Ancient Zodiacs, Star Names, and Constellations: Essays and Annotated Bibliographies


The Recovery Of Babylonian Astronomy by Gary D. Thompson

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The Recovery of Babylonian Astronomy

Strassmaier, Epping, Kugler, and Schaumberger: A History and Legacy of Their Co-operative Pioneering Effort to Recover Babylonian Astronomy

by Gary D. Thompson

Note: The duplication/repetition in the content will be edited/eliminated - as will the loose topic structuring - and the material made more consecutive, when time permits. Some of this was done 7 March 2015. I have recommenced this 23 May 2018, starting with topic restructuring.

(4) The Strassmaier Era - Johann Strassmaier

Part 1: Introduction

Part 8: The Strassmaier Era

The efforts of Strassmaier, Epping, and Kugler form the 'Heroic Age' of astronomical cuneiform discovery (and the recovery of omen/astrological tablets) and understanding. Kugler's monumental works published between 1900 and 1924 were a sequel to studies initiated by 2 other Jesuits, Joseph Epping and Johann Strassmaier. Beginning 1878, but mostly during the 1880s and 1890s, Strassmaier systematically hand-copied thousands of Late Babylonian tablets in the British Museum. The texts were of various kinds, including some on astronomy, but tended to be mostly business/commercial documents. Without Strassmaiers' drawings the work of Epping and Kugler would not have been done - simply would not have been possible. Not all of Strassmaier's advice given to Epping and Kugler was helpful.

In an October 1950 presentation  published in 1951 Neugebauer stated: "[Strassmaier's] ... copies of many hundreds of tablets and fragments (down to small pieces with only a few signs or numbers) not only formed the solid foundation of the pioneering work of Epping and Kugler but still remains an unexhausted source of material. ("The Babylonian Method for the Computation of the Last Visibilities of Mercury." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Volume 95, Number 2, April, 1951, Page 110.) All the astronomical tablets found by Strassmaier in the British Museum collection, were at the end period of the Babylonian empire, that is, written during the domination of the Persians, Macedonians, and Parthians.

Strassmaier was associated in the astronomical part with his research partner Epping, and from their common work there appeared in 1889 the first essay of such interpretations under the title Astronomisches aus Babylon in association with the magazine Stimmen aus Maria-Laach. From the study of 2 tablets, which contained in the form of ephemeris the predictions of celestial phenomena for years 111 and 123 BCE, Epping deduced the main methods of this astronomy, different from those used by the Greeks of the time, establishing in a definitive way the meaning of many proper names of planets and stars, and, what was even more difficult, the meaning of a great number of technical terms.

The 'Strassmaier Era' drew to a close when, in the summer of 1952, Sachs at the British Museum was given access to circa 1500 sheets of Pinches' hand-drawn copies of Babylonian astronomical texts. Pinches, beginning later than Strassmaier, also systematically hand-copied hundreds of Late Babylonian astronomical tablets in the British Museum.

Preliminary

The starting point for the discovery/recovery of Babylonian mathematical astronomy was the work of the pioneer German Assyriologist Johann Strassmaier (life dates: 15.5.1846-11.1.1920). He was basically a self-taught expert who learned further from actual experience. It was only through his untiring efforts, principally as a copyist, that astronomical tablets identified by him during the 18 years he spent methodically copying (mostly commercial/business) tablets in the British Museum were copied and annotated and made available to Epping and Kugler and, later, to Schaumberger, Sachs, and Neugebauer. Otto Neugebauer stated that without the copies made by Strassmaier many tablets with astronomical content might have remained unread for ever, as they were gradually deteriorating in storage owing to damp and other climatic influences. Strassmaier was recognised as a highly skilled copyist. His immense skill was shown by him reliably copying Seleucid era astronomical cuneiform tablet characters that were exceedingly difficult to interpret. Strassmaier's work in identifying and copying hundreds of tablets and fragments (some comprising small pieces having only a few signs or numbers) formed the firm foundation for the brilliant pioneering work of Epping and Kugler (and later the sporadic but brilliant work of Schaumberger). The results reached by Epping, Kugler, and Schaumberger are almost exclusively based on Strassmaier's preliminary copies of mathematical astronomical tablets. Even by the time of Schaumberger's death in 1955 Strassmaier's notebooks and sheet copies of astronomical tablets still remained an unexhausted source of material. (The nature of Strassmaier's notebooks remains a slight puzzle. A notebook is a book containing hand written notes. Strassmaier may have simply made drawings which were then organised into notebooks. It seems drawings made on large sheets were not placed into notebooks.) Otto Neugebauer makes the point that Strassmaier's work in identifying and copying astronomical tablets was of utmost importance. Simply, not a single one of these astronomical texts was ever published in the official publications of the British Museum; and for decades there was no information available concerning other astronomical tablets that the British Museum may have acquired after Strassmaier ceased copying in 1897.

Part 2: Background, Genealogy

Part 6: Johann Strassmaier/J. N. Straßmaier

J. N. Strassmaier (From portrait photograph at Mount Street residence (now Jesuit UK headquarters); likely taken in London between 1880 and 1895). It would be interesting to know when he was required to use eye glasses - and whether he was short-sighted or long-sighted. Johann Strassmaier was the pioneer in the study of Babylonian astronomy and also in the study of Babylonian contract literature. Details about Strassmaier are subject to contradictory information.

General

Johann Strassmaier SJ was a pioneering German assyriologist. He has also been termed an Orientalist, and historian of science. (His first given name 'Johann' sometimes appears in the Latin form 'Joannes.' His last name (family name) rarely appears as Straßmaier.) Father Johann [John] Nepomuk [Nepomucene] Strassmaier, S.J., was born in Hagenburg (Böhmerwald), in Bavaria, on May 15, 1846. Hagenburg was - and still is - a small village in the Bavarian Forest in the highlands east of the Danube River, dividing Bavaria from Bohemia. (His name also appears as Strassmayer.) He died on January 11, 1920 at the Jesuit residence, Mount Street in London West. Strassmaier was one of the leading pioneer assyriologists of Europe. At the time of his death he was a distinguished scholar of international reputation and recognised as one of the leading assyriologists in Europe. He entered the Jesuit Order on 26 November1865 at the Jesuit House at Gorheim (Baden-Württemberg). He likely did his novitiate at Gorheim and then his early Jesuit studies were in Münster and then at the Maria Laach monastery. Interestingly, one source states Strassmaier was a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at Maria Laach. (He apparently did not enter the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Münster but may have completed his Juniorate there.) Then, after teaching at Sint Josefs College (Jesuit High School) in the town of Aalst (East Flanders Province), Belgium, Strassmaier came to the small Jesuit theologate at Ditton Hall, England. This is usually stated to be in 1872 (also 1871) but correctly 1873, shortly after the beginning of Bismarck's Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church in Germany. However, correctly, it appears that Strassmaier went to Aalst, in Belgium for the year 1872-1873, and then on to Ditton Hall in England, for his theological course. According to the Catalogus, in 1873 Strassmaier was in Aalst College in Belgium. (In 1622, the Society of Jesus founded the school (college) dedicated to Saint Joseph at the Pontstraat in Aalst.) Strassmaier largely remained in England for the rest of his life. In September 1876 he came to the Jesuit theologate at St. Beuno's, (Clwyd) and was ordained priest there on September 24, 1876. In 1878, after completing his Jesuit training, he move to the Jesuit residence in Mount Street, London and began his long career of basically copying cuneiform inscriptions in the British Museum. (He was accessing British Museum publications on Assyriology as early as 1869.) He is ú.v. 2 February 1883, Ditton Hall (?, but was at Blyenbeck at the time). (Note: He had returned to England by this time. The Jesuit publication Catalogus records that Strasmaier was at Ditton-Hall in 1884 (as writer).) The initial intention of his copying work was preparation for his projected comprehensive history of the Semitic languages (which never materialised). He made his chief contribution to the new field of Assyriology by (1) publishing his massive Alphabetisches Verzeichniss (6 parts, 1882-1886); and publishing some 3500 autographs (which otherwise would not have become available). Up till circa 1900 Strassmaier had copied and published the greatest number of cuneiform texts.

His first period of copying British Museum tablets was from 1878 to 1881. During 1881 to 1884 he was at Blijenbeeck Castle (a Jesuit college in Holland) working on his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss. In 1881 he began his cooperative working relationship with Joseph Epping. (It is also stated in several sources that his collaboration with Epping began 1880.) His second period of copying tablets was from 1884 to 1897. (During his final years of training at the Jesuit theologate at Ditton Hall, Ditton (near Widnes) his long vacations of two months each year for three years were spent copying cuneiform tablets in the British Museum.) Strassmaier's work in Assyriology came to a premature end in December 1897 when a serious kidney disorder forced him to return to Germany for a major operation. Even after convalescing for approximately one year he never fully recovered from the operation. It would appear he suffered from a post-operative infection and the surgical incision never healed. Once he had returned to London after convalescing from his operation and ceased work as a copyist, Strassmaier simply worked at Farm Street Church as a priest (and the duties it entailed).

The majority of tablets copied by Strassmaier comprised contract literature. Strassmaier himself made the point that the tablets being acquired by the British Museum were mostly to do with private contracts. According to one source Strassmaier's Babylonische Texte (1889-1897) consists mostly of his autographs of tablets comprising the archive of the Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar. These were largely commercial (economic) texts. The tablets had been excavated, for the British Museum, by Hormuzd Rassam during the last quarter of the 19th-century. The progressive publication of Strassmaier's, Babylonische Texte provided a strong impetus for the study of the legal and commercial documents of Babylonia. It is likely that at the end of the 6th-century BCE the library of the Ebabbar in Sippar consisted of 2 separate collections: a mixed collection of scholarly and legal texts (discovered by H. Rassam, the archaeologist of the site between 1879 and 1882 commissioned by the British Museum), and a collection of professional content - discovered in the 1880‘s - belonging to the diviners of the temple. During his extensive years of copying cuneiform tablets in the British Museum Strassmaier also identified and copied numerous mathematical astronomical texts. (It was in 1881 that he first came across several astronomical tablets that were dated and so could be scientifically valuable.) Many of these were made available by him first to the mathematician and astronomer Joseph Epping SJ at Exaeten and then, after Epping's death, to the mathematician and astronomer Franz Kugler SJ at Valkenburg. Strassmaier was a skilled copyist of cuneiform texts of all periods. These skills rendered good service to the Jesuit astronomer Joseph Epping by providing him (and later Kugler) with very accurate copies of Babylonian lunar observations, and texts relating to stars, etc.

During Strassmaier's lifetime his copies of astronomical texts were never made generally available to any other persons other than Epping, Hontheim, and Kugler. From Strassmaier's death in 1920 through to 1949 they were only made available to Johann Schaumberger. Later they were made available to Otto Neugebauer and Abraham Sachs and later still to the Jesuit assyriologist Alfred Pohl during his time at the British Museum. (Though Strassmaier copied many types of texts that had been recovered from various Mesopotamian sites he mainly only published some 3500 of his autographs of tablets recovered from the Ebabbar Temple archive. Some of these had an astronomical content.) Though Strassmaier had an excellent knowledge of cuneiform languages he seldom actually translated any texts. Some of his autographs in his notebooks do, however, contain full technical annotations.

His key publication on late Babylonian astronomy (in collaboration with Joseph Epping SJ) was Astronomisches aus Babylon (1889).

Strassmaier died at the Jesuit residence, Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, in London West, on January 11, 1920. A report at the time states his body was removed on Tuesday to the church, where in the evening a solemn dirge was sung. Next morning a High Mass of Requiem was sung by the Father Provincial, assisted by Father Charles Galton, S.J., as Deacon, and by Father Feran, S.J., as Sub-deacon. This was followed by the internment at Kensal Green, where the last prayers were said by Father Charles Galton.

Johann Strassmaier as Assyriologist

Competency Training
Theologian Jesuit formation. PhD in theology. Conventional Jesuit theologian. Studied theology at Ditton Hall, England, 1873/1874-1877. Epping would have received a PhD in theology.
Assyriologist Prolific copyist of Babylonian cuneiform tablets. Identified as Assyriologist because of work copying cuneiform tablets in British Museum collection and publishing them. Also, assisting Epping and Kugler with material and collations. Not strictly a professional Assyriologist but rather working as an unpaid Jesuit. No formal training in cuneiform philology (Assyrian), primarily a copyist but had self-taught knowledge of cuneiform philology. Strassmaier's excellent knowledge of cuneiform philology justified his reputation as an assyriologist. Before he came to the British Museum in 1875, he had read and studied all the literature bearing on the decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, and all the works of Henry Rawlinson, Edward Hincks, Edwin Norris, Julius Oppert, and George Smith, and was able to translate many of the texts printed in Rawlinson's great official publications. This was obviously done during his Jesuit formation. Also competent with multiple ancient languages. At the time he began copying work there were no formal courses in cuneiform philology. Excellent copyist (made very few mistakes). Was also competent at transliterations (made very few mistakes). Also made a limited number of translations (made mistakes). He made errors with translations - unavoidable with translations made prior to circa 1920 (when a high-quality understanding of cuneiform philology was not yet securely established). Some of his autographs in his notebooks do, however, contain full technical annotations (including difficulties). Note: A number of experts called Strassmaier one of the first assyriologists. See: Oppert in Le Télégraphe, November 27, 1887; Bezold in Wien er Zeitschrift für Kunde des Morgenlandes, Volume II, Page 78; Winkler in the Berliner philosophische Wochenschrift, 1888, Page 851.

Genealogy

Johann Strassmaier (Straßmeyer) was the son of Johann Evangelist Strassmaier and Theresa (née Pichler) Strassmaier. (Also: Strassmeier/Strassmayer/Strassmeyer.) His parents are described as simple Bavarian country folk (peasants). His mother, Theresa Pichler, came from the neighbouring village of Gaishausen, part of the church vicarage of Hunderdorf. (One source gives Hunderdorf as the village, rather than parish/municipality.) (The baptismal certificate gives her name as Pirkl.) The baptism was performed ritu catholico by the Kooperator (i.e., assistant to the Parish priest (vicar?), J. B. Ott. (See the obituary: "Father John Strassmaier S.J., Assyriologist." by John Pollen in The Month, Volume 135, 1920.)

Records existing from 1760 show that the wilderness (beech forests) of Hagnberg was part of the large estate owned by Kloster Windberg. Also, at this time the Strassmaier family already resided in Mitterfels (as farmers?).

Strassmaier was 1 of 2 surviving children. The 1st child of Johann E. Straßmeier and his wife Therese, was a boy named Franz who was born on 30th July 1834 but who died 7 days later on 6th August. The 2nd child born was also a boy, Johann Ev[angelist]., but he also died 1 week old in 1839. A daughter Therese who was born in December 1840 died shortly afterwards in the same month (December 1840). Another daughter Theres who was born on 29th July 1843, survived to adulthood at least. Johann Nepomuk who was born in 1846 lived a full life. There is no indication that Johann kept in contact with his sister Theres.

Early history

He originally studied at Au vorm Wald (and Hagenberg (?) (= Hagnberg/Haynberg) and then at the Latin school of the kloster Metten. When 11 years old he went to the Episcopal High School in Metterfels. Alfons Huber is one of the best sources for details of Strassmaier's youth and schooling. In one article Huber gives the following information (which slightly contradicts at least one other source): Strassmaier was born in Hagnberg, a small hamlet in Mitterfels in the parish of Hunderdorf. (Mitterfels is 3 km from Hagnberg.) His father Johann Strassmaier had married Theresia Pirkl, the daughter of a Miller in nearby Gaishausen, in June 1833. His parents (and their ancestors) were simple peasant folk. His father worked a farm in the hamlet which he had inherited for generations.

Strassmaier first attended school in Au vorm Wald (a town and a district of the municipality Hunderdorf) before attending for 8 years the Latin school of the kloster Metten, leaving in 1865. Johann Strassmaier first went to school in Hunderdorf (in the early 19th-century community education was conducted by the church vicarage/parish of Hunderdorf) where it was realised he was an exceptionally gifted child. (He preferred life at home and in the woods (more comfortable) to life at school. By age 11 he had come to accept schooling and even to like the school system.) In 1857, at age 11 years, he attended the High School at the Episcopal junior seminary of the diocese of Regensburg, which was under the control of the Metten monastery. During his 8 years of attendance at High School he was always near the top of the class. His school reports consistently state his results were "very good" and "excellent." The curriculum included Latin, Greek, German, French, mathematics, history, and geography. His penmanship was also rated "excellent." Also indicated as subjects studied are: Hebrew, English, Italian, drawing, calligraphy, stenography, music and singing lessons.

During his adolescent school-days he became deeply interested in Hebrew and Oriental studies. On November 26, 1865 he entered the German Province of the Society of Jesus. In 1872, shortly after the beginning of Bismarck's Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church in Germany, Strassmaier left his native Germany. Strassmaier did not come with the first Jesuit emigrants to England, but initially went to Aalst in Belgium. After a year or more in Belgium (teaching at a Jesuit college), Strassmaier came to England.  His long Jesuit training was continued in England and completed in Wales. Toward the end of his Jesuit training at Ditton-Hall Strassmaier obtained a Ph.D. degree with honour (in either theology or philosophy, but most likely theology) from (the Theologate at) Ditton Hall. He was ordained in 1876. He largely remained in England for the rest of his life.

A 1995 photograph of Hagnberg, Strassmaier's home. (Source: Franz Wartner (Mitterfelser Magazin 2/1996, Seite 28/29).)

Sketch map of local area where Strassmaier was a youth. (Source: Franz Wartner (Mitterfelser Magazin 2/1996, Seite 28/29).) The area comprises numerous closely located villages/hamlets and small municipalities - marked out between 1820 and 1828 - with their boundaries mostly unchanged until 1978. A hamlet is a group of cottage houses, a small village.

Place Names and Explanations (Alphabetic Order)
Place Name Explanation
Au vorm Wald Village / Town / Municipality. (An independent municipality until 1946. Now in the In municipality of Hunderdorf.) On May 17, 1834 the Community/District of Steinburg (= Local Government) purchased the remaining unused part of Castle Au vorm Wald to use as a school. The school remained until 1959.
Gaishausen Town / Municipality. (No longer a municipality with modern local government reforms.)
Hagnburg Hamlet / Village. (In 1987 its population was 8 people.) Böhmerwald (Bohemian Forest) region, Bavaria.
Hunderdorf Village Town / Parish / Municipality. In 1915 Hunderdorf was a small village. It is located near Kloster Windberg.
Kloster Metten Metten Abbey (Abbei Metten / Kloster Metten) is a large house of the Benedictine Order in the town of Metten near Deggendorf. It has a strong educational tradition. The Benedictine monks were very active in education and were highly qualified school teachers. From 1837 it has incorporated a boarding school (Gymnasium (St.-Michaels-Gymnasium)). (= a small grammar school with boarding school in a building separate to the abbey.) The library of the abbey contains over 166,000 volumes on theology, philosophy, and history.
Kloster Windberg Windberg Abbey (Kloster Winberg) was a Premonstratensian monastery in the town of Windberg. The abbey was secularised and dissolved during the secularisation of Bavaria in 1803. (In 1803 most Abbeys in Germany were dissolved and their property confiscated by the government.)
Markt Metten Market Metten. (Farmers market town.) A part of Metten/alternate name of Metten. The term Markt (Market) is an entitlement. Market town is a legal term originating in the medieval period, for a European settlement that has the right to host markets, distinguishing it from a village and city. Market towns date back to the Carolingian Empire of Charlemagne circa CE 800. Metten has developed over the centuries from a settlement of the workers and employees of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael into an independent, progressive market town. The early economy focused on agriculture and the stone industry. The local ordinance status of a market town is still perpetuated through the law of the German state of Bavaria.
Metten Town / Municipality. A market town. (Has a market place.) A municipality in the district of Deggendorf in Bavaria. (Deggendorf is also a district town.) The town grew up around Metten Abbey founded in CE 766. Metten has developed over the centuries from a settlement of the workers and employees of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael into an independent, progressive (farmers) market town. In 2007 the town of Metten had a population of 4200 people.
Metterfels Mistake for Mitterfels. (Alternate spelling for Mitterfels?)
Mitterfels Village / Town (Market Town) / Municipality. A small market town/village in Bavaria. The name Mitterfels derives from one of several castles built in the area. The village of Mitterfels originated as the residence of employees of the castle. Market towns usually originated near castles and crossroads. Since WWII new parts of Mitterfels have appeared with modern shops. From 1809 Mitterfels had a succession of bigger and bigger schools.

Part 3: Jesuit Formation

Strassmaier's original desire to be a secular priest

Originally, Strassmaier wanted to be a secular priest. In the autumn of 1865? he joined the Episcopal seminary of the Diocese of Regensburg, where he received minor orders in October and November. The Reichsstift Obermünster was the building used for the seminary (Priesterseminar St. Wolfgang Regensburg) for the Diocese of Regensburg in Bavaria. However, somewhat surprisingly, Strassmaier left the seminary on November 23, 1865, to enter, on November 26, the novitiate of the Jesuits, which was then located at Kloster Gorheim (a former Franciscan monastery) in the southern German town of Sigmaringen.

In the Roman Catholic Church secular priests - more properly diocesan priests/archdiocesan clergy - are deacons or priests who are ordained for a particular diocese and who serve ordinarily in parishes. They are not monastics or members of a religious institute and they live in the world at large. They do not take vows but they make a promise to obey their bishop and, in the Western Church, to remain celibate. Canon law makes specific demands on clergy, whether regular or secular.

Jesuit training

At the end of 1865 (26 November) Strassmaier entered the novitiate of the Jesuits, which was then at Kloster Gorheim in Sigmaringen. Upon completion of his novitiate training, he was ordained a subdeacon on 30 March 1867 at Münster Cathedral. In 1868, Strassmaier began his 3-year degree in philosophy at the Jesuit college of Maria-Laach. Strassmaier received ordination to the diaconate on 19 July 1872. With the implementation of Bismarck's Kultukampf and the closure of Maria-Laach Strassmaier did not go with the first emigrants to Ditton-Hall in England. Instead, he went to Aalst in Belgium at least for the years 1872-1873, and only then then he go to Ditton-Hall to undertake his theological studies.  Strassmaier obtained a doctoral degree (PhD) with honour (most likely in theology) from the theologate at Ditton-Hall. On September 24, 1876, he was consecrated as a priest at St. Beuno in Wales. (He completed his Jesuit formation (studies) at the Ditton-Hall theologate in Widnes.) With the completion of his tertianship at Portico, not far from Ditton Hall, he finished his long period of training as a Jesuit.

The subdiaconate is the lowest of the sacred or major orders in the Latin church. It is defined as the power by which one ordained as a subdeacon may carry the chalice with wine to the altar, prepare the necessaries for the Eucharist, and read the Epistles before the people. Ordination to the diaconate (becoming a deacon) is the final step in preparation for priestly ordination in the Society of Jesus. Deacons are allowed to preach at mass and proclaim the gospel.

Strassmaier's military service

In 1868, Strassmaier began his 3-year degree in philosophy at the Jesuit college of Maria-Laach. Strassmaier's early Jesuit studies at Maria Laach were interrupted by his service as a medical orderly during the Franco-German; specifically war ambulance work during the Franco-Prussian War. The Franco-Prussian War, July 19, 1870 to May 10, 1871, was lost by France to the German states under the leadership of Prussia. Strassmaier, with some 200 Jesuit colleagues, volunteered for the ambulance service (served in the ambulance department of the German Army). Note: One source states: "He was called into the ambulance service." (See:  The Woodstock Letters, Volume LXIX [49], Number 2, 1920, Pages 250-251.) I take this to mean he was conscripted into military service (One source states Strassmaier served in the ambulance department (i.e., with an ambulance unit) of the German Army. It appears his ambulance work was attached to field hospitals.) Strassmaier's military service is also described as being a medical orderly in several Fronthospitälern (front-line field hospitals). His last duties involved outpatient care at Front-line Field Hospitals.

After completion of his last duties caring for (out-patient) soldiers with gangrenous sores, Strassmaier was discharged from army service on February 17, 1871. For his military service Strassmaier was awarded a (service?) medal and a certificate for fidelity to duty. In May 1872 he received a medal and a certificate (signed on the back - with comments - by several doctors) for his dedication in the performance of his medical services duty. According to the testimonies of doctors, "he showed a remarkable love, devotion and dedication to the sick."

