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Ordering the house of Šamaš: texts from the management of the Neo-Babylonian Ebabbara

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2014


The following texts come from the Sippar Collections of the British Museum and offer substantial new data on numerous aspects of the administration of the Ebabbara, particularly as regards crown relations and privatised functions. Among the more important points are:

(a) Text No. 1, a fragmentary text dealing with the gardeners of Šamaš, mentions a royal official (rēš šarri) in charge of the gardeners and a letter (šipirtu) from Nabonidus in Tema, the first evidence for that king exercising direct control over the Ebabbara from his Arabian capital.

(b) We also have definite indication that certain official positions connected with the collection of dues payable to the temple could be hired out. Specifically this involves the collection of tithes (No. 8) and the office of gugallu (No. 7). The occurrence of the ša muhhi ešrê and gugallu in letter orders had already prompted speculation that these two duties were rented out in the same manner as the rab sūti and this is now shown to be the case. Other examples of privatised functions are a contract to supply baked bricks to the temple (No. 6) and an undertaking by a širku (temple slave) to supply some of the material requirements of the offerings (No. 2).

(c) Hints of temple affairs outside the Sippar region are given by the appearance of the šangû and the rab ummāni in Opis (No. 4). The text concerns sheep, though whether they were there for pasture, sale or provisioning temple personnel is not clear. The sheep coming from Rusapu were part of a cycle in which temple flocks might be pastured far away with animals rotated as required (Nos. 11, 12). Sheep belonging to the temple are also found on the road in No. 10.

Research Article
IRAQ , Volume 60 , 1998 , pp. 207 - 217
Copyright © The British Institute for the Study of Iraq 1998

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1 I would like to convey my thanks to the British School of Archaeology in Iraq for the funding that made this study possible.

2 MacGinnis, J., Letter Orders from Sippar and the Administration of the Ebabbara in the Late Babylonian Period (1995): 19Google Scholar.