Assyrien und Urartu I: Der Achte Feldzug Sargons II. im Jahre 714 v. Chr. By WALTER MAYER. Alter Orient und Altes Testament, vol. 395/1. Munster: UGARIT-VERLAG, 2013. Pp. xv + 189. [euro]64.
Assyrien und Urartu II: Die assyrisch-urartaischen Bilinguen. By WALTER MAYER. Alter Orient und Altes Testament, vol. 395/2. Munster: UGARIT-VERLAG, 2013. Pp. xv + 156. [euro]58.
These two volumes offer a view of the interaction of Assyria and Urartu through the lens of a small group of royal texts composed by these two antagonists of the eighth century B.C. They also concern, at least tangentially, the curious role of Musasir, a buffer state located in what are now the highlands of Iraqi Kurdistan. While the texts, presented in transliteration and translation together with contextual analysis, do not constitute the entire body of cuneiform sources relevant to the testy relationship between the two great empires, they are absolutely essential for interpreting it. For the most part long known and repeatedly studied, they provide grist for the mills of many current debates in studies on the history of Urartu. These new volumes, however, contribute nothing new to those debates.
Walter Mayer is no stranger to the subject of Sargons eighth campaign. He began writing on the subject thirty-five years ago, producing substantial offerings in various scholarly publications (1979, 1980, 1983). Much of the first volume of Assyrien und Urartu weaves these scattered articles together into a monograph, which also includes a consideration of the historical and geographic context of the campaign. The key source around which the book revolves is the text of Sargons letter to the god Assur, an exquisite 430-line tablet published originally by Thureau-Dangin (1912) and supplemented by joining fragments discovered in situ at Assur. The last half of the book reprints the transliteration, translation, and indexes that Mayer published in 1983, albeit with slight modifications of the German and reorganization of the indexes. The latter, incidentally, are only keyed to lines in Sargons letter, not pages where the subjects are discussed. Surely an index to the volume as a whole would have been more useful. Since there was nothing particularly in need of renovation in the transliteration and translation, it is to the rest of the book that one must look for new insights and philological elaboration.
This discussion (Teil I) is organized into short chapters on 1 ) the tablet and the structure of the text; 2) Assyrian letters to gods; 3) the geopolitical setting of the area in which the confrontation took place; 4) Assyrian and Urartian relations before 720 B.c.; 5) Sargons interaction with Urartu, including a substantial treatment of the campaign itself; and 6) an analysis of the list of objects taken in the sack of Musasir, which accounts for the last quarter of Sargons text. This is thus something more than a text edition, yet less than a full examination of the history of the campaign.
If volume I of Assyrien und Urartu is essentially a summation of Mayers earlier work rather than a new endeavor, the same cannot be said of volume II. Its core is the treatment of bilingual stelae erected by Urartian...