n. I l. and note also SAA l0 316 s.2 and 318 s.l,,,l have gone where the king, my lord, sent me"); i-ie-si-a (obv. 7) can under no circumstances be taken as a form of sasu ,,to call, summon," cf. simply cAD Stz 11992) under iasi; li-is-pu-ru (obv. 9) cannot be read ltsiru ,,let them draw" (CAD) since the sign su did not have the value /sir/ (see von Soden,Akk. Syll., no.2I3); reading li-is-sfr-ru(Klauber, Waterman, P1-eiffer)is out of the question since neither eseru A ,,to collcct" nor esEru B ,,to shut in" makes sense in the context and since neither verb is attested in NeoAssyrian (cf. already S. Ylvisaker, LSS 516ll9l2l. p. 3l) For la-a-ni and a-su-mu see presently. l*, is well attested in Neo-Assyrian, but only in the meanings ,,body, staturc. figure, h e i g h t " ;s e eS A A 2 5 i v 1 6 , 6 : 6 1 0 ; SAA 3 13:12.15,23 r.5,38 r. 10,39:10; s A A 5 1 5 6r . 3 ; S A A 9 9 . 1 4 . 1 5 ; s A A l 0 3 4 9 : 1 4 ;A B L 1 0 7 8r . l ; A D D 3 1 0 : 5 a n c t 3 1 2 : 4 ; c r N 3 9 5 r . 1 1 . 1 7 . 2 2 . 2 6 ;N D 2 0 8 2 ' , 4( t r a q l 6 3 4 ) , A s s . 8 4 7 6 h r . 2 a n d 9687:4. The Neo-Assyrian term for,,image" was salrnu, cf-.e.g. lsat-mlu.ia RvR ILUGAIL ,,image of the queen mother," cT 53 921 r.17, -cal-mu-LtJGAL .,royal image," CT 53 4l:14.16 and r.2, and 2 sslt.-fmu-.Lucnll.vES-ni ,,two ro,u-al images,"ibid. l2; also, written NU MANMrs-ni, cr 53 l8:6; Nu-nanNvEs, ABL l l 9 4 : 1 3 , c r 5 3 5 1 6 : 2 ; 1 N u 1 - L U G A T - M r r sA B i,BL -n iL , l 0 9 g : l l ; [ N 1 uL U G A L - r z A 9 5 1 : 1 9 ; N U - M A N ,s A A 7 6 2 i 1 4 , 1 i 1 2 , i i i 1 0 , r . i 1 0 . T h e r e a d i n g l a - a - n i i n v o l v e s fwo particular difficulties rendering it suspect: the ,,overhanging" -i, which is incongruous with the rules of Neo-Assyrian phonology and morphology, and the separatir:n from LUGAL in the next line, which would be inexplicable had ,,royal image" been meant by the writer. 3 See below. The attestedNeo-Assyrian forms of the word are -mit-tu, SAA 3 29 r.4; NAo.ui-me-la,Scheil rn II 60, ui-me-le, ND 2774:5 (rraq23 p|.26); and, us u - m i t - t u ,S A A l 0 2 2 1 r . 2 5 . a I collated the reverse of the tablet in November, 1966, the obverse (from photo) in the early eighties. All the new readings indicated with exclamation marks in the t '

