. 14
( 55 .)


people were killed, and the killers ¬‚ed to the mountains. The letter writer
sent promises of safe passage to them. The killers then came down and made
peace with the victim™s kin. The good relations failed, and the killers once
again ¬‚ed to the mountains. The victim™s kin then resumed threatening the
ABL 100888
[ . . . ]-ˇ u-nu i-du-u-ku [ . . . ] 2 [ip-ta-al]-hu a-na KUR-u e-te-l[i-u]
s´ ´
3 Id 4
[ PA]-LAL-an-ni ina UGU-hi-ˇ u-nu a-sa-ap-ra [i]t-tar-du-u-ni a-
˜ ˇ`
de-e is-se-e-ˇ u i-sa-ak-nu e-tar-bu ia-mut-tu 6 ina SA URU-ˇ u kam-
s´ ´ s´
ˇ 7 TA qa-an-ni-ˇ u-nu LU.EN US!.MES sa a-na
´ ´ˇ ˇˇ

mu-su 2 URU.SE.MES
´ ˇ
LU.GAL URU.MES-ni i-du-ku-u-ni 9 la u-ri-du-u-ni . . .
. . . They killed their . . . They became afraid and went up to the
1 -6

mountain. I sent [Nabu]-taqqinanni to them; they came down, con-
cluded a settlement with him and entered into it, and [then] each was
dwelling [peaceably] in his own town.
There are two problems with this text. The ¬rst is that line 7 reads LU.EN
ˇ ´
KUR.MES, “enemies.” Only if we assume that this is an error for LU.EN
´ˇ ˇ
US.MES do we ¬nd the term b¯ l damˆ in this text. Secondly, lines 6 “9 have
e e
dif¬cult syntax. Martha Roth translates: “The b¯ l dame destroyed two vil-
lages within their borders which are in the jurisdiction of the village inspector;
(they have again ¬‚ed to the mountains) and have not come down.” Andreas
Fuchs and Simo Parpola translate it: “Two villages from their outskirts, the
avengers who killed the village managers, did not come down.” However,
the verb daku takes a direct object, not the preposition ana and, therefore,
the action of the verb cannot be directed at the village manager(s). (The plu-
ral marker in the logogram could refer either to the manager[s] or to the

88 Publication: Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, 10.1101. Transliteration and
translation: Robert H. Pfeiffer, State Letters of Assyria (New Haven, Connecticut: American
Oriental Society, 1935), 221“222; Andreas Fuchs and Simo Parpola, The Correspondence of
Sargon II, Part III: Letters from Babylonia and the Eastern Provinces (SAA 15; Helsinki:
Helsinki University Press, 2001), 67.

village[s]). It is more likely that b¯ l damˆ refers here to a murderer, rather
e e
than to an avenger, whose actions would be authorized and who would not
need to ¬‚ee.
The phrase is also found in ABL 211,89 but it is simply too ambiguous to
determine what it signi¬es. The letter writer claims that he is being viewed as
a b¯ l damˆ , but this could mean that he is claiming favored status as kinsman
e e
or that he is protesting that he is being unfairly viewed as a murderer.90 It is
simply impossible to determine.
The phrase is also found in CT 53 402,91 but the text is very broken.
There are a number of terms that have semantic ambivalence comparable
to b¯ l damˆ . These are legal terms like b¯ l d¯ni, which refers to either party in
e e e±
a law suit, or b¯ l sulummˆ, which refers to either party to an agreement. It is
e ±
equally plausible to argue that the meaning “owner of the blood,” referring
to the claimant from the victim™s family, is related to b¯ l napiˇ ti, “the owner
e s
of life,” the member of the victim™s family who has the right to vengeance.
If a man who has not yet received his share of the inheritance takes a
life, they shall hand him over to the avenger.92 Should the avenger so
choose, he shall kill him, or if he chooses to come to an accommoda-
tion, then he shall take his share of the inheritance.


