Amarna Tablet 35

Copper, Silver, Lumber,
and an Eagle-Omen Interpreter


DESCRIPTION

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Language: Akkadian
Medium: clay tablet
Length: 55 lines of writing
Genre: Letter
Sender: King of AlaŠiya
(personal identification unknown)
Recipient: Egyptian Pharaoh
(perhaps Amenophis III or IV)
Date: 14th cent. BCE
Place of Discovery: Tel el-Amarna, Egypt
(ancient Akhetaten)
Date of Discovery: 1887
Discoverer: peasant woman
Acquirer: E. A. Wallis Budge
Current Location: British Museum
Inventory Number: BM 29788
Tablet Number: EA 35
Knudtzon 1907–1915
BB 5
Bezold & Budge 1892




TEXT
TRANSLITERATION
(from Mercer 1939:194-99)

TRANSLATION
(adapted from Mercer 1939:1:194-99;
Oppenheim 1967:120, 123; and Moran 1992:107-8)
a-na Šarri rimâtMi-is-ri ahi-ia ki-bi-ma 1 Speak to the King of Egypt, my brother. Thus
um-ma Šàr mâtA-la-Ši-ia ahu-ka-ma 2 says the King of Alashiya, your brother:
a-na muhhi-ia Šul-mu bîtâti-ia aŠŠati-ia mârê-ia 3 All goes well with me. With my houses, my wife, my sons,
amêlrabûti-ia sisê-iai s narkabâti-ia ù i-na 4 my chief men, my horses, my chariots, and
libbibimâtâti-ia dan-ne Š lu-ú Šul-mu ù a-na muhh i ahi-ia 5 in my lands, it is well. And with my brother
lu-ú Šul-mu a-na bîtâti-ka a ŠŠâti-ka mârê-kaamêl rabûti-ka 6 may it be well. With your houses, your wives, your sons, your chief men,
sisê-kaisnarkabâti-ka ù i-na libbi bimâtâti-ka 7 your horses, your chariots, and in your lands,
dan-neŠ lu-ú Š ul-mu a-hi a-nu-maamêlmâr Šipri-ia it-ti 8 may it be very well. My brother, behold, my messenger
amêlmâr Šipri-ka a-na mu hhi-ka al-ta-par i-namâtMi-is -ri 9 I have sent with your messenger to you to Egypt.
e-nu-ma a-na muhhi-ka 5 me-at erî ul-te-bi-la-ak-ku 10 Now I have sent 500 (talents) of copper to you;
a-na Šú-ul-ma-ni Š á ahi-ia ul-te-bi-la-ak-ku 11 I have sent it to you as a gift—for my brother.
a-hi ki-i si-he-ir erû i-na libbi bi-ka la-a i-Šá-ki-in 12 Do not let my brother be concerned that the amount of copper is too little,
Šum-ma i-na mâti-ia qati ti d Nergal bêlili-ia gab-ba 13 for in my land the hand of Nergal, my lord,
amêlûta Šá mati-ia i-du-uk ù e-bi-i Š erî ia-nu 14 has killed all the men of my land, and so there is not a (solitary) copper-worker.
ù ahi-ia i-na libbibi-ka la-a Šá-ki-in 15 Therefore, do not let my brother be concerned.
amêlmâr Šipri-ka it-tiamêlmâr Šipri-ia ar-hi-i Š 16 Send your messenger along with my messenger quickly
uŠ-Še-ir ù mi-nu-um-me erî Šá te-ri-i Š- Šú 17 and all the copper that you desire
ahi-ia ù a-na-ku ul-te-bi-la-ak-ku 18 I will send you, my brother.
a-hi at-ta a-na ia-Ši kaspa ma-a-ad dan-neŠ 19 You are my brother; you should send me silver,
ul-te-bi-la-an-ni ahi-ia kasap ilâni i-din-an-ni 20 my brother —a great quantity. Give me the best silver,
a-na-ku ù a-na muhhi Šá ah i-ia mi-nu-um-me-e 21 then I will send you, my brother, all
Šá te-ri-iŠ - Šú ahi-ia ù a-na-ku ul-te-bi-la-ak-ku 22 that you, my brother, request.
Šá-ni-tú a-hi alpu Šá te-ri-iŠ- Šú amêlmâr Š ipri-ia 23 Furthermore, my brother, the ox my messenger requested
ù i-din-an-ni ahi-ia ù Šamnê Šá tâbu a hi-ia 24 give to me, my brother. And sweet oil, my brother,
2karpatku-ku-bu uŠ - Še-ir-an-ni ahi-ia 25 send to me, my brother: 2 containers;
ù 1amêlût Š&aacute-i-li naŠrê u Š-Š e-ra-an-ni 26 and send me a specialist in eagle-omens.