The Man Withouta Scnbc


On the other hand, the hapax legomenon a-su-mu in obv. l0 and l2 as well as the difficult li-is-pu-nr in obv. 9 and rcr,. 4 turn out to be correctly copied, and on the whole thc copy proves reasonablyaccuratc.Thus, collation does not eliminate the unusual charactcr of the text but rather emphasizes it. Like the deleted i-ie-si-a and la-o-ni (and the obscurea-su-ntu and li-is-pu-ru), the new word forms and,la-a-si are not attested anywhere else. The difficultics posed by thesc u ords quickly disappear,however, when it is realized that in spelling thr-nr ihc uritcr did not fcrllow the standard Neo-Assyrian orthographv. u'herr- uraphrc (s) stands for spoken [5] and v ic e v er s a, tb u t ra th e r th e N e c r-Ba b ' ,i trnran \\' stcl l . u' here(s): [s] and < 5> : : t S ] T hus i -i e -e -o c o rre s p rrn d : .tr rtrrnrsl N c' o-A ssyri an< i -se-e-a> : l t r < i d , - d - i u - . - i a : u ] . . t l i c - r ic s n o t , " 7a n d l i - i s [i55e:a, ],withmc."'' lu-rt-st pu- r u t o < lii -p u -ru ) : Ii i = p u r-* - ...r' : rr. i ]r :c' l d and," . T]rc al l eged ,,rel i ef
t r a n s l t t c r a t l o n ' . : .r ' f ; . I t c a - . : r . i : - - : - t T r u s t c . ' s r . , i 'i i r r I l : : . - . : . \ 1 - . > r - : : :
33nl:.:l-11 . :-r...:: .--.::l

i- ',. ival I ri 15|1 to thank the :lJr.:Jnr().iucr-d and lirr the

'. crh *rrir-q.i and the n i3irnp-1

1 .t . t ^ l : l l - . i - i - - ' . - g - , ir.b r t i : ( ) : l - l a n d S . \ . \ l r i _ 1 - < L i : - - r a - . . - ,S _l <1 t t l i . t - s t - i u a1 sslm: l-sc-e-A-.1 a n d l - s - - s t - ip .. .*tth )r)u." \L la'i[) (lraq 1..p1 9i.:-,-.,t-e-krt. C-I -i3 passirn r-[.se-e]-.irr.,u'ith 908 r. 2. i-se-ka and'a hrm." \L i 9 tlracl i7 pl 4).

i - s e - e - i iS , AA I 29,31,35 r.3.124'22 a n d r 1 2 .S A A l 0 3 6 9 i : . ' \ B L , i , i 7r f . i s s e - e - i uS , A A I 4 : 1 3 a n d1 3 r . 9 , S A A l 0 9 7 r . 8 a n d3 5 3r 7 . A B L 9 5 1 r - 16 8 . r passim,' se-iu and is-se-sri i-se-e-ni,,with us". ABL 621* r. 1.1. t-se-ntand <ss> of issi passim;etc. The frequentspellings with i- imply that the geminate (< i.ite)was reducedto [5] in suff-rxed ri'asshitied from the forms, where the stress first to the second syllable. ' u . g . , s A A I 2 3 3 : 1 8 . 2 0 6 , s A A 6 1 5 2 : 3A ; D D 2 8 0 . 93 , 8 6 : 2c : rN 3 66:lll la- a- iu S A A 6 2 ' .8 ,3 ' .7 ,9 6 ' .1a 0n , dp a s s i m; l a -ai -i u,l a-i u, etc.passi m. noteexceptionally la-a-ii, SAA 6 52 r. l, and la-a|-!i, ADD 476:2, both : .,thereis not." Thesespellings suggest that the pronunciation letter, [a:si], impliedby' the present (la-aS-iu actually was much more commonthan the standard spellings etc.)would seemto indicate. * Cf., e.g.,gab-ru-i .ia e-gir-te LUGAL be-ti tii-pu-ru ,,let the king my lord send a reply to (this) letter and (give ordersto the 'third men')," ABL 683 r. 9 ff; e-gir-ti liS-pu-ru ... o-na LU* UGU-URU ium-mu a-na LtJ.Sak-nu lis-pu-ruma-a,,lethim senda letterto the city overseer or to the pref-ect, saying(...)," SAA 5 213'.9ff;on -u (corresponding the anaptyctic to the Babylonianenclitic particle-ma ,,and) see t hec o' m m en ta o ry n L A S l 8 r. 8 i n L AS 2 (1 9 83), p.26. As indicated by the aboveexamples, precative forms of iaparu were usuallyspelled with the sign /if in Neo-Assyrian and spellings with li-is- arerare;the only examples known to me areli-ii-pur, SAA 5 8l r. 5; li-ii-pur-ra, SAA 5 244 r.8, and li-ii-pur(li-is-pu-ru) u-ni,GPA 197r.5. The present spelling is to be considered in the light of the writer's reducedsyllabarydiscussed in n. 17. CVC-signswere practicalfrom the viewpointof writing economy(iei has two wedgesonly vs. l5 of li-ii and 13 of