After serving with an ambulance unit in the Franco-Prussian war Bismarck's Kulturkampf beginning in 1872 caused him to go into exile, first in Belgium, then in England. From at least 1872 to 1873 he was at Aalst in Belgium.

Jesuit military service

It was not unusual for Jesuits to become soldiers. During World War I there were 2014 Jesuits in total who enlisted and served as soldiers, chaplains, stretcher bearers, or volunteers. Germany furnished 376, Italy 369, Belgium 165, England 83, Austria 82, United States 50, Ireland 30, and Canada 4. Also, French Jesuits who had been expelled from France by the Third Republic returned to offer their services. From the four French Provinces of the Society 855 Jesuits were mobilised. Of these 855 serving in the French army and navy 165 were killed and 1,056 distinctions were awarded.

For some slightly different WWI statistics for Jesuit military service see: The Jesuit Specter in Imperial Germany by Róisín Healy (2003). The author states that during WWI 535 Jesuits served in the [German] army, 203 as combatants, 181 as chaplains, and 151 as stretcher-bearers under the auspices of the Order of Malta. The imperial government awarded the Iron Cross to 36 Jesuits, and the Red Cross Medal to more than 80 Jesuits.

Strassmaier in Belgium

In seeking to accommodate Strassmaier outside of Germany, the Jesuit provincial first assigned him to the Jesuit college (Saint Josephs College - a kind of secondary school) at Aalst, for his Regency.

Many statements regarding the year Strassmaier came to England tend to show uncertainty and confusion. It is usually stated that Strassmaier came to Ditton Hall in 1871 or - more usually - 1872, shortly after the beginning of Bismarck's Kulturkampf in 1871 or its intensifying with the Jesuitengezetz of 1872. However, correctly, it is certain that Strassmaier went to Aalst (Sint Josefs College), in Belgium for (at least) the year(s) 1872-1873. This comprised his Regency - though it is not mentioned as such in any sources. Then, after teaching at Sint Josefs College (Jesuit High School) in Aalst (East Flanders Province), Belgium, Strassmaier went to Ditton Hall for his theological training. Entries in Wegwijzer des stad Gent en der provincie Oost-Vlaauderen for 1873 and 1874 (I presently cannot access the 1872 edition (Volume 103)) record Strassmaier at Collegie van Aalst. Strassmaier appears as an Onder-Prefecten (sub-prefect, a sub-dean of the Jesuit college) who is a Duitsche taal (Professor of German Language) for 1873-1874. The 1874 entry may have been an editorial error, being printed without the correction (i.e., the deletion of Strassmaier from the listing) because he left in 1873 for Ditton Hall in England.

Strassmaier as a Duitsche taal (Professor of German Language) perhaps means that for 1 year (or 2 years) he was involved teaching Jesuits in the Juniorate phase of their Jesuit training. The 2 year Juniorate involved language study. In the 1870s and the 1880s there was a Juniorate at Wynandsrade in Holland. Within the Jesuit Order the term 'prefect' = teacher (Magister).

Page 135.

Summary of Strassmaier's Jesuit Formation

Stage of Jesuit Training

Location

Period

Novitiate. (Indicated as 2 years.) At Kloster Gorheim in Sigmaringen. 1866-1867 - 2-year novitiate. 
Juniorate. (Indicated as 2 years.) At Friedrichsburg near Münster in Westphalia. 1868-1869 - 2-year juniorate.
Training Interruption. (Indicated as 1 year.) A field hospital. Circa mid 1870 to mid 1871 - military service in Franco-Prussian War.
Philosophate. (Indicated as 3 years.) At Maria-Laach 1869-1872 - 3-year philosophate (with circa 1 year interruption for military service in Franco-Prussian War). According to the Jesuit Catalogus for 1869 Strassmaier was "Auditores Philosophiae" "Anno Primo" at "Collegium Lacense". According to the Jesuit Catalogus for 1872 Strassmaier was "Auditores Philosophiae" "Anno Tertio" at "Collegium Lacense".
Regency. (Indicated as 2 years.) Jesuit college in Alst (Sint Josefs College), Belgium. Language teacher for (at least) the year(s) 1872-1873 (and perhaps 1874). Apparently completed Philosophate circa mid year and went directly to Belgium. 
Theologate. (Indicated as 4 years.) At Ditton-Hall in England.

4-year theologate - 1873?/1874?-1877?

Tertiate. (= Third Probation) (Indicated as 6 months to 1 year.) At Portico House in Rainhill, England 6-month to 1-year tertiate - 1877?-1878? 

Part 4: Strassmaier in London

Residence in London

In 1878, after completing his tertianship Strassmaier took up residence in London. (This was also the year the first electric lights were introduced in London.) It is usual to give the address as the Jesuit house (Presbytery) at 144 Mount Street, Mayfair. The Jesuit Presbytery at 114 Mount Street, London, W1 (Mayfair) did not exist when Strassmaier first arrived in England. Construction of it began in 1886 and was completed in 1887/1888. Until then it is most likely Strassmaier stayed at the nearby Jesuit Presbytery in Hill Street.

The first Jesuit Presbytery (House) in London was at 25 Bolton Street, Piccadilly, and later at 9 Hill Street, Mayfair, the first Presbytery of the new Jesuit Church at Farm Street, Mayfair. Between 1841 and 1854 the priest-in-charge of the Jesuit house in London, first at Bolton Street and then at Hill Street was Herbert Vaughn (later Cardinal). (Hill Street is a street in the central Mayfair district of London which runs southwest from Berkeley Square towards Park Lane.) Later, a considerable number of Jesuits were in permanent residence at the Mount Street Presbytery.

At this period London was crowded, grimy, and rife with poverty.

Strassmaier settles permanently in London

From 1878 only 2 episodes of travel outside of England are known - his time at Bleijenbeek (some 3 years, starting 1881) for writing and his time at (presumably) Heidelberg (some 18 months, starting 1897) for medical treatment and recuperation. However, several short trips outside of England are also indicated. In 1884 Strassmaier returned to London and settled there permanently in order to continue 'on-the-spot' his copying of cuneiform tablets and investigations into ancient Babylonian astronomy. Apparently this may not have been an intention prior to 1884. This somewhat enforces the idea that his discovery of astronomical texts occurred shortly prior to his lengthy sojourn at Blijenbeck. The discovery of more astronomical texts was likely of pivotal interest. After Strassmaier left Blijenbeek further contact with Epping was mostly restricted to writing letters. Strassmaier made (occasional) visits to Epping at Exaeten during the holidays of the college.

It is not known exactly when Strassmaier decided to devote himself to copying cuneiform texts and publishing new material. This would have required the permission of his superiors.

At some time Strassmaier was transferred from the German Province to the English Province of the Jesuits. This is indicated as being done by at least 1893. The Catalogus Provinciæ Angliæ Societatis Jesu Ineunte Anno MDCCCXCIII (1893), Page 32: London, Residentia Immaculatæ Conceptionis, P. Joannes Nep. Strassmaier, Scriptor, Oper., Conf. dom." [In 1899 Catalogus simply: Cur. val.]"; Page 51: "Aliis Provinciis in Nostra Degentes, Ex [Provincia] Germ [Germana]. P. Joan. Nep. Strassmaier."

One listing descriptor for Strassmaier when in England is: "P. Joannes Nep. Strassmaier, in coll. S. Ignat., Script, Oper., Conf. dom. (114 Mount Street, London W.)

Strassmaier's London address/residence

Strassmaier lived mostly at the Jesuit residence, 114 Mount Street in London West. It is not uncommon, however, to see 2 addresses variously given. Publications such as The Catholic Directory, Ecclesiastical Register and Almanac (1913) states (Page 431/129): "Strassmaier, John N. : 114 Mount-street, London W." Note: The name John (instead of Johann) Strassmaier was commonly used; by both Strassmaier and others when referring to him. The name John always appears in Census records. The Catholic Directory, Ecclesiastical Register and Almanac (1913) also lists a total of 7 names of Jesuits in residence, but (curiously) at 31 Farm Street. The only residence was at 114 Mount Street. 31 Farm Street was the address of the Jesuit church.

The Jesuit Presbytery at 114 Mount Street, London, W1 (Mayfair) did not exist when Strassmaier first arrived in England. The Presbytery (adjoining Jesuit residence, where the Jesuits' Provincial Curia was based) of the Church of the Immaculate Conception at 114 Mount Street, Mayfair was not completed until 1887/1888 (sources vary on the date). Prior to this the Jesuit Presbytery in nearby Hill Street was used. The London residency/headquarters of the Jesuit order was designed by architect A. E. Purdie and built 1886-1887/1888. The Mount Street Presbytery was an impressive 4-story brick structure. Alongside it was a small park that circled around behind the Church which fronted onto Farm Street.

Part 5: The British Museum

Professional history at the British Museum

In 1875 Johann Strassmaier became acquainted with Samuel Birch (who was circa this time Keeper of Oriental Antiquities); and for some years he spent his long vacations in Samuel Birch's private room in the British Museum, studying the cuneiform inscriptions. Before he came to the British Museum, he had read and studied all the literature bearing on the decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, and all the works of Henry Rawlinson, Edward Hincks, Edwin Norris, Julius Oppert, and George Smith, and was able to translate many of the texts printed in Rawlinson's great official publications.

Strassmaier did not learn cuneiform philology as a student progressing through a university system. Also, Strassmaier remained outside of an academic career in assyriology. His knowledge was acquired through self-study and his skill in reading and deciphering cuneiform signs increased with his years of painstaking work copying source cuneiform tablets. 

Strassmaier spent years at the British Museum copying contract tablets. A mundane task that was recognised as such by Strassmaier. Also, in cooperation with Epping (and later Kugler) he was involved with the interpretation and publication of astronomical tablets he had copied at the British Museum.

Excursus: Circa 1860 London was considered the greatest city in Europe. In 1874 Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister. In the 1880's public unrest for social justice was inspired by socialism. There was rioting in London and open hostility to royalty. On Sunday 13 November 1887, known as 'Bloody Sunday,' there was a march of working class protestors to Trafalgar Square, which was oppose by some 2000 police, and turned violent. 200 protestors were injured and 3 were killed.

Pages 61-62. The 1880 Catalogus for Provinciae Germaniae is the earliest I have seen to date that lists Strassmaier under Degentes Extra Provinciam (Residing outside the province) with the descriptor ibid., Stud. inscript. cuneiform.

Page 31 and Page 49 of the 1886 Catalogus Provinciae Jesu is the latest date I have seen that lists Strassmaier under Degentes Extra Provinciam (Residing outside the province) and the descriptor Vac. stud. assyriol., Oper. The same entry/descriptor appears for Strassmaier for the 1885 Catalogus. Draft translation of Ex aliis provinciis in nostra degentes = From other provinces now living here.

Strassmaier's travel to the British Museum

Living at the Mount Street Jesuit residence Strassmaier was within reasonable/comfortable walking distance of the British Museum. Essentially he only had to walk along the greater part of Oxford Street to reach the British Museum. The London railway system up to at least 1899 had no convenient connection between the 2 locations. There is a possibility that Strassmaier may have caught a horse tram along Oxford Street.

There were some extremely harsh winters during the 19th-century. The winter of 1886-1886 was called the worst winter in living memory, causing much distress. Snow fell from October right through until May. How Strassmaier chose to make his way to the British Museum during this time is unknown. Also worth noting is fog was an important part of London life from the 1830s until the 1960s.

Excursus: 1886 saw the Black Monday riots in London. 1887 saw Bloody Sunday in Trafalgar Square. 1888 saw the Whitechapel murders.

Old British Museum rules

Like other British and foreign scholars, Strassmaier took full advantage of the old British Museum rules that gave outside scholars liberal (easy) access to the uncatalogued cuneiform tablets being added to the collection. The British Museum changed its policy on access to the collections after Strassmaier's time there. One could only request tablets by tablet number. A lot of tablets remained unregistered and so had no tablet number. This resulted in the archive not being further exploited and astronomical tablets remaining almost unknown.

Access by scholars to the cuneiform collection in the British Museum

Until the end of the 1890s any scholar could go to the student room of the British Museum to freely study cuneiform texts. The liberal policy of the British Museum on access to the collections changed after the Strassmaier/Pinches period of copying texts. Access became very difficult. Visitor access to cuneiform tablets in the British Museum was severely restricted from circa 1900 (not as late as WWI, or the retirement of Budge, as is sometimes thought), to the mid 1950s. From circa 1900, to access cuneiform tablets a visiting scholar needed to know/have their catalogue numbers. One could only request tablets by tablet number. A lot of tablets remained unregistered and so had no tablet number. Cataloguing methods for cuneiform tablets varied over time. If a scholar knew the inventory number and the shelf number the British Museum would allow the particular tablets to be accessed. However, there were no catalogues (and no catalogue numbers) for many of the astronomical texts copied by Strassmaier, hence identifiers such as the inventory numbers (date number codes or prefix codes) were unknown. However, it has been stated by the assyriologist David Brown (Looking at it from Asia (2010)) that Strassmaier's notebooks were also important for the listing of many of the British Museum accession numbers of astronomical texts.

Strassmaier did make visits to the British Museum - for collation purposes - after the access restrictions were imposed circa 1900. Had Strassmaier's illness not occurred and he had been able to continue copying after 1897 then his copying activities involving uncatalogued tablets would have been curtailed by circa 1900. How the new rules affected Strassmaier's ability to search for new/additional astronomical fragments requested by Kugler is not known. It is indicated that some leeway was given to Strassmaier. The obstructive rules for the use (i.e., easier use and access) of the collection of cuneiform texts in the British Museum were only slowly relaxed. They seemed to have remained in place until at least the 1950's.

The last chapter of Budge's book on the Rise of Assyriology relates several incidents (presumably true) with German scholars who had to be refused further access to cuneiform tablets. According to Budge they had been caught "editing" tablets with a penknife to make them read what they thought they should read or because they had published material which they had in fact not been given permission by the British Museum to do. This last chapter of Budge's book is interesting because it highlights the general lack of courtesy shown by some other German scholars at the British Museum. Obviously, Strassmaier was not one of these persons. Budge always maintained a high opinion of Strassmaier. It is somewhat difficult now to sort out Budge's prejudice against German scholars.

Kugler's visits to the British Museum to access cuneiform tablets would be subject to British Museum rules. Details (i.e., collation) and dates of Kugler's visits now appear to be lost.

Strassmaier's daily routine in the Student Room

Strassmaier's consistent daily work habit at the British Museum (at least when using the Student Room) involved copying tablets all day without stopping for either a lunch break or a toilet break. Likely this was his work habit from the beginning, when copying texts in Birch's Office when that was used for a Student Room. The result of this work regime was he developed a severe (and life-threatening) kidney disorder. (He urgently left for Germany Germany for an operation to save his life. His medical treatment was arranged through the Jesuit Order, most likely the German provincial.)

Part 7: Copying Issues

Copying difficulties

A hand copy of a tablet by competent copyist is superior to a photograph. Reading cuneiform texts is not easy. (The texts that Rassam later procured for the British Museum were particularly difficult to read. The wedge writing is sometimes a problem. The wedge signs are often carelessly written.) Reading cuneiform signs on clay tablets involves the 3-dimensional aspects of the wedge-shaped impressions. Tablets written with an extremely rapid hand are very difficult to successfully copy and decipher. The traditional medium for reproducing cuneiform text has been hand drawing with pen and ink. However, pen and ink drawing is not a perfect medium. Problems that can compromise pen and ink drawings are deficiencies in the drawer's eyesight, interpretation of the signs, and artistic skill. Cuneiform signs are not always easily read. Misreadings occur when signs are difficult or impossible to read. Further, copying is more than mechanical production whose only requirements are good eyesight, a steady hand, and drafting ability. Eyestrain can become a problem. It also requires practice and an extensive acquaintance with the particular class of documents to be copied. The exhaustive study of a given class of texts is the best preventive against copying errors. Strassmaier had immense practical knowledge of the original tablets, and the knowledge and experience (through preparatory study) necessary for proficiency in the art of copying and editing clay cuneiform tablets of all sorts and conditions. Whilst some astronomical texts are mostly comprised of numbers others contain technical language known to astronomical scribes that likely most cuneiform scribes would not have been familiar with. This created a difficult task for pioneer assyriologists when reading signs and determining those comprising the words. (The use of lithographic typesetting was abandoned in the early 1900s.)

"Despite the best efforts and repeated collation the hand of the copyist is never free of the possibility that a mental lapse had made him omit a wedge, a sign or a whole line, and the probability that his eyes have misinterpreted a sign or completely failed to see a wedge or two which were once impressed and which may radically alter the value of a sign and hence the meaning it bears." (Persepolis Treasury Tablets by George Cameron (1948, Page ix).)

The clay tablets, while still wet, were pressed with a reed stylus. The tablets were then dried in the sun or baked (hardened in an oven). The writing (signs) consist of (horizontal and vertical) combinations of wedge-shaped stripes. The recovered tablets (mostly tablet fragments) lack clarity. To save space the scribes wrote all the signs very close together. The finished writing often has a lot to be desired regarding clarity. Autographs made are often double the size of the original tablet. The compression of the wet clay when writing the signs close together partly obscured the clarity of preceding signs. The result could mean that of 7 preceding signs only 3 could be easily distinguished. Also, the scribes did not always write with great care. In contracts, letters, and reports, a scribe writing a sign simplified as much as possible. For years the meaning of some texts on astronomical tablets from the Arsaciden period remained unknown to Strassmaier, due to the habit of scribes of the period only partially writing signs - the first half only of a sign being written, the last half of a sign being conveniently omitted. All this makes the reading of signs a very difficult task and the possibility of misreading is always likely. Perhaps the biggest problem is the brittleness of unbaked clay tablets (i.e., those simply placed in the sun to dry). Only a small number of intact or undamaged clay tablets have been acquired by museums. Many thousands are fragments often a few centimetres size. Use of these requires patience and accuracy when reading. Sometimes joins can be made with other fragments. One assyriologist recounts he copied one tablet of less than 5 centimetres length (2 inches) that was comprised of 11 pieces.

According to Otto Neugebauer the ideal method of publication is direct copying from the text. Robert Newton wrote (Ancient Planetary Observations and the Validity of Ephemeris Time (1976)): "Reading a cuneiform tablet is like reading a badly weathered inscription in stone; reading depends purely upon differences in relief of an eroded surface." Otto Neugebauer has commented that even with great experience a text cannot be correctly copied without an understanding of its contents. Also, the act of indentation pushes clay away from the cutting edge of the stylus. If there is a wedge already impressed into the clay that is being pushed the act of indenting another wedge will distort the existing wedge. This creation of unintended variation has considerable potential significance when reading.

Factors existing when both Strassmaier and Pinches made their respective copies included: none of the tablets had been oven-baked in antiquity or in modern times, poor lighting, the dirty condition of the tablets (i.e., they required cleaning before they could be copied).

Supposedly the British Museum was designed to introduce sufficient daylight. Large windows and skylights were the norm to provide adequate daylight. Theophilus Pinches wrote: "A skylight high above one's head, however, is not an ideal source of illumination when reading cuneiform texts." (See: "Assyriological triffles by a handicapped Assyriologist." by Theophilus Pinches (Pages 212-219; Footnote 1, Page 216); In: Oriental Studies Dedicated to Paul Haupt (1926).)

Robert Whiting (ANE-2, 16 August, 2013) makes these interesting comments: "… some pointers about lighting from my experience with reading and photographing tablets. Use a single light source (incandescent, not fluorescent) and place it so that it illuminates the tablet from the upper left corner at about a 45 degree angle. The light should also rake the tablet from about a 45 degree angle above the surface. This will cause the shadows to highlight the wedges and make the text readable. Do not illuminate the tablet directly from the top or from the right or from the bottom, as this will eliminate the shadows of the wedges and give the writing a washed-out appearance without the surface contrast that allows the wedges to stand out."

Until the late 19th-century The British Museum was lit by natural daylight. Candles, oil lamps and gas lamps were not used in the galleries. No artificial light, except that given by small padlocked lanterns, was allowed in the British Museum. The great fear was fire, hence the conservative approach to the use of lanterns, etc. (It would appear artificial lighting was confined to candles, flambeaux, and torches, and later oil lamps. (A flambeau (singular) is a burner (incorporating a reflector) having an open flame. It is powered by kerosene or oil (or gas/propane).)) When the first home of the Museum, Montagu House, was replaced by a much larger building between 1823 and 1852, the new building was designed with 'roof lights' (= skylights) in all the exhibition galleries. However, the British Museum (including the Reading Room) was often forced to close early due to poor light in winter or during a London fog. The British Museum was one of the first public buildings in London to install electric lighting. In 1879 experimental electric lighting was provided in the Front Hall, the Round Reading Room and in the Forecourt. This early lighting system was unreliable. However, the Reading Room was able to stay open until 7 pm during the winter. Within 10 years an improved system had been extended to most of the public areas. (See: M[?]. Caygill and C[?]. Date, Building the British Museum (1999).) The Times, Monday, November 24, 1879, Page 9, reported that electric lights were first used in the British Museum in the Reading Room from the latter part of October that year to illuminate the Reading Room in the evening until 7.00 pm. On Saturday November 22, that year they were used to illuminate the Reading Room when a fog occurred shortly after 10.00 am. For over 100 years the event of fog would result in the suspension of Reading Room activities.

Other pitfalls facing the copyist include: (1) the difficulty of piecing together broken tablets, (2) the reconstruction of only partially legible signs, (3) the changed meaning of some signs through time, (4) the confusion of similar signs, and (5) the difficulty of correctly reading very small single signs.

Strassmaier's skill as a copyist (1)

Both Johannes Strassmaier and Theophilus Pinches made scale drawings of the tablets they were copying.

As a copyist, Strassmaier had to also study the style of writing. (The French Orientalist Victor Revillout did the same (but was not as skilled as Strassmaier).) The same requirement applied to Pinches.

Copying was lonely and tedious work. At the time Strassmaier carried out his copying work most of the tablets had not been registered/catalogued or cleaned. Part of the effort of Strassmaier with copying was his concerns with tablet conservation. Most were fragile and at that time, loosely kept together in drawers.

Even today it is widely acknowledged that Strassmaier's copies reveal his astuteness and amazing ability to understand quite difficult texts. Part of his skill involved separating signs squashed together. The Guardian, Saturday, February 21, 1920, Page 5 states: "He was especially felicitious (sic) in breaking up the closs (sic) [close] agglomerations of arrow-head marks into words, names, and dates." To a degree his ability to do this was due to to the (at times highly) formulaic nature of many kinds of texts (i.e., similar elements in cuneiform documents of a similar nature). As example: There was a standardised formula of greeting across cuneiform texts. However, for texts that were less formulaic, such as legal depositions, the contents are more difficult to guess. Many require collation before it is possible for any meaningful attempt at their interpretation can be made.

"Though it was published over one hundred years ago by J. N. Strassmaier as Camb. 321, its contents have never been fully understood due to damage to crucial parts of the tablet's surface and a number of unconventional writings that have hampered the copyist's understanding.2 ... 2. The record was first published in 1890. In general, Strassmaier's copies reveal his amazing grip on these rather difficult texts. Legal depositions, however, betray serious problems, as they are less formulaic and their contents are, consequently, more difficult to guess. Many of them require collation before any meaningful attempt at their interpretation can be made.” ("A Slave is not Supposed to Wear Such a Garment." by Cornelia Wunsch (Kaskal, Volume 9, 2012, Pages 99-120; Page 99).)

The Jesuit astronomer Aloysius Cortie (1859-1925) wrote ("Babylonian Astronomy" (The Month, Volume LXXIV, 1892, Pages 529-530)): "The deciphering and study of these ancient [cuneiform] texts constitutes the science of Assyriology, the experts in which are not at all numerous. For much practice is required even to become a respectable copyist of Assyrian, while to explain the meaning of the texts with anything like accuracy, the decipherer must have acquired a good knowledge of the kindred Semitic languages, such as Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldee, Aramaic, and Arabic. And yet to read even a few books in each of these dialects requires years of hard study. Moreover, the difficulty of reading the texts is enormously increased, by the fact that a great number of the signs employed are not syllables but ideograms, that is, a character denoting an object or idea."

