>Ancient Assyrian Treaty


Image: Assyrian Tablet from Tell Tayinat, Turkey

Credit: Image Courtesy of The Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that Canadian archaeologist Timothy Harrison, from the University of Toronto, has found an Assyrian tablet at Tell Tayinat, a site located in Turkey. The tablet is a treaty, dated to about 670 B.C., between King Esarhaddon and some of the Assyrian vassals.

Below are a few excerpts from the article:

Canadian archeologists in Turkey have unearthed an ancient treaty written in cuneiform that could have served as a model for the biblical description of God’s covenant with the Israelites.


The tablet, dating from about 670 BC, is a treaty between the powerful Assyrian king and his weaker vassal states, written in a highly formulaic language very similar in form and style to the story of Abraham’s covenant with God in the Hebrew Bible, says University of Toronto archeologist Timothy Harrison


“The language in the (Assyrian) texts is (very similar) and now we have a treaty document just a few miles up the road from Jerusalem.”


King Esarhaddon was nearing the end of his reign in Assyria when he drafted this treaty, trying to ensure a peaceful succession to the throne, Harrison said. “It was remarkable the kind of the intrigue went on.” One of the reasons they made these treaties is that Esarhaddon’s father was assassinated by a brother.

“So he brought together all the rulers in the Assyrian empire and essentially bound them to these treaties (to) avoid political crisis. It’s a very complex document to deal with, sophisticated and intricate … anticipating all the possibilities that might arise.”

To read the article in its entirety, visit the web page of The Ottawa Citizen.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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1 Response to >Ancient Assyrian Treaty

  1. Johnny C says:

    >Dr MariottiniIs this the same Esarhaddon who pursued and captured and brought to justice his two brothers who had murdered his father Sennacherib upon his return in defeat from Jerusalem? It is historic corroboration of the story if that is the case. I don't know if he would have written yet another stele to commemorate the defeat… but if he would have wanted to have written anything at all – he was murdered in the temple of Nisroch before he could do it… If so – and this treaty only underscores the political fallout – what in your view caused the deaths of the soldiers of Sennacherib at Jerusalem? Something from the sky? Something electric? Mice gnawing their bowstrings in the night? A very stealthy and deadly angel? Were they just afraid of a storm?Did the cohorts simply tire of gleaming in purple and gold? Findings at Tel Tayinat are in my view the very real political echoes of this signature catastrophic event. I look forward to this summer's translations and new findsJohnny C Godowski


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