Numerous languages are represented in the Neo-Assyrian onomastic material. While the majority of the names are Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), names from other Semitic languages represent another large part of the onomasticon: the Northwest Semitic names, i.e. Aramaic, Phoenician, Moabite and Hebrew, dominate but there are also a number of Arabic names. Surprisingly, many Egyptian names are attested in Assyria proper, especially in the 7th century material from Assur. Some of the earliest attestations for Iranian names are found in the Neo-Assyrian sources. Hurrian, Urartian, Anatolian and Elamite names are also known, as well as a number of Greek names. Onomastic material is not only an important source for linguistics and philology; names also shed light on many aspects of the cultural history of the people that use them. The study of the principles underlying naming practices proves a veritable goldmine of information on religion, folklore, ideology and mentality. The distribution of names in time and space offers substantial data on the ethnic composition of Assyria, which is one of the earliest examples of an integrated empire of many different peoples. To bring all this information together and to make it available to scholars of all disciplines is the goal of the PNA project, begun in 1997 as part of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project.
Gathering all available data on persons and personal names in the Neo-Assyrian period, The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (PNA) is meant to be a research tool that makes this enormous body of information accessible both to Assyriologists and to scholars in related fields. To do so, all known written sources for the Neo-Assyrian period are used: legal and administrative texts, treaties, letters, reports, seal inscriptions, monumental inscriptions and colophons. Material from numerous unpublished texts is included with the kind permission of the scholars who are to edit them, namely S. M. Dalley, K. Deller, V. Donbaz, F. M. Fales, P. Garelli, K. Hecker, T. Kwasman, E. Lipiński, J. N. Postgate and Ran Zadok. The Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft and its Assur Committee kindly allowed us to use the unpublished material from Assur in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin and the Trustees of the British Museum have permitted the citation of unpublished material from their collections. We express our deep gratitude to all these scholars and organizations for their unselfish commitment to research.
While the State Archives of Assyria Project and its electronic database, the Corpus of Neo-Assyrian Texts, deals exclusively with those texts that are written in Neo-Assyrian — the only exception being that part of the royal correspondance that is written in Neo-Babylonian — it is necessary to use all the other available contemporary sources for the Neo-Assyrian period in order to meet the objectives of PNA. Therefore, the name material in the Neo-Assyrian inscriptions (written in literary Babylonian) and in the Old Aramaic texts had to be extracted and indexed. This task was undertaken and completed with the help of Helsinki students K. Åkerman, P. Lapinkivi and M. Luukko and visting scholar P. Gentili from Pisa.
In the aforementioned sources, the impressive number of over 8000 different names is attested, in at least ten different languages. More than 25,000 individuals are known from the written sources of the Neo-Assyrian period. The earliest text material included stems from the reign of Assurnaṣirpal (883-859 BC) in whose time the first known text in Neo-Assyrian language and script was written. The latest material included are documents from the provincial capital Dur-Katlimmu in modern Syria, dated to the 5th year of the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (602 BC), but still written in Neo-Assyrian. All names found in Neo-Assyrian sources as thus defined are included in PNA even if they do not belong to the Neo-Assyrian period.
The work is divided into two sections: the main part is the catalogue of names which will be published in three volume, each volume consisting of two parts. Each volume (but not each part) will contain a complete bibliography for all entries to date. The catalogue will be supplemented by an index volume to allow the exhaustive use of all the material contained in PNA. This part of the work will be published after the completition of the name catalogue and will contain indices of the name elements (lemmata and logograms) and indices of foreign names as well as indices of the professions and titles and of the geographical data. The catalogue part presents the name entries in alphabetical order. These entries are written by a staff of contributors, consisting of more than fifty scholars from Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United States. Specialists have been engaged as consultants to take care of the more exotic languages represented by the names. The work of the contributors is coordinated with the linguistic consultants and directed from Helsinki by the Editor-in-Charge of the prosopography project. The material on which the entries are based is provided by the State Archives of Assyria Project from the CNA database supplemented by the additional materials mentioned above.
From its inception to the end of June 1999, Karen Radner served as Editor-in-Charge of the prosopography project. Beginning in July 1999, Heather D. Baker took over these responsibilities.
Ultimately, PNA will serve both as a name book in the conventional sense, explaining the etymologies and orthographies of the names, and as a Who Was Who, giving the biographical data for the attested persons. Thus, it is hoped that easy access to this otherwise arcane material will be granted to all those who wish study the culture, history and languages of the Neo-Assyrian period.
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