Š&aacute-ni-tú ahi-ia amêlûtu Šá mâti-ia it-ti-ia 27 Furthermore, my brother, the people of my land
i-dab-bu-bu isê-ia Šá ŠàrmâtMi-is -ri 28 speak to me about the lumber that the king of Egypt
i-li-ku-ni ù ahi-ia Šîmê aù i-din-an-ni 29 receives from me. So, my brother, make the payment to me.
Šá-ni-tú ki-ia-am amêlu ŠámâtA-la- Ši-ia 30 Furthermore, a man of Alashiya
i-namâtMi-is-ri mi-it ù ú-nu-tu- Šú 31 died in Egypt, and his possessions
i-na mâti-ka ù mâru-Š ú a ŠŠatu-Šú 32 are in your land, but his son and wife are with me.
ù ahi-ia ú-nu-tum amêlût A-la-Š i-ia Šurbis 33 Let my brother, therefore, attend to the affairs of the man of Alashiya;
ù i-na qatiti amêlmâr Š ipri-ia i-din-Šú ahi-ia 34 and give it into the hand of my messenger, my brother.
a-hi-i i-na libbibi-ka la-a Šá-ki-in ki-i 35 Do not be concerned, my brother, that
amêlmâr Šipri-ka 3 Šanâti áŠ-bu i-na mâti-ia 36 your messenger has remained three years in my land,
áŠ-Šum qati ti dNergal i-ba-áŠ- Š i i-na mâti-ia 37 for the hand of Nergal is upon my land
ù i-na bîti-ia aŠŠati-ia mâru i-ba-â Š-Ši 38 and upon my house. My wife bore a son,
Šá-a mi-it i-na-an-na ah i-ia 39 who is now dead, my brother.
amêlmâr Šipri-ka it-itamêlmâr Šipri-ia na-as-ri-i Š 40 Send your messenger with my messenger
ar-hi-iŠ uŠ -Še-ir ù Šú-ul-ma-na 41 very promptly, then a gift
Š´ ahi-ia ul-te-bi-la-ak-ku 42 for my brother I will send you.
Šá-ni-tú ahi-ia kaspa Šá e-ri-Šá-ak-ku 43 Furthermore, my brother, the silver for which I asked you,
ú-Še-bi-la ma-ad dan-ne Š ahi-ia 44 let my brother send in great quantity.
ù ú-nu-tum Šá e-ri- Š á-ak-ku ahi-ia uŠ- Šar 45 And, my brother, the gifts for which I asked you, send,
ù mi-nu-um-me-e a-ma-temeŠ gab-ba ahi-ia 46 and all my desires let my brother
ip-pu-uŠ ù at-ta mi-nu-um-me-e a-ma-te meŠ 47 fulfill, and whatever desires
Šá ta-qab-bi a-na ia- Š i ù a-na-ku ip-pu-uŠ 48 you mention to me I will do.
it-ti Šarri Ha-at-te ù it-ti Šarri Šá-an-ha-ar 49 With the King of Hatti and the King of Shanhar
it-ti-Šú-nu la ta- Š á-ki-in a-na-ku 50 you have not been placed on the same level. As for me,
mi-nu-um-me-e Šú-ul-ma-nu Šá ú-Še-bi-lu 51 whatever presents my brother
a-na ia-Ši ù a-na-ku 2- Šú a-na muhhi-ka 52 has sent to me, I have returned to you
ú-te-ir-ru 53 double.
amêlmâr Šipri-ka il-lik it-ti-ia qad-mi-iŠ 54 Your messenger has come to me promptly,
uamêlmâr Š ipri-ia il-lik it-ti-ka qad-mi-e-iŠ 55 and my messenger shall come to you promptly.
NOTES
Alashiya is the ancient name of the island of Cyprus (see McRay 1992).
Copper was one of the most important products of ancient Cyprus.
Eagle-omens were one form of "sign-reading" or divination practiced in the ancient Mediterranean world (see Grabbe 1995:119-51).
Hatti refers to the Hittite kingdom (located in modern Turkey).
Šanhar may refer to Babylon (located in modern Iraq).
"You have not been placed on the same level." This is the reading of Moran. Previous translators rendered it "Do not make a treaty with . . ." But as Moran points out, this would make little sense in the context of discussing gifts.
Giving double (both positively and negatively) is an ancient motif. In the Bible, see Genesis 43:12-15; 2 Kings 2:9; Isaiah 40:2; Zechariah 9:12; Sirach 26:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; Revelation 18:6.




DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Why does the King of AlaŠiya use kinship language (ahi-ia, "my brother") when writing to the Pharaoh? Could this be what anthropologists call "pseudo-kinship" or "fictive kinship"? See Pitt-Rivers (1968).

2. What sorts of goods are being exchanged between these two kings? Why are gifts discussed in the same letter with payments for products? See Stansell (2001).
3. What would be the importance of an interpreter of eagle-omens (augury)? In what ancient Mediterranean society did bird-omens play an especially important role?
4. Who was Nergal? What does the writer mean by "the hand of Nergal"? What does this say about the writer's worldview? See Livingstone (1999).
5. What roles do messengers play in the transactions described in this letter?
6. In what way is the stereotyped greeting in lines 3-5 contradicted by the report later in the letter? What does this say about the importance of form in such a document?




SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bezold, Carl and E. A. Wallis Budge. The Tell-el Amarna Tablets in the British Museum. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1892.
Campbell, Edward A. "The Amarna Letters and the Amarna Period." In Biblical Archaeologist Reader vol. 3, 54-75. New York: Doubleday, 1970.
Grabbe, Lester L. Priest, Prophets, Diviners, Sages: A Socio-Historical Study of Religious Specialists in Ancient Israel. Valley Forge, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1995.
Knudtzon, J. A. Die El-Amarna-Tafeln. Vorderasiatische Bibliotek, vol. 2. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1907–1915 (repr. Aalen: Zeller, 1964).
Livingstone, Alasdair. "Nergal." In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, edited by K. van der Toorn et al., 621-22. 2nd ed. Leiden: Brill, 1999.
McRay, John. "Cyprus." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 1.1229-30. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Mercer, Samuel A. B. The Tell El-Amarna Tablets. 2 vols. Toronto: Macmillan, 1939.
Moran, Willam. The Amarna Letters. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992.
Na'aman, Nadav. "Amarna Letters." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 1.174-81. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Oppenheim, A. Leo. Letters from Mesopotamia. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967.
Pitt-Rivers, Julian. "Pseudo-Kinship." In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, edited by D. L. Sills, 5.408-13. New York: Free Press, 1968.
Stansell, Gary. "The Gift in Ancient Israel." Semeia 87 (2001) 65-90.
Winckler, Hugo. The Tell-el-Amarna Letters. Trans. J. Metcalf. New York and London: Lemcke & Buechner, 1896.


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Last Modified: 29 June 2004