This volume provides a selection of letters from ancient Western Asia up to the time of the First Dynasty of Isin. These letters were written on clay tablets with the cuneiform script; they are the earliest epistolary writings known to us from any part of the globe. The texts are translated from three languages—Sumerian, Eblaite, and Old Akkadian—all of which are imperfectly understood at present. To give the nonspecialist reader some sense of the original documents, the translations are accompanied by transliterations of the cuneiform texts.
Piotr Michalowski is the George G. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He received an M.A. from the Department of Mediterranean Archaeology and the Department of Near Eastern Philology from the University of Warsaw, Poland. From Yale University, he acquired an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. He has been on the advisory board and editorial board of several Societies and Committees in association with Oriental research and Mesopotamian civilizations. The author of many articles and book reviews, he has also written Lamentation over the Destruction of Sumer and Ur.