During the mid-second millennium B.C., Kassite Babylonia emerged as the first national state in lower Mesopotamia. Earlier regional kingdoms such as Akkad, Ur III, and Babylon I had controlled large territories in southern Mesopotamia and sometimes beyond; but their centralized administrative organizations had disappeared with the decline of their dynasties, and the land had dissolved once again into independent city-states. The Babylonian state under Kassite sovereignty, however, put in place an enduring administrative structure to govern all lower Mesopotamia and established a political solidarity that was to serve as the norm during the rest of the history of independent Babylonia. When the Kassite dynasty ended in 1155 B.C., the unity of the land and the provincial and local administrative organizations survived nearly intact under a new dynasty.
The administrative structure of Kassite Babylonia is at present best attested in the archives from Nippur, where more than twelve thousand tablets and fragments have been excavated since 1889. These texts, mostly economic texts and letters, show the operation of the local government and particularly of the provincial governor, the ßandabakku(a title used only at Nippur in this period). The governor of Nippur discharged both civil and religious duties within his province; and there is evidence in the archives for a wider role on the national and international scene: correspondence with the king of Assyria and with the governor of Dilmun (in or near Bahrain), documents describing mercantile relations with both Assyria and Syria, and reports on agriculture and irrigation from provinces throughout Babylonia.
Although several scholars have touched briefly
in their writings on the importance of the Nippur governor in the administration
of Kassite Babylonia, no systematic study of the office has yet been undertaken.
I propose to perform this task in my dissertation. I plan a detailed
investigation of the published archival texts to shed light on the following
topics: (1) the title of governor (ßandabakku),including
variant readings and alternate writings used in the Middle Babylonian period;
(2) the identification of the men who held the office during this period,
their selection for office, their chronological placement, and the social
status of their families in the community; and (3) the official and private
activities of the governor. Under the last heading, I will discuss
gubernatorial control of personnel (supervision of large numbers of forced
laborers, acquisition of slaves, restriction of movement in and out of
the city), commercial interests (trade in horses and cattle; distribution
of metals, grain, and oil; textile production), judicial and penal functions
(hearing court cases, maintaining prisons), allocating land for agriculture,
and providing food and other supplies to the temples. We know little
about other provincial governors under the Kassite dynasty, but I would
also like to make at least a preliminary estimate of the place of the governor
of Nippur within the provincial hierarchy in Babylonia and to discern,
if possible, features which enabled this administrative system to survive
into the succeeding centuries.
© 1996-2000 D. A. Nevez.
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