Letters From Mesopotamia: Official, Business, and Private Letters on Clay Tablets from Two Millennia A. Leo Oppenheim

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This book contains the translations of one hundred and fifty letters written in Akkadian on clay tablets. The earliest date from the time of King Sargon of Akkad (about 2334-2279 B.C), the latest from the period of Persian domination over Mesopotamia (beginning 539 B.C.). The tablets come either from Mesopotamia proper or from regions to the west, even from as far as Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Egypt. Oppenheim selected these letters from many thousands of published clay tablets of this type to provide a panoramic view of Mesopotamian civilization during this extended span of time. His purpose in making such an anthology is to convey a more intimate and varied image of this civilization than that offered by the readily available translations of Akkadian epic texts, royal inscriptions, and law codes. Although the selection is, ultimately, subjective, two guiding principles were adopted: he chose the atypical rather than the typical to reproduce, however inadequately, the kaleidoscopic diversity of life as mirrored in these documents; and he concentrated on letters that are reasonably well preserved and that do not urgently require comment and elucidation.

  • Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967
  • Pp. xii + 217; 16 figures, 1 map
  • Out of Print