S. Parpola

figure,"e-su-mu, is in realityjust a variantof <Sum-mu): [summu],,if.,,, Similar spellings occur in other NA letters as well, though much more sporadically."' With this basic point established, we can now presenta revisedtransliterationand translation of K 652:
Translation the king, my lord: your servant Sin-na'di. Good health to the king, my lord! lTo

I 2
a J

a-na LUGAL BE-i tal ARAD_ta md36_r1r (lu)DI-mu a-naLUGAL be-li-ia

/i-is) and thereforemuch used by professional scribes,but using a CV-VC sign combination insteaddid the sametrick and helpedreducethe numberof cuneiform graphemes to be mastered drastically. 'cf., e.g., SAA | 99 r. 17, iim-mu LU.qur-bu-te ium-mu LtJ.ia--EN.NLfN [lit-fli-ka ,,Let either a bodyguardor a guard come"; similarly ABL 556 r. 17. For further ex am ples o f d i s j u n c ri vie u mmu ...i u mmu ,,ei ther... or" seeS A A | 4l r.5 f,4g:13f. 139:4ff, 220:5f and r. 8 ff, sAA 5 213:9ff (quotedin n. g), sAA I 0 152:7, 194 r. 14,362:6,ABL 1056r.4ff, etc. The prothetic a- attached to su-muis certainly due to analogy with ktma,,when, i1," which is often found with this protheticaes pec ialliy n l e tte rs fro m D e r a n dBa b y l o ni a (e.g., A B L 800:9,861 s. l , 1063r. l l , A B L 129 6 r.6 , c r 5 3 7 7 s . 4 ,7 1 6 :5 tn o te ,i n themeani ng ,,i f,"A B L 2l l r. 15 ff, a ki-ma ina 5A a-bi-tean-ni-tequr-ba-ku,,if I am involved in this matter(let the king punish me)"; also ADD 102 r.5). Note also a-ki-i beside ki-i,,as, if, whether; (passim); a(m)-mar besidemer ,,asmuch as" (passim), etc. Occasional spellings of iummu with the MU sign in Assur(TCL 9 628 r, l, FWA l07q r. 2, Ass. g57Il r. 2, 9634:7,9644d :6, 9644e'.7, 9661d:7,9661kJ, l3846adr. 2) imply a mergerwith sumu,,name" and thusa variantpronunciation [su:mu]besidethe normal [summu]. "'cf. o-ro-si and ui-ie-si-ilb] for normal <a-ra-si>: [ara:si] and <us-se-sib>, in lettersfrom Babylonia(ABI- 685:14 and 760:8);e-pa-sa-an-ni, ep-sa-at, u-na-me(ep-gn[), etc.,in lettersfrom Der (ABL 800 r. 6, CT sc for normal<e-pa-5a-an-ni>, 53 904:4.7,ABL 1348:10); and sa-pal,e[pJ-sa-tu-ni, e-pu-su-(su-)nu, ep-pa-su-nu, ni-is-pur-an-ni, as-pur-rsn't-lni) <ep-s6-tu-ni> for <s6-pal>, (etc.),<ni-is-pur-an-ni> and <65-pur-an-ni>, in letters from phoenicia (ABL 992:lz.l4, cr 53 148:18.r. 18.21.23, and CT 53 289:16.r. 16), all written by the sameman with a Babylonianname and writing Assyrian with a heavy ,,Babylonian accent."Correspondingly,in letters from Babylonia, la-ai-htir, ii-hu,-ra-a'n-ni, pa-ri-ii-tu, i-iebi-la-ai-iu for <la-as-hur), <is-hu-ra-an-ni),<pa-ri-is-tu>and <u-se_bi_la_65_iu> ( A B L 106 3 :2 11 , 4 5 3 + :1 1 ,1 4 3 6 :5 C,T 5 3 68 r. l 2and364:l ). N ote al so ma_i i _i for normal <ma-se-e> (Afo 32 38 f), a text from Assur, ,,to wash" in BM 103389:22 Theseparallelsimply that the writer of our letter originatedfrom the southernparts of Assyriasubjected to Babylonianlinguisticor orthographic influence. The rp.iling BE for bElu,,lord in obv. I points in the samedirection,for it is otherwise attested only in lettersfrom Assur (ABL 419:6,SAA 8 140 r. 2), Der (ABL 537:, 798: l. 3. r . 7 ,c r 5 3 9 0 4 :3 .5 .8 ), a n dBa b y l oni a (cr 53 490:6,Iraq 34 22:20, A B L g5 r' 3?), and well as in two lettersfrom the vassalrulers of Musasir and Surda(ABL 768: 3f and l 0 8 l :2 .4 .r. 8 ).

