Middle Assyrian Laws

(ca. 1115–1077 BCE)

The Middle Assyrian Laws are a collection of laws composed in the cuneiform (wedge-shaped) writing system of ancient Mesopotamia (roughly modern-day Iraq). The documents were written in Akkadian (one of the earliest Semitic languages) in the Middle Assyrian dialect. The existing copies were apparently edited during the reign of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser I (ca. 1115–1077 BCE). The Middle Assyrian Laws were perhaps collected either for his royal library or for individual scribal libraries. The texts were found during excavations at the site of Qal'at Shergat (ancient Assur) in northern Iraq in the early twentieth century. They appear to be copies of originals that were likely composed at least three centuries earlier. The existing copies number about fifteen tablets, one of which is duplicated by a copy that dates to the Neo-Assyrian period (ca. 900–612 BCE). The relationship of the documents to each other, however, is not clear. Thus it is not certain whether we are...