One of My Tools
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Categories: Ancient, Uncategorized

One of My Tools

Only a fraction of the tablets from the Achaemenid period which have been excavated have been published, and many of the published ones look like this:

Line drawing of twelve rows of cuneiform signs
A typical entry in Strassmaier’s “Inschriften von Darius, König von Babylon” (Liepzig, 1892): “1 1/2 mina 2 1/2 shekels silver …”

One Johann N. Strassmaier published tablets organized by date between 1887 and 1897, and he naturally faced the dilemma of how to publish a damaged three-dimensional object covered in a script which had only recently been deciphered. He chose to sketch the tablets but not to transcribe them in Latin letters, a choice which avoided confusions as readings and transcriptions changed but demanded that the reader know Late Babylonian script well. I don’t know it well, but this tablet seems to describe a payment of silver for men so that they could go on campaign in year 4, month 11, day 25 of Darius I.

I am told that his editions contain an index of personal names, but my copy does not have one. Assyriologists today are usually very thorough in providing indices, since they know that their editions may be used for a long time, but few publish as many tablets as Strassmaier did.

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