A treaty between Esarhaddon, King of Assyria, and a secondary ruler has been discovered among a cache of cuneiform tablets unearthed last year by a team from the University of Toronto. The tablet, known as the Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon, is 43 by 28 centimeters and is comprised of roughly 650 lines.
The treaty included a promise from the ruler to recognize the authority of Esarhaddon’s son and heir, Ashurbanipal. It was confirmed in 672 BC and was celebrated with ceremonies at the Assyrian city of Nimrud. “The treaties were designed to secure Ashurbanipal’s accession to the throne and avoid the political crisis that transpired at the start of his father’s reign. Esarhaddon came to power when his brothers assassinated their father, Sennacherib,” said Timothy Harrison, a professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Toronto.
Harrison also noted that the tablet is incomplete. “It will take months of further work before the document will be fully legible,” he said. “These tablets are like a very complex puzzle, involving hundreds of pieces, some missing. It is not just a matter of pulling the tablet out, sitting down and reading. We expect to learn much more as we restore and analyze the document.”
The fully restored tablet will hopefully shed more light on international relations during this period, which included the appearance of the Phrygians on the world scene and the split Jewish monarchy between Israel and Judah. The cache of cuneiform tablets, among which the treaty was discovered, was excavated from a temple at Tell Tayinat in southeastern Turkey in August 2009.