The Man Without a Scribe


5 6 7 8 9
l0 II e.l2 r. I 2
J 4

a-na be-et LUGAL i!-pu-ra-ni-ni LI J * .A.B Ai -i e -e l -a la-a-si: LUGAI- li-ts-pu-ru

e s u - n l t t . l - l ,L tU*.1:N.NAM ia URU :trrap-ra-ap-ha |e ) s u - r t t t t t o t _ , , 1 r n . 7 - i _ i rU r rL lAL! r 1 '- g r t L L ' * i , A . B A
'l --tc-c -,1
a . l .

-sI have no scribe where the king sent me to.

9 Let the king order either the governor of Arrapha or A55ur-belu-taqqin to s e n dm e o n e .

[ / r ] - t ;'


Thus the ntcssagr-of the letter actually turns out to be very simple: the sender sirrpi'' inlorms the king that he didn't have a scribe and that he neededsn.- \\-har is interestingis that this circumstancedid not prevent him from puttrns hr. ntessageinto writing and drafting the present letter. Lines 5 f and I ii iniplr that the sender was on a mission in the Zagros mountains.rru'here reople knowing Assyrian cuneiform certainly did not grow on trees,'t Henc.- he must have either written the letter himself or had someone

ii-pur-anFo. irn.'> j I ;i SAA 5 226:5 f, ina E LUGALbe-li ina UGULU.GAL.MES ni-ni ..u hcn ::re king sent me to the magnates (in Media)"; CT 53 14l'.6 ff be-et ii-pur-an-ni-ni,,when the king my lord, sent K U RG A L K A S . L U L L U G A L[ r e - - . : , r - r r i r me to the land rrt'the chief cupbearer",ABL 992:13, rcUnbe-etLUGAI be-li ii-ku-nini ..(the klns. mr' lord, knows) the land where the king, my lord, stationed me" (refernng tc Phoenrcia). Note further, ref-erringto missions in the Zagros area: NL ii-pur-lanl-ni-ni 4l r i i riraq lt) pl. 38), a-ki LUGAL be-li ina UGU LU.LUI-.MIIS ,,when the krng. rny lord, sent me to (catch) the criminals, (I went there)"; SAA 5 227.21 f. i:;-i Lt-ma-ai-li-kan-a-ni E Lucet be-li i3-pur-iu-u-ni ,,as he now came, (going i 1p ',i irere the king, my lord, sent him"; and SAA 5 198 r. 3 ff, lbe-et) LUGAIbe-li j)i-pttr-rtt-ni-ni tu1-ta-me-S[i],,1 have set out [to where] the king, my lord, " sent me The lack of a blessing formula in our letter dates it to the reign of Sargon II. A55urbelu-taqqin (rev. l) is known to have served at this time as a governor in or in the viciniq'of the Transtigridian city of Meturna (Tell Haddad on the Diyala), 160 km SE oiAnapha (Kirkuk); see AtsL 455 r.5 and the other letters lrom or mentioning A55ur-belu-taqqi( nA B L 2 1 2 , 8 8 7 , 1 0 5 7 , C T 5 3 6 4 , A B L 4 3 8 , 6 3 8 , 1 2 9 6 , C T 5 3 6 and 244), The fact that the desired scribe was to be supplied either by the governor of Arrapha or by A55ur-belu-taqqin but not, e.g., the governor of Der (Tell Aqar), implies that the sender was located somewhere in the upper reaches of the Diyala river. 12Occasional letters from vassal rulers (see SAA 5164-168) show that Assyrian cuneiform was used at least in some Zagros principalities under direct Assyrian influence. The level of scribal competence evidenced by these letters is low, indicating that the use of the script was limited to the vassal court only.



