C[laude] H[ermann] W[alter] Johns.

Babylonian and Assyrian laws online

. (page 24 of 35)
Online LibraryC[laude] H[ermann] W[alter] JohnsBabylonian and Assyrian laws → online text (page 24 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


would take up the case on his return, and undertook to
satisfy the suitor, if she could not do so.'

In later Babylonian times the phrase survived. The Protection
conunissary acted "with the hand" of his principal. We **'*^S5Sa
may take this to be the hand-sign, or seal, representing
written authority. It involved a reckoning with his master,
and naturally gave rise to a number of delicate questions.
If a man bought a house for another, having been com-
missioned so to do, his principal must of course pay the
price. But was he bound to accept his agent's selection }
Could he not demur regarding the price? One of these
points at least was dealt with by the later Code. Law A
deals with the man who has concluded a purchase for
another, without having a power of attorney from him in a
sealed deed If he has had the deed made out in his own
name, he is the possessor. Of course, he can sell again to
his principal, but he could not do so at a profit. Nor is the
principal under any obligation to accept the purchase at the
price the agent gave for it Actual examples are far from
rare : A buys a field, crop, date-palms and all, for C and D.
This purchase was made on condition that all copies of the
transaction be destroyed. The condition was not observed,
as we still possess one of them. Later A received from C,
one of his principals, about half the price he had paid. But
it does not appear that D ever paid his share, and this is

1 A. D. D., No. S07. 3 A. D. D., No. 151. * A. D. D., No. 166.



Digitized by



Googk



tlve action



«94 PARTNERSHIP AND POWER OF ATTORNEY

why the condition was not carried out. Presumably A
and G reniained owners of the field^

There is no limit to the varieties of agency or representa-
tive action. At all periods we meet with a brother, usually
the eldest, acting for his other brothers. A brother acting
with the hand of his brother also occurs in the time of Evil
Merodach.*
Power of The power of attorney was also given to receive money
over foods aud give a receipt^ under seal.* Again: A bought some
slaves of B and paid in fulL B gave receipt for the
money, but did not undertake to deliver the slaves at A's
house. A can send a messenger or agent to take the slaves,
and B agrees to deliver them to such. Whatever is bom
or dies from among the slaves is credited to A.^

1 Nbn. 139, 1S3; A. B. P., p. 11. S£t. Mer., 13.

s Dar. 386. « A. B. P., ii., 34.



Digiti



zed by Google



Aooonnt-
books



XXTX

ACCOUNTS AND BUSINESS DOCUMENTS

Thebb are lists which are not formal contracts, but may
have been used as legal evidence. The stewards of the
great temples, of the palaces, and even of wealthy men in
business, kept most careful accounts. These lists have
some features peculiar to themselves and are not without
considerable interest.

The tablets which have reached our museums from Telloh, Thote or
Nippur, and elsewhere, belonging to the ages before the ^^
First Dynasty of Babylon, are for the most part temple ac- **"Si2S
counts. They often concern the offerings made by various
persons, often officials of high standing, and some may well
have been the notes sent with the offerings. But many
were drawn up as records of the receipts for a certain day,
month, or year. Interesting as they are for the class of
offerings, for the names of offerers, or of priests, and for
the cult of particular gods, or the localities near Telloh and
Nippur, and often containing valuable hints for the history
and chronology of those times, they do not give us the
same insight into the daily life of the people that the longer
legal documents do, in later periods.

An important class consists of receipts for loans. Those R;^^
drawn up at full length and witnessed, have already been
considered. But the majority may only contain a list of
articles delivered, with the name of the receiver, the lender
being the holder as a temple official, while the receiver is

286



fori



Digitized by



Googk



896 ACCOUNTS AND BUSINESS DOCUMENTS

a subordinate. These may have been as effective as the
foller bonds, but they furnish little information, except re-
garding the current prices of articles.
Aoceonta u Somc tablcts are concerned with hire. The amounts paid

