Assyrian King’s Treaty Discovered in Tayinat Tablet Cache

Scholars have discovered an ancient treaty ina cache of Assyrian tablets excavated at Tayinat last summer. It was made by the Assyrian ruler Esarhaddon, who was trying to ensure that his son, Ashurbanipal, would be recognized as his successor.

Translation work is ongoing and many details are not yet known. The treaty dates to ca. 672 BC, several decades after Tayinat was conquered by Tiglath-Pileser III.

Professor Tim Harrison said in a University of Toronto news release that:

The tablet is quite spectacular. It records a treaty – or covenant – between Esarhaddon, king of the Assyrian Empire and a secondary ruler who acknowledged Assyrian power. The treaty was confirmed in 672 BCE at elaborate ceremonies held in the Assyrian royal city of Nimrud (ancient Kalhu). In the text, the ruler vows to recognize the authority of Esarhaddon’s successor, his son Ashurbanipal.

He added:

The treaties were designed to secure Ashurbanipal’s accession to the throne and avoid the political crisis that transpired at the start of his father’s reign. Esarhaddon came to power when his brothers assassinated their father, Sennacherib.

It will be interesting to learn who the secondary ruler was and what priceEsarhaddonhad to paid to obtain his/her agreement. Ive contacted Professor Harrison and hope to have some more details shortly.

An interesting note is that Esarhaddon is the Assyrian ruler who defeated the Pharaoh Taharqa in 671 BC, forcing him to retreat back into Nubia. After this defeat Necho I was inaugurated as pharaoh of Egypt, starting the Sais Dynasty. Could this document be related to those events?

The tablet is described as being 4 x 28 centimetres, containing 650 lines. Its fragile to say the least. ‘It will take months of further work before the document will be fully legible,’ said Professor Harrison in the news release.

Part of a Library

Professor Harrison noted at an archaeology event a month back that the texts at Tayinatform amainly literary library. He believes that it assisted the Assyrians with their propaganda efforts in the city.

Among the texts is a story called the Epic of Anzu.It tellsof a giant bird that makes the mistake of stealing an item called the ‘tablet of destinies’ from the god Enlil. Anzu is eventually killed in battle by the war god Ninurta, who returns the tablets to Enlil.