S. Parpola

in his retinue write it.r3 Whichever the case, the writer evidently was an ordinary Assyrian administrator not generally thought to have been able to read or write. r4 This explains the many unusual spellings, word forms and phrases occurring in the text. Not being a professional scribe, the writer simply was not able to adequately follow the standard spelling and phrasing conventions of the Neo-Assyrian royal correspondence. At the same time it is clear, however, that he was by no means a mere dilettante either but must have had considerableprevious writing experience.The tablet, expertly moulded, has the typically Neo-Assyrian lcttcr fbrmat,r5 the introductory formula agreeswith contemporary conventions, and the signs are drawn and distributed over the lines with a skill that can be acquired only through long and repeatedpractice. If an ordinary Assyrian government official possessed such writing skills, there is every reason to believe that literacy in the Assyrian empire was far more widespread than hitherto assumed.toAfter all, mastering the elementsof cuneiform script (the basic syllabogramsand the most important logograms) does not take longer than a semestertoday. This ler,el of competence is sufficient for writing and reading simple texts, and it is the level

of the signs and severalorthographic detailsagreeingwith standard Assyrianconventions (in the first placethe spellingof the city nameAnapha with the liuuu sign) betraythe Assyrianorigin of the writer. It couldbe objected that he might as well havebeena local scribetrainedin Assyria;but in that casethe sender would (contraryto the wording of the letter)havehad a scribeat his disposal! ' o S ee, e. g., A .K. G ra y s o nC , a m b ri d gA e n c i ent H i storv,2nd p.202. ed.,l l l l 2 (1991), nor ,,Thereseemsto have been no training programmefor potentialbureaucrats were the officialsliterate,sincean army of scribes bolstered up the entiresystem." 't T he t abl e tm e a s u re Ls l x 3 ,l x 6 .2 c m a ncl thusdi spl ays thestandard l :2:4egi rru ratio betweenits thickness, width and length.SeeS. Parpola, JNES42 (1983) 2 n, 5 and LAS I (1970) 331-341,and K. Radner,,,The RelationBetweenFormat and Contentof Neo-Assyrian Texts," in R. Mattila, ed.,Nineveh612 BC. The Glon,and Fall of theAssvrianEmpire (Helsinki,I 995),63-77 7l f. , especially 16 The current scholarly consensus seemsto be that after relatively wide-spread literacyin the early second millenniumBC (seen. l9) therewas a,,reversal"in the development of the cuneiformscript,which eventually ,,ledto literacybecomingthe prerogative of a restricted classof highly trainedspecialists and [in] the late second earlv first millennia" (M.T.Larsen, ,,The Mesopotamian Lukewarm Mind: Reflections on Science, Divination and Literacy," in F. Rochberg-Halton, ed.,Language, Literature, and Historv: Philological Studies Presented to Erica Reiner [New Haven, 1987], p. 220, with referenceto earlier opinions); see also J.S.Cooper, InternationalEnc.vclopaedia of Communications I (Oxford, 1989), 442, and I. Oates, Babvlon(rev.ed.,London.1986).163.

