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Assur ostracon and tablets

The Assur ostracon and tablets are a series of Aramaic or Phoenician inscriptions found during the 1903-13 excavations of Assur by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft.

They are currently in the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin (ostracon is V. A. 8384).


Assur ostracon

The ostracon was found in six fragments. It is thought to be a letter addressed by an Assyrian official to one of his colleagues.[1][2][3] It is one of the earliest known examples of Aramaic cursive script, including ligatures.

It is the longest known Aramaic letter written on an ostracon.[4]

It is also known as KAI 233.

Although decipherment has proven challenging, the inscription is considered to be structured in two parts:

  • Lines 1-18: A letter from Assyrian official Bel-etir to another Assyrian official Pir’i-amurri, during the period of the rebellion of King Shamash-shum-ukin against his brother Ashurbanipal
  • Lines 19-21: A letter from Bel-etir to another unidentifiable person


Assur Phoenician tablets

Nine Phoenician inscribed tablets were found during the same expedition. They are also known as KAI 234-236.


  • M. Lidzbarski, Altaramäische Urkunden aus Assur (Wissenschaftliche Veroffentlichung der deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft, 38; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1921) 5-15.
  • M. Lidzbarski, "Ein aramäischer Brief aus der Zeit Ašurbanipals," MDOG 58 (1917) 50-52 [preliminary report]
  • D. H. Baneth, "Zu dem aramäischen Brief aus der Zeit Assurbanipals," OLZ 22 (1919) 55-58
  • R. A. Bowman, "An Interpretation of the Assur Ostracon," Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire (ed. L. Waterman; University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, 20; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan), 4 (1936) 273-82;
  • A. Dupont-Sommer, "Séance du 22 octobre," CRAIBL 1943, pp. 465-66;
  • A. Dupont-Sommer, "L'ostracon araméen d'Assour," Syria 24 (1944-45) 24-61


  1. ^ Dupont-Sommer, A. (1944). L'ostracon araméen d'Assour. Syria, 24(1/2), 24-61. Retrieved May 4, 2021, from "Parmi les documents qu'ont mis au jour les fouilles effectuees a Assour, de 1903 a 1913, par la Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, l'un des plus remarqua est, a coup scur, l'ostracon conserve actuellement au Musee de Berlin sous le no V. A. 8384: c'est une lettre redigee tout entiere en arameen, et adressie par un fonctionnaire assyrien 'a l'un de ses collegues."
  2. ^ Lidzbarski, Mark (1917), Ein aramäischer Brief aus der Zeit Asurbanipals, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete
  3. ^ M. Lidzbarski, Altaramdische Urkunden aus Assur (WVDOG 38), 1921
  4. ^ Fitzmyer, Joseph A. “Some Notes on Aramaic Epistolography.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 93, no. 2, 1974, pp. 201–225. JSTOR, "...the number of messages written on ostraca is not small, and they have their own contributions to make to the study of Aramaic epistolography because of the mundane, everyday character of the messages transmitted in them. Since they were written on ostraca, they are usually brief [Footnote: The notable exception is the Asshur Ostracon, which does not come from Egypt, but was sent (ca. 650 B.C.) from Babylon to Assyria and contains a military report (about fugitive prisoners to be returned) from Beletir, a captain of the Assyrian cavalry, to Pirawur; and another message as well to Nabuzerusabsi (whom he tries to appease). The text is written on six fragments of the ostracon, is incomplete, and difficult to interpret.]"
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Assur ostracon and tablets
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