chapter
9b Akkadian Texts—Women in letters: The Neo-Assyrian period
BySARAH C. MELVILLE
Pages 15

Of the thousands of Neo-Assyrian letters that have come down to us, only a few involve women and many of these are too fragmentary to provide much useful information. Since the majority of letters from this period come from the royal archives and therefore deal with matters of state, rather than from private residences where we would expect to find personal correspondence, it is not surprising that women are under-represented in the letter corpus. Nonetheless, letters to, from, or about women help to reveal the place of women in Assyrian society. A number of conventions governed Assyrian epistolary practices: letters were

not dated, usually identified the king or other royals by title only, and naturally assumed that the reader remembered and understood the context, thus leaving us to determine the original circumstances, sense, and ramifications of the correspondence. The following are examples of the most characteristic and best-preserved

letters in which women figure prominently. In the translations, square brackets indicate breaks in the text, while words in parenthesis do not appear in the text but have been added to aid in reading or to explain.