Strassmaier's drawings are not accurately drawn representations of tablets, but instead they reproduce the cuneiform in neat, almost typeset signs. He had decided it was best to accurately draw the cuneiform signs, separating them into words and dates, etc.

Drawing by Strassmaier completed in 1882 of Inscription of Nebukanezzar. The date of 1882 conflicts with the date of 1881 for his presence in Blyenbeck.

 

Drawing by Strassmaier published in 1892 in Babylonische Texte, Heft X. Inschriften von Darius, König von Babylon (521-485 v. Chr.)

Robert Harper made the point (Hebraica, Volume 10, Number 1/2, October 1893-January 1894, Page 107) that a number of Assyriologists engaged in autographing are very careless about difficult passages, making a few pen marks without having in mind a clear meaning of the passage being copied.

Strassmaier's skill as a copyist (2)

Strassmaier took on the task of copying and publishing cuneiform texts from the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE. Most of these texts are fragmentary and poorly preserved, and the writing (in addition to its particular style) has often been carelessly executed by the scribes. The assyriologist Jules Oppert noted that these texts rarely attracted the attention of assyriologists. Strassmaier time consuming efforts with these texts was done at the request of particular scholars.

Strassmaier was skillful in reading and accurately copying the difficult Arsaciden script. The astronomical tablets copied by Strassmaier for Epping were written in a kind of 'running hand' (cursive) writing which was in use at the time of the Arsaciden kings and noticeably different from the usual Babylonian cuneiform writing. See: Strassmaier, Johann. (1888). "Arsaciden-Inschrifte." (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 3, Pages 129-158). At this period most of the chronological knowledge of Arsaciden texts was due to the work of Strassmaier. His ability here would have been with date-formulas (year-formulas) on the tablets. Various Arsaces dates published by Strassmaier caused difficulties at the time.

The Arsacids were a Persian dynasty which ruled Iran from circa 250 BCE to circa 226 CE. Arsaciden script is a cursive form of cuneiform script that is difficult to read. Both Epping and Kugler were highly reliant on the translation assistance provided by Strassmaier.

It is worth noting that Strassmaier's copies of contract documents differed to those made by Boscawen.

Strassmaier's copying mistakes

A representative example: "In Strassmaier's copy we note five important errors in names or filiations of witnesses and of the scribe (line 9, 10, 12, 16). In Dr. [Irving] Finkel's opinion [after making a collation] "all the errors in BM 55670 [(BM. 55670 = 82-7-14,. 26)] are to be attributed to J. N. Strassmaier, and not the scribe who wrote the tablet"." ("Great Families of Sippar During the Chaldean and Early Persian Periods (626-482)." by Stefan Zawadzki (Revue d'Assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale, Volume 84, Number 1, 1990, Pages 17-25, See Page 25). See also: "Review- Babylonian Texte : J. N. Strassmaier." by S. Alden Smith (The Babylonian & Oriental Record, Volume 1, Number 11, September, 1887, Pages 191-193).

"The fourth is a fairly large contract-tablet .... The 22 lines of writing with which it is inscribed are published by the Rev. J. M. Strassmaier, S.J., in his "Inschriften von Darius." As Strassmaier's copy is fairly good (his text contains only two unimportant mistakes) I do not repeat the inscription here." ("The Collection of Babylonian Tablets Belonging to Joseph Offord, Esq." by Theophilus Pinches. In: Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement for 1900, Pages 258-268; Page 264.)

Another example is Strassmaier's misreading of the Saros canon.

Also, Strassmaier made mistakes with his attempt to correct the reading of numbers by Pinches in his publication of Sp. II 48. Strassmaier also made mistakes when dating tablets. Both Strassmaier and Kugler made mistakes dating tablets and also made mistakes when 'correcting' known dating mistakes. See: "Dating problems in cuneiform tablets concerning the reign of Antigonus Monophthalmus." by Tom Boiy (Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 121, Issue 4, 2001, Pages 645-649).

Strassmaier was usually acquainted with the various formulas which opened various types of texts. When he was not - as example, texts with oaths/legal texts - his copies usually only contained minor errors.

Some examples of Strassmaier's mistakes in AV

Source: "A Cuneiform Inscription if Sennacherib." by S. Arthur Strong (The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1891, Pages 145-160; Page 150 and Page 152).

Strassmaier's mistakes in reading mathematical astronomical texts

Strassmaier made many minor errors in copying these texts. (As did Kugler in reading and collating.) See Neugebauer's numerous comments: Astronomical Cuneiform Texts by Otto Neugeubauer (1955). Strassmaier’s copies/drawings of the astronomical tablets he copied were never made generally available. The particular copies used and printed by Epping and Kugler were the best available - the product of numerous collations. Strassmaier made collations for Epping and Kugler. Kugler made visits to the British Museum to make collations. Staff at the British Museum/ British assyriologists made collations for Kugler.

Part 6: Professional History

Strassmaier's competency with languages

Strassmaier was a cuneiform specialist. Strassmaier's knowledge of Akkadian was gained through self-study. He also had knowledge of other languages. Several sources mention he was authoritative on Oriental languages. One source states that Strassmaier was recognised as a linguistic genius who had knowledge of 20 languages including Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, and Egyptian. (It is believed he had knowledge of 22-23 languages.)

Students of assyriology usually needed several years to master the principal grammar and a few different dialects of Akkadian. It appears that Strassmaier learnt the language extraordinarily quickly.

According to Budge (The Rise and Progress of Assyriology (1925), Page 228) who personally knew Strassmaier: "He was a good Chinese scholar, and had a sound knowledge of Persian, Arabic, and the Semitic languages generally." (Budge first met Strassmaier when Budge was in his youth and making daily visits to the British Museum.) Budge must also have seen Strassmaier working at the British Museum from a close distance. According to the obituary by Anon, The Guardian, Saturday, February 21, 1920, Page 5: "Father Strassmaier had almost a passion for new or strange languages. Nothing interested him more than a Chinese newspaper, or a Persian inscription, or a New Testament from the S.P.G. in some freshly discovered Indian dialect."

The English poet and journalist Charles Kent (1823-1902) wrote a book, Corona Catholica (1880), consisting of an epigram on the accession of Pope Leo XIII and obtained Strassmaier's assistance to translate the poem into Samaritan. Kent also obtained the assistance of other leading Orientalists to render the poem into a total of 50 various ancient, dead, oriental, and other foreign languages.

Strassmaier found it difficult to understand that other academics ('assyriologists') could not speak any languages other than their native language. He believed that an academic ('assyriologist') would be at least familiar with Arabic.

No adequate, detailed account of Strassmaier's skill as a cuneiform philologist has yet appeared, and probably will not. Above is an example of Strassmaier's understanding of the graphical development of cuneiform signs. Source: "Two Inscriptions of Nabonidus." by Carl Bezold, Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, Volume XI, Pages 84-103, Page 102.

Some issues in cuneiform palaeography. Source: Business Documents of Murashû Sons of Nippur: Dated in the Reign of Artaxerxes I. (464-424 B.C.) by Hermann Hilprecht and Albert Clay, 1908, Page 16.

Strassmaier's early speculations on similarity between Akkadian and Egyptian words

Strassmaier put forward a theory that a relationship exists between the Akkadian and Egyptian languages, and he printed a small list of Egyptian, Coptic, and Akkadian words which he thought were identical.

The Mummy by E. A. Wallis Budge (1893, Page 7). Also: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology - Revised and Enlarged Edition - E. A. Wallis Budge (1925, Page 167). "In a paper now practically forgotten the late Dr. Strassmaier put forth the theory that a relationship existed between the Akkadian [i.e., Sumerian] and Egyptian .... See his paper, "Akkadisch und Aegyptisch" in the Album presented to Dr. Leemans. In his 1925 edition of the book Budge has tinkered with the sense of Strassmaier's paper as the Sumerian language was unknown to Strassmaier at this time.

Strassmaier as an Assyriologist

A number of experts called Strassmaier one of the first assyriologists. See: Oppert in Le Télégraphe, November 27, 1887; Bezold in Wien er Zeitschrift für Kunde des Morgenlandes, Volume II, Page 78; Winkler in the Berliner philosophische Wochenschrift, 1888, Page 851.

Strassmaier was a pioneer in the study of Babylonian contract/commerce texts and Babylonian astronomical texts. By the later 1880's Strassmaier had a reputation as one of the best epigraphists among Assyrian scholars. (An epigraphist is a person who studies and deciphers ancient inscriptions. The first known use of the term is 1864.)

Strassmaier's reputation as an assyriologist was based largely on his skill in accurately hand copying cuneiform tablets, the style of his drawings, and the thousands of copies of cuneiform texts, that he made and published. This alone required an expert knowledge of cuneiform philology. Strassmaier was also regarded as a reliable authority on cuneiform philology. Though self-taught, Strassmaier was regarded as one of the most reliable European authorities on cuneiform philology.

Strassmaier's reputation as an Assyriologist was gained from his work as a copyist (publication of Babylonische Texte), publication of Alphabetisches Verzeichniss, and also his work with Epping in the recovery of Babylonian astronomy. He was basically a self-taught expert who learnt further from practical experience in dealing with cuneiform tablets. At the time of his death he was a distinguished scholar of international reputation and recognised as one of the leading Assyriologists in Europe. The 3 greatest German Assyriologists, Johann Strassmaier, Fritz Hommel, and Carl Bezold, were all Bavarians.

In 1878 he took up residence in London and began his long career of basically copying cuneiform inscriptions in the British Museum in preparation for his projected comprehensive history of the Semitic languages (which never materialised). By the time he turned his attention to the cuneiform tablets in the British Museum he was recognised as a good Chinese scholar, and possessing a sound knowledge of Persian, Arabic, and the Semitic languages generally. It is stated that his work in the British Museum helped to bring order to the enormous number of cuneiform tablets being constantly acquired. But no other explanation is given. Strassmaier remained a visitor to the British Museum. He certainly was not engaged by the British Museum as a 'classifier.' He did sort through tablets - exactly how many is unknown. He systematically copied thousands of particular commercial/contract texts. He also helped to make access to them generally available by publishing copies of his drawings. When he began copying at the British Museum in 1878 cuneiform study was in its infancy. His interest was soon directed to the numerous Babylonian tablets in the British Museum, which had not yet been interpreted and translated, and among them were many astronomical texts.

Whenever he came across a suitable sized astronomical tablet fragment Strassmaier would make a second copy of his relevant draft drawing and send such to Epping (and apparently after Epping's death) to Kugler. If the translation and decoding of any drawing was successful he would then apparently make a finished sketch of such, with annotations, and send that also.

During the next two decades he made his chief contribution to the nascent field of Assyriology by publishing his monumental Alphabetisches Verzeichniss (1886), 6 significant studies of inscriptions (basically contracts), including those of Cambyses and Darius (12 volumes of Neo-Babylonian economic texts (Inscriften von Nabonidus, etc.); 1889-1897) and joint works with the astronomer Joseph Epping (with Joseph Epping he worked eight years on the Babylonian calendar tablets, which led to the publication of Astronomisches aus Babylon), which provided the key to the interpretation of Babylonian astronomical texts. His unpublished copies of tablets also greatly aided the work of other Assyriologists, notably, Carl Bezold in his catalogue of the British Museum tablet collections and the early editors of the Museum's Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets series. These are monumental works of great value.

Robert Harper made the point (Hebraica, Volume 10, Number 1/2, October 1893-January 1894, Page 107) that Strassmaier frequently expressed the view that the chief work for Assyriologists was to make available copies of tablets instead of quarrelling over small grammatical and lexicographical points for which there was at that time insufficient data at hand to settle.

Strassmaier was not considered a Sumerologist. The claim that Anton Deimel studied both Assyriologie and Sumerologie under Johann Strassmaier seems exaggerated. See the entry for Anton Deimel in Deutschen Biographischen Enzyklopädie edited by Rudolf Vierhaus and Dietrich von Engelhardt (1995-2003). The entry is repeated in Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie der Theologie und der Kirchen edited by Bernd Moeller and Bruno Jahn (2005, Page 282).

Types of tablets copied by Strassmaier

Strassmaier worked on contract tablets and astronomical tablets. Talqvist, Peiser and others also worked on contract tablets. Oppert, Sayce and, of course, Epping also worked on astronomical tablets. Strassmaier's initial focus was on contract tablets. When he identified what he thought were astronomical tablets he copied them also.

Strassmaier begins at the copying texts at the British Museum

Strassmaier was a diligent copyist. Strassmaier's indefatigable copying activity was frequently commented upon.  (He was described as having "unwearying patience" in copying texts and preparing them for publication.) Strassmaier's program of systematically copying and publishing cuneiform texts in the British Museum obviously had the approval of his superiors. Strassmaier was willing to copy economic and administrative texts, which many persons considered the least interesting. Also, Strassmaier was engaged in copying large numbers of texts. The value of Strassmaier's work was he would copy hundreds of texts belonging to the same archive.

Strassmaier's first copying episodes began during his summer vacations from his theological education at Ditton Hall, and had the formal permission of Samuel Birch.

Circa 1876 Strassmaier became friends with Birch and, during vacations, also began copying copying tablets in Birch's private room. It was through Strassmaier's friendship with Samuel Birch that Birch consented to Strassmaier's request to copy cuneiform tablets that were in Birch's charge. This was the beginning of the German Jesuit order initiative to establish first-hand familiarity with the cuneiform material. (Beginning in 1873, Wallis Budge also studied cuneiform in the private room of Samuel Birch.) In 1879 Strassmaier began copying full-time using Birch's private room up until 1881. In 1881 Strassmaier left London for Blijenbeek and Birch relocated his study (private room) to an upstairs location. In 1883/1884 Strassmaier return to London from Blijenbeek and Birch established a study room for students/visitors. In 1885 Birch died and this would seem to formally end Strassmaier's use of Birch's private study. From Budge we learn that Strassmaier did not have exclusive use of Birch's private room; it also accommodated other students. (With the death of Birch, Budge was now in control.)

The Tablet, 24 January, 1931, Page 7.

Broadly, Strassmaier copied texts from 1878 to 1897. Strassmaier's periods of copying texts at the British Museum were from 1878 to 1880/1881 (most likely 1881) (= approximately 3 years); and from 1884 to 1897 (= approximately 13 years). Also, from 1875 when he first became acquainted with Samuel Birch, Strassmaier spent his long vacations in Birch's private room at the British Museum, studying (and copying) cuneiform inscriptions. (There is some ambiguity regarding the period that Strassmaier copied tablets in Samuel Birch's private room. Some sources state that such continued into the mid 1880s at least. However, it fails to take into account Strassmaier's absence from 1881 to 1884 and Birch's death in 1885. There is little reason to believe he continued to use Birch's private room from after his initial copying phase from 1878 to 1881. If he did then it seems likely it was short-lived. From the time of his return from Holland or shortly thereafter with the death of Birch, his copying work until 1897 was done in the Student's Room.) He was a daily visitor to the Student's Room.

On completion of his Jesuit training in 1878 Strassmaier proceeded to the Jesuit residence at 111, Mount Street, London. At this time the department of antiquities at the British Museum was acquiring a recognised preeminent position in the growing field of Assyriology. Strassmaier diligently applied himself to the reading, transcription, codifying, and elucidation of the numerous cuneiform tablets and inscriptions within the British Museum collection. With rare skill and deftness of hand he not only lithographed the wedge-shaped marks of which these inscriptions consist, but was singly felicitous in breaking up the close agglomerations of cuneiform signs into words, names and dates. These transcripts he eventually published, with translations, in a series of Texte, Wörterverzeichnisse, Inschriften, etc., from 1882 to 1900 [1889?].

Note: Strassmaier seldom made transcriptions for his published material. But see the early parts of Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter. Also, Strassmaier, Johann. (1893). "Einige kleinere babylonische Keilschrifttexte aus dem Britischen Museum." (Actes du 8e Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1889 à Stockholm et à Christiania. (2 Volumes, Volume 2, I Section Sémitique (B), Pages 279-316?)). [Note: Autographs with transcriptions.]

Copying texts in the Museum of Liverpool

In 1879 Strassmaier began copying full-time at the British Museum and in 1881 he left London for Blijenbeek, until 1884. The registration dates of the (approximately 200?) cuneiform tablets acquired by the Museum of Liverpool span 4-5-1877 to 29-11-1877. Strassmaier copied all/most of these and they were presented for publication at the Congrès International des Orientalistes, 1883 in Leide [Leyde]. Obviously Strassmaier spent time at Liverpool on one or more occasions between 1877 and 1881 to copy the texts. There was a Catholic Seminary near Liverpool (the diocesan seminary of St. Joseph, at Upholland). However, the foundation of the building was only laid in April 1880 and college was not opened until 1883. He perhaps stayed at St Francis Xavier College, Liverpool (founded 1842).

Strassmaier writes in the 1st page of the article: "Von grösserer Bedeutung sind die Thontafeln, die unter dem Datum 4. 5. 77. und 29. 11. 77. registrirt sind." Draft translation: Of greater importance are the clay tablets that are registered between the dates 4-May-1877 and 29-November-1877. The curator of the museum in Liverpool was Charles Tindal Gatty F.S.A., a scholar and art and pottery expert and practicing Roman Catholic. See his lengthy article, "Christian Art." in The Tablet, Saturday, January 7, 1893, Pages 10-13.

Various descriptions for Gatty and various names for museums in Liverpool appear in the literature, often without clear explanation. The names include: Mayer Museum, Liverpool; Liverpool Museum; Liverpool Museums; Liverpool Free Public Museum; Liverpool Free Public Library and Museum. These terms are not to be confused with the Liverpool Regional Museum established 1989. The particular museum established by the Liverpool Council changed names numerous times. Circa  the mid 1800s there were several museums in Liverpool, public and private. When the Liverpool Museum opened in 1854 there were already 2 museums established in Liverpool, both in Colquitt Street. These were the Liverpool Royal Institution Museum (established in the 1820s; mostly an art gallery) and the James Mayer Egyptian Museum. The original Liverpool Museum building was established in 1852 on the corner of Slater Street and Parr Street. Then a new museum and library building was opened on October 18, 1860. In 1867 Mayer closed his Egyptian Museum and gave his collection to the Liverpool Museum. The emphasis of the Liverpool Museum began to change when Joseph Mayer donated his extensive collection of art, antiquities and ethnology in 1867. Mayer had first offered to make over his collection to the city in 1856, but nothing came of the discussions. Early in 1867, Joseph Mayer announced that his collection would go to the Liverpool Museum (strictly, it was presented to the corporation), and the contents of his houses in Colquitt Street were moved to William Brown Street. The council agreed to appoint a curator for his collection in the museum. The first was (the archaeologist?) Henry Ecroyd Smith (1823-1889), who held the post for four years, and he was replaced by Charles Gatty. For years to come the Liverpool Museum would have 2 parts – the Mayer Museum of art and antiquities led by Charles Gatty, and the Derby Museum (of Natural History) led by the head of the museum, Thomas Moore. In 1897 the free public museums comprised (1) the Derby Museum, and (2) the Mayer Museum. The nucleus of the Derby Museum was the collections of natural history artifacts bequeathed in 1851 to the city of Liverpool by the Thirteenth Earl of Derby. To carry out the conditions of Earl Derby's gift, the corporation obtained a special Act of Parliament titled An Act for establishing a Public Library, Museum, and Art Gallery at Liverpool." The first benefactor for the public library was William Brown. By circa 1860, within the Borough of Liverpool, there was the Free Public Library, the Museum, and the Walker Art Gallery. (After the construction of the William Brown Library and Museum, and Walker Art Gallery the Liverpool Royal Institution Museum fell into decline.) The Free Public Library, the Museum, and the Walker Art Gallery were run by a committee established by the Liverpool Council. By 1878 Gatty was Assistant Curator of the Mayer Collection, Liverpool Museum. (The Curator of the Museum for 1879-1880 was Thomas J. Moore.) By 1879 Gatty, was appointed Curator of the Mayer Collection [Museum], Liverpool, 1882 (apparently at that time loosely called the Liverpool Museum). During the period of Gatty's Curatorship the Mayer Collection [Museum] had a separate existence with its own finances. In 1879, with the appointment of Gatty as curator, the Mayer Collection was regrouped with other antiquities into a new Department and the name changed to Mayer Museum. (See: Twenty-Seventh Annual Report of the Committee of the Free Public Library, Museum, and Walker Art Gallery, of the Borough of Liverpool (1880, Page 20).) Gatty was at one time also Curator of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. (Charles Dyall was the Curator for 1879-1880.) By 1896 at least, Gatty was no longer in the position of Curator of the Mayer Collection [Museum].

It is indicated that at least some of the cuneiform texts were obtained as donations.

Source: Thirty-First Annual Report of the Committee of the Free Public Library, Museum, and Walker Art Gallery, of the Borough of Liverpool (1884, Page 25). Note the use of the name Mayer Museum, not Liverpool Museum. Strassmaier (when residing at Ditton Hall, Widnes (also spelled Widness, Lancashire) later (1884?) gave an account of some these Babylonian contract tablets which are preserved in the Museum at Liverpool. See: Die babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool: nebst andern aus der zeit von Nebukadnezzar bis Darius by Johann Nepomuk Strassmaier ((Congrès) Actes du 6ème congrès international des Orientalistes tenu en 1883 à Leide. Theil II. section 1. S. 569 - 624 und 176 lithogr. Seiten. 1885. 229 pages.

Strassmaier must have completed his autographs at the Mayer Museum = Liverpool Museum circa 1879-1880.

See: Strassmaier, Johann. (1885). "Die Babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool, nebst andern aus der Zeit von Nebukadnezzar bis Darius." In: Actes du 6e Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1883 à Leide [Leyde], Part II, 1. Section Sémitique, Pages 569–624 and Plates 1–176). [Note: Presented at conference in 1883 and published 1885. I have yet to determine the sense of the remark: Strassmaier published 33 tablets; 2 remained unpublished, Liverpool Museum numbers 29.11.77, 2 and 29.11.77, 11.]

Strassmaier's Alphabetisches Verzeichniss was prepared in Blijenbeck (1880/1881-1883), Ditton Hall (1883(-1884?)), and eventually completed in London (1884-circa 1886). The completed publication of these words appeared in 1886 in Alphabetisches Verzeichniss. As an appendix to this volume, Strassmaier published a transliterated Worterverzeichniss zu den Babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool, 66 pages. This was due to limits of space in Actes du 6e Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1883 à Leide [Leyde]. It seems apparent that at the congress Strassmaier had indicated the material would be printed in the Acts of the congress. In the Table des Matières for Section 1 appears: Die Babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool, nebst andern aus der Zeit von Nebukadnezzar bis Darius mit Woerterverzeichniss von J. H. Strassmaier S. J.

The conditions (i.e., work table and work lighting) under which Strassmaier copied the tablets are not known. (Gas lighting was used in the museum at the time Strassmaier made his copies.) The time taken to copy the tablets is also not known.

Excursus: Joseph Mayer F.S.A. (1803–1886) was an English goldsmith, jeweller, antiquary and avid collector. He was born at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, retired from business in 1873, and died unmarried at Pennant House, Bebington, Cheshire, aged 82. At the age of 20 he settled in Liverpool and in 1860 he moved to Bebington, near Birkenhead, Cheshire. At first he was apprenticed to his brother-in-law, Joseph Wordley, a jeweller but in 1844-1845 Mayer set up his own jewellery and silversmith business. It was probably this enterprise that provided him with sufficient funds to finance his passion for collecting. Highly successful in business, he was able to indulge his passion for collecting. In 1852 Mayer opened a museum in Colquitt Street, Liverpool using works he himself had collected as the exhibits. It was named the Egyptian Museum. (Egyptomania had swept Europe after Napoleon's 1798 campaign in Egypt.) It housed Egyptian antiquities, prehistoric and ethnographic artifacts (especially British and Anglo-Saxon antiquities), glass and pottery (especially Wedgwood pottery); and autographs and manuscripts; and was constantly being added to. His museum and its vast collections, then valued at £80,000, was presented by Mayer to the corporation of Liverpool in 1867, and became part of the public museum (the foundation of the Liverpool Museum) in William Brown Street there. It is now at the World Museum. The medieval manuscripts, ivories and enamels which made up part of Mayer's gift are now in the Walker Art Gallery. In 1866, Mayer had established a free library of 26,000 volumes in Bebington, and endowed it. The library stood in public grounds (6 acres), which he also dedicated to the use of the people. See also: Millard, Alan. (1988). "Assyrian and Babylonian Antiquities." In: Gibson, Margaret. and Wright, Susan. (Editors). Joseph Mayer of Liverpool 1803-1886. (Pages 71-76).

