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Of Construction and Decline: Kār-Tukultī-Ninurta. A Study.

Subproject by Kristina Cassar

The Middle Assyrian Empire of the 13th century BC is presented as a highly structured political and administrative system in the examination of the cuneiform sources of the capital Aššur and regional centres. In this established system that, shortly after the middle of the 13th century BC, a phenomenon appears for the first time documented in cuneiform – the foundation of a city by the Assyrian king: Kār-Tukultī-Ninurta (modern name: Tulūl al-ʾAqar).

In the modern ruins of Kār-Tukultī-Ninurta (hereafter: KTN) three excavation campaigns and surveys have been conducted and only a fraction of the archaeological evidence has been explored yet. Extensive textual finds were made exclusively during the first excavation by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft from October 1913 to March 1914. The text corpus comprises approx. 200 clay tablets and covers a short and compact period of time of around two decades, but has not been analyzed in a coherent manner yet.

Written records from KTN have already been used as examples in numerous studies on the administration, economy, society, topography and toponymy of the Middle Assyrian period as well as on the grammar of the Middle Assyrian dialect.

In addition to further publications of the textual sources from KTN by Helmut Freydank, over the past two decades there have been editorial works and studies focusing on individual as well as thematically related texts, legal practices, figures of speech and individual textual references, as well as on ethno- and prosopographic questions regarding personal names from KTN. It is these very studies that show the potential for further research.

However, a detailed analysis and evaluation of the local textual finds and the information with regard to the two following two thematic complexes is a desideratum.

(1) On the one hand, the foundation of the city and the accompanying organisation of the construction site: the aim is to reconstruct of the functional and administrative organization of the construction activities. The main focus is on the processes of the foundation, the construction logistic as well as the mobilized resources that were mobilised in the wake of the foundation – from the workforce to the building materials.

(2) Secondly, the city as an administrative center: the organization and administration of the construction site ‘KTN’ as well as the development of agricultural land and the supply of the local population allow conclusions to be drawn about the local administrative structures. The written finds provide insight into the city as an administrative unit ‘in the making’ and make it possible to understand at what point in time the economic and administrative institutions appear as functional.

Hence, the city is re-situated: Newly gained knowledge and insights allow a sharpening of the functions and roles previously assigned to the city by specialist history and how these relate to each other.