Announcement on e-TACT

Sometime in July, the officers of the IAA and ETANA announced the launching of “electronic Translations of Akkadian Cuneiform Texts” (eTACT) at http://www.etana.org/etact/. The idea was to reverse the dearth of reliable and up-to-date translations of Akkadian documents now on the internet by asking active *Assyriologists* to contribute translations of documents they have already prepared (for classes or for publications), keeping complete control over them as well as retaining future rights of publications. These translations would appear as searchable plain text, with transliterations or normalizations limited to untranslatable words.

There was a presentation on the initiative at the Russia RAI. Cornelia Wunsch, the project coordinator, described the project and explained how any colleague can contribute translations in any modern language of Akkadian documents of any genre and of any size. We do not resist duplication. The website has a convenient template that stretches to accept a text of any length. Pull down menus minimize the effort when recording information on the type and date of the material of the submitted material. There is room to give bibliographic data on where a full study can be accessed. If a book is the source of a translation, a link will take the user to the appropriate web-page of the publisher where the book may be ordered.

The publicity on eTACT has so far been minimal; yet we have had some fine colleagues submit some of their translations. We would like to have many more contributions and call on you (as on all IAA members) to support this project by posting at least a text or two that come from your own holdings.
Contributing to eTACT

Submitting a translation to eTACT is relatively straightforward (see BELOW). But if you wish to contribute but do not feel comfortable doing so on your own, by all means send Cornelia Wunsch [email protected] or Jack Sasson [email protected] the translation you wish posted, preferably in Word format. We will do so as promptly as possible and we will not post the item until you approve of it. If you wish us to do it for you, we would appreciate receiving as many of the following *brief* details as possible:

Title (also give alternate if you wish)
Date for it (approximate is fine)
Find spot (if known)
Language (OAkk, OB, NB, etc)
Medium (clay tablet, stone, etc)
Source (edition in which cuneiform original is published)
Publication (edition where translation was published or is best represented, unless you provide your own unpublished version)
Publisher URL
Category (Please consult the choices offered in the drop-down menu there, or simply give your preference)
Explanatory notes (if any)

Instructions on HOW to CREATE an eTACT ENTRY

If you wish to enter your own translation, it is best if you create a user login, as this enables you to create files that say “entered by (your name and institution).” If you cannot create such files yourself, we could do it for you. The line “entered by” would then read “eTACT editor on behalf of the author”. In such cases just send us all the information in a Word file by email.
1. Create your own identity and file

Go to “www.etana.org/etact”
In the reddish box click on “login”, then click “register” (on the bottom)
Fill in the form (the contents of the name and institution fields will be visible in your submitted Translation files under the entry “entered by”)
Click “done”

You now see 3 options, choose “Submit an eTACT translation”
2. Submit a translation
2a. If translation and comment do NOT contain any special characters beyond normal accents and umlauts

Give it a title (required, but it can be changed later).
Copy your translation into the appropriate field.
Provide information for as many of the remaining fields as possible.
In the box “explanatory notes” you may paste comments on your text, either of a general kind, or in the shape of footnotes to certain lines or words [use e.g. (1), (2), (3) to indicate footnotes]. This box is not limited in size; but please, be aware that we are reaching the general public, so there is no need for any discussion beyond the basics.
Go on to point 3.

2b: If translation or comment contains special characters beyond normal accents and umlauts

Give it a title (compulsory, but it can be changed later).
In the “translation” field, type “to be provided” (NOTE: it is compulsory to fill in SOMETHING).
It is NOT recommended to paste your text in the “translation” or “comment” box if it contains special characters (The website is set up in such a way that Unicode input is possible. But ONLY if pasted in directly and submitted; later changes are not possible. When something needs to be corrected afterwards (and this usually is the case) all diacritics in the posted text will switch back to question marks). Therefore: Send your translation and comment in a Word file or HTML file to Cornelia Wunsch [email protected]. It will be modified accordingly and the latest version kept by the editor in HTML in case you need to make changes later. Provide information for as many of the remaining fields as possible.
Go to point 3.

3. Submission

Scroll down and click “submit”.
Click “new search” to get back to the start page and repeat the procedure for another file or click “logout” to leave the site.
Done! Many thanks.