The Liverpool Museum was bombed in 1941 during the blitz. The bombing resulted in extensive damage. Fortunately, the more valuable items had been removed by then to ensure their safety.

Provenance mistakes

The publication by Strassmaier in the Transactions of the Fifth Oriental Congress (held at Berlin), of the 109 well preserved commercial (contract) tablets unearthed by William Loftus in 1854 at Tell Sifr is generally regarded as the first important step in our knowledge of the social and economic conditions of Babylonia during the period of the First Dynasty of Babylon. Strassmaier's paper exhausted the inscriptions of the period that were then known. See: Abhandlungen des fünften internationalen orientalisten-Congresses, Erste Hälfte (Berlin, 1881, Pages 315 ff). The book reviewer (of Tell Sifr. Textes cunéiformes conservés au British Museum-Réédites by Charles F. Jean (1931)) in, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (New Series), Volume 64, Issue 4, October, 1932, Pages 1072-1073 wrote: "Fifty years ago Pater Strassmaier published a collection of 109 tablets (in mostly excellent preservation) of the old Babylonian period, which through some error he believed came from Warka, though they were actually found at Tall Sifr, the ancient Kutalla, by Sir Kenneth Loftus. When he copied them, the script and the language of the tablets were new and strange to the still young science of Assyriology. ... Professor Jean ... has been the first to undertake the task of a thorough and scientific study of the original texts, and has thereby done honour to the precepts and practice of Strassmaier, who believed that Assyriology must depend on the publication and constant revision of texts, and that conjecture without autopsy was an evil - a self-evident truth too often neglected. ... The advance of Sumerian studies in particular has enabled him to read correctly passages where Strassmaier was, from the nature of the circumstances, at fault, and also some slips due to tiredness in the earlier work." (See also: Travels and Researches in Chaldæa and Susiana by William Loftus (1857).)

Another provenance mistake by Strassmaier was his proposal that the Seleucid astronomical archive in the British Museum came from Sippar. The tablets came from Babylon (and some perhaps from Borsippa). Strassmaier - probably influence by Pliny - assumed Sippar as the origin of astronomical texts (along with Babylon and Uruk). Kugler, in the colophon of a large lunar ephemeris - mistakenly misread the name Sippar.

Copying issues

There were particular difficulties in reading and analysing a broken text.

Dominique Charpin comments (2010): Autographing involves loss of information. It was not unusual for the copy to not accurately render the layout of the original, or the hand writing.

Otto Neugebauer stated that practically no text falls at the first attempt. Repeated collation, joining with other fragments, and comparison with other texts are needed.

Strassmaier notes in his 1881 landmark paper coauthored with Epping that the cursive cuneiform Babylonian script is difficult to read and copy.

Note 1: It has been remarked that there are those persons who make a copy but have not copied the tablet. Rather they have made a copy from their transliteration, which is not a facsimile but merely a remapping of the transliteration.

Note 2: Apart from errors made when autographing there was the issue that copying errors also existed in the cuneiform texts.

Extracted from website of Sean Manning (https://bookandsword.com/2016/10/17/on-sketching-tablets/): "This tablet is a short note dated by an illegible King of Babylon, King of the Lands (so anyone from Cyrus to Xerxes, with Darius most likely on the basis of the length of his reign). The scribe who wrote it was in a hurry, and his clay was drying out. Have a look at the centre and lower left, where groups of overlapping wedges have compressed the surrounding clay. Many signs are written with fewer wedges than they ‘should’ be, the boundaries between signs are not always clear, and the scribe did not bother to draw a series of parallel lines to guide his writing. Like many tablets, the surface is not flat, and writing extends onto the edges (the bottom edge made a convenient place to record the date, and continuing a line onto the edge of a tablet let a scribe who was running out of space finish a word). ... Spend a while comparing the photograph of the first two lines and the sketch of the characters redrawn the way they appear in handbooks of cuneiform scripts, even under late informal forms. Many horizontal and vertical wedges are missing their tails, and ša2 (three wedges pointing down over one wedge pointing down) is often reduced to three wedges pointing towards the lower right like the signs ḪI or DIN. While DUMU.DU3{meš} "the citizens", šunu "their," and ina IGI "before" are very common expressions, the only way to read the beginning of this tablet is to be generous with the scribe and see what he is trying to say if only the clay had been more sensitive or the scribe had taken the time to include every wedge. After all, the tablet is witnessed, so was presumably legible to its writer. In further lines reading this tablet becomes even more difficult, and I have trouble agreeing with the transcriptions I have seen. ... The most optimistic sketch of one side of this tablet which I can bear to draw. Another copyist might include more wedges on the ground that the tablet has simply not clearly absorbed every stroke of the scribe's reed. Sketching tablets is a balancing act between honestly representing what is there, and representing what you think the scribe wrote or meant to wrote (not all of the scribe's pokes with his stylus 'took' on the clay!) Some sketchers are optimistic about including what the scribe 'should have' written, which can be a problem if a reader does not have the original tablet to compare. In addition, some tablets are slowly crumbling, or have been damaged in storage, so that sketches from before the Second World War can show signs or wedges which no longer exist. But given the difficulty of reading tablets from photos, and the expense of travelling to visit them, sketches are still important."

Strassmaier's periods of copying work at the British Museum

The first period was from 1878 to 1880/1881 [most probably actually 1881], and the second period was from 1884 to 1897. From 1880 he was working on his monumental book Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter (issued in 6 parts, 1882-1886; and complete in 2 volumes, 1886).

Christopher Walker (personal communication) informs me that the British Museum appears to have little, if anything, in their archives relating to Strassmaier, Epping, Kugler, and Schaumberger. It was Strassmaier's initiative to approach the British Museum to copy cuneiform tablets. The British Museum had no particular influence beyond giving Strassmaier access to the tablets. Under the liberal rules in place during this early period visiting scholars could readily access cuneiform tablets.

Excursus: In 1880 William Gladstone became Prime Minister.

History of copying work

Strassmaier systematically hand-copied thousands of Late Babylonian tablets in the British Museum. These texts were of various kinds, including a considerable number on astronomy. One source states that in total Strassmaier accessed and copied from 36 collections of tablets in the British Museum.

Will Ward wrote of Strassmaier's "copious productivity" of autographs. Most other assyriologists who could copy Babylonian texts at all had only a collection of a few hundred, by 1888 Strassmaier had copied several thousand. The American Journal of Archaeology (1887, Page 407) noted that Strassmaier was doing his copying work "almost gratuitously" for the science of assyriology. Strassmaier's work (as a constant visiting copyist) at the British Museum was unpaid. The Jesuit Order permitted him/commissioned him to work there. The AJA mention also noted that Strassmaier's work "is so well done, by one who is an experienced copyist."

Strassmaier spent from 1878 to 1881 and then from 1884 to 1897 (when he fell seriously ill) working in the Student's Room at the British Museum (basically involved in copying texts). This is, at most, 18 years. From 1897 to 1920 (when he died) Strassmaier very seldomly involved himself again with Assyriology. Until his illness, Strassmaier was undefatigable in copying tablets and assisting Joseph Epping.

Strassmaier began his career of copying cuneiform tablets in the British Museum in 1878 and, with a "break" between 1881 and 1884, ceased such in 1897. During these dates he copied many thousands of texts - tablet by tablet, fragment by fragment - which had been received to the British Museum in the tens of thousands. For about 16 years Johann Strassmaier copied tablets daily in the British Museum from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm; and one writer (Budge) remarked he must have copied half the Collection. Strassmaier copied mostly from the collections Sp (Spartali), Rm (Rassam), and SH (Shemtob). (If he attended the British Museum for 350 days per year for 16 years then this adds to be 5,600 working days. If we include the time prior to 1878 i.e., his annual leave spent at the British Museum from 1875 then we perhaps also have 3 terms of 2 months each which adds to be approximately 60 days. In this time, amongst other things, he copied some 4000 cuneiform tablets and fragments.) Not all were published.

The majority of tablets Strassmaier copied belong to the latest periods of Babylonian history. Strassmaier copied the inscriptions on Late Babylonian tablets - those dated to the last half of the 1st-millennium BCE. The work was, to a great extent, focused on Neo-Babylonian material and during the course of such he identified astronomical texts. They were recognisable as such by the large amount of numerical material set out in columns and combined with the names of months. Most often they were dated in the Seleucid or Arsacid period. The meaning of their contents remained totally incomprehensible to Strassmaier. These copies were collected in notebooks. (It would appear that the occasional large fragments were copied onto larger separate sheets.)

Working independently, Strassmaier and Pinches, to a considerable extent, duplicated each others work. Each copied many of the same tablets. In terms of the older British Museum designations, both worked through Sp. and Sp II. Strassmaier also copied most of Rm IV, selected texts of St 76-11-17, and almost half of SH 81-7-6. Pinches, on the other hand, did copy Sp III and 81-6-25, these collections received almost no attention from Strassmaier. Very little is known about the collections sent by Rassam to the British Museum.

He made his copies of astronomical tablets available to Epping and then, after Epping's death, to Kugler. Strassmaier would send 2nd copies (i.e., redrawn autographs) to Epping, and then, after Epping's death, to Kugler. Otto Neugebauer states (ACT 1, 1955) that whenever Strassmaier came across an astronomical text of worthwhile size he recopied it for study by Joseph Epping and, after Epping's death, by Franz Kugler. (However, it appears that this is not wholly correct and was not always the case. It appears Strassmaier retained copies in his notebooks that were not provided to either Epping or Kugler.)

In the earlier discussions of Strassmaier's copying activities it is generally stated that by 1893, Strassmaier had copied most of the mathematical-astronomical cuneiform tablets. This may not be the case. Strassmaier, unlike Pinches, did not explore texts numbered between BM 45,000 and BM 47,000. (Strassmaier did, however, make notes about similar texts, numbered between BM 45,000 and BM 47,000 which had been quoted to him by Pinches.) Strassmaier copied approximately 240 late mathematical-astronomical tablets into his notebooks. Strassmaier copied the majority of these mathematical-astronomical tablets before 1893. Most of the tablets copied were in the Spartoli, Rassam, and Shemtob collections.

Cuneiform Registration Numbers Copied By Johann Strassmaier and Theophilus Pinches
Strassmaier (Prior to 1893) Pinches (1877-1900)
Note: Preliminary drawings Note: Finished drawings
Note: Rarely made joins Note: Made hundreds of joins (By painstaking work, between 1895 and 1900, he joined many pieces of tablet fragments acquired by the British Museum together again)
Sp Sp
Sp II Sp II
Most of Rm IV (Examples: BM 33870); Rm IV 432) None of Rm IV
Selected texts of S† [St] 76-11-17   None of S† [St] 76-11-17 [Note: S† [St] is also given as S+]
Almost all of SH 81-7-6 (Example: SH 81-7-6, 691) Beginning of SH 81-7-6 (Example: BM 46229 pieced together by Pinches from SH 81-7-6, 691 + BM 82-7-4
None of Sp III (Or at least only a few) Sp III (Example: BM 35603 = Sp III 113)
None of 81-6-25 (Or at least only a few) 81-6-25 (Example: BM 41581 (81-6-25, 195 + 197))
Sp = Spartoli; Rm = Rassam; S† [St] = Smith; SH = Shemtob. [Note: S† [St] is also given as S+ and is sometimes written as S[dagger].]

Accession numbers were usually assigned upon the arrival of tablets in the British Museum (e.g. 76–11–17,2 = 17 November, 1876, tablet 2). For discussions of early acquisitions of cuneiform tablets and cataloging problems see: "Rassam's Activities at Tello (1879) and the Earliest Acquisition of Neo Sumerian Tablets in the British Museum." by Lorenzo Verderame, in: Piotr Michalowski (Editor), On the Third Dynasty of Ur : Studies in Honor of Marcel Sigrist, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Supplemental Series, Number 1, 2008, Pages 231-244. See also: "The British Museum 'Sippar' Collection: Babylonia 1882-1893." by G[?]. van Driel (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie. Volume 79, Issue 1, Pages 102–117). Strassmaier mostly confined himself to copying the inscriptions on late Babylonian tablets i.e., those dating to the last half of the 1st-millennium. Also, mostly from the Spartoli, Shemtob, and Rassam collections.

The Spartoli tablets are dated to the 2nd-century BCE and represent originals that cannot be dated earlier than the 7th-century BCE.

The 76-11-17 collection, once known as S† [St] [note: S† [St] is also given as S+], is now BM 30281-32838. The 76-11-17 collection comprised some 2600 tablets (and other objects) (one source states approximately 2400 pieces) purchased/acquired by George Smith on his 3rd and final (fatal) journey in 1876. They arrived at the British Museum after Smith's death (hence S†). (According to one source they were bought from or through the Baghdad dealer, Michel Marini. The contents of the collection were objects possibly from Tell Abu Hubbah (Sippar) or Tell ed-Der (Sippar-Amnanum). (One sources has Tello and Surghul.) According to Strassmaier the S† 76-11-17 collection was finally properly catalogued in 1888. The lot/collection 76-11-17 includes numerous Late-Babylonian astronomical tablets (diaries, mathematical astronomy) from Babylon.

The Seleucid astronomical tablets that Strassmaier copied between and circa 1878 (likely only identified circa 1880) and 1897 in the British Museum were used mainly by Joseph Epping, Joseph Hontheim, Franz Kugler, Johann Schaumberger, and Otto Neugebauer from 1881 to circa 1955. These astronomical tablets came from a Seleucid archive at Babylon (and some perhaps from Borsippa). Strassmaier mistakenly proposed Sippar as the provenance of the astronomical archive. None of these astronomical tablets came from Sippar (as was mistakenly thought by Strassmaier and Kugler). The only other known archive of Seleucid astronomical tablets was at Uruk. These tablets began to appear on the antiquities market circa 1910 and a considerable number were excavated at Uruk by a German team of archaeologists German Oriental Society who began large scale archaeological excavations in Uruk during Winter 1912/1913. Obviously none of the Uruk texts were copied by Strassmaier. The dates of the astronomical texts recovered from Babylon range from the Neo-Babylonian period to the Parthian period (circa 550 BCE-50 CE), but most tablets are Late Archæmenid or Seleucid period (350-150 BCE).

Pinches is usually considered to have made better drawings of tablets than Strassmaier, and perhaps more accurately. This comment is usually applied to the astronomical tablets. For the comment that Strassmaier published a better drawing of a particular tablet fragment than Pinches see, Encyclopedia Biblica edited by Thomas Cheyne and John Black, Volume II, E to K, 1903, Column 1246, Note 4. All of Pinches drawings were made before 1900 (the year Budge succeeded in dismissing him from the British Museum). Pinches copied astronomical cuneiform tablets which arrived before 1882 but did not make these drawings available to others. Strassmaier copied many of the astronomical cuneiform tablets before 1893. The availability of Strassmaier's copies of astronomical tablets was restricted (or almost completely restricted) to Epping, Hontheim, and Kugler. Through Deimel they were later made available to Schaumberger.

Influence of Strassmaier's copying style

The influence of Strassmaier's copying style. Source: "Peiser's Contract Tablets." Hebraica, Volume 6, Number 1, October, 1889, Page 70.

Rate of copying

Strassmaier possessed the skill to work quickly (at least compared with other copyists).

In a letter to a colleague (Alexander Baumgartner) dated 29 October 1900, Kugler writes: "A tablet that Strassmaier copies in one afternoon may cost me 2 years of work." (See: de Jong, Teije. (2014). "Babylonian Astronomy 1880 - 1950: The Players and the Field." In: Proust, Christine. and Steele, John. (Editors). Otto Neugebauer Memorial Volume. (2016).) It is not known how many times Strassmaier would make a mistake that would have him decide to start the drawing again. He did not attempt to make a correction when he made a mistake. Copying small fragments would obviously take less than an afternoon.

The volume on Darius (Strassmaier, Johann. (1892-1897). Babylonische Texte, Heft X.-XII. Inschriften von Darius, König von Babylon (521-485 v. Chr.)) took from 1890 to 1897 to 'complete.' His partial copy of a tablet appears; it was uncompleted due to his serious illness requiring an immediate interruption to his work and his requirement to obtain an operation without delay. Following the operation he then spent 18 months in a special German nursing home recuperating.

Part 7: Nature Of Strassmaier's Copies, Drawings

Nature of Strassmaier's copies

Strassmaier made careful pen and ink drawings. (His published drawings are organised by date.) Strassmaier naturally faced the dilemma of deciding how to publish a damaged 3-dimensional object covered in a script which had only recently been deciphered. He chose to sketch the tablets but not to transliterate or transcribe (normalise) them in Latin letters (Romanization, which encompasses several transliteration and transcription methods). Strassmaier's copies are not accurate representations of the tablets, but rather an accurate reproduction of the cuneiform text in neat, almost typeset signs. He generally limited himself to the accurate determination of the cuneiform text (= the accurate recognition of the signs). This is a choice which avoided confusions as readings and transliterations/transcriptions changed but demanded that the reader understand Late Babylonian script.

Strassmaier's editions of cuneiform texts - comprising his intention to publish as many new texts as possible - are designed for the few dozen people in a given decade who are experts in Late Babylonian and its script.

Some helpful discussion of Strassmaier's notebooks and associated information appears in the monograph, Contributions to the Study of Babylonian Lunar Theory by Norman Hamilton (1979). It adds to what can be gleaned from various comments made by Otto Neugebauer.

Copyist requirements are: (1) good eyesight, (2) neatness, (3) knowledge of the cuneiform inscriptions, (4) knowledge of cognate Semitic dialects, and (5) have in his head a sort of apparatus criticus. Good lighting for the work environment is also important. The duty of the copyist is: (1) not to make a facsimile of the tablet which he/she is copying, (2) not to show every scratch or abrasion on the surface of the clay, (3) to supply the student with a copy of the text which he/she can read, (4) to decide what each character is before he/she copies it, and (5) to make his/her copy as clear and as neat as possible. It is useless to smother with lines a character which the copyist cannot read with certainty, and to think that the student or a fellow-scholar will be helped by such evidence of the copyist's uncertainty.

Many different styles of copying were developed by individual scholars, varying between an almost schematic reproduction of the signs to a minute reproduction of details. Strassmaier's style of autographing: (1) was a simple style designed for use by students (regarding David Lyon or Albert Clay), (2) the figures were separated to make for easier reading, (3) no distracting aspects of the tablet itself (regarding Herbert Hilprecht or Hugo Radau) were introduced, and (4) mostly even the lines indicating the edges of the tablet were missing. Strassmaier's style of autographing was needed to suit his intention of making a maximum number of (copies of) tablets available. To this end, up to 1897, he made more tablets available than any other person. (Excursus Hugo Radau: Rev. Dr. Hugo Radau, A.M., B.D., Ph.D., was a Presbyter of the Episcopal Church, and in 1900 (at least) was Mayo Fellow in the General Theological Seminary, New York., USA.)

It appears the type of information (at most) that was included by Strassmaier on his sheets included: (1) the date the tablet/text was first noticed, (2) the British Museum catalogue number, (3) notes about the obverse and reverse tablet sides, (4) the transliteration of some lines of text, (5) the condition of the text, and (6) the date the copy (autograph) was completed. Strassmaier would use a particular form of German shorthand when including notes. Otto Neugebauer made transcriptions of Strassmaier's particular German shorthand. Additionally, Strassmaier's annotations of his drawings could include: (1) general descriptor or name of major person as heading, (2) descriptor of tablet and/or sections, and/or focus of tablet, (3) section numbers, (4) dealer's name (i.e., who purchased from), and (5) date acquired by the British Museum. Duplicated drawings would also contain: (1) date copied, (2) who copied for, and (3) Strassmaier's name.

Basically, Strassmaier read and identified/interpreted the cuneiform signs on the tablets and then copied the identified signs onto his tablet drawings that incorporated separations between syllables (and/or words). A point to note is that some copyists are very accurate and some provide only normalised copies. Strassmaier did the latter (as did Pinches). When he copied (autographed) a text Strassmaier would use normalised cuneiform writing. (In alphabetic normalization, we write the Akkadian words just like any language: no hyphens or full stops or superscripts. It is usual to put the Akkadian in italics, just as is usually done for words of any foreign language. We mark long vowels and doubled consonants as necessary, even when they are not written explicitly in the original. Normalisation allows us to focus on the language, filtering out the writing system. It is also useful when we want to talk about words without reference to a particular text - in dictionaries and grammar books, for instance.) Only very rarely did Strassmaier involve himself in transliteration and translation. His drawings would include the identification of the particular collection the tablet came from, catalogue details, (when possible) the period the tablet originated in (regarding identification of the ruling king), the date he finished the drawing, an occasional brief clarifying remark, (and a note if a copy had been sent to Epping). On sheets of drawings, for the year 1889, for which he had sent copies to Epping, he made the note on his originals "an Epping geschickt."

Strassmaier did make detailed comments on the astronomical nature of some of the cuneiform tablets he copied. (See (example discussed by Neugebauer below): Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Volume 95, Number 2, 1951.) One source states that Strassmaier made transcriptions of the astronomical texts (largely sets of numbers?) that were regularly sent to Epping for decipherment.

The above extract from Neugebauer's paper (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Volume 95, Number 2, 1951) provides evidence of Strassmaier making detailed technical comment on the astronomical nature of at least some of the astronomical tablets he copied. It also demonstrates - contrary to statements made by some persons - that Strassmaier did translate (and not just copy) tablet contents. However, by 1892-1893, Strassmaier had been working very closely with Epping. Strassmaier's procedure of making comments was somewhat unavoidable. All cuneiform astronomical tables are completely devoid of any explanatory remarks or legends.

Apparently Strassmaier's (standard) approach to copying was to make an initial drawing of each tablet/fragment of interest. Then, based on use of the drawing by an assyriologist/philologist, he would make a collation and then make a finished drawing. Many of his drawings remained preliminary sketches.

Interestingly, Hermann Hilprecht, when teaching at the University of Philadelphia in the late 19th-century, held a series of lecture courses, winter 1898-99, based solely on Strassmaier's text publications.

Source: Article book review "Recent Biblical Archaeology." by Archibald Sayce (The Expository Times, Circa 1900, Page 12). [No other details.]

Preliminary nature of Strassmaier's drawings

Strassmaier's drawings of cuneiform tablets in the British Museum, whilst very good, were only preliminary sketches to be used for identification, classification and later study. The sequence for making preliminary drawings and producing final copies was: (1) The copy (or sometimes copies i.e., additional copy - variant readings?) made (and later placed) in a notebook were preliminary drawings made using the "standard" form of a sign (even when a tablet exhibited a variant form). Note: All signs are now written in a standardized cuneiform sign/style based on the Neo-Assyrian signs. (2) Epping began the study of Strassmaier's transcriptions and partial decipherments of astronomical texts. When his cooperation with Epping began a 2nd copy of a tablet drawing was made by Strassmaier for Epping (from an original notebook drawing made at the British Museum). Strassmaier excerpted from his notebooks astronomical texts on special sheets, often adding explanatory remarks.(3) When the "decipherment" by Epping proved successful Strassmaier would then make a careful collation from Epping's results. This meant the original text in the British Museum was re-read with particular attention being paid to those passages which exhibited apparent discrepancies with computation. With the astronomical drawings it involved careful examination and comparison of the drawings used and results of astronomical calculations with the original texts (cuneiform tablets) to identify (note) points of disagreement, similarities, and differences. I have not seen any discussion whether Strassmaier did side-by-side reading of copied texts and results of Epping's astronomical calculations in order to note their differences. (It is not indicated that any such type of collation was later done with Strassmaier's cooperation with Kugler.) (4) Then a final copy was prepared (i.e., a new drawing made) and then sent to Epping for final investigation. The sheets sent to Epping with the final drawing(s) were, it appears, (mostly) without the usual annotations (explanatory remarks) placed on preliminary drawings.