repairs or •■•

«p*«»~» by the temple for repairs, fresh robes for gods and officials,
even maintenance of the workmen, are all set down with
their totals for a week, or a month.
Becordsof Au Important class consists of the records of the measure-
»««»*• ments, length, breadth, and area of fields, together with
the amounts of com which they were expected to produce.
Were these available for a widely extended area, we might
be able to map out the district round the temple from
whose archives they come.
ThecoDdi. The temples and large landowners had great flocks and
S^^jjJ*"* herds. Consequently, there is much evidence concerning
^""^ the pastoral occupations of the people of Babylonia. The
Code regulates the relations of the shepherds and herds-
men to the flock-masters.^ Thus an owner might hire a shep-
herd, ndJdchi^ for his sheep or cattle, at the wages of eight
OUR of com per cmnum. The shepherd or herdsman took
out the flock or herd to the pasture and was responsible to
the owner for them. They were intrusted to him, and if
sheep or ox were lost through his fault, he had to restore ox
for ox and sheep for sheep. If he was hired and had re-
ceived satisfactory wages, he had no power to diminish, or
abstract from, the flock or herd for his keep or private use.
He entered into a contract with the owner, and that stipu-
lated for the restoration of the entire flock or herd, together
with a proper increase due to the breeding of the flock or
herd. He had to make any deficiency good, by statute.*
This applied also to the stipulated profit in wool or other
produce. It seems clear that his own profit was any excess
above the stipulated return. Otherwise it is difficult to see



i 961-67. 3 §964.



Digitized by



Googk



HERDSMEN'S ACCOUNTS 897

what source he had from which to make good the loss to
his master. He was forbidden to alter the agreement into
which he had entered in any particular, or to sell any of the
flock, under penalty of a tenfold restitution* He was, how-
ever, protected from liability for loss by wild beasts or acci- i
dent But, if the loss was due to his fault, by neglecting to
keep the fold secure, he had to make up the loss.

It is obvious that he gave a receipt for what was in- Hezdsmen^t

■coonott

trusted to him and made his account on return from the
pasturea These accounts are plentiful among the temple
accounts in the earliest periods, but being written for the
most part in Sumerian, have still many obscurities for us.
As a rule, each deals with the liabilities of one man, whose
^^accounty'' mkasUy it is said to be. At the beginning are
recounted the details of his trust, so many oxen, cows, sheep
or goats, of varied ages and qualities. Here it is very dif3-
cult to translate. Anyone who knows the variety of names
which are given to an animal by agriculturists according to
its age, sex, and use, need not be surprised to find that the
Babylonians had many names for what we can only ren-
der by ** sheep.'' As a rule, we know when the ram, ewe, or
lamb is intended. But this by no means exhausts the vari-
ety. Anyone who glances through an Arabic lexicon must
notice how many different names the Arabs have for the
camel in its different aspects. But in our case we often
have no clew to what was meant by the signs beyond some
variety of sheep, ox, or goat At any rate, the first section
enumerates the cattle or sheep delivered to the herdsman.
Then follows a section devoted to those " withdrawn,'' taken
back by the owner, or exacted as some due from the flock.
Others are noted as taken for sacrifice, used for the wages
or support of the herdsman, or else dead or otherwise miss-
ing. These the herdsman was allowed to subtract and then
had to return the balance. There are similar lists of asses



Digitized by



Googk



S98 ACXJOUNTS AND BUSINESS DOCUMENTS

or goats. The tablets hardly lend themselves to connected
translation because of the absence of verbs. The following
is an example :

Foriy-thiee ewes, foity-thiee rams, seven ewe-Iambs, seven he-
lambs, three she-goats, one suclung kid, to start with. Expended in
ewes and rams, none; six ewes, seventeen rams, snatched away; no
lambs lost: no ewes, one ram, no Iambs. Total : one hundred and
four to start with. Total expended: none. Total: twenty-three
snatched away. Total: one lost. Namb^9 shepherd. Overseer:
Duggazidda. At Girsu. The year after the king devastated Kimash,

The meaning of the words is somewhat conjectural ^'Ex-
pended " may mean used for the shepherd's own mainten-
ance. " Snatched away " means probably deducted for rev-
enue purposes, about one in five. The scribe did not write
" none.'' He merely left a blank^
uiuof The similar lists for the second epoch are not yet avail-
gjjjfl.^,^ able for study. Only one • appears to have been published,*
but there are many still unpublished. It is not easy to
translate them, because, though many Semitic names occur,
there is still a tendency to use the old Sumerian, or ideo-
graphic writings. Such a list as :

Eight oxen, twenty-three work-oxen (for watering-machines),
eleven milch cows, sixteen steers, sixteen heifers. In all seventy-
four oxen (or cattle) belonging to Marduk-ubalht in the hands of
Belshunu, fifth day,

may serve as an example, but does not convey much infor-
mation to us. These lists are chiefly valuable for the means
of comparison they afford. A three-year-old ox was worth
half a mina of silver.^
The For Assyrian times we have a few interesting examples,

^iew" j^^* enough to show that the same customs survived. There



▼arletleaof
ADinuUs



'£. A. H., 14. For fuller details the reader should consult Radau*8 Early Baby-
lonian Hittofy.