There are ¬ve Neo-Assyrian legal documents that deal with homicide. Al-
though they present unrelated cases with different victims and offenders,
we can take these ¬ve texts and arrange them in the logical progression of
settling a dispute.93 They concern different phases that ¬t logically together
and thus may be reconstructed as a single judicial process. ADD 618 re-
¬‚ects a preliminary stage in which the rights and obligations of the parties
involved in the adjudication of homicide are formally recognized. ADD 321
represents the assistance of a mediating body in a dispute over a homicide in
order to settle the issues of the rights and obligations of the parties when they
are in the process of negotiating the amount of compensation for a homi-
cide. ADD 164 re¬‚ects the further progress of the case by stating the court™s

89 Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, 2.213“214.
90 Roth, “Homicide in the Neo-Assyrian Period,” 364.
91 Simo Parpola, Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum (London:

British Museum, 1979), plate 105.
92 Literally, “the owner of life.”
93 Roth arranges three of these texts in such a progression, in “Homicide in the Neo-Assyrian

Period,” 362“363.

con¬rmation of the compensation the guilty party must pay. The ¬nal two
documents, ADD 806 and PPA 95, re¬‚ect the conclusion of the process: The
payment is delivered to the injured party and the dispute is settled. Speci¬-
cally, ADD 806 refers to land forfeited as compensation, a legal transaction
conducted by government of¬cials, while PPA 95 records a payment made
in the presence of an of¬cial ensuring that the obligation was discharged
properly. There is a great deal not recorded in these documents. For exam-
ple, no indication of the circumstances of the homicide is offered “ how was
it accomplished? Was it intentional or accidental? These matters are of no
concern because these documents are purely economic in nature.
ADD 618 is a formal acknowledgment by the killer™s village of its obliga-
tion to pay compensation and of the right of the victim™s family to demand
compensation for the unlawful death. Once this formal declaration has been
made, the actual killer is no longer important: No matter what happens to
him, the village is still obligated. Other issues are ignored.
ˇ ˇ ˇ ˇ
1 na4
KISIB I d UTU-tak-lak 2 na4 KISIB I ib-ta-aˇ !-GIS 3 na4 KISIB I tab-la-
ˇ ˇ ˇ
a-a 4 na4 KISIB I eri-du10 -a-a94 5 na4 KISIB I U+GUR.PAP.PAP 6 na4 KISIB
ˇ ˇ
si-lim-DINGIR 7 na4 KISIB I mu-qa-l´l-IDIM 8 na4 KISIB I U.PAP.PAP
ˇ ˇ ˇ ˇ ˇ
9 na4
KISIB I AS.GIS 10 na4 KISIB I sa-a-ri-u-ni 11 na4 KISIB95 uru96 sa-ma-
ˇ ˇ
12 I
si-ri-i :97 EN US.MES
na-a-a gab-bu (cylinder seal of ¬sh man) .
sa I si-lim-DINGIR 14 GAZ-u-ni
ˇ ˇ s´
ina IGI-ˇ u-nu lu-u MUNUS-ˇ u 16 lu-u SES-ˇ u lu-u DUMU-
s´ s
ˇ ˇ ´s
su 17 man-nu sa e-la-a-ni98 18 su-nu US.MES u-ˇ al-lumu 19 IGI
ˇ ˇ´ ˇ

Kohler and A. Ungnad suggest that the ¬rst two signs might be an error for URU-aˇ +ˇ ur,
94 J. ss
sˇ ¯
yielding a name like Aˇ suraya (Assyrische Rechtsurkunden [Leipzig: Eduard Pfeiffer, 1913],
388). Nicholas Postgate reads this name as I d uru HI-a-a and suggested with reservations that
it might be eri-du10 -a-a (Fifty Neo-Assyrian Legal Documents [Warminster, England: Aris &
Phillips, 1976], 170, 215), as does Theodore Kwasman (Neo-Assyrian Legal Documents in the
Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum, Studia Pohl: Series Maior 14 [Rome: Ponti¬cio
Istituto Biblico, 1988], 386) and Remko Jas (Neo-Assyrian Judicial Procedures, State Archives
of Assyria Series 5 [Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 1996], 63, number 41).
Martha T. Roth reads it as I URU.HI-a-a without resolving the dif¬culty (“Homicide in the
Neo-Assyrian Period,” 352).
ˇ ´.MES, since na4 KISIB
ˇ ˇ
95 Roth suggests removing na4 KISIB as well and replacing it with LU
could be construed as a scribal error in which the scribe after ten lines beginning with
automatically wrote it again (“Homicide in the Neo-Assyrian Period,” 353).
96 Postgate suggests emending the masculine determinative I to uru for two reasons: 1) The use