Abraham Sachs (Late Babylonian astronomical and related texts (1955, pages vi & vii)) states whilst all Strassmaier's drawings were preliminary in character: "It is reasonably safe to suppose that it was his intention to proceed to publication [of (at least) the astronomical texts] by reiterating [i.e., repeating] the process which led to the appearance of the two copies [of finished drawings] at the end of AaB [Astronomisches aus Babylon (1889)]. For both texts [i.e., final drawings which appeared in the book], we still have two preliminary copies by Strassmaier, from which he made a third [incorporating both preliminary copies of texts into the one sheet] which he sent to Epping. After Epping had deciphered the tablets and had carried out the necessary astronomical calculations, Strassmaier made a careful collation [i.e., examination/comparison to identify mistakes in his transcription], paying particular attention to those passages which exhibited apparent discrepancies with computation. Then the final copies of AaB [but not "finished" copies (in the style of Pinches) of text drawings for inclusion in Astronomisches aus Babylon (1889)] were prepared [i.e., I. SA. 189. (vom Jahre 123 v. Chr. Sp. 129.) and II. SA. 201. (vom Jahre 111 v. Chr. Sp. 128.)]." (Sp. 129 = BM 34033.)

Abraham Sachs (Late Babylonian astronomical and related texts (1955)) basically states that Strassmaier's copies are very good indeed. His feeling for the technical terminology was particularly acute. It must not be forgotten that the brilliant results reached by Epping, Kugler, and Schaumberger are almost exclusively based on Strassmaier's preliminary drawings. The copies drawn by Pinches are superior to Strassmaier's in almost all respects. They are finished products executed with consummate skill and craftsmanship. His identification of the technical terminology is on occasion of a lower order than Strassmaier's but errors of this sort are outweighed by his unusual success in dealing with really difficult passages. Aside from their higher accuracy, the Pinches copies have a decided advantage over Strassmaier's because of the hundreds of joins made by Pinches. Both Pinches and Strassmaier shared the premise that the "standard" form of a sign should be copied even when the tablet exhibits a variant form. However, Strassmaier made joins for both Epping and Kugler. When Kugler published DBM his analysis of the lunar ephemeris SH 81-7-6, 272 was based on 8 fragments joined by Strassmaier.

Note: Some sources have Strassmaier making 2 draft sketches of all tablets he copied, and then making a finished sketch with annotations when decipherment was successful. Some sources simply have him making duplicate copies from his notebooks to send to Epping and then to Kugler. It is difficult to believe he would make 2 draft sketches of all tablets he copied. Likely he only made a 2nd (annotated) copy from circa 1880 inwards after securing Epping's assistance.

The Tablet, Saturday, 29th October 1887, Page 691 (Reviews by Reginald Pole): "The new edition of the Babylonian texts of Nabouidus, by Father Strassmeier, S.J., receives a handsome eulogy on the part of the reviewer, who gives him the palm for accuracy above all his contemporary Assyriologists."

Part 8: Strassmaier's Approach To Copying Texts

Strassmaier's approach to copying texts (1)

Most of the cuneiform texts copied (and published) by Strassmaier belonged to the Neo-Babylonian (626-539 BCE) and Achaemanian (550-330 BCE) periods. Further, Strassmaier limited himself to copying a well defined group of texts. These were commercial texts comprising the archive of the Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar. It is believed that Strassmaier undoubtedly realised the value of a detailed study of a coherent group of evidence.

Strassmaier's approach to copying texts (2)

An example of fluidity in Strassmaier's copying. Source: Miscellaneous Assyrian Texts of the British Museum with Textual Notes by Samuel Smith (1887). Textual Notes, K 2866, Pages 8-9.

Copying eccentricity

Strassmaier (like Henry Rawlinson before him) used the "topographic" Neo-Assyrian signs, even though no known Neo-Babylonian inscription is written in Neo-Assyrian. (Sign shapes were standardised in the Neo-Babylonian period.)

Part 9: Copied And Published Texts

Early publications on Babylonian contract texts

Strassmaier's early articles were about Babylonian contracts. Strassmaier, Johann. (1884). "Fünf babylonische Verträge aus der Zeit von Nebukadnezzar." [Five Babylonian contracts dating from the time of Nebuchadnezzar] (Zeitschrift fur Keilschriftforschung, Band 1, April, Pages 87-95). This brief article comprises copies of autographs, transliterations, and descriptions. It would be interesting to know where he was at the time he wrote the article - Blijenbeck in Holland or back in London (or at Ditton Hall). Strassmaier went to Blijenbeck in 1881 and remained there until sometime in 1884 (or perhaps 1883?). His 1887 article was also about Babylonian contracts.

Source: New Zealand Tablet, Friday, October 4, 1889, Volume XVII, Issue 24, Page 29. It is interesting to see that with the Jesuit presence at Portico (Rainhill) and Ditton Hall (Widnes), Strassmaier's name was well known in Lancashire.

The so-called Warka texts.

According to Manuel Molina (Page 19), "The Corpus of Neo-Sumerian Tablets: An Overview." in: The Growth of an Early State in Mesopotamia edited by Justin Cale et al. (2008), in 1882 Strassmaier published the first text dated to the Neo-Sumerian period. This is a reference to: J. N. Strassmaier, "Die altbabylonischen Vertrage aus Warka." (Beilage of Verhandlungen des V. Orientalisten-Congresses zu Berlin (Zweiter Theil, Erste Hälfte, Pages 315-364 and 144 Tafeln [There are actually 42 plates.] (1882)). (Also referenced as: Strassmaier, J. N. "Die altbabylonische Verträge aus Warka." (5 Kongress, Zweiter Theil, Erste Hälfte, Warka, 1882, Pages 315-364.) However, there is a mistake here in Molina's understanding. Strassmaier was basically publishing Neo-Babylonian texts. The Warka texts so-called - the first texts that Strassmaier copied and published - were actually Old Babylonian period texts, which through some error he believed came from Warka, though they were actually found at Tall Sifr, the ancient Kutalla. (See: A Dictionary of the Bible: Volume V. Supplement - Articles edited by James Hastings (1898, Page 586.) They were found by W. Loftus in 1854 during a sounding at Tell Sifr (14 km east of Larsa), the site of the small town whose ancient name was Kutalla. (Sounding = A deep test pit excavated down through an archaeological sequence into the underlying natural strata in order to provide a preview of the deposits. Archaeological sounding is performed whenever the necessity to determine the scope of the archaeological site occurs.)

See: Archives familiales et propriété privée en Babylonie ancienne : Etude des Documents de "Tell Sifr." by Charpin Dominique (1980). Also, the (English-language) book review by Johannes Renger in Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 105, Number 2, April-June, 1985, Pages 331-334. Renger writes (Page 332): "Incidentally, the corpus treated by Charpin comprises the first group of Old Babylonian legal texts ever published (Editio princeps = J. N. Strassmaier, Die altbabylonischen Verträge aus Warka, 1881, erroneously attributed to Warka, a fact which was corrected in the re-edition by C. F. Jean, Tell Sifr, 1931)."

Regardless of the misidentification of the origin of the tablets Strassmaier gave the lithographed text of 109 tablets. Strassmaier made many important observations upon their character and style, and gave a valuable list of words and names. The texts were arranged according to the reigns of the kings mentioned (i.e., by the date of the tablet). As was to be expected from his early pioneering attempt, both his readings of the texts and his transcriptions from them are able to be improved upon.

Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter

Strassmaier began more voluminous work with the publication of a serviceable list of Assyrian words in his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss, 6 Bände 1882 to 1886. (Strassmaier's publication of a serviceable list of Assyrian words was eclipsed by greater service later in the decade, the start of publication of more than 3000 Babylonian tablets relating to the private and social life of the people. This important class of records had hitherto received scant attention.) The completed single volume publication of these words appeared in 1886. (In 1886 Strassmaier published in 1 volume an alphabetic list of Assyrian and Akkadian words. Strassmaier's AV contained no meanings, simply copious examples of contexts in which the words occurred. AV by Strassmaier is recognised as an overall excellent work.) This publication was eclipsed by his Babylonische Texte (1889-1897).

"Ich hoffe durch diese Publication das Studium der Keilschriften wesentlich au fördern, und deshalb habe ich auch keine Mühe gescheut alle darin behandelten Texte selbständig von dem Originalien in London und Paris zu copiren und mit möglichster palæographischer Genauigkeit au reproduciren." (Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide. (1884, Page 59).) Here Strassmaier writes of: (1) His strong hope to promote through this publication the study of cuneiform writing. (2) His unsparing efforts to ensure the greatest possible accuracy with the reproduction of the texts he has copied. (3) His original research conducted both in London and Paris to copy texts. (4) His independent treatment of all texts appearing in Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss.

The book was lithographed from Strassmaier's own clear and distinct handwriting.

In discussing the work a journal editor wrote: "... the appearance of Dr. Strassmaier's "Verzeichniss" marks an era in the history of Assyrian lexicography - inasmuch as all future dictionaries must be based upon this work ...." (The Expositor, Third Series, Volume IV, "Recent Egyptian and Assyrian Literature." by E (= Editor, W. Robertson Nicoll), Pages 232-240, Page 235.) Strassmaier ignored the reviewer's proposal that Strassmaier compile a small vocabulary of 1000 or 1,500 words focused on the meanings of all the words which appear in the historical and other more important inscriptions. Strassmaier was not interested in making guesses at the meanings of words, however, he had expert knowledge of the meaning of numerous words (though he did make mistakes).

Strassmaier's AV was a work requiring years of careful and tedious copying and collating. Strassmaier's AV was prepared in Blijenbeck (1880/1881-1883), Ditton Hall (1883(-1884?)), and eventually completed in London (1884-circa 1886). Strassmaier remarks in the Vorwort that the completion was partly delayed by the tedious autographing and partly delayed by other distractions (presumably by the work on astronomical tablets with Joseph Epping).

Strassmaier collected all the words in the 2nd volume of Rawlinson's Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia (1866), and added to these 100s of additional words from unpublished texts in the British Museum. The completed publication of these words appeared in 1886 in Alphabetisches Verzeichniss. Strassmaier called his work a Verzeichniss ('List'), not a dictionary. The list contains 9,072 words, together with a glossary of 1,586 words and names, which occur in the copies of Liverpool collection of contract tablets which Strassmaier published in the Transactions of the Oriental Congress held in Leiden in 1883. Several passages at least are quoted from the cuneiform inscriptions/texts where each word occurs, so that it is possible to attempt to judge if a meaning proposed suits more than one context and makes sense.

The meanings of the words are not given (hence the publication of a 'list,' not a 'dictionary'). Instead, the book contains quotations from cuneiform texts, showing the context in which the word is used. The meanings of words could be decided from the passages (i.e., context). As an appendix to this volume, Strassmaier published a transliterated Worterverzeichniss zu den Babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool, 66 pages.

Interestingly, John Peters (writing in the journal Hebraica, May 1883) thought it was to be a dictionary or glossary (an alphabetical list of words with definitions/explanations; a brief dictionary) to volumes II and IV of Rawlinson's Inscriptions. However, following a letter from Strassmaier, he published a correction the following month. (See: The Hebrew Student, Volume 2, Number 10, June, 1883, Page 320.)

Source: Woodstock Letters, Volume XV, Number 3, 1 November 1886. Pages 343-344. The date for Strassmaier beginning copying work at the British Museum is approximate. Strassmaier began copying work years earlier.

Source: "Notes From Abroad" by John Peters in The Hebrew Student, Volume 2, Number 10, June, 1883, Pages 320-322, Page 320. Note: Interesting is the indication of Strassmaier's intended further extension of the AV project, ultimately unrealised. His obvious mention of it in his letter to Peters is the only known disclosure of this intended project.

A book review of Strassmaier's AV by the Editor of The Expositor, Series 3/4, "Recent Egyptian and Assyrian Literature," Pages 237-238. Note: Read "surprised if some" at end of page 237. The reviewer identifies that AV is based upon the prior uncompleted work of the British philologist and linguist Edwin Norris (1795-1872). (Assyrian Dictionary: intended to further the study of the cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria and Babylonia (3 Parts, 1868–1872). Contains A-Nst; no further parts published).) A smaller version of AV which included established definitions of words was never contemplated by Strassmaier.

Strassmaier believed the niceties of the language, the proper significance of the words, could be better determined only after a reasonable amount of literature was published and deciphered, rather than when all that was published in the late 19th-century comprised only a small portion of the British Museum archives.

Strassmaier's Alphabetisches Verzeichniss appeared as Volume 4 of the series Assyriologische Bibliothek, herausgegeben von Friedrich Delitzsch und Paul Haupt. (It is indicated that originally it was intended to be published as part of the Transactions of the Oriental Congress, but was too bulky.) Reginald Thompson (reviewing James Craig's Astrological-Astronomical Texts) in the American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures (1901, Page 107) wrote: "The first truly original contribution to the series was the Alphabetische (sic) Verzeichniss of Assyrian and Akkadian words by Rev. Dr. Strassmaier, which appeared in 1886, and it is only too much to be regretted that the example set by this indefatigable scholar was not followed by the authors and editors of subsequent parts of the series." The first fascicle appeared in 1884 and the final fascicle appeared in 1886. It has 9072 entries of Akkadian [and Assyrian] words or phrases, followed by the cuneiform sentences in which those words or phrases appeared, and, at least in the early parts of the book, followed by transliteration of the cuneiform sentences. This is ideal for learning to read cuneiform. However, nothing is in a modern language and it could only have been used as a concordance by an already competent person. It was not a work for a beginner. The words and phrases are organised according to their order in the Hebrew alphabet, which was the standard dictionary practice at the time. It has only Akkadian words, no Sumerian. The University of Pennsylvania did not begin excavating Sumerian Nippur until 1888.

The Jesuit astronomer Aloysius Cortie (1859-1925) wrote ("Babylonian Astronomy" (The Month, Volume LXXIV, 1892, Page 529)): "He [Strassmaier] has published too the most trustworthy vocabulary of Assyrian [and Akkadian] words, containing 9,072 entries arranged alphabetically, transliterated for the sake of pronunciation, with added synonyms, and illustrative Assyrian texts quoted chronologically, a truly monumental work." Strassmaier notes uncertain readings.

When Strassmaier began copying at the British Museum in 1878 the study of cuneiform was in its infancy. Strassmaier's Alphabetisches Verzeichniss was a detailed syllabary written, no doubt to consolidate his own knowledge and also to assist others to accurately read, transliterate, and translate cuneiform texts. At the time Strassmaier began publication of his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss (which gave extracts from tablets i.e., letters) in 1882 he had published very few complete texts. Sometimes complete texts were included in the Alphabetisches Verzeichniss. Included in AV was the publication of material from letters which were, at that time, unpublished. Strassmaier's AV contains much material from the Letters comprising the Rassam 2 collection, many of which were, at the time, unpublished. Some Letters were published in full and many others were published in part. The letter of the Babylonian king Šamaš-šum-ukîn to his brother Sardanapalus, British Museum catalogue number 80, 7-19, 17 was first pushed, in 1886, by Strassmaier in his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss, Number 6702. (See "A Letter of Šamaš-Šum-Ukîn to his Brother Sardanapalus." by Christopher Johnston (Transactions of the Ninth International Congress of Orientalists, Volume II).) All of the cuneiform texts printed in AV were not indexed.

As an appendix to AV, Strassmaier published a transliterated Wörterverzeichniss zu den Babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool (1886, 66 pages).

During 1881 to 1884 (correctly 1883) Strassmaier was at Blijenbeeck Castle (a Jesuit college in Holland) working on his massive Alphabetisches Verzeichniss. The English translation of full German title is: Alphabetic list of the Assyrian and Akkadian words in the second volume of the Cuneiform Inscriptions with additions and corrections. Prior to preparing this publication Strassmaier spent 2 years copying and collating Assyrian and Akkadian tablets in the British Museum. Alphabetisches Verzeichniss (6 Parts, 1882-1886) is based on the vocabularies published in the second volume of Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia (1866). This particular work contains errors, but at the time of publication was considered to be the most trustworthy vocabulary of Assyrian words. Strassmaier corrected many errors in previously published texts, but did not highlight the fact. He left it for the reader to find this out. Some Babylonian astronomical and astrological texts (and texts containing astronomical references) were included in the second volume of Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia. This may have initiated Strassmaier's interest in such. Alphabetisches Verzeichniss contains 9,072 entries (and includes both Assyrian and Akkadian words). Also, some 60,000 quotations are stated to be given. It was considered a thorough-going work, but also merely a dictionary comprising a limited vocabulary. Strassmaier rarely gave definitions. Deemed to have value rather as a concordance than as a lexicon. The compilation was a logogram collection in the pioneer tradition. The entries were alphabetically arranged, transliterated to assist pronunciation, synonyms included, and illustrative Assyrian texts quoted chronologically. The meanings of words are not given. Strassmaier's Alphabetisches Verzeichniss did not contain any translations of words. Strassmaier copied the texts of 51 tablets obtained by Shemtob, prior to their sale to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He cited 35 of these tablets in Alphabetisches Verzeichniss as "N.Y." followed by the number found in the Shemtob list. As an appendix to the volume Strassmaier published a contribution to the Proceedings of the American Oriental Society, 1889.

The collection of 51 tablets and 2 cylinders was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum on 1879 (not 1878). (Indicated as purchased from the British Museum who had obtained them from Shemtob. But perhaps the British Museum only obtained records of the sale.) Pinches also made copies of 50 texts (texts number 1-40, 42-51). He made no copy of Shemtob number 43. Albert Clay in America made further copies. The location of Shemtob tablet number 43 is presently unknown. The location of several other tablets from this 'Shemtob collection' are also presently unknown. The tablets may have been acquired by another American institution. (See: Cuneiform Texts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Private archive texts from the first millennium B.C. edited by Ira Spar, Eva Von Dassow, Wilfred G. Lambert (1988, Introduction).)

Some astronomical and astrological material appeared in Strassmaier's AV, as did some mythological material. (The astrological material is not to be confused with horoscopes. The first cuneiform horoscope discovered was published in 1888 by Epping and Strassmaier. In 1924 Kugler published another example of the genre. In 1927 Thompson (at the British Museum) published a 3rd horoscope. After this there was a long hiatus until the work of Sachs at Brown University in 1952.)

Source: "The Role of Egypt in the Development of the Horoscope." by Dorian Greenbaum and Micah Ross. In: Egypt in Transition edited by Ladislave Bareš, et al. (2010). (Pages 146-182; Pages 146-147).

Reviews of Alphabetisches Verzeichniss appeared in the Expositer, September, 1886, and Deutsche Literaturzeitung, November 6, 1886.One reviewer wrote the chief value of the work is the copious extracts it contains from Assyrian texts either published or collated anew by the compiler. A perceived drawback is the work includes both Akkadian and Assyrian words in one alphabet. "Pater Strassmaier has done a great service to Letter [sic, Letters], as well as to other Assyrian, literature, in his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss der Assyrischen und Akkadischen Worter, etc. (1886). This work contains much material from the Letters, chiefly from those Letters which were, at that time, unpublished. Some letters are published in full, e. g. K. 280 on p. 813sq. Many others are published in part." (Page 3: The Letters of the Rm 2 Collection in the British Museum: With Transliteration, Notes and Glossary by George Berry (1896). Reprinted from Hebraica, Volume XI, Numbers 3 and 4; 30 pages. Originally a PhD dissertation, University of Chicago.)

Source: Book Review by Christopher Johnston of Delitzsch's, Assyrisches Handworterbuch (The American Journal of Philology, Volume 17, Number 4, 1896, Pages 485-491; Page 485).

Source: "Review," The Babylonian and Oriental Record, Volume I, Number 9, July, Pages 191-192

Brünnow's scholarly work did not begin to appear until 1887. It is considered that in the late 19th-century the most careful and precise work was the logogram collection published by R. E. Brünnow, A Classified List of All Simple and Compound Cuneiform Ideographs (1887-1889), and presented the final form for all subsequent logogram compilations.

Vocabularium sumericum ad textus archaicos vdl: historicos et alios quosdam, qui administrationem templorum potissimum et pelatiorum principum spectant, ad usum privatum auditorum by Anton Deimel (1910) is perhaps inspired by Strassmaier's Alphabetisches Verzeichniss.

Part 10: Publication Of Texts

Strassmaier limited himself to a well-defined group of texts. These were the business texts recovered from the Esagila temple; the main temple in Babylon.

All the contract tablets of one period were published in autography by Strassmaier in the Transactions of the Congress of Orientalists held at Berlin; his autograph copies give a fair idea of the originals. When one knows how difficult these are to read it is mot surprising to find some mistakes.

Babylonische Texte

Note: The British Museum did not begin to systematically publish cuneiform texts in their collections until 1896 (Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets, etc., in the British Museum). A decade earlier, Strassmaier had begin to publish (mostly) commercial/contract texts that were of benefit to an estimated audience of some 2000 scholars. In 1923 there would appear the Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Inscriptions, an important series of texts, edited under the direction of Stephen Langdon. The series involved tablets held by Oxford University.

Babylonische Texte (1889-1897) was a project that involved the publication of more than 3000 Babylonian tablets/texts relating to the private and social life of people. This important class of records had previously received little attention. At the meeting of the Oriental Congress in Vienna in September 1886, Strassmaier announced his intention to publish copies of the more than 900 texts/tablets of the Nabonidos period that he had found/identified in the tablets excavated by Smith and Rassam.

Strassmaier copied and published over 3000 cuneiform tablets. Typography was not used. Strassmaier's drawings were never printed in type. His autographs were reproduced. Strassmaier's texts were published without note or comment, but with interesting prefaces (that included comments on the current state of assyriology) and an index of proper names. The British Museum publications in Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia by Rawlinson, etc., and the later series of Cuneiform Inscriptions from Babylonian Tablets by Pinches and King, were also issued without note or comment. (Henry Rawlinson published texts in his volumes comprising his standard collection of cuneiform inscriptions.)

Strassmaier's first publication of autographed texts was published in the Verhandlungen des V Internationalen Orientalistischen Congresses zu Berlin (1881), and then published separately in Berlin as Die altbabylonischen Verträge aus Warka (1882). The texts were found by W. K. Loftus (1854) during a sounding at Tell Sifr (14 kilometres east of Larsa), the site of a small town whose ancient name was Kutalla. The texts were later erroneously attributed to Warka. See: Johannes Renger, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 105, Number 2, April-June, 1985), (Review of Books) Pages. 331-334. (Note: The assyriologist Robert Biggs states: "Soundings are normally excavations of brief length, limited objectives, and a smaller staff than required for full expeditions.")

Claude Johns (Assyrian Deeds and Documents, 4 Volumes, 1898-1923; Volume 1) states: "The historical value of the events used in dating these tablets was recognized by G. Smith, who published the dates of a number of the Loftus tablets, in the fourth volume of the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, p. 36. The earliest publication of the texts was by Pater J. N. Strassmaier in the Verhandlungen des V Internationalen Orientalistischen Congresses zu Berlin, 1881. In the Beilage he gave the lithographed text of one hundred and nine tablets under the title of Die altbabylonischen Verträge aus Warka. He made many important observations upon their character and style, and gave a valuable list of words and names. As was to be expected from a first attempt, both his readings of the texts and his transcriptions from them leave room for some improvement. He arranged his texts according to the reigns of the kings mentioned."

A corpus of Babylonian contracts, or legal deeds, from the time of Nabopolassar through to Darius was progressively published by Strassmaier, who made these documents for the first time available to a wide audience of scholars. Except by Strassmaier, at that period the copying and publication of commercial texts was largely ignored. The contents were consider too banal by most researchers at that time, and not worth the effort to read and understand. One assyriologist who recognised the importance of Strassmaier's efforts with these texts was Jules Oppert. (As example: Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide (1884, Page 86). Oppert recognises Strassmaier as being one of the few Assyriologists capably dealing with legal (commercial) texts. Oppert (at that time "professeur au Collége de France") is critical of a number of scholars publishing translations of these type of texts, including Theophilus Pinches.) Another issue was that early attention by researchers was focused mostly on texts with fully intact and readable signs and issues of associated fragments enabling completeness were largely ignored. The need to publish as many of these texts as possible was recognised by Strassmaier as the only way to resolve difficulties.