*B* 447. "In C. T., vL, p. 24. *B* 448.



Digitized by



Googk



VARIETIES OF ANIMALS 899

are no less than thirty-five kinds of sheep and goats, and fif-
teen kinds of cattle named in the lists ; also eleven kinds of
birds. Here is a specimen list of asses which gives some
prices:*

One male working ass for one and a half minas seven shekels, one
she-ass for thirty-seven shekels, a second she-ass for one mina, a third
she-ass for one royal mina, a fourth she-ass for thirty-two shekels, in
all five and a half minas two shekels.

There is nothing to show for whom or why the list was
drawn up, but if the total is correct^ we learn that a royal
mina was worth one mina forty-six shekels of the ordinary
standard. The lists of horses are now very numerous, some
dozen varieties being distinguished. Many of these lists
give the numbers of horses of different kinds which entered
a certain city on a certain day.* The horses are often dis-
tinguished as coming from certain countries, being called
Kusai, or Mesai, horses. The camels are frequently men-
tioned, and we learn that one was worth a mina and a
third.' Dromedaries are also named ^ and seem to have
been worth three minas apiece.

Wool accounts play an important part in documents of Memoranda
the early times. They may be regarded ad of two kinds. ^
The first are shearers^ accounts returned by the shepherd of
a flock; the second are concerned with the amounts of wool
given out to weavers.

Shearers' accounts enumerate four sorts or qualities of The four

^ Idnde of

wooL The best was called royal wool, that which was of "^^^^
the highest quality. The others were second, third, and
fourth quality. Poor wool and black wool are also named.
Sometimes we are told from what part of the sheep's

lA. D. D., No. 7S9.

^They are paUished by Phifesior R. F. Harper lo his A$tjfritm and BabyUmian
L$U€rt^ patiim,

*H. A. B. L.,p. 690.
*A. D. D., No. 117.



Digitized by



Googk



800 ACCOUNl^ AND BUSINESS DOCUMENTS

body it was taken. Other terms applied are less easy to,
recognize. This wool was received by weight.

The weavers' accounts give a list of quantities of wool,
with the same distinctions as to quality, and the price at
which it was assessed. This was doubtless the sum to be
paid by the weaver, if the wool was not returned made up.
The values attached show very clearly the difference in
quality. Thus, while two looms of royal wool were worth
thirty minas, seven looms of second quality went for the
same value, eleven looms of third quality for a talent, and
thirty-two looms of fourth quality for one talent^ one loom
of another sort for one talent, and the same amount of
black wool for the same value.^ It is evident that the
black wool was highly valued. The loom, literally, "beam,"
of wool, was some measure, perhaps what would occupy
one weaver. The price was probably fixed in silver. The
price of the same quality varied from time to time.

In the letters of Qammurabi and his successors there are
frequent references to the shearing, and orders for the in-
spection of flocks and herds.* The Code does not refer to
sheep-shearing, though it mentions wooL The shearing
was concluded by the New Tear feast in Nisan. In the
contemporary contracts there are several wool accounts.
As a rule, one talent, or sixty minas' weight, of wool was
served out to several men who were to pay for it, to the
palace, at the rate of one shekel of silver j?^ mma.

In Assyrian times we have great wool and weaving
accounts. Some deal with the huge amounts of wool
received as tribute from the great cities of the empire and
then served out to bodies of weavers in various palaces
with specifications of the species of cloth or sorts of gar-
ments which were to be returned. In the later Babylonian
times we have a large number of wool accounts recording

i£. A. H., 50. ^K. L. 9., pp. zlTi. ff.

Digitized by VjOOQIC



USTS OF SKINS 801

the amounts given out from the temple to various persons
to weave or make up into garments.^

Skins are also named in the accounts. They are distin- Memomncia
guished as the skins of certain kinds of animals. Various ^^^l
amounts are credited to different persons, but whether as
giving or receiving, and in what capacity, is not clear.
Sheep and goat skins are most conunon, but ox and cow
hides are named.

The Code does not refer to these, nor the letters of ^am- Leather
murabi and his successors, but we have lists of skins and
carcasses of animals.' The purpose of the lists is not clear.
In Assyrian times there are frequent references to hides.
There was a distinct grade of official called a fdrtp ta^^
"dyer of skina^ Large quantities were bought in the
markets of Kala^ and ^arr&n. The price was about two
shekels of silver for a skin.' The articles made of leather
are very numerous ; shoes, harness, pouches, even garments,
are named. It was used for buckets, baskets, bottles,
shields, and many other things not clearly recognized.