of gabbu, “all,” to refer to all of the prior signatories is not the normal usage, and 2) Samana
is a known Neo-Assyrian toponym (Fifty Neo-Assyrian Legal Documents, 171).
97 The colon indicates that b¯ l damˆ is in apposition to the personal name Siri. See J. Krecher,
e e .
“Glossen,” RLA 3.431“440.
98 This durative verb as part of a relative clause should be in the subjunctive, elluni, “he rises,”
with a middle -u vowel. However, the -a vowel can be explained in two ways: 1) A ventive

´ s´ ´´
tar-di-tu-aˇ +ˇ ur LU.3-ˇ u 20 IGI Id PA.SAG-i-ˇ i 21 LU.NI.GAB 22 IGI
´ss s
ˇ 23 ´
Id 24
IGI man-nu-ki- d 10

NUSKU.PAP.AS LU.ˇ a UGU qa-na-te
´` ˇ ´ ´
LU.I.DU8 25 IGI I aˇ +ˇ ur-MU.AS LU. GAL ki-sir 26 sa LU.GALˇ´
ss .
SUM.NINDA 27 IGI I AD-ul-ZU 3-ˇ u 28 IGI Id PA-u-a A.B[A]

30 I

Before this text can be translated, a number of problems must be solved.
The identity of the people described in ADD 618 is debatable. Who is the
killer? Who is the victim? The subject of line 13 is ambiguous. Lines 12“13
can be translated as “Siri, the owner of the blood, whom Silim-ili killed” or
as “Siri, the owner of the blood, who killed Silim-ili.” What is the signi¬cance
of calling Siri “the owner of the blood”? Furthermore, who are the people
mentioned in lines 1“11 and what role do they play in remedying the slaying?
Finally, is it the victim™s or killer™s relatives who are referred to in lines 15“16,
and how do they participate in settling the case?
Nicholas Postgate argues that Siri is the killer and Silim-ili is the victim,
and that the people of his (Siri™s) village, whose seals appear in lines 1“11,
con¬rm their responsibility to deliver up Siri.100 According to Postgate, the
murderer, Siri, and his family, those mentioned in lines 15“16, have escaped
from their own village to avoid punishment and cannot be found. The rest
of the villagers, who comprise those named in lines 1“11, have assumed
a corporate obligation: In the case that the killer or any of his family reappear,
the villagers would be responsible for paying the blood money by handing
him over to the injured party to serve as a slave in compensation.101 Postgate
appears to be reading lines 12“14 as “Siri is the owner of the blood of Silim-
ili [whom] he killed,” and identi¬es the family members in lines 15“16 as
members of Siri™s family who will be handed over to the victim™s family as
The identi¬cation of Siri as the killer is forced upon Postgate because he
believes that b¯ l damˆ refers only to the one who shed the blood. However,
e e
its appearance in PPA 95, where the individual named as a b¯ l damˆ is ae e
witness to the payment made by a father for a homicide his son committed,
is clear evidence that the term can refer to the claimant from the victim™s

ending accounts for the -a vowel, ellani (cf. Kaspar Riemschneider, An Akkadian Grammar
(trans. Thomas A. Caldwell, John N. Oswalt, and John F. X. Sheehan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
Marquette University Press, 1975], 234“235); or 2) the verb is ablative in Assyrian, durative
ella, preterite eli, perfect etili (cf. Wolfram von Soden, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik
(3d edition; AnOr 33; Rome: Ponti¬cium Institutum Biblicum, 1995],188). Here, I believe that
both possibilities coalesce since with the ventive ending, the verb can be rendered “he arises,”
which ¬ts the context well.
99 Postgate (Fifty Neo-Assyrian Legal Documents, 171) and Roth (“Homicide in the Neo-

Assyrian Period,” 353) read the eponym as I NU.UR. The sign has both values.
100 Postgate, Fifty Neo-Assyrian Legal Documents, 171.
101 Cf. the slayer™s daughter in the following text, ADD 321.


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