The large collection of texts published by Strassmaier, as Inscriptions of Nabonidus, Nabuchodonosor, etc., (= Babylonische Texte (1889-1897)) are a mine of information for the commercial and social conditions in Babylonia after the fall of the Assyrian Empire. They mostly comprise private contracts, and, except in a very few cases, have no direct connection with the kings. They are simply dated in their reigns. Strassmaier published these texts without notes or comments (but each book of texts had an Introduction). The decipherment of Strasmaier's texts in Inschriften von Nabonidus (1889) was begun by the assyriologist Julius Oppert. There were a class of (temple) scribes who specialised in writing out business (economic) documents (contract tablets/administrative records) for the daily business of the temple.

Strassmaier's Babylonische Texte (1889-1897) consists mostly of his autographs of tablets comprising the archive of the Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar. These were largely commercial (contract literature/economic) texts. Temples were the centre of the economy. (A great majority of known Babylonian business documents deal with temples’ activities, notably of Ebabbar at Sippar and Eanna at Uruk.) The tablets had been excavated, for the British Museum, by Hormuzd Rassam during the last quarter of the 19th-century. See: "The Bristish (sic) Museum 'Sippar' Collection: Babylonia 1882-1893." by G. van Driel. (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie. Volume 79, Issue 1, November, 2009, Pages 102–117). Also, the book review by Paul. Beaulieu (Journal of Near Eastern Studies, July 1, 2004(2003?)): The Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar: Its Administration and Its Prosopography by A. C. V. M. Bongenaar (1997): "More than 35,000 tablets entered the British Museum in the last quarter of the nineteenth century under the general designation of the "Abu Habba Collection." Most of them came from Hormuzd Rassam's excavations at Sippar and make up the remnants of the Neo-Babylonian archive of the Ebabbar temple (seventh to early fifth centuries), together with a number of smaller private archives stored in the temple or found in private houses. A number of these texts also came from Rassam's excavations at other sites in Babylonia. Not too long after their acquisition, thousands of these texts were published, mostly by J. N. Strassmaier, in the multi-volume work Babylonische Texte, which appeared in fascicles between 1887 and 1892; many more have been published since in various journals and volumes. Yet in spite of their obvious importance--this is one of the largest surviving archives from the ancient world--these texts have been largely ignored by Assyriologists throughout the twentieth century. This pattern has now suddenly been reversed by the appearance of three works stemming from doctoral dissertations devoted to this archive: J. MacGinnis's Letter Orders from Sippar and the Administration of the Ebabbara during the Late-Babylonian Period (Poznan, 1995); M. Jursa, Die Landwirtschaft in Sippar in neubabylonischer Zeit, AfO Beiheft 25 (Vienna, 1995); and Bongenaar's study reviewed here." (From book review by Paul-Alain Beaulieu of The Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar: Its Administration and Its Prosopography by A. C. V. M. Bongenaar (1997), in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, July 1, 2004.) See also the Catalogue of Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum, Volume 8. (Book review in The Journal of the American Oriental Society, October 1, 1994. "...excavated by Hormuzd Rassam at Sippar from 1882 to 1895 or acquired...from Tell ed-Der located near Sippar. The principles of description...documents from the archives of the Ebabbar temple at Sippar. A few texts come from Babylon...")

Extract from book review by Paul-Alain Beaulieu in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Volume 63, Number 3, July, 2004, Pages 214-216. Note: The exact number of tablets was unknown and only estimated. The figure was sometimes given as over 40,000.

New Zealand Tablet, Volume VXII, Issue 24, 4 October, 1889, Page 29. "... among the treasures of the British Museum there are some forty thousand inscribed tablets from Babylon and other cities of Chaldea, which are related to commercial, fiscal and other affairs transacted in the cities of the empire. These cover a period from the time of the fall of Nineveh and the succession of Nabupalassar [Nabopolassar], in B.C. 625, until the time of the conquest of Babylon by Alexander the Great."

There seems to be some confusion on the number of texts published by Strassmaier. One source (after the death of Strassmaier) states: "Pater J. N. Strassmaier has given some one thousand six hundred in his Babylonische Texte." Certainly Strassmaier's Babylonische Texte was stated to be a "great collection." According to Claude Johns (Assyrian Deeds and Documents, 4 Volumes; Volume 1, Page 159):

Strassmaier published 1134 texts in Babylonische Texte, Heft I.-IV. Inschriften von Nabonidus, König von Babylon (555-538 v. Chr.) von den Thontafeln des Britischen Museums copirt und autographirt. Note: Many of the documents in this volume are not strictly contracts but inventories (lists of objects) and business memoranda, and what can be called notes (i.e., regarding donated votive offerings).

Strassmaier published 460 texts in Babylonische Texte, Hefts V.-VI. Inschriften von Nabuchodonosor, König von Babylon (604-651 v. Chr.) von den Thontafeln des Britischen Museums copirt und autographirt.

Strassmaier published 384 texts in Babylonische Texte, Heft VII. Inschriften von Cyrus, König von Babylon (538-529 v. Chr.) von den Thontafeln des Britischen Museums copirt und autographirt.

Strassmaier published 441 texts in Babylonische Texte, Heft VIII.-IX. Inschriften von Cambyses, König von Babylon (529-521 v. Chr.) von den Thontafeln des Britischen Museums copirt und autographirt., but in these no distinction is made between the reigns of Cambyses and Cyrus, Cambyses alone, Cyrus alone.

Strassmaier published 579 texts in Babylonische Texte, Heft X.-XII. Inschriften von Darius, König von Babylon (521-485 v. Chr.) von den Thontafeln des Britischen Museums copirt und autographirt.

Strassmaier's volumous work on Babylonian texts furnished a vast amount of material for the lexicographer. (The chief object of study in lexicography is the compiling of dictionaries.) Strassmaier's texts were all Babylonian. In 1898 C. H. W. Johns published a volume containing 716 Assyrian "contracts."

Most of these (Akkadian) texts are from temple or private archives. For the most part they are business texts/commercial transactions, requesting a payment to be made or for some object to be sent on. Strassmaier arranged the texts in his publications by the date of the tablet. Most of the tablets published by Strassmaier in Babylonische Texte, are without the benefit of the improved system of registration numbers only later implemented by the British Museum. (Naturally excluded from the above are the texts Strassmaier also published in the various journals and the Transactions of the Oriental Congress.)

Strassmaier's Babylonische Texte (1889-1897) consists mostly of his autographs of tablets comprising the archive of the Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar. These were largely commercial (contract literature/economic) texts. (Strassmaier was committed to copying tablets regardless of how mundane the contents were.) However, copies of commercial texts from the Egibi archive in Babylon (unearthed by Hormuzd Rassam) were published by Strassmaier in his Babylonische Texte. The commercial dealings of the Egibi family can be followed for 100 years. Approximately 1700 tablets from the Neo-Babylonian private archive of the Babylonian Egibi family are known today. Some may be found in Strassmaier's Babylonische Texte, among the contracts. Copies of the Egibi business texts appear alongside texts from other business families and Neo-Babylonian temples.

Almost all of the texts in the Strassmaier Babylonische Texte series that are not from Sippar come from Babylon and Borsippa. The great majority are business documents belonging to the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods; and of these the majority again are of a private nature. At the same time there are quite a number that deal with the commercial affairs and transactions of the temples in Babylon and Borsippa. There is no accurate information regarding exactly where in the mounds the illicit Arab diggers obtained the Babylon and Borsippa tablets. The question cannot be answered whether they all emanate from the temple of Marduk at Babylon and that of Nebo at Borsippa respectively, or whether they come from private archives in these places kept by large business firms.

The Preface for these particular volumes is in German.

Book review by S. Alden Smith in The Babylonian and Oriental Record, Volume 1, Number XI, 1887, Pages 191-192, of Babylonische Texte by J. N. Strassmaier.

Claude Johns (Assyrian Deeds and Documents, 4 Volumes, 1898-1923; Volume 1) states: "One of the most interesting and instructive methods of dealing with a large collection of documents is to group together the transactions, distributed over a number of years, of one man, or of a single family. This method has often been adopted and makes most fascinating reading. Thus, M. V[ictor]. Revillout, in the appendix to M. E[ugène]. Revillout's lectures entitled Les obligations en droit egyptien, under the title of Une famille des commerçants, discussed the interrelations of a large number of tablets published by Strassmaier. (Commercial tablets from Tell es-Sinkara/Larsa (modern day Iraq) were published by Strassmaier.) These had a special connection, being found, and practically kept, together. They are concerned chiefly with the business transactions of three persons and their descendants. The three men do not seem to have been related, but to have become partners. The first transaction in which they are concerned is an equitable division of property which they had held in common. They and their descendants lived side by side in Larsa and gradually extended their possessions on every side. They were neighbors to two wealthy landowners from whom and from whose descendants they gradually acquired lands and houses. Especially did two brothers, sons of one of the original three, buy up, piece by piece, almost all the property of these two neighboring families. Further, in acquiring a piece of land, they seem to have come into possession of the deeds of sale, or leases, of that plot, which had been executed by previous owners. Thus, we can, in some cases, follow the history of a plot of land during several reigns. Such a collection of documents probably did not come from the public archives, but from the muniment-chest of a private family, or of a firm of traders. That duplicates of some of these tablets should have been found in other collections, points either to the collections having been purchased from native dealers, who put together tablets from all sources, or to the duplicates having been deposited in public archives, as a kind of registration of title."

Claude Johns (Assyrian Deeds and Documents, 4 Volumes, 1898-1923; Volume 2) states: "The vast collection of texts published by Strassmaier, as Inscriptions of Nabonidus, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius, Cambyses, etc., are an almost inexhaustible mine of information as to the commercial and social conditions in Babylonia after the fall of the Assyrian Empire. They are chiefly private contracts, and have no further connection with those kings than that they are dated in their reigns. They are arranged chronologically, and by that arrangement certain historical purposes are served. As the various monographs which have been based upon them amply shew, the elucidation of their contents is best served by grouping together the similar texts. They all came practically from the same district, a small area about Babylon. They record transactions between private persons, even though in some cases of exalted rank. Few can be directly associated with the Court or palace ; though the wedding to the high-priest of Nabu of a daughter of Neriglissar's and the well-known references to Belshazzar son of Nabonidus are exceptions." Claude Johns also notes that many of the documents in Strassmaier's, Inscriptions of Nabonidus were not really contracts; rather they were 'lists of objects' and 'memoranda.' Strassmaier's texts were published without note or comment, but each book of published texts included prefaces and an index of proper names.

Of the publications of texts of business documents, the most important were those published by Strassmaier. It was an early example of an archival approach in investigating a coherent group of texts. The publication by Strassmaier of his multi-volume Babylonische Texte enabled a renewed impetus to be given to the study of the legal and commercial documents of Babylonia. Among the scholars who made use of Strassmaier's copies of these largely economic texts were Felix Peiser (1862-1921), Julius Oppert (1825-1905), and Josef Kohler (1849-1919). Oppert published numerous articles articles that used Strassmaier's texts as his basis and elucidated their contents. Tallqvist published a discussion of several contract texts in his Babylonische Schenkungsbriefe (1891), which also contained an invaluable introduction and glossary to the contract texts published by Strassmaier. Further, Zehnpfund, Demuth, and Ziemer discussed a large number of Strassmaier's texts.

Strassmaier arranged the texts in his publications by the date of the tablet. His publication of tablets comprise serially ordered texts.

At the end of this text-publication project (for Nabonidus inscriptions (at least) or the complete volumes of copied texts) Strassmaier intended to give in transcription a Wörterverzeichniss to the whole work. Unfortunately this was never done.

Note: To enable a comparison between Strassmaier's copying skill and that of another (later) copyist see the critical (English-language) book review of Craig's Astrological-Astronomical Texts, by Reginald Thompson in The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Volume 17, Number 2, January, 1901, Pages 107-115.

Many of the commercial documents published by Strassmaier had important for chronology. Strassmaier was the original publisher of BM 75396 (an important contract document dated to the reign of king Darius). It was originally published by Strassmaier in 1889 (Actes die 8e congrès).

2764 dated (mostly commercial) documents were published by Strassmaier.

Contract documents

Strassmaier had resolved to copy documents no matter how apparently mundane their contents were. His focus was on so-called contract documents (= legal and commercial documents). This class of documents was being ignored. Writing in 1881, Theophilus Pinches stated that contract tablets were thought unworthy of any trouble bestowed upon them.

Source: Jastrow, Junior., Morris. (1894). "A Legal Document of Babylonia." (Oriental Studies, A Selection of Papers Read Before The Oriental Club of Philadelphia 1888-1894, Pages 116-136; Pages 116-118).

The Neo-Babylonian business documents (or so-called contract-literature) extend over a period of time from Sennacherib (the king of Assyria from 705 BCE to 681 BCE) down to the latest period of cuneiform writing. Before Sennacherib there is a large gap in in Babylonian contract-literature. No clay tablets have been found belonging to the time between Kaštiliaš II (circa 1250 BCE) and Sennacherib (705-681 BCE). The earliest dated business document of the Sennacherib period is dated 681 BCE and was published in the journal Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmüler (1907?). The latest business document is dated 80 BCE and was published by Strassmaier in ZA, Band III, Page 147.

Julius Oppert was the first assyriologist to study Neo-Babylonian business document (1877). Only a small number of texts were available to him. The first publication of a large collection of business documents was undertaken by Strassmaier. In 1885 edited 181 documents of the Neo-Babylonian period. The greater part of this collection was re-edited by Strassmaier in his elaborate series (published 1887-1897) in which he published approximately 3000 Neo-Babylonian business documents. Later, the German assyriologist Felix Peiser published (1889 and 1890) similar texts in the Berlin Museum. Peiser laid out the foundation for the interpretation of Neo-Babylonian business documents. In addition to the autograph copies, he published a complete transliteration and translation a well as a commentary to the texts. Additional business documents have continued to be excavated and published by scholars.

For a succinct early (pioneering) history of the study of Neo-Babylonian commercial documents see: Selected Business Documents of the Neo-Babylonian Period by Arthur Ungnad (1908).

Babylonian calendar

The researches of Epping and Strassmaier led to a new understanding of (late) Babylonian astronomy but also contributed to calendarography. Their work enabled Eduard Mahler to establish an accurate understanding of the Babylonian calendar. Mahler started from the foundations established on the one side by Joseph Epping and on the other side by the school of chronology of the Austrian astronomer Theodor von Oppolzer (1841-1886).

Part 11: Tablet Joins, Text Transcriptions

Tablet joins made by Strassmaier

At least one source states that Strassmaier only sent Epping and Kugler drawings of larger tablets; he never bothered to send drawings of the smaller fragments of tablets i.e., joins. This is indicated as incorrect.

Strassmaier made few joins of fragmented tablets. However, he did make joins for both Epping and Kugler. Example: Strassmaier joined 8 different fragments belonging to the lunar ephemeris (New Moon tablet) number SH 81-7-6, 272 (272 (81-7-6)) for Kugler. Previously, Strassmaier had joined only 2 fragments belonging to 81-7-6 for Epping. When Kugler published DBM his analysis of the lunar ephemeris SH 81-7-6, 272 was based on 8 fragments joined by Strassmaier. (Strassmaier did the drawings and the transcription of the text.)

Source: "Babylonian Astronomy 1880-1950: The Players and the Field." by Teije de Jong. In: A Mathematician's Journey edited by Alexander Jones, et al. (1926). Page 289. Strassmaier began autographing relevant fragments in 1879 and made 8 successive joins of 8 different fragments belonging to this particular lunar ephemeris, to aid Epping and Kugler. Obverse is at top and Reverse is at bottom. Over 100 years later 4 more fragments were added. It can be considered as completely restored. Establishing joins requires giving close attention to shape, writing, colour, etc. The fact that ephemerides are based on columns of computed numbers also enables matching of fragments through arithmetical connection (numerical continuation). Specific details for the rejoined tablet: BM 34580+42690, a lunar ephemeris from Babylon calculated using 'System B.' The tablet covers the years 208-210 of the Seleucid Era (104/103-102/101 BCE).

*     *     *

Example of copy of text and transcription by Strassmaier, published in Actes du Huitième Congrès International des Orientalistes. [1889 meeting. Actes du huitième Congrès international des orientalistes tenu en 1889 à Stockholm et à Christiania] Deuxième Partie (1893): "Einige kleinere babylonische Keilschrifttexte aus dem Britischen Museum." von J. N. Strassmaier S. J. Mit autographirter Beilage. (Pages 279-283 + 35 Plates).

Strassmaier rarely made transcriptions

It was not usual for Strassmaier to make transcriptions of published texts. To do this would have slowed his rate of copying tablets. He did make transcriptions and translations for both Epping and Kugler. In his early journal articles he made transcriptions of texts. As example: In his article "Fünf babylonische Verträge aus der Zeit von Nebukadnezzar." (Zeitschrift für Keilschriftforschung und Verwandte Gebiete, Erster Band, 1884, Pages 87-95), the main content of the 5 texts (copied in 1876 and 1878) is given plus the transcriptions of each of the texts. Strassmaier also made transcriptions and translations for his presentation on contract texts at the 1881 congress of orientalists in Berlin.

Even after giving the correct transliteration, Strassmaier sometimes had problems giving the right connection of words and interpretation. (See page 16: The Letters of the Rm 2 Collection in the British Museum: With Transliteration, Notes and Glossary by George Berry (1896). Also, for examples and discussions of erroneous philological arguments by Strassmaier see: Hurrians and Subarians by Ignace Gelb (1944).

An example of Strassmaier's erroneous philological arguments. Source: Hurrians and Subarians by Ignace Gelb (1944, Page 98).

An example of Strassmaier making an error in attempting to understand a cuneiform term. Source: Analecta Orientalia 26, Volume 2, Number 4, 1948, Page 38.

For a few examples of incorrect transliterations by Stassmaier see: The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1891, Page 150 and Page 152.

Part 12: Identification Of Astronomical Texts

Discovery of astronomical lore in cuneiform tablets

It is stated that astrological texts were discovered in the British Museum collection in the 1870's - but the actual date for first publication is the late 1860's. It is sometimes erroneously stated that astronomical texts were discovered in the 1890's. The division needs to be made between observational texts and mathematical astronomical texts. Non-mathematical astronomical texts, and astrological texts, in the British Museum were first published in WAI II (Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, published 1866) and WAI III (published 1870). WAI II can be deemed the earliest work on Babylonian astronomy. The astronomy and astrology of the Babylonians first became available with the publication of original cuneiform sources (mostly to do with celestial divination) in the 2nd and especially 3rd volumes of WAI. They were from the excavated library of Assurbanipal at Kuyunjik In WAI III were fragments of the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil, including tablet 63 of the series (later to be known as the Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa). Also published in WAI III were approximately 30 reports and letters to the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal.

Strassmaier sensed the astronomical information would be of considerable value. The combined efforts of Strassmaier and Epping showed the Babylonians had mathematically described lunar motion. Until the dedicated efforts of Strassmaier and Epping there was nothing to indicate that Greek astronomy was anything other than than a localised Greek effort.

Strassmaier's identification of astronomical tablets

Oppert and Sayce found a few astronomical documents recovered from the library of Ashurbanipal (also spelled Assurbanipal or Ashshurbanipal), King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 668 BCE to c. 627 BCE, but they contained more astrology than astronomy, and were, moreover, too badly preserved to be of much use. Circa 1980/1981, Strassmaier also  found a few documents relative to astronomy in the Spartoli collection of the British Museum. Copies of these were taken to Blijenbeek to be examined by Father Epping. See: "Chaldean Astronomy" The Popular Science Monthly, Volume 21, 1882, Page 858-859.

Strassmaier, when exploring the large/immense collection of clay tablets collected in the British Museum quickly appreciated the importance of numerous tablets filled almost exclusively with numbers, arranged in multiple columns. He strongly suspected their content was astronomical but initially could not decipher their content. Strassmaier devoted time and efforts to translating a few, mostly commercial, tablets. He managed to transliterate and later, with the help of Epping, decipher some 50 astronomical tablets (all dated to the time of the Achaemenid dynasty). Translating tablets was not Strassmaier's focus.

The first astronomical cuneiform texts identified by Strassmaier in the Spartoli/Spatoli collection showed the Chaldeans had considerable knowledge of astronomy. They showed the Chaldeans calculated the time of the new moon, followed the courses of the planets, were acquainted with the retrograde movement of Mars, and referred the positions of the planets to those of the stars. Strassmaier copied 3 fragments in the British Museum which showed how the Babylonians established the new moon for a series of months. 2 were in the Shemtob collection and the other was in the Spartoli collection. The 3 fragments were copied by Strassmaier in 1879. However, they could not be collated later because the then assistant Theophilus Pinches could not locate them again.

Strassmaier thought that a large part of the so-called Spartoli Collection in the British Museum of Birs Nimrud (Borsippa) came from the Temple of Nebo there.

"The astronomical material in Strassmaier's notebooks cover only texts with the inventory numbers between BM 32,000 and BM 36,000. He did, however, make notes about similar texts, numbered between BM 45,000 and [BM] 47,000, which had been quoted to him by Pinches. Thus it was clear that the astronomical archive had a much greater extent than the part explored by Strassmaier." (ACT, Page xii, Reprinted 1974, 1983.)

Ephemeris for Venus

Four fragments of an ephemeris for the planet Venus were discovered by Strassmaier in 1891 in the Spartoli collection of the British Museum.

Strassmaier's first identification of astronomical tablets

The information appears uncertain. Different sources indicate different years. It is indicated that in 1881 Strassmaier first came upon what he provisionally identified as astronomical tablets. (The Month, Volume 74, 1892, Page 531.) This was the same year that Strassmaier went to Blyenbeck to work on his AV.

In 1879 (the date is also given as 1876) a collection of cuneiform tablets from the Seleucid and Arsacid period, purchased from Spartali & Company in London, arrived at the British Museum. The Spartali collection in the British Museum comprised a purchase in March (the Spartali 1 collection) and another in May (the Spartali 2 collection). Many of these clay tablets had multiple columns of numbers (multiple rows of numbers) sometimes with brief words of text. Also, the astronomical tablets were distinguished from the mass of similar documents by being clearly dated in a known era, so that astronomical calculations could be resorted to for the interpretation of their contents. To Strassmaier, when he began working/copying the Spartali collection, these tables suggested an astronomical content. Similar clay tablets were also found in the Shemtob collection. The first collection of tablets from Shemtob was acquired in 1879. A second Shemtob collection of tablets arrived at the British Museum in 1881. The London-based antiquities dealer Yusuf M. Shemtob/Joseph M. Shemtob was a Baghdadi Jew from a family with other members based in Baghdad who were also dealing in antiquities. He was also a private collector of antiquities.

The question of when Strassmaier first identified and copied astronomical tablets is also subject to some inexactness. Working in particular with late Babylonian material (Seleucid era tablets or Arsacid era tablets), Strassmaier realised that it was indicated a great number of tablet fragments had astronomical content. The astronomical content was clearly evident from tablets containing columns of large amounts of numbers/calculations (large numerical tables) combined with year numbers and month names. (The statement that he also initially identified the ideograms for the zodiacal constellations and planets is likely spurious.) In his book review of the 1983 reprint of ACT, Noel Swerdlow notes: "Among the texts ... considered, many consisted of nothing but columns of numbers following recurring sequences between fixed limits." In this case there was large numerical tables but no text (or very little text). Other than this superficial identification the contents of these texts remained unknown to Strassmaier. (The (associated) technical terms were unknown to him.) In order to understand the exact nature of their contents Strassmaier chose to seek the assistance of his friend Joseph Epping. The matter is not entirely certain. It is indicated that Strassmaier had a good understanding of the different classes of astronomical texts.