Technical matters (more at the website itself)

Translations can be submitted in English or any other language.
Any active cuneiformist may contribute translations that meet the required scholarly standard. Contributors may at any time make improvement on what they post.
The author of the translation is clearly identified and holds all rights to his/her contribution.
There is no honorarium.
There is no user fee.
Translations will be displayed in text format to allow the search for keywords. We also want search engines to pick up as many meaningful keywords as possible, not just in the headings.
We are not seeking transliteration or normalization of the documents you are submitting. You will find a box where you can enter remarks on your translations; but please keep comments to a minimum and give the original Akkadian only when necessary (such as when no adequate translation of a term is available). Try to avoid constant interruption of your text with too many brackets, parentheses, semi-brackets, etc. (Very) brief bibliographies are welcome. The template will give you opportunity to enter the source and most recent edition for the document.
The contributor receives the version of his/her contribution for proofing before it goes online. Contributors may choose to attach their email address to a translation.
The posted text can only be altered by the editor in consultation with the contributor. Helpful comments/critical remarks by other scholars may be directed to the editors and eventually posted on the website. Scholarly discussion should take place elsewhere.
Electronic manuscripts (e.g. in Word) can be pasted directly on the template and should not be sophisticated in formatting. Diacritics may be used where necessary (please, see below for details before submitting). Editorial work will mainly concern technical details of typesetting, uniform citation standards etc.
While the template is designed to accept relatively long texts, multi-tablets documents should be entered separately and labeled as such. We will find a way to connect them.
If you wish to post your contribution directly to the web, please consult the above instructions. Otherwise feel free to contact the editors. We would like to make the experience for you as little painful as possible.

What is Near Eastern Archaeology?

Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology is dealing with the study of the material remains of human culture from the beginning of sedentary life in the early Neolithic (ca. 10’000 BCE) until the conquest of large parts of the Near East by Alexander the Great (330 BCE).

The core region of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology is Mesopotamia, the land between the two rivers Euphrates in the West and Tigris in the East. There, one of the first complex societies in world history developed (Sumer). Later Mesopotamia became the core region of great empires, such as those of the Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians.

Mesopotamia forms part of the so-called ‘Fertile Crescent’ stretching from southwestern Iran in the East until the southern Levant in the West (see map)

This area was, since the Neolithic, dynamically interconnected and shared a variable set of cultural traits. Furthermore, the lowland regions were in permanent contact with the neighboring highlands of Anatolia (eastern Turkey) and western Iran as well as with the Arabian Peninsula and, at times, with the Indus valley, which lead to cultural exchange on many different levels.

Therefore, in order to understand cultural processes in Mesopotamia one has also to look at the whole Near East and beyond.

Archaeology, in very general terms, is the study of material remains of human culture with the aim to reconstruct all aspects of human societies and their material reflections: subsistence strategies, settlement patterns, urbanism, religious concepts, afterlife believes etc. The basic material for investigation is given by all kinds of objects and contexts: pottery, stone tools, depictions, burials, architecture etc.

Nowadays, a close cooperation with natural sciences is common in archaeology to increase the possibilities for a deeper insight into human life in the past, e. g. through the chemical analysis of residues in pottery vessels or the gaining of scientific data for the dating of contexts and the establishment of an absolute chronology.

In the USA, unlike Europe, thus a division between anthropology and art history of the Ancient Near East is defined in the academic system.

The major source for gathering new information is still the archaeological excavation, although the reevaluation of already available data with the help of more advanced and elaborated methodologies becomes more and more substantial.

Objects which are deprived of their specific find context through e. g. illicit digging activities loose a huge part of their potential and can even become totally useless for archaeological research. Hence the restriction of illicit art trade became a major effort for many archaeologists nowadays.

Moreover, making the results of excavation and research accessible to the public through printed or electronic publications, museum exhibitions and lectures is one of the most important tasks of archaeologists.

The collaboration of archaeologists and philologists has proven to be very profitable. Even though the two disciplines work on different sources they both aim at furthering our knowledge of past societies. This cooperation is especially productive in the historical periods of Ancient Mesopotamia.