LETTERS FROM OLD BABYLONIA: A CRY FOR HELP AND ROYAL MICROMANAGMENT

A desperate cry for help from a wife to her husband in a letter, written in Larsa in Babylonia 1894-1850 BC, has been published by Professor Andrew George in his first volume of Old Babylonian letters in the Schøyen Collection:

"Speak to Awill-ili, thus says Ali-ahi your wife: I am banished to Larsa, working as a slave. Go to the house of the herdsman where I'm kept with my daughters Bau-asuat and Ribatum. Let me remind you, you were lying low in the steppe when they took me in the night. Redeem me lest I die! Hard labour has squeezed the life out of me!" (MS 3499)

Altogether 221 out of the Collection's 474 letters from Old Babylonia are included in this new volume published in Cornell University's CUSAS series. Besides numerous private letters and business letters from Larsa there are 27 royal letters from King Sumu-el in Larsa to his commanders and  officials in charge of security at various forts and villages, concerning the war between Larsa and Isin around 1868-1865 BC. The king emerges as an anxious delegator with little confidence in his commanders. From a typical letter (MS 2776/5):

"Speak to the Heads of Security, thus says Sumu-El: Important! Let your watch be strict! Why do you block the road, so they have taken control of troop upon troop! Why? You must not give up even half a cubit of mine! A well-fed army is certainly superior to the army of Bullulu. Send a message to Sîn-pāter’s men and let them have the army enter the forts. I am sending you the entire army. You must expel the enemy from the country!"

The present volume is the 11th in the series of cuneiform texts in the Schøyen Collection, and number 29 in the "Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection" series which was started 18 years ago:

MSC 29.
Old Babylonian Texts in the Schøyen Collection. Part I: Selected Letters, A.
R. George. Manuscripts in The Schøyen Collection Cuneiform Tablets XI.
Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology (CUSAS) 36, Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 2018.

MSC29 300x412