The Archive Of Nuzi -- By: G. Herbert Livingston

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 07:1 (Winter 1994)
Article: The Archive Of Nuzi
Author: G. Herbert Livingston

The Archive Of Nuzi

G. Herbert Livingstona

The archives of Nuzi are not as large as those from Ebla, Nippur or Mari, but the contents of the inscriptions on that site’s clay tablets are worthy of notice. Besides the documents of the ruling elite, there are many inscriptions belonging to the merchants, professionals and small landowners, who lived in or near the city. This kind of inscription is uncommon at the other ancient sites.


Nuzi was not located along the Tigris or Euphrates Rivers, nor near the Mediterranean Sea; Nuzi was located on an important trade route between the Mesopotamian Valley and the land now known as Iran. The site is now known as Yorgan Tepe, which is about ten miles southwest of Kirkuk in modern Iraq.

The site was settled before 3,000 BC and was an important trading village, called Gasur throughout the third millennium BC. A few inscribed texts date from that period, but the majority of the clay tablets date from about 1,600 to about 1,350 BC, during which time the place was known as Nuzi. During most of this period Nuzi was dominated by the Hurrian empire called Mitanni.

Early in this century, clay tablets began to appear in antiquity shops in Iraq, having on them unknown words mixed with the Akkadian language. Scholars responded by searching for the source of the tablets. The source turned out to be Yorgan Tepe, and Edward Chiera of the American Institute of Oriental Research in Baghdad began excavating there in 1925 and renewed working 1929 to 1931. Nearly 4,000 inscriptions were brought to light.

The date of most of these inscriptions are two to three hundred years later than those of Nippur and Mari and one thousand years later than the tablets found at Ebla. However, the social, economic, political and religious laws and customs were much the same. There were some differences due to the strong Hurrian influence on Nuzi society.

The tablets have a number of administrative records of Nuzi and surrounding villages produced by scribes of officers of the royal family of the province of Arraphe whose capital was Kirkuk. There are also records of life events of the middle class which do not appear at many of the other sites in the

ancient Near East. These records preserve trading invoices, contracts, and lawsuits. More significantly for those interested in the social and religious practices of this level of society, there are deeds, wills, marriage agreements, adoption and inheritance contracts, and legal actions involving brothers and ...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()