Royal Inscriptions of Assyria (RIA)
A bronze sword (MMA 184.108.40.206) from Assur with a proprietary inscription of the Middle Assyrian ruler Adad-nerari I (1295–1264 BCE). The text records the king’s military campaigns and his construction of the “New Palace.”
Eight hundred and sixty-six cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria’s first 107 rulers have been edited in three authoritative volumes prepared by A. Kirk Grayson (1987–96) for the Assyrian Periods sub-series of the University-of-Toronto-based Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia (RIM) series, which was published by University of Toronto Press: Assyrian Rulers of the Third and Second Millennia BC (to 1115 BC) (1987), Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC I (1114–859 BC) (1991), and Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC II (858–745 BC) (1996) (= RIMA 1–3). However, there is now a need to re-edit, in an updated form, these important group of Assyrian texts and add all additional inscriptions that have become known in the three decades since the publication of the RIMA volumes.
Thus, the new publication project aims to provide editions of the complete corpus of Akkadian inscriptions of the Assyrian rulers from the late third millennium BC to the reign of Aššur-narari V (754–745 BC). In essence, the publications of the Royal Inscriptions of Assyria (RIA) series will serve as “second editions” of Grayson’s three aforementioned volumes. Following the models of Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period (RINAP) and Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (RINBE), the planned six-volume series will include:
- comprehensive introductions, including information about the historical and geographical contexts of the texts, discussions of the material supports of the inscriptions, and surveys of previous research;
- illustrations in the form of photographs (especially of inscribed objects) and drawings (such as annotated site plans and maps); and
- complete indexes of names of people, places, deities, and temples.
A stone tablet (VA 8832; Ass 19735) from Assur with a 126-line inscription of the Middle Assyrian ruler Tukulti-Ninurta I (1233–1197 BC).
Adopting the editorial principals of the RINAP and RINBE series, the planned volumes of the RIA series will edit each and every inscription separately and in their entirety. This is especially important for the text corpus of the Middle Assyrian king Adad-narari I (1295–1264 BC), whose inscriptions have never been fully edited; the presentation of that group of texts in RIMA 1 (pp. 128–179) conflated the introductions, body, building reports, and concluding formulas of Adad-narari I’s most important texts, thereby obscuring the number and contents of individual inscriptions.
A stone tablet of Tukulti-Ninurta I from Assur now in the Morgan Library & Museum (New York City).
In order to make the books accessible especially for non-specialists and students, the arrangement of texts for each ruler will be reworked, following the model of RINAP, which groups each corpus by provenance and material (e.g., clay, stone, metal); whenever possible, a king’s texts will be presented chronologically (from earliest to latest). Not only will the text introductions and commentaries be rewritten in their entirety, the individual text bibliographies will be expanded and updated as required, as will the catalogues of known exemplars whenever new witnesses have been identified and / or whenever additional or new information has come to light about the archaeological context of the inscribed objects.
A photograph of several in situ inscriptions of the Middle Assyrian kings Adad-narari I (1295–1264 BC) and Tukulti-Ninurta I (1233–1197 BC) discovered in the ruins of the Assyrian Ištar temple at Assur. Assur excavation photograph 6666.
The transliterations and translations will also be reworked, as needed. In particular, the books’ authors will update the translations so that they match the editorial practices of RINAP and RINBE. On the one hand, this will take into account the meanings assigned to certain words that were included in the volumes of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD) that appeared only after RIMA 1–3 were published. On the other hand, the update applies especially to the reading of personal and geographic names, which will be harmonized with the now-discipline-standard reference tools The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (PNA; 1998–2011) and Répertoire Géographique des Textes Cunéiformes (especially A.M. Bagg, Die Orts- und Gewässernamen der neuassyrischen Zeit [2007–20]). While the RIM volumes used large translation blocks, the RIA volumes will break these into smaller units to enable their easier correlation with the Akkadian text, especially for non-specialists and students. The editions will also include more detailed notes than their RIMA counterparts, which only indicated minor (orthographic) variants in very limited on-page notes.
The RIA project, which is part of the Munich Open-access Cuneiform Corpus Initiative (MOCCI), is the direct successor of the University-of-Toronto-based Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia (RIM) Project (1980–2008) and the University-of-Pennsylvania-based Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period (RINAP) Project (2008–). Although most of RIA’s contents have been available since August 2015 via the open-access website Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo), the project’s print publication plans took formal shape only in June 2022, when RIA’s co-founders and directors Prof. Dr. Karen Radner (Chair for the Ancient History of the Near and Middle East at LMU Munich) and Prof. Dr. Grant Frame (University of Pennsylvania) established its editorial board, its team of consultants, and the books’ authors (see below) after the necessary funding became available through Radner's Leibniz Award.