The identification of the date when Strassmaier first identified observational texts and mathematical astronomical texts will likely remain somewhat uncertain. (Even though his copying dates were included on the drawing sheets this information does not seem to have been analysed. Also, some of his drawings are now lost.) Most sources generalise and state during the period 1878-1880/1881. Strassmaier perhaps had identified and started copying fragments of observational texts (late Astronomical Diary fragments) from circa 1875, when he first began copying texts. Strassmaier likely had identified mathematical astronomical texts later; circa 1880. However, Aloysius Cortie states that it was not until 1881. This would be shortly before Strassmaier left London for Blijenbeck. Cortie ("Babylonian Astronomy," The Month, Volume LXXIV, January-April, 1892, Page 531) states: "It was in 1881 that Father Strassmaier first came upon several astronomical tablets in the British Museum, which he judged would be scientifically valuable. Some of them were covered with figures, which appeared to be calculations, others again seemed to indicate celestial phenomena and luckily were dated." This would encourage the belief that he only copied astronomical tablets shortly before his 3-4 year residency at Blijenbeck; and (2) that his partnership with Epping was a late consideration. The Popular Science Monthly, Volume 21, 1882, Page 859 states: "Quite recently the Assyriologue, Father Strassmeyer, of the Society of Jesus, has found a few documents relative to astronomy in the Spartoli collection of the British Museum; and these have been carefully examined by Father Epping." (The identification of the Spartoli/Spartali collection as the initial source of Strassmaier's astronomical documents has some importance.) But: "Father Perry: "I was talking today [Friday June 14, 1889] today to a student of cuneiform inscriptions in the British Museum, the Rev. J. N. Strassmaier, S.J., and he told me he has lately found a great amount of astronomical lore in these inscriptions of a period far anterior to any Chinese records."" (See: "Meeting of Royal Astronomical Society, Friday June 14, 1889." The Observatory, Number 151, July, 1889, Page 281.) This indicates that Strassmaier had only discovered most of the Babylonian astronomical tablets after, say, at least 1885.

Strassmaier, in public correspondence, makes it clear he had come across astronomical tablets by at least 1880. See: "Beigabe zur Abhandlung von Prof. Sayce, Oxford." by J. N. Strassmaier S. J., 16 May 1885. with Postscript  by A. H. Sayce. (In: Actes du 6e Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1883 à Leide [Leyde], Part II, 1. Section Sémitique, Pages 754-756.) In the 1881 article: "Zur Entzifferung der astronomischen Tafeln der Chaldäer" coauthored with Epping, Strassmaier briefly describes the existence of numerous fragmentary pieces recording a range of astronomical observations from the Seleucid period. Strassmaier states the lists of numbers appear to apply to the computation of the heliacal risings and settings of the planets, to the calculation of the new and full moon, and some in which several names of stars occur accompanied by numbers perhaps contain observations and calculations of the motions of the planets or of lunar eclipses. Strassmaier writes that these fragments are so broken (small) that, whilst their contents are indicated, it is unlikely they would ever be able to be deciphered - they are too small for meaningful analysis. (It would appear that these tablet fragments mentioned by Strassmaier were Astronomical Diaries, mathematical/ACT texts, and normal-star almanacs.) This indicates that Strassmaier, prior to seeking Epping's assistance, had a reasonable understanding of the nature of the astronomical texts i.e., their different types and subject contents.

By way of mentioning, the temple at Esagila (Esagil/Esangila) maintained, along with commercial documents, an astronomical archive. (Esagila was the main temple in Babylon. The temple was a centre of political and economic power. The temple priests were administrators who managed the distribution of economic goods. Worth noting is the so-called creation epic, the Enuma elish is essentially a narrative of the sacred city of Babylon and the construction of its central shrine, Esagila.) The most important collection of astronomical material was kept in the temple library of Esagila in Babylon, which included the so-called Astronomical Diaries and numerous texts related to astronomy and astrology. Under Seleucid and Parthian rule Babylon became a major centre for astronomical research. (In Uruk the Resh temple held important scholarly libraries.) A lot of recovered astronomical tablets that went to the British Museum were from Esagila.

The value of Strassmaier copying astronomical texts

The 2 persons copying astronomical texts were Strassmaier and Pinches. Strassmaier's copies were used first. Strassmaier made further progress by persuading Epping to work on deciphering the astronomical texts. He made them available first to Epping and then later to Kugler. The copies by Pinches were not able to be used until the 1950's.

Previous to Pinches' drawings becoming available, from 1880 to 1952 only the drawings by Strassmaier, made prior to 1893, were available. However, these were only preliminary sketches to be used for identification, classification and later study. (Strassmaier's copies of commercial texts were better quality drawings.) Pinches' copies, apart from being finished 'products,' also had the advantage that he had often been able to join together many fragments of the same tablet.

Strassmaier's texts published by Kugler

Many of the larger sheets (of copies of larger tablets/fragments) that Strassmaier made in the 1870's, 1880's, and 1890's formed the basis for the plates and transcriptions in Kugler's DBM (1900), and SSB (1907-1924). The copies published had been subject to numerous collations by Strassmaier, and then later by Kugler during his visits to the British Museum. No specific details of any of these activities were kept.

Both sides of postcard sent on May 23 [not May 21], 1901 by Strassmaier to Kugler. (Source: T. de Jong from German Archives.)

Strassmaier's motivation from the chronology of Berossus

Strassmaier was influenced by classical writers in his beliefs about ancient astronomy.

Strassmaier engaged in copying the astronomical texts and calculations found in the Spartali Collections with the intention of testing and explaining the (fabulous mythic-historiographical tradition of Mesopotamian) chronology of Berossus (Berossos). Berossus was a Hellenistic-era Babylonian writer, supposedly a priest of Bel Marduk and astronomer. He wrote in the Koine Greek language, and was active at the beginning of the 3rd-century BCE. Berossus published the Babyloniaca (History of Babylonia) in 3 books circa 290-278 BCE, by the patronage of the Macedonian/Seleucid king, Antiochus I Soter (during the 3rd year of Antiochus I, according to Diodorus Siculus). Only fragments of Babyloniaca have survived. Approximately 12 relate to cosmology (rather than astronomy). What is left of Berossus' writings is useless for the reconstruction of Mesopotamian history.

It must have become obvious to Strassmaier that the complex mathematical astronomy being discovered in the astronomical cuneiform texts had no similarity to the historical (one goal of the Babyloniaca was to promote Babylonian (astronomical) antiquity) and astronomical statements in the surviving so-called astronomical fragments of Berrosus.

Another source simply states that Strassmaier was motivated to verify the prevailing conjectures regarding the astronomical knowledge of the Babylonians. Conjectures about Babylonian astronomical knowledge could only be settled by means of mathematical calculation. Philology alone was inadequate.

Part 13: Strassmaier's Impact, Strassmaier's Notebooks

Impact of Strassmaier's publication of general drawings

Until circa the late 1800's/early 1890's The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia edited by Henry Rawlinson, with assistance (5 Volumes, 1861-1884; a 6th volume appeared in 1909), was the great corpus inscriptionum of the Assyriologist. Previously there had only been, Inscriptions in the Cuneiform Character, from Assyrian Monuments, discovered by A. H. Layard, D.C.L. published by the British Museum, Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in 1851. This consisted of Assyrian monumental inscriptions from Nimrud. The publication was rather slim, consisting of 196 pages. (It appears that it was first published in 1849 consisting of 96 pages.) It received editing from Austen Layard before he left England. It was also edited by Samuel Birch, Edward Hawkins, and Henry Rawlinson. Circa the mid 1880's Strassmaier began publishing copies of his accumulating drawings of cuneiform tablets. This made many more and varied texts available. (See: Princeton Theological Review, 1914, Page 235.) Referring to the end of 1891, the Jesuit astronomer Aloysius Cortie (1859-1925) wrote ("Babylonian Astronomy" (The Month, Volume LXXIV, 1892, Page 530)): "Some 50,000 ... tablets and tablet fragments [from Mesopotamia] exist in the collections of the British Museum and of these so far about 2,000 have been published. The late Sir H. Rawlinson has given to the world the greatest number of texts written in the Assyrian dialect, in all 800; among them being reckoned some lengthy inscriptions. The publication of the greatest number of Babylonian texts is to be credited to the untiring patience and skill, and immense learning of Father Strassmaier, S.J., more than 1,000 having been contributed as his portion." Robert Schwickerath (Jesuit Education (2nd edition, 1903, Page 236)) writes: "Father Strassmaier, the Assyriologist, deciphered over three thousand Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions, more than any other German Academic has ever done in that line."

From circa 1882 onwards there began to be publications of texts by copyists i.e., Strassmaier. The Catalogue of Cuneiform Tablets in the Kuyunjk Collection (5 Volumes, 1889-1899) edited by Carl Bezold, was an early key publication for enabling cuneiform texts in the British Museum to be made available to copyists.

It was not until 1896 onwards that the British Museum began publishing cuneiform texts in the grand series of publications, Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets, etc., in the British Museum, printed by order of the Trustees, which has been continued to the present date. It also was an early key publication for availability of cuneiform texts in the British Museum collection.

Strassmaier's notebooks

All copies drawn by Strassmaier were collected in notebooks. No one has suggested that his drawings were made on sheets that were kept separate from notes made in notebooks concerning the tablets copied Strassmaier's notebooks were described as voluminous by Noel Swerdlow in his obituary of Otto Neugebauer. Swerdlow had worked with Neugebauer. Earlier writers referred to Strassmaier's "extensive notebooks."

Most of the astronomical tablets copied by Strassmaier are fragmentary tablets. However, it appears he did prefer to copy the larger fragments.

Between 1878 and 1897 Strassmaier copied about 240 (late Babylonian) mathematical astronomy texts and fragments into his notebooks. Strassmaier would note the month and year he noticed a text and copied it. Some other notes would be included. "Sp. I. 545" etc., refer to the Spartoli/Spatali collection of cuneiform tablets. The "fol. 655" etc., are references to the notebooks. Overall the tablets he copied had arrived at the British Museum between 1875/6 and 1882. Copies of the astronomical drawings (sometimes with transcriptions and notes) were regularly sent to Epping in Holland up to 1889 at least.

It is somewhat uncertain whether Strassmaier kept actual notebooks, as commonly described. Strassmaier's sheets of completed autographs were organised and collected into notebooks.

The use of the term "Strassmaier's notebooks" in relation to his drawings has become a little confusing. The use of the term gives the impression that Strassmaier either copied tablets into notebooks or later placed his drawing sheets into such. The term "notebook" would appear to be a loose term for any ordering of the drawings made. (However, the term note-book usually refers to a book in which hand notes written (or drawings are copied or placed. Perhaps Strassmaier had kept a book or books in which he registered all his drawings.) According to Werner Mayer it would appear that Strassmaier had no "notebooks" as such. It seems his drawings were made on doubled (i.e., folded) A4 size sheets of paper. These sheets were then organised in boxes: Part 1 in 3 boxes (sheets numbered 1-486 (with number 36 now missing per 2001), and Part 2 in 4 boxes (sheets numbered 1-716). (There are 7 boxes of drawings in all, containing 1202 sheets (indicated as including the 'missing' 36?). The number of drawings per sheet varied with the size of the tablet or fragment.) Because Strassmaier copied entire collections piece by piece (and boxed his drawings accordingly) various types of text are not separated but often mixed. The drawings in the boxes are mostly of late Babylonian documents. However, the last box contains many drawings of astronomical texts.

Summary of information from Mayer (personal communication 2001). There were no "note books" as such kept by Strassmaier. Rather individual "double sheets" of drawings (some 1200) that were kept in  (7) boxes. Some sheets of drawings are now missing. The last of the 7 boxes contained most of the astronomical drawings. The drawings were made in ink. It would appear Strassmaier's boxes of drawings came to (or were sent to) Rome in 1923, because Anton Deimel was a student of Strassmaier. Some of Strassmaier's drawings in the possession of  (or being sent to ?) Schaumberger when he died are now untraceable. In 1981 Mayer arranged for the return of most drawings that had been sent to Schaumberger in Gars-am-Inn. Pater Pohl at the British Museum borrowed most of Strassmaier's drawings in 1961 and returned them to Rome in 1981. Schaumberger's papers are in the Gars-am-Inn archives. (Also sent by Mayer was a photocopy of one of Strassmaier's drawings, noted as completed and sent to Epping in 1889.)

Hermann Hunger writes (personal communication, 14 August, 2004): "I have never seen original notebooks etc. of Strassmaier. But among Sachs' materials there were numerous photocopies of Strassmaier's copies and notes. From some of the prints it is clear that they are from notebooks; you can still see the fold in the middle separating two pages. It seems to me that Strassmaier filled his books by making notes about tablets in order of their museum numbers. Sometimes he added notes (in shorthand) to a copy, sometimes he only made notes about a tablet. The shorthand is of a type I haven't learned in school. I think that mostly the notes concern the physical properties of the tablet, like "badly preserved" or "small script". Strassmaier also added dates when he had finished a copy of a tablet, like "finis 1/4 91". It is possible the notebooks were later taken apart so as to organize them in a different manner, but I don't know about that."

If, as seems likely, Strassmaier actually kept notebooks in the accepted sense of the term the question is: When were Strassmaier's notebooks split up (disassembled)? Was this done between Neugebauer's/Sachs' access and the borrowing by Pohl at the British Museum. Was it done by Pohl at the British Museum when the notebooks were borrowed? It would be interesting to know what use Pohl made of them and if he perhaps took the notebooks apart. I presently think it likely the notebooks were taken apart possibly after Sachs and Neugebauer referred to them.

Kugler's successor, Father Schaumberger (and also later Otto Neugebauer) obtained most of their cuneiform astronomical texts from Strassmaier's copies which he had entered in his voluminous notebooks during the 1880's and 1890's. Not a single one of these texts was ever published in the official publications of the British Museum. When Strassmaier died in 1920 his notebooks remained within the Jesuit order and eventually were placed with the Pontificio Istituto Biblico. After Strassmaier's death in 1920 Anton Deimel arranged for Strassmaier's notebooks to be passed to the Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome (and Schaumberger and then Neugebauer later accessed them through such). Exactly what year they passed into the custody of the Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome I do not presently know. By 1935 Strassmaier's notebooks, containing drawings of astronomical texts and other material, were in the custody of the Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome.

Johann Schaumberger, in order to continue Kugler's work, extracted the astronomical texts from these notebooks at the Pontificio Istituto Biblico. Basically, however, the notebooks languished (for decades) in the Pontifical Institute in Rome until Anton Deimel, at the request of Johann Schaumberger, allowed Otto Neugebauer (per/and? Abraham Sachs) to access them. (Importantly, they contained the BM catalogue/accession numbers/dates.) Also, circa 1935 onwards, Schaumberger sent Neugebauer copies of relevant astronomical texts. In 1949, on the recommendation of Anton Deimel, all of Strassmaier's relevant notebooks were placed were made available to Neugebauer through the courtesy of the Pontificio Istituto Biblico. Naturally this access also extended to Neugebauer's close co-worker, Abraham Sachs It seems it was Sachs who, on behalf of Neugebauer, accessed the relevant notebooks in the Pontificio Istituto Biblico. Sachs, of course, could exercise the greater skill in determining the nature of the texts. Apparently it was the use of Strassmaier's notebooks which led Sachs to the identification of a large number of new texts in the British Museum.

Some issues regarding access the Strassmaier's drawing by Sachs are still to be clarified. Schaumberger had access to many of Strassmaier's drawings for some years prior to WWII until his death in 1955. It is known that Sachs (supported by the Rockefeller Foundation) visited Schaumberger after WWII. This would undoubtedly be to access drawings. It seems that Sachs also accessed Strassmaier's drawings still at the Pontificio Istituto Biblico.

Neugebauer states (ACT 1, 1955) that from Strassmaier's notebooks and from Kugler's publications about 240 astronomical texts and fragments were recovered. Neugebauer believed that all of these were probably found in 1 (temple ?) archive in Babylon. Neugebauer states (ACT 1, 1955) that from the inventory numbers of the British Museum it can be concluded that these texts arrived at he British Museum between November 1876 and July 1882.

Neugebauer states (ACT 1, 1955) that Strassmaier's notebooks cover only texts with the inventory numbers between BM 32,000 and BM 36,000. Neugebauer states that Strassmaier did, however, make notes about similar texts, numbering between BM 45,000 and BM 47,000, which had been 'quoted' to him by Pinches. This made it quite clear to Neugebauer that the astronomical archive held at the British Museum was much larger than the part explored by Strassmaier. Neugebauer's conclusion was confirmed in 1952 by the work of Sachs at the British Museum and his access to Pinches' drawings. Many of Pinches approximately 1800 sheets of copies of astronomical texts were new (i.e., not previously known through Strassmaier). Some sources state Pinches drawings numbered 1800 sheets and some sources state Pinches copied some 1300 pieces of astronomical texts.

Source: The Exact Sciences in Antiquity by Otto Neugebauer (2nd edition, 1969; Plate 14). Fragments: Sp II 494, Sp II 496, Sp II 497, Sp II 498, Sp II 499, Sp II 500, Sp II 501, Sp II 502.

Loan of Strassmaier's drawings

Quantities of Strassmaier's original drawings (astronomical only?) were loaned to Johann Schaumberger and Alfred Pohl. According to Werner Mayer the bulk of Strassmaier's drawings were loaned, from 1961 to 1983, to Pohl at the British Museum.

Partial loss of Strassmaier's drawings

Some of the drawings loaned to Schaumberger earlier became lost during the process of their return (a considerable time after Schaumberger's death) to the Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome.

Part 14: Strassmaier At Blyenbeek

Strassmaier at Blijenbeck

In the Fall (?) of 1880 Strassmaier visited the Jesuit klooster at Blyenbeek Castle to discuss an extended stay comprising several years to prepare the publication of his AV. To describe it in modern terms as a 'sabbatical' is a misnomer. Even the term 'study leave' is hardly accurate. It was a lengthy period of time taken out of his normal/usual work routine of copying tablets at the British Museum. Strassmaier's time at Blyenbeek - working on his AV - lasted from 1881 through most of 1883. Claims that it lasted into 1884 are mistaken - he was at Ditton Hall in 1884. It would have been a very busy period. The materials for AV had to be organised and the book was hand-written by Strassmaier.

The chronology and intention of Strassmaier at Blijenbeck is subject to some inexactness in a number of accounts. According to Alexander Baumgartner, Strassmaier arrived at Blijenbeck sometime in 1880. (Teije de Jong follows Baumgartner and accepts Strassmaier arrived in the Fall of 1880.) According to Anton Deimel, Strassmaier arrived at Blijenbeck sometime in 1881. Teije de Jong - without discussion of the date anomaly - gives the information that in the Fall of 1880 Strassmaier visited Blijenbeek castle to discuss a lengthy 'study leave' to prepare the publication of his Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter. It was at this visit that he renewed his friendship with Epping (and gained his collaboration). (According to one account, Strassmaier was in Holland to check the galley proofs of one of his books. This would be one of his task involved with Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss.) Several Strassmaier obituaries mention the date 1880 for Stassmaier's first meeting with Epping (since Maria Laach and following Epping's return to Europe from Quito). Strassmaier's actual 'study leave' was from 1881 to 1884. (Within a year their collaboration resulted in a short (landmark) 1881 journal article in Stimmen aus Maria Laach.) Strassmaier's intention to go to Blijenbeck was for the solitude/quietness to organise the materials he had gathered in London to complete his massive alphabetic list of Assyrian and Akkadian words (Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter). In his several years of copying at the British Museum, collecting materials for his book, he had provisionally identified and copied Chaldean period astronomical tables, and other astronomical material (i.e., calendar texts and observation texts). It appears Strassmaier brought all his drawings (and other material) to Blijenbeck, in a suitcase. At Blijenbeck he renewed his acquaintance with Epping and (at least with his return in 1881) convinced him to cooperate in the decipherment and understanding of the conjectured astronomical material. Fortuitously, Epping had returned there several years ago from Quito. The first article by Epping and Strassmaier was published in Stimmen aus Maria Laach, September, 1881. The issue is resolved if we accept 2 meeting dates. It would seem that Strassmaier arrived at Blijenbeck in the Fall of 1880 (for a short visit) and then returned (in 1881) and worked with Epping there until sometime circa 1885/6, when Epping was relocated to Exaeten. Hence we get one source stating, obviously correctly, that at Blijenbeck not far from the border at Goch, Strassmaier met (1880-1881) with Epping.

Strassmaier was at Blijenbeck on a short visit only in 1880 and then returned sometime in 1881 (per Anton Deimel) and according to most sources remained until sometime in 1884. (However, a short publication by him places him at Ditton Hall in November 1883.) In his early years at the British Museum from 1878 to 1881 Strassmaier had a lot of material available to him and collected many relevant materials for his projected cuneiform syllabary. (By 1881 Strassmaier had copied a lot of cuneiform tablets from the collections within the British Museum. He had also identified and copied a lot of late astronomical tablets, probably mostly from the Spartali collection. Also, by 1881 the first 4 volumes of the 5 volume work The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, (Volumes I-V; London; 1861-1884), edited by H. Rawlinson, C. Norris, G. Smith, and T. Pinches had been issued.) Strassmaier's Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter was a detailed syllabary written, no doubt, to consolidate his own knowledge and also to assist others to accurately read, transliterate, and translate cuneiform texts. In order to work undisturbed, and remain focused on the study of the collected material relevant for the completion of his cuneiform syllabary, Strassmaier withdrew to the seclusion of the Jesuit college of Blijenbeck in Holland. At this time it housed Jesuit students engaged in completing their philosophical studies. The preparation of his massive Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss kept him busy until 1884. Parts 1 and 2 (and 3?) were published 1882-1883. Part 6  was not completed and published until 1886 (some 2 years after Strassmaier returned to London). In 1884, when he returned to London again (via a stay at Ditton Hall), Strassmaier began the task of systematically copying cuneiform texts (which had arrived, between 1876 and 1882, at the British Museum in large numbers).

Strassmaier's main intention had been to write a book on the history of the Semitic languages. Likely 4 matters that interfered with completing this intention were: (1) the preparation of Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss, (2) the surprise discovery of astronomical mathematical texts, and the search for as many astronomical mathematical texts as could be identified, (3) his decision to copy and publish the archive of the Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar, and (4) his serious illness of 1897 (and its outcome) which ended his close interest in pursuing projects.

Descriptor for Epping at Blyenbeek in 1880. He is described as docent for both mathematics and astronomy. Source: German Jesuit Catalogus, 1880.

In 1880, according to the Catalogus (Page 6), Epping was at Collegium Blyenbeck. (so were Aemilius Müllendorf and Ludovicus Dressel). In 1880, in the Catalogus (Page 62), Strassmaier was listed (ibid., Stud. inscript. cuneiform.), In Prov. Angliae (111 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square London W.). In 1882, in the Catalogus (Page 7), Strassamaier was listed at Collegium Blyenbeck as Script. In 1884, according to the Catalogus (Page 7), Epping was at Collegium Blyenbeck. Strassmaier was at Collegium Ditton Hall (designated as Script.). The German Jesuit Catalogus for 1881 would help clarify dates (sometimes the publication is not reliable).

Duration of effective work at Blijenbeck

Perhaps arriving toward end of Winter in late February 1881. Perhaps leaving in early Autumn 1883 (October?). Total time in months circa 30-32 minus time (2 months?) for preparation and time at Berlin and Leiden Oriental Congresses.