Fairly frequent also are accounts of the quantities of com Amonnte

•^ ^ * allowed for

expended for the keep of flocks and herds. The amounts **^gSSa?i
allowed per diem are the chief items of interest. Sheep
were allowed from one to one and a half JSTA a day, lambs
half a jfAj oxen six to eight KA."^ In the Code we find
allowances for the keep of animals. There are very fre-
quent lists in Assyrian times of amounts of com given to
various animals. These also occur at later times. The
amounts allowed per day are various and by no means

^ These hare been discussed by Dr. R. Zehnpftind, B. A. S., i., pp. 499-536.
He has striTen to identify the garments as far as possible ; but when we recall that
over eighty such garments are named in these lists, most of which are merely
names, with no indication of their uses, it is clear that a translation is generally out
of the question. We know something of their material and often of their color, but
nothing further. It is curious that in many cases these names are the same for
Assyrian and later Babylonian times.

« B« 406, 611. "A. D. D., No. 87». *E. A. H., 159.



Digitized by



Googk



802 ACCOUNTS AND BUSINESS DOCUMENTS

uniform. A very good example gives as the allowance of
com for a full-grown sheep two KA per diem^ for a young
sheep^ one KAj for a lamb one-half KA}

Acknowledgments of advances, or loans, occur in the first
epoch. As a rule, we are not told what was the ground of
the loan. The fact that these loans were to be repaid is
not stated, and we may take the tablets to be merely receipts
for things given out to officials who had a right to them.
The substances were com of different kinds, wine, beer,
sesame-wine, butter, flour and other food-stu&, wool, and
other supplies. We sometimes leam prices from these
tablets. Thus a OUR oi com cost one shekel*

Long lists of accounts are very common at all epochs.
They relate what sums or amounts were paid out to various
officials for certain goods or for wages, keep, and the like.
In fact, they are stewards' accounts. Unfortunately, the
way in which most collections have been formed, and even
more the way in which they have since been preserved,
renders it impossible for us to make the use of them which
has often been made of medisBval accounts. Otherwise we
could obtain from them many interesting items. They are,
however, most valuable for prices and names.

Thus, in such lists we find mention of articles which
would otherwise remain unsuspected. The first reference
to iron is in the ^^mmurabi period,* whence we leam that
a shekel of silver would buy eight times its weight of iron.
Sometimes we get an important contribution to chronology.
It is well known that there is no certainty as to the order
of the Eponyms after b.o. 648, but we know their names for
at least forty years later. Any contribution to the order of
these names would be welcomed with avidity. Thus, one
scribe writes : "Income from the Eponymy of Sagab to the
Eponymy of Nabii-shar-a^dshu, for six years, which was paid

iCyr. 250; Nbd. 841. «E. A. H., 100. »B« i05.

Digitized by VjOOQIC



INCIDENTAL HISTORICAL DATA 808

in as maintenance^ eleven talents . . • besides twenty-
seven plates of silver." We cannot say whose income it
was, but the previous section dealt with the income of the
crown prince, and this may be only a rSevme of the last.
But we now know that from Sagab to Nabii-shar-a^^shu
was six years in alL

Thus, from the most varied and often most unpromising
sources are derived those important details which make it
possible to attain an exact and realistic conception of Baby-
lonian and Assyrian history and life.



Digiti



zed by Google



Digiti



zed by Google



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN
LETTERS



Digiti



zed by Google



Digiti



zed by Google



LBTTBBS AND LETTEB-WRITING AMONG THE BABY-
LONIANS AND ASSYEIANS

The ancient Babylonians early discovered the conveni-
ence of written communication between friends at a dis- '^^^^
tance. The origin of letter-writing is not yet clear; for,
when we first meet with letters, they are fuUy devel-
oped. A piece of clay, usually shaped like a miniature pil-
low, was inscribed and then enclosed in an envelope made
of a thin sheet of clay. On the envelope was written the
address. As a rule, the letter was baked hard before being
put into its envelope. Powdered clay was inserted to pre- Their
vent sticking. The envelope, after being inscribed, was also
baked hard. Of course, the letter could not be read with-
out breaking the envelope, which was therefore a great pro-
tection to the interior letter. The envelope was naturally
thrown away after being broken. Hence, extremely few
envelopes have been preserved.