Over the next decade, RIA will assemble a complete and authoritative modern presentation of the entire corpus of the royal inscriptions of 107 Assyrian rulers from Assyria’s origins to 745 BC, both in six print volumes and in a fully annotated (linguistically tagged), open-access digital format. In addition, its core data, with substantial contextualization and metadata and linkage to external resources, will be disseminated online for free. The open-access, online facilities — which is already accessible on the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus (Oracc) platform — include:
- a catalog searchable by museum numbers, excavation numbers, primary publications, etc.;
- browsable text editions, with English translations;
- Akkadian glossary, and index of names;
- a search facility to explore texts by transliteration, words, names, as well as by English translations;
- a glossary which will provide a guided search and concordance of all instances of every word; and
- introductory pages giving historical background and other kinds of information.
Stone, rounded-topped steles of the early Neo-Assyrian kings Ashurnasirpal II (BM 118883; left), Shalmaneser III (BM 118884; center), and Šamši-Adad V (BM 115020; right).
As part of MOCCI since its inception in 2015, RIA’s contents have been fully integrated into Oracc, the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI), and the Ancient Records of Middle Eastern Polities (ARMEP) map interface, a LMU-Munich-developed, web-based research tool. The online material is managed by Dr. Jamie Novotny and Dr. Frauke Weiershäuser. The print publications is handled by Eisenbrauns, an imprint of Penn State University Press, and will appear in the same format as the RINAP and RINBE publications, but with one important addition: Golden Standard Open Access publishing, that is, PDFs will be available for free download without an embargo period directly upon print publication.
In addition to its open-access, Oracc-based website Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo) — which as of July 2022 already includes linguistically-annotated, retro-digitized editions of the 866 inscriptions published in RIMA 1–3 — the RIA Project will produce six books and open-access PDF versions of those reference volumes, thus making reliable editions of this important group of texts freely available to scholars, students, museum personnel, and the general public. The planned publications are:
- A. Kirk Grayson and Jamie Novotny, The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria, Part 1: From the Origins of Assyria to Arik-dīn-ili (to 1306 BC).
- A. Kirk Grayson and Poppy Tushingham (with contributions by Jamie Novotny), The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria, Part 2: From Adad-nārārī I to Aššur-rēša-iši I (1305–1115 BC).
- A. Kirk Grayson and Jana Richter (with contributions by Jamie Novotny), The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria, Part 3: From Tiglath-pileser I to Tukultī-Ninurta II (1114–884 BC).
- A. Kirk Grayson and J. Caleb Howard (with the editorial assistance of Jamie Novotny), The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria, Part 4: Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 BC).
- A. Kirk Grayson and J. Caleb Howard (with the editorial assistance of Jamie Novotny), The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria, Part 5: Shalmaneser III and His Successors (858–745 BC).
- Jamie Novotny, Indices, Corrections, and Additions (provisional title).
RIA Editorial Board
• Karen Radner (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; co-director)
• Grant Frame (University of Pennsylvania; co-director)
• Jamie Novotny (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; editor-in-chief)
• Anmar Abdulillah Fadhil (University of Baghdad)
• Eckart Frahm (Yale University)
• Barbara Helwing (Vorderasiatisches Museum)
• Jon Taylor (British Museum)
• Ariane Thomas (Louvre Museum)
RIA Editorial Board and Authors. From left to right, Radner, Frame, Novotny, Weiershäuser, Fadhil, and Howard.
• Kirk Grayson (Professor Emeritus University of Toronto)
• Helen Gries (Vorderasiatisches Museum
• Steve Tinney (University of Pennsylvania)
RIA Team (Authors)
• Kirk Grayson (Professor Emeritus University of Toronto)
• J. Caleb Howard (Cambridge University; Tyndale House)
• Jamie Novotny (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
• Jana Richter (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
• Frauke Weiershäuser (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
RIA has received funding from
- the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (through the establishment of the Chair for the Ancient History of the Near and Middle East in 2015; until 2020);
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, especially through the Cambridge LMU Strategic Partnership (from 2019); and
- The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (through the award of a Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize in 2022).