A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law - Vol. 2

By Raymond Westbrook; Gary Beckman et al. | Go to book overview

INTERNATIONAL LAW
INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM
Simo Parpola

1. SOURCES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

Even though the cuneiform writing system continued to be used in the Near East through thefirst millennium, cuneiform documentation becomes progressively scantier and more one-sided towards the end of the millennium as a result of the establishment of Aramaic as an imperial lingua franca under the Neo-Assyrian Empire (see 2.1.2 below).1 Being written on perishable materials, the only relevant Aramaic sources extant are three eighth-century treaties. Thus most types of source relevant to the study of international law, while abundantly available earlier, are entirely missing from the latter half of the millennium.


1.1 Treaties

Original treaties in cuneiform have been preserved only from the Neo-Assyrian period, from which twenty-two texts are extant, dating between ca. 825 and 625.2 The individual texts vary greatly in type, content, length, and quality.3

____________________
1
See Tadmor, “Aramaization…, and the discussion of the letter CT 54 10 in Parpola, “Neo-Assyrian Letters…, 123, n. 9, and SAA 1, introduction.
2
Edited by Parpola and Watanabe in SAA 2. The total of twenty-two includes ten exemplars of Esarhaddon's succession treaty (no. 6), treated in the edition as a single text but actually representing ten identically worded treaties imposed on at least ten different political parties (mostly vassal nations). On the number of the extant exemplars of SAA 2 6, see ibid., xxix–xxx, and Farber, Review…, 163.
3
The corpus includes several short one-column tablets, two of which (nos. 8 and 10) are probably drafts and two (nos. 3 and 12), excerpt tablets. Contrast these with the elaborate 670–line succession treaty of Esarhaddon and the multi-column treaties with Arpad (no. 2), Tyre (no. 5), and an unidentified country (Arabs[?], no. 11).

-1047-

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