Thursday, May 04, 2017

A scribe at ancient Persepolis

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Treasury Secretary at Persepolis. Notice of an article posted on Stolper, Matthew W. 2017. “From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 6 The Dossier of Šarbaladda, Treasury Secretary at Persepolis.” ARTA: Achaemenid Research on Texts and Archaeology, no. 001 (2017): 1–33.

This article is a collection of material concerning a single clerk working in ancient Persepolis. Despite its narrow scope, it is of some interest in that he seems to have been a sepīru, a scribe who wrote in Aramaic primarily on leather. We know of such scribes, but the humid climate in Iraq and Persia has obliterated all (as far as I know, without exception) of the ancient parchment documents they produced. Any details we can learn about them are welcome.

By contrast, we have endless thousands of cuneiform tablets from the same region, because baked clay lasts for many thousands of years. Technically cuneiform tablets were produced by tupsharru (tablet) scribes, although it is hard to tell how much overlap there was between the two types of scribe. Learning to write Aramaic script was easy, whereas learning to write documents in cuneiform was difficult and took years to master.

More on ancient Babylonian scribes here. Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.