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Assyrian empire builders: Governors, diplomats and soldiers in the service of Sargon II and Tiglath-pileser III, kings of Assyria

In the second half of the eighth century BC, Assyria was the most powerful state in the Middle East: regions far beyond the Assyrian heartland in the north of modern-day Iraq, demarcated by the triangle formed by the ancient cities of Assur, Nineveh and Arbail, were annexed as provinces to form an empire that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf, from the fringes of the Arabian desert to western Iran and central Anatolia.

About 1,200 letters and letter fragments survive of the correspondence of king Sargon II (721-705 BC) with his governors and magnates, in addition to c. 150 letters of the correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC). They were retrieved in the shape of the original clay tablets during excavations in the royal cities of Kalhu (modern Nimrud) and Nineveh (modern Mossul). This corpus of letters between the kings and their high officials, the largest known from antiquity, gives first-hand insight into the mechanisms of communication between the top levels of authority in an ancient empire.

With the kind permission of the various editors of this corpus and in collaboration with the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, the Project, directed by Karen Radner at UCL from 2009-2013, aims to provide translations and transliterations of all these texts. By offering commentary and supplementary material it further helps to contextualise the source texts for the users.