Part 15: Strassmaier-Epping Partnership

The myth of Strassmaier (London) and Epping (Quito) cooperation

The myth that Strassmaier wrote to Epping in Quito and initiated his cooperation at that period is repeated endlessly. There is no basis for it. Strassmaier did not begin copying texts in the British museum until 1876 (and then only intermittently), and did not begin full-time copying until 1879 (one source has 1878). Epping was teaching mathematics in Quito from 1872 until 1876. (Epping arrived back in Holland in the fall of 1876.) Obviously, between 1872 and 1876 Strassmaier had no knowledge of astronomical cuneiform texts in the British Museum and no drawings of astronomical cuneiform texts to send to Epping in Quito. Strassmaier met with Epping in Blijenbeck (not far from the German border at Goch) in 1880/1881 where Epping was also located (teaching mathematics and astronomy) at that time. Strassmaier had come to Blijenbeck with collected materials from the British Museum, to work on his book, Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter. It would seem the error originated in an erroneous assumption being made regarding the years Epping spent in Quito. Certainly the myth was constantly repeated by Otto Neugebauer until 1967. In 1967, Neugebauer almost gives an accurate account of the beginning of the Strassmaier-Epping partnership (but states Falkenburg, Holland instead of Blijenbeck, Holland). (See: "Problems and Methods in Babylonian Mathematical Astronomy." by Otto Neugebauer (The Astronomical Journal, Volume 72, Number 8, October, 1967, Pages 964-972).) In his HAMA (1955), Neugebauer also indicates a correct account. An example of a relatively recent myth-enforcing account appears in the journal Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan ("Western Historians of Science and Oriental Science in the Age of Imperialism." by Lewis Pyenson, Volume 15, 2005, Pages 97-124) with the statement: "Josef Epping's deciphering of cuneiform planetary ephemerides in nineteenth-century Quito ...." This is a mistake he has not corrected since its inclusion in his 1993 book Civilizing Mission.

Correspondence between Strassmaier and Epping took place when Strassmaier was in London and Epping was at Blijenbeck and then Exaeten.

Rate of correspondence with Epping

Correspondence between Strassmaier and Epping was stated to be at least almost monthly.

Strassmaier's request to Epping for deciphering assistance

It was during his initial visit in 1880 to Blyenbeek that Strassmaier asked Epping for help with the interpretation of astronomical cuneiform texts. Whether Epping confirmed his assistance at this time or the following year when Strassmaier returned is unknown.

In his first several years of copying texts Strassmaier found he had several groups of different types of texts. He largely had commercial texts, royal inscriptions, and also hundreds of documents he thought were astronomical. All the texts were dated to the 1st-millennium BCE but the royal inscriptions and suspected astronomical texts were dated to the Chaldean and Arsacid (Parthian) period. In investigating the suspected astronomical tablets, Strassmaier found in Joseph Epping a competent astronomer and mathematician. Strassmaier persuaded Epping to assist in understanding the astronomical nature of the tablets (apparently after some reluctance by Epping). Strassmaier's request to Epping for assistance was made when both were at Blijenbeck in 1881. According to one source "He succeeded in the fall of 1880 after intensive prodding to convince his former astronomy professor Joseph Epping ... to try to make sense of this numerical material." Both cooperated there until Epping was transferred to Exaeten. The cooperation then continued by correspondence.

The Tablet, Saturday, 17 January 1920, Page 22 (Obituary FATHER J. N. STRASSMAIER, S.J., THE ASSYRIOLOGIST: "Of this collaboration between Fathers Strassmaier and Epping Father Alexander Baumgartner, S.J., in a death notice on Father Epping in the Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie (Vol. IX, 1894; reprinted in Mitteilungen aus der Deutschen Provinz, Vol. III, pp. 314-318), gives the following account : " At - Blijenbeek, in Holland, not far from the German frontier, Father Epping in 1880 met Father John Nepornucene Strassmaier, who was at that time engaged in rearranging the materials he had collected in London for his 'Alphabetical List of Assyrian and Akkadian Words in the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia.' While collecting. Father Strassmaier had expended much time on the astronomical tablets of the Babylonians, and had become convinced that the then prevailing conjectures as to their astronomical knowledge could be verified only by means of mathematical calculation. So he approached Father Epping, explained the whole question to him, along with his own surmises, and thus gained him for the laborious task of testing by mathematical calculation the Babylonian Calendar-Tablets and Observation-Lists. In September, 11381, they enunciated the great problem in a joint article in the Stimmen aus Maria Laach (Vol. XXI, pp. 277-292).""

The cooperation between both was important for the successful deciphering of the astronomical content of this class of tablets copied by Strassmaier. Thanks to the astronomical calculations carried out by Epping the nature of the ephemerides and other material was understood. The results were initially published in a series of joint articles in Stimmen aus Maria-Laach (Band 21, 1881), and later in ZA (Bands 5-8, 1890-1893). Strassmaier only occasionally independently enter into questions of astronomy and chronology. Both Strassmaier and Epping were still working together at Blijenbeek when their first joint article was published: Epping, Joseph. (1881). "Zur Entzifferung der astronomischen Tafeln der Chaldäer." [= "The decipherment of the astronomical tablets of the Chaldeans."] (Stimmen aus Maria Laach, Band 21, Pages 277–292). The article carried an introduction by Johann Strassmaier, and explained the difficulties experienced and their first results.

Strassmaier’s choice of Epping to assist

The German Jesuit Joseph Epping (1835-1894) was the founder of the study of cuneiform mathematical astronomical texts. Strassmaier's autographs of astronomical tablets were first interpreted/translated by Epping and then Hontheim and Kugler.

Strassmaier started full-time copying of cuneiform tablets in the British Museum in 1878(1879?). By 1881 Strassmaier had identified a considerable number of astronomical cuneiform texts. These were mostly a series of lunar and planetary observations. Strassmaier identified the astronomical content of texts from extensive displays of numbers and frequent use of month names, but had no understanding of the astronomical content.

When he identified that numerous tablets contained mathematical astronomy he requested the assistance of Epping, a mathematician and astronomer (who had returned from Ecuador in 1876), to establish the nature of the astronomical data. From 1880 (or perhaps 1881) onwards Strassmaier personally gave and then sent copies of his drawings of astronomical texts to Epping (who held a teaching position at the Jesuit college at Blijenbeek and then Exaeten. (Strassmaier sent annotated copies of texts (including text dates) (recopied from his original autographs) having strong numerical content to Joseph Epping.) In 1876 Epping was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at the Jesuit College at Blijenbeck Castle, Holland.

Note: There is uncertainty and confusion regarding dates.

When arriving at Blijenbeck Castle in 1881 (1880?) to work on his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss (published in 6 parts, 1882-1886) the German Jesuit Johann Strassmaier (1846-1920), an Orientalist and leading pioneer in Assyriological studies, sought the help of Epping to understand the cuneiform mathematical astronomical texts he had been copying in the British Museum since 1878; particularly the ones he had come across that year and several of which were dated.

Did Strassmaier particularly want Epping to help him in understanding the content of the mathematical astronomical texts? The answer is yes. Strassmaier knew Epping from their time at Maria Laach. Epping was Strassmaier's mathematics and astronomy professor at Maria Laach. Strassmaier met Epping again at Blijenbeck in 1881 (1880?). (Epping was temporarily resident at Blijenbeck at this time - involved with the Philosophate.) Also, Strassmaier was perhaps confident in his choice of Epping by the fact that Epping had been a Professor of Mathematics at the Polytechnic School in Quito.

In the next decade the productive collaboration between Strassmaier and Epping uncovered an intricate observational and mathematical astronomy that was practised during the last 3 centuries BCE in Babylon and as was later discovered Uruk.

The initial source of the "Strassmaier gaining collaboration of Epping in Quito" mistake is difficult to identify. It (probably) did not originate in Astronomie, Himmelsschau und Astrallehre bei den Babyloniern (1911) by Carl Bezold. Pages 4-5 contain details of the chronological flow of the Strassmaier-Epping-Kugler relationship. On page 28, Hontheim is also mentioned. Details of the Strassmaier-Epping-Hugler relationship are contained in Scritti Sulla Storia Della Astronomia Antica by Giovanni Schiaparelli (Volume 1, 1925, pages 48-50). Schiaparelli does not appear to know of Hontheim. The mistake does appear to go back to circa 1911. It may have originated with Franz Boll's, Griechische kalender (1911, Page 4), which discusses Epping-Quito-Strassmaier. (It is difficult to understand how the mistake persisted.)

Hontheim's cuneiform efforts were pursued from 1894 to 1898 (1897?). At this time Franz Kugler was quite young, though known to both Strassmaier and Epping, had not apparently indicated interest in cuneiform studies. In 1880 Kugler was 18 years old; in 1885 he obtained his doctorate in chemistry. Kugler's study of the astronomical cuneiform texts began in 1897.

Strassmaier's collaboration with Epping

Strassmaier recruited Epping. Note: Neither Strassmaier or Epping could self-authorise their collaboration on deciphering cuneiform astronomical tablets. The collaboration between Strassmaier and Epping was made possible by their superiors. Permission for collaboration on deciphering astronomical cuneiform tablets would need to be formally sought and obtained from the senior level of the German Jesuit provincial. The process for this is likely no longer recoverable. Only 2 sources sighted mention the issue and each only in a brief sentence. The permissions/assignments given to Strassmaier/Epping for collaboration, to Hontheim, and to Kugler were likely given by the Provincial Superior for the German province rather than by the Superior General in Rome (but perhaps the Assistant to the Jesuit Superior-General).

In 1881 Strassmaier and Epping began their joint investigation of a then almost unknown subject of cuneiform/Babylonian astronomy. Strassmaier found that the British Museum cuneiform collection contained numerous late astronomical cuneiform tablets. He also found that the particular cuneiform characters on such were very difficult to interpret. Strassmaier realized that if the contents of these tablets could be understood, and also pieced together, together then an invaluable series of records (with chronological benefits dating back to several centuries before our present era) would be available. He dilemma was that he could identify tablets having astronomical content but could not understand what the astronomical content referred to. Strassmaier resolved to attempt a coordinated approach to understanding the contents of these particular tablets. He knew that to successfully identify the astronomical content he would require the assistance of someone who was well versed in astronomical calculations. Strassmaier was fortunate enough to become re-associated with Joseph Epping who undertook the necessary calculations and the scientific discussion of the texts interpreted by Strassmaier. Strassmaier and Epping met in Holland some 4-5 years after Epping returned from Ecuador in 1876. Johann Strassmaier appealed to Joseph Epping whom he met in Holland in 1880 (1881?), to help him with the necessary mathematical calculations. Epping was Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy, and at that time residing at Blijenbeck. Strassmaier at last found a suitable helper in a fellow Jesuit, Father Joseph Epping. Strassmaier spent time in Holland with Epping dealing with the cuneiform texts.

It was on Strassmaier's initiative that Epping began the study of Strassmaier's copies (and transcriptions) of astronomical texts. (Lack of detail is now an unresolvable problem. If, as it seems, transcriptions were made by Strassmaier to be sent to Epping then it would appear they were separate to the cuneiform drawings. According to another source Strassmaier supplied a copy of a text with a transliteration and annotations. The translation was left to Epping, and Hontheim, and Kugler. Strassmaier would make (preliminary) transcriptions of the texts and add what he considered to be some essential remarks. Guided by Strassmaier's philology, Epping would make calculations using the numbers appearing in the columns of the tablets.) While collecting, Strassmaier had expended much time on the astronomical tablets of the Babylonians, and had become convinced that the then prevailing conjectures as to their astronomical knowledge could be verified only by means of astronomical calculation. So he approached Epping, explained the whole question to him, along with his own surmises, and thus gained him for the laborious task of testing by mathematical calculation the Babylonian Calendar-Tablets and Observation-Lists.

Epping met Strassmaier in Holland, after Epping had returned from Quito. At Blijenbeek, in Holland, not far from the German frontier, Strassmaier in 1881 (incorrectly given as 1880 in 1 source) who was at that time engaged in rearranging the materials he had collected in London for his Alphabetical List of Assyrian and Akkadian Words in the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, met his friend Epping again. Strassmaier had left London in 1881 to go to the quietness and solitude of Blijenbeck to prepare his cuneiform syllabary. Strassmaier remained there until 1884, and then returned to London (to continue at the British Museum). Strassmaier first passed copies of mathematical astronomical texts to Epping in 1881 whilst they were both at Blijenbeck. (According to one source they they met at Exaeten whilst Strassmaier was there in 1880.) On his return to London in 1884 Strassmaier sent further copies of mathematical astronomical texts to Epping (who was now at Exaeten) when he came across such during the course of his copying activities. This practice continued up to the time of Epping's death.

The sources for dates for Strassmaier arriving at Blijenbeek and Epping transferring to Exaeten show considerable variation. Dates for Strassmaier arriving at Blijenbeek are either 1880 or 1881. The date for Epping transferring to Exaeten is not given but variously estimated as 1880, 1881, 1885, and 1886. It is indicated that Strassmaier and Epping were together at Blijenbeek for at least a year. Identifying credible dates for the 1 year or more for Strassmaier/Epping at Blijenbeek would exclude 1880/1880, but enable 1880/1881 at least, but exclude 1881/1881, but enable 1881/1885-1886.

Strassmaier and Epping divided their joint labours; Strassmaier deciphering the Assyrian texts and Epping submitting them to mathematical analysis, thus suggesting new readings and also the meanings meanings of new words. Strassmaier transcribed the various astronomical texts and furnished Epping with some indications which would serve as the starting point of his investigations. Constant collation of calculations and text - and revision of copied text - was patiently carried out by Strassmaier in London (after 1884). The result of the Epping-Strassmaier collaboration was the discovery of a mathematical astronomy in the 2 ancient cities of Babylon and Uruk.

It is frequently stated that from 1880 (correctly perhaps 1884 but maybe 1881) onwards Strassmaier sent copies of his drawings of astronomical texts to Epping. This process only occurred after 1884 when Strassmaier returned to London. Whenever he came across an astronomical text of a worthwhile size he recopied it for study by Epping. It would appear that after 1884 (or perhaps after 1881) Strassmaier would make copies of his relevant draft drawings and send such to Epping. If the decipherment of any drawing (= Epping's mathematical analysis) was successful Strassmaier would then make a finished sketch of such, with annotations, and send that also. When the translation proved to be successful, Strassmaier excerpted, from his notebooks, astronomical texts on special sheets, often adding explanatory remarks. These sheets were then sent to Epping for final investigation. After Epping's death these drawings were eventually passed to Kugler.

The extent of Strassmaier's philological research on the astronomical texts are not fully known. Epping was basically trying to decipher the astronomical meaning of numbers. Any assistance from knowledge of text on the tablets was invaluable to Epping. Mistakes by Strassmaier made things confusing for Epping.

The difficulties of deciphering the records were enhanced by their damaged condition, but Epping began by recognising on one of the tablets a list of intervals of successive new moons. To discover which planets were meant by dilbad and guttu cost months of mathematical work. The opinion then generally held that guttu was Jupiter led him hopelessly astray, but, finally, he came to the conclusion that guttu was Mars. This conclusion was verified by the discovery of another more accurate copy of the tablet in question, which at the same time helped him to identify sakku as Saturn and te-ut as Jupiter. These discoveries were fundamental for Babylonian astronomy and chronology. The tablets referred to the years 111 BCE and 123 BCE.

In September, 1881, they enunciated the great problem in a joint article in the Stimmen aus Maria Laach (Volume XXI, Pages 277-292). Strassmaier explained the state of the question from the point of view of the historian and the philologist, described the materials so far discovered, and emphasized the difficulties that beset any attempt at decipherment, by reason of the damaged condition of the records. Epping then relates how he approached this difficult task; how he first found out on one of the tablets a list of intervals between successive new moons; how he then calculated for weeks and months to discover which planets were meant by dilbad and guttu; how the opinion then commonly held that guttu was Jupiter led him hopelessly astray, and how finally guttu revealed itself as Mars; how a more accurate copy of the tablet [a re-check and revised re-reading by Strassmaier?] in question confirmed this result, and at the same time showed that sakku must be Saturn and te-ut Jupiter; and how another tablet of the year 111 BCE was in full harmony with the results of the first tablet, of the year 123 BCE. This discovery may be called a fundamental one for Babylonian astronomy and chronology, though Epping himself modestly called it a beginning and starting point for further laborious investigations.

In 1881 Epping was able to publish a short analysis of a lunar ephemeris, identify the logograms for the planets, and find the Julian equivalents to the Seleucid era dates. Epping initially succeeded in 1881 in understanding the concluding columns of a lunar ephemeris (Spartali 129, later catalogued as BM 34033). Also, from an observational text Epping correctly identified the ideograms for the planets. He was also able to give the exact Julian equivalents of dates in the Seleucid era (i.e., he found S.E. 189 Nisan I = -122 March 25). The end results of studying further cuneiform mathematical astronomical texts in the British Museum that were copied by Strassmaier were published by Epping in his small book Astronomisches aus Babylon (1889).

No small difficulties came in the way of further collaboration between Epping and Strassmaier. Strassmaier returned to London, which was thereafter his permanent abode, in order to make the best use of treasures of the British Museum. Epping was thus restricted to written communications with Strassmaier and a few personal interviews during the holidays. His work was also much retarded by serious illness, which never left him during the remaining thirteen years of his life. Yet he never ceased working at what, ever since 1881, he looked on as his principal task; at which task Strassmaier, with like perseverance, collaborated from London.

After eight years of assiduous joint labours the two collaborators published the work in 1889, "Babylonian Astronomy, or the Chaldeans' Knowledge of the Starry Skies." It was Strassmaier who, with great learning and vast patience, made reliable copies and transliterations of the tablets, which formed the basis of Epping's work. The first results of their labours were published in a book Astronomisches aus Babylon (1889), which was followed by several papers in the journal Zeitschrift für Assyriologie. They showed clearly that the astronomers of Babylon during the two or three centuries before Hipparchus if not earlier) possessed a considerable amount of accurate knowledge of the motions of the sun, moon, and planets.

It would be difficult to find a parallel case of two scientists, a philologist and an astronomer, working so harmoniously together and complementing each other so happily, as if their common work was inspired by one and the same fundamental conception. Thus after 8 years they published, as the fruit of their unceasing activity, Astronomisches aus Babylon [Astronomy from Babylon, or the Chaldeans' Knowledge of the Starry Skies] (1889). What the first attempt at deciphering had forecast is here worked out with scientific thoroughness. From the ephemerides of the moon and planets, as shown in the tablets in the British Museum, the astronomical system of the Babylonians is reconstructed with great clearness and precision, with results that are of the utmost importance for chronology as well as astronomy.

The vast amount of painstaking work involved by these calculations on the tablets and their dates only a specialist is competent to appreciate. But all calculations would be futile without reliable copies and transliterations of the tablets. And this copying, as Epping remarks in a note, is no small task; it requires, besides great skill, an uncommon combining power. Without a certain philological acumen the copier will separate signs that should hang together, and vice versa. And it is here that Strassmaier's special gifts and merits assert themselves.

An example of the cooperative effort by Strassmaier and Epping: Epping Joseph. (1881). "Zur Entzifferung der astronomischen Tafeln der Chaldaer." (Stimmen aus Maria Laach, Band 21, Pages 277–292). [Note: Pages 282–292 are by Epping, the other pages are by Strassmaier.]

Strassmaier and Epping recovered the intricate observational and mathematical astronomy that was practised in the last 3 centuries BCE in Babylon.

Source: Woodstock Letters, Volume XVIII, Number 3, Page 393. Note: Without the astronomical calculations of Epping, Strassmaier would have been unable to copy and translate correctly the 2 Assyrian planet-tables.

Strassmaier's provision of texts to Epping (leading to Astronomisches aus Babylon)

Strassmaier made copies of tablets (drawings) and also provided Epping with transcribed texts. (See: Revue des questions scientifiques, Volumes 27-28, 1890.) Strassmaier provided Epping with transliterations of texts and numbers. The texts Strassmaier passed to Epping were also accompanied by dates. (The astronomical texts were dated.) Among the texts considered by Epping and Strassmaier, many consisted of nothing more than columns of numbers following recurring sequences between fixed limits. Strassmaier made transcriptions of astronomical texts (approximately 15 at least is indicated, but perhaps 25 texts?), and added comments, for Epping to study. Apparently Strassmaier also made translations of at least the 15 texts passed to Epping to interpret astronomically (and also to discover the astronomical principles underlying the computations comprising the tables). After Strassmaier returned to London in 1884 he and Epping remained in continuous contact with exchanges of data, translations, and improvement of results. The astronomical analysis undertaken by Epping enabled deciphering and translation of terms. When the decipherment of some texts proved to be successful Strassmaier excerpted, from his notebooks, astronomical texts on special sheets, often adding explanatory remarks (and transliterations and also translations). These sheets were then sent to Epping for final investigation. (See Strassmaier's short explanatory contribution to Astronomisches aus Babylon, Pages 1-6.) Epping began by recognising on one of the tablets a list of intervals of successive new moons. By 1881 Epping understood the basic principles of Babylonian methods for lunar theory and was now able to more deeply investigate the texts provided to him by Strassmaier. The result was AaB (1889). Only 5 years later Epping was dead and further exhaustive work temporarily ceased. Further work on the extensive copies made by Strassmaier were renewed initially (1894-1898) by Joseph Hontheim and then exhaustively by Franz Kugler (5 years after Epping's death), beginning in 1899 and continuing until circa 1924. After Epping's death Strassmaier continued the process (until his death in 1920) of supplying texts and philological assistance for Franz Kugler. Kugler was quite critical of Strassmaier's philological assistance and only wanted accurately copied texts from him.

Sach's LBAT (Page vi): "For both texts [i.e., those appearing as the 2 copies at the end of AaB], we still have two preliminary copies by Strassmaier, from which he made a third which he sent to Epping. After Epping had deciphered the tablets and had carried out the necessary astronomical calculations, Strassmaier made a careful collation, paying particular attention to those passage [= lines?] which exhibited apparent discrepancies with computation. Then the final copies of AaB were prepared."

Strassmaier's continuing contact with Epping at Exaeten

Strassmaier's continuing contact with Epping was by letters. Some important letters from Epping at Exaeten (relating to further discoveries) to Strassmaier in London (dated 12 December, 1888; and 25 March, 1889.) were published by Strassmaier in the journal Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete ("Aus einem Briefe des Herrn Professor J. Epping." (From a Letter of Professor J Epping), Band 4, 1889).

See: Epping, Joseph. (1889). "Aus einem Briefe des desselben an J. N. Strassmaier." ["Aus einem Briefe des Herrn Professor J. Epping an J. N. Strassmaier."] (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 4, Pages 76-82). [Note: Letter from Epping at Exaeten dated 12 December, 1888.]; and Epping, Joseph. (1889). "Aus einem Briefe des Herrn Professor J. Epping an J. N. Strassmaier." (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 4, Pages 168-171). [Note: Letter from Epping at Exaeten dated 25 March, 1889.] The lengthy letters communicate astronomical results obtained by Epping.

Strassmaier's mistakes with transcriptions/translations and advice to Epping

Strassmaier's philological studies of the texts were the basis for Epping's expert calculations. Unfortunately, Strassmaier made some mistakes with his transcriptions and translations, and also at times gave Epping misleading advice. This caused some confusion with Epping and showed in some of his results. But, regardless, their results were spectacular. Before his death Epping had not worked through all the material Strassmaier had passed to him.

Part 16: Mixed Nature Of Astronomical Texts Copied

Eclipse texts

Many of the eclipse texts were copied by Johann Strassmaier and Theophilus Pinches in the latter part of the 19th-century. These copies were published by Abraham Sachs in 1955 (LBAT). Translations of a few of the texts appeared in print in 1991. (A. Aaboe, J. Britton, J. Henderson, O. Neugebauer, and A. Sachs, "Saros Cycle Dates and Related Babylonian Astronomical Texts." in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Volume 81, Number 6, 1991, Pages 1-75.) The remainder of the known eclipse texts were translated and published by H. Hunger, were published in (ADT, Volume V, 2001).

Publication of astronomical/eclipse texts

Amongst the commercial/contract texts published by Strassmaier were some containing astronomical information. In journal article Strassmaier also published a number of astronomical texts. As example: A Babylonian tablet recording a partial eclipse in the 7th year of Cambyses. This cuneiform tablet was fully translated and discussed by Jules Oppert, "Un texte babylonien astronomique et sa traduction greque d'après Claude Ptolémée." in Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie, Volume 6, 1891, Pages 103-123. It is one of the eclipses recorded by Ptolemy in his Almagest. The date for the 7th year of Cambyses is 523 BCE.

Calendar texts

Calendar tablets dated 123 BCE and 111 BCE were translated by Strassmaier and interpreted by Epping and Strassmaier, and appeared in Astronomisches aus Babylon.

Ephemeris

Four fragments of an ephemeris for Venus were discovered by Strassmaier in 1891 in the Spartoli Collection of the British Museum. These were copied and placed into his notebook. Second copies were made and sent