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Nuzi Texts and Their Uses as Historical Evidence
Maynard Paul Maidman
WAW 18
Publication Date
July 2010


Ancient Nuzi, buried beneath modern Yorghan Tepe in northern Iraq, is a Late Bronze Age town belonging to the kingdom of Arrapha that has yielded between 6,500 and 7,000 legal, economic, and administrative tablets, all belonging to a period of some five generations (ca. 1475–1350 B.C.E.) and almost all from known archaeological contexts. The tablets were excavated from government administrative complexes, from houses in all the urban neighborhoods, from each of the suburban villas, and even a few dozen from the temple complex. These Akkadian-language documents include contracts for labor, deeds of sale, testamentary wills, slave sales, ration lists, interoffice memoranda, trial records, scholastic texts, and much more. The ninety-six texts presented here in transliteration and translation are divided into five groups dealing with topics of historical interest: Nuzi and the political force responsible for its demise; the crimes and trials of a mayor of Nuzi; a multigenerational legal struggle over title to a substantial amount of land; the progressive enrichment of one family at the expense of another through a series of real-estate transactions; and the nature of the ilku, a real estate tax whose dynamic is crucial in defining the economic and social structure of Nuzi as a whole.

Maynard Paul Maidman is Professor of History at York University, and the author of Joint Expedition with the Iraq Museum at Nuzi, VII: Miscellaneous Texts (with E. R. Lacheman†); Two Hundred Nuzi Texts from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Part I; Joint Expedition with the Iraq Museum at Nuzi, VIII: The Remaining Major Texts in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and The Nuzi Texts of the Oriental Institute: A Catalogue Raisonné (all from CDL Press).