The practice of dating letters does not seem to have been ThdrdiUM
common. We have dated letters at all epochs, but they are
few. In some cases the date may have been on the enve-
lope. It is more common for the writer to give the day of
the month, sometimes also the month. But the date of a'
letter was probably not then of any great importance.

Some letters seem to have been covered with coarse cloth, Another

methodof

on which was impressed a lump of clay, to act as a seal and *^^
bind down the edges. The lumps were then sealed with a

807

Digitized by VjOOQIC



808 BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN LETPERS

signet-ring, or cylinder-seal. The clay envelopes were also
sealed, before baking, with the sender's seal. So usual was
this habit, that the word for seal, unhuy is often used to de-
note a sealed letter. Thus when an official acknowledges
the receipt of the king's "seal," it means a sealed order or
rescript.
siyieofthe The early Babylonian letters usually open with the for-
*^» mula, " To A say : Thus saith B.'' The formula probably goes
back to the times when the message was verbally delivered.
These would be the words used to a messenger who had to
remember the message. The verb " saith '^ is not expressed
exactly. The word used is ummOj which is often rendered
" saying ^ ; it introduces a direct quotation. We might ren-
der, " In the name of B." But the written letter replaced
the spoken message. Some think the letter was read by a
professional reader. Such readers are common still, where
education is not widely diffused. It is very clear that the
letter was generally written by a scribe. Thus, all Hanunu-
rabi's letters show the same hand, while those of Ab^shu
or Ammi-ditana are quite different. In the case of private
letters we have less proof. But it is possible that the king
sometimes wrote with his own hand. Some terms of expres-
sion render that very likely. It is, however, quite impossi-
ble to be certain on such points.
varuttons The samc opening formula also appears in the Tell el

ot the Cor-

mula Amama letters. It is not known in Assyrian letters, but
survived in Babylonia to a late period. In Assyria the for-
mula is nearly the same ; with the omission of the hibiy or
" say," it reads " To A thus B." In addresses to superiors,
B usually adds " thy servant." Polite letters generally add
good wishes for the recipient These are exceedingly va-
ried. The word ivl/mu plays a great part in them. Liter-
ally it denotes " peace." " Peace be to thee " is very com-
mon. But it soon came to mean the "greeting of peace."



Digitized by



Googk



DIFFICULTIES IN TRANSLATING 809

Thus " I liave sent aria hilmika ^ means *' I have sent to
wish thee peace/' " to greet thee.'' But it also takes the
more general meaning of well-being. Thus Mmu ioM
means " I am well," " it is peace with me " ; not only absence
from war, but health and all prosperity was included.
Hence Joram's inquiry of Jehu, " Is it peace, Jehu ? '' means
" Is everything all right ? " ** Be thou at peace " may be
rendered loosely, " I hope you are weU," in the fullest sense
that " all is well with you." No consistent rendering can
be given for such phrases as these.
Very often letters quote the previous message of the pres- References

to ft foTBuer

ent recipient, ia taSpuranni, " what thou didst send me." ®°'™"pjs^
But the quotation is often omitted and then this becomes
an awkward rendering. We have to fill up some general
sentence such as, ^^ as to what you sent about" A very diffi-
cult sort of construction arises when the writer sets down a
list of questions, which he has been asked, and the answer
to each. As there are no capitals, periods, or question-
marks, there is often some difficulty in separating a question
from its answer. This may be done differently by different
translators, with startlingly different results.

Very many sentences are elliptical Thus, it was common miipticfti
to add at the end of the letter something like, " I leave it to
you to decide." This might be put, " As the king, my lord,
sees fit, let him do." But a scribe would often merely
say, ^^As the king sees fit." Such elliptical sentences are
often very difficult to complete. They were obviously
clear to the recipient To us they leave a wide margin
for conjecture.

Very early indeed in the history of Babylonia a sort of i^rtM
postal system had been developed. At any rate, in the time
of Sargon L, b.o. 3800, an active exchange of commodities
existed between Agade and Shirpurla. Packages or vessels
of produce or goods were forwarded and with them small



on
pftckages



Digitized by



Googk



810 BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN LETTERS

blocks of clay, impressed with seals and inscribed with the
address of the recipient These were probably used to pre-
vent the fastenings of the packages from being untied, and
on their backs may be seen the impressions of the strings



Online LibraryC[laude] H[ermann] W[alter] JohnsBabylonian and Assyrian laws → online text (page 24 of 35)