''' The forms

The Man Without a Scnbe


in our letter." Naturally, full masteryof the cuneiformwriting evidenced systemtakesa iifetime and can be attainedonly by a small numberof professionals. But sucha masterywas not necessary life. The level in everyday of literacy evidencedby the presentletter was within the reach of every affluentAssyrianfamily, and therecertainlywas no prohibitionagainstit.r8 The extentto which this potentialwas actually realized of courseremainsa matter of conjecture, but it would standto reasonthat elementary literacy was mandatoryat least for public and stateoffices, as later in Greeceand Rome."' I submit that the allesed..drastic" second-millennium chansein
The letter contains a total of 40 diff'erent graphemes, of which 26 (: 65o/o) are phonetic and 14 ideographic. The phonetic signs (a e i u; ba ha ia ka la na ra ia, be ie, li ni si, mu pu ru su; ap et is ii) account for 70.5o/o of all sign occurrences. The ideoqrams include numbers, determinatives and logograms for common nouns, names. and name elements (e.nn ,,scribe,"ARAD,,servant,"BE(-li),,lord," DI ,,wellbeing." EN\Alvl ,,governor,"LUGAL,,king"; 30. ai-iur, arrap, nN, lnl). Even though the sample is very limited, the total absence ol'CVC-type syllabograms on the one hand, and the presence of CV-VC type spellings (be-et, li-is, ra-ap) on the other, indicates that it is representative (cf. n. 8 above). Supposing that the writer's complete syllabary included all the commonly uscd Neo-Assyrian CV and VC graphemes and a proportional number of additional logograms, it would have consisted of a total of 112 signs, 79 oI them syllabogramsand 33 ideograms.(In actual fact, the syllabary may well have been more reduced and still perfectly functional). This compares well with such syllabic systems as Japanesehiragana and Linear B. To put the matter in perspective, it may be noted that cven the syllabary of such an expert scribe as Mar-Issar, attested in an cxtensive correspondence(SAA l0 347-370), does not include more than 225 graphemes( 170 syllabograms+ 55 ideograms). '*An anonymous letter to f]sarhaddon (ABL 1245) denounces a goldsmith who ,,like the king and the crown prince has bou-shta Babylonian, settledhim in his own lrouse.and taughl (liginntt iqtibil his son in exorcism; they have even explained to him extispicy'omens. and he has even studied gleaningsfrom Enuma Anu Enlil, and t h i s r i g h t b e f b r e t h e k i n g . m y ' l o r d l " l o b r ' . . 1 - 1 2 ) .H o w e v e r , i t i s c l e a r t h a t t h e m a n was not accused fbr teaching his son to read and write but fbr acquiring knowledge in magic, extisprc,v and astrology' subjects potentially highly dangerous to the monarchy (see SAA l0 179 and m1'remarks in Iraq 34 [972]32) - without the king's permission. To ludge fiom a contemporary letter, learning to read and write cuneiform was not considered a ditflcult task in this period - not at least by the writer, the princess Serua-etirat, who degrades her sister-in-law by hinting she was involved in such childish exercises (ARL 308). A letter written by the above-mentioned goldsmith's son (ABL 847) has actually been preservcd, and it displays very good writing competence. The Otd Assyrian City State and lts Colonies (Copenhagen,1976), p. 305, M.T. Larsen writes: ,,There are indications that a great many Assyrians knew how to read and write so the need for privately employed scribes may not have been so great. The system of writing was highly simplified with only a limited number oI syllabic signs and quite I-ew logograms, and many of the outrageously hideous private documents constitute clear proof of the amateurishnessof their writers. We know lbr certain that some of the sons of important merchants were taught the ''Inhisbook "


S, Parpola

literacy(seen. l6) actually never took place, and that the Mesopotamian was at leastas high (if not levelof literacyin first millenniumMesopotamia times.2" higher)as in earlier

APPENDIX: Additional PhilologicalNoteson K 652 name is basedon the syllabicspellings 2. The readingof the sender's tnai-iur-na-d-di (ABL 94I:9), na-a'-di (ADD 22:3), meN-na-a'-di (CT 53 38 r. 3 andCTN 3 102ii 9). (SAA 6 325r.23) andtnna-a'-di-otNcrn miss/u is (with the exception of CTN 3 l:4) otherwise 3. The supplied ing from the salutationonly in lettersfrom the Balih and Habur area (see is surely inten, h e r ei t s o m i s s i o n 3n d2 2 4 : 3 ) w S A A | 2 1 4 : 3 , 2 2 2 : 3 , 2 2 3 :a (seeKAI no. 233:l). tionalanddueto Aramaicinfluence with tbe ina sign.For a-na : regularlyspelled 5, a-na bt-et is elsewherc < i n a >s e e L A S 2 ( 1 9 8 3 )r,. 4 7 f . li-isthe non-standard spellingii-pu-ra-ni-nibesidc 6. Note the standard pu-ru (obv. 9, rev. 4). Sirnilar vacillation betweenstandardand nonstandardorthographyalso occurs in the other letters surveyedin n. 10 in ABL 800 above, e.g. ii-pur-an-ni and e-pu-ui beside e-pa-sa-en-ni andr. l8; ii-ku-ni-ni rn CT 53 148:16 r.6.9.13; ep-pu-sri beside e-pu-su-nlt, ABL 992'.13 f and 23: ii-kun-u-nu and e-pu-tui-ma\besideefttl-sa-tu-ni, beside ni-is-pur-un-ni, CT 53 289'.13 andr. 5 f. Note alsois'-seandle-pu-sri e-a, NL 96:37 (Iraq 39 pl. 34, a letter from Arrapha),and ii-sap-ra-a-ni, S A A l 0 2 7 3 : 7a n dr . 1 1 . is no scribe with me." 7 f .Literally, ,,there with anotherverb, iapuru (without the ven9. When used in hendiadys tivc suffix) often had the meaning,,to send (word), order, direct" in NeoAssyrian, c.g.,lii-pu-ru lu-bi-lu-nii-iu, ABL 464r.6; iu-up-ru be-etiu-tuff: e-sa-paru-ba-lu-ni-iu, u-ni li-is-lblu-tu lu-bi-iu-ni-liul, SAA | 246'.10 a-iap-par i-id-'uSAA 5 263:5;iu-pur lii-u-lu a-na mse-si-i, ABL 1257:8; u-llu-uli,ABL 464r. ll; a-iap-pari-ia-u-lu,SAA I 91 r. 8. 9 ff. The word ordercan be compared with ABL 896 r. 2 (la-ai-pLtra-na f (ia aif: a-muk-a-ni ,.lctnte sendword to Bit-Amukani")andABL 1385:8
that the big scribalart in Assur...In spiteof theseobservations it must be assumed firms did have thcir own scribes."See also his remarks on literacy in the Old periods Reiner(above, n. l6), p.2l9f. Akkadianand Old Babylonian in Festschrift The evidenceavailableto me indicatesthat this picture applies to the Assyrian Empire as well. lvlostprivatc lettersof this period are written with a limited syllaThey bary and in this respectdo not differ fiom their Old Assyrianpredecessors. (e.g., alsoincludea fair numberof ,,outrageously CTN 3 no. 3), hideous" documents which underno circumstances canqualify as the handiworkof expertscribes. 2"For a similarview seeH. Vanstiphout, ,,Memoryand Literacyin Ancient Western Asia," in J. Sasson et al., eds.,Civilizationsof the AncientNear Ecsr (New York, 1 9 9 5 )2 .1 8 l - 2 1 9 6 e,s p 2 . 1 8 8f .

The Man Without a Scnbe


pur-an-ni a-na SeS-ia mu-uk, ,,as to what I wrote to my brother, saying ( . .. ) " ) . 11. The spelling uRU.arrap-ra-ap-ha is attested only here and is a compromise between the standard spelling unu.arrap-ha and a fully syllabic spelling (e.g.,ar-rap-ha, ABL 1,244:10). r. l. There is an accidental vertical wedge above the second horizontal of ai-iur. r . 3f . iapa ru * i s s i ,,to s e n d to " i s a l s o attestedi n S A A l 0 353:14ff (,,[the king, my lord], sent a bodyguard to the commandant") and ABL 916'.1 ([r-u].A KIN DUMU-LUGUis-si-ia is-sap-ra ,,the crown prince sent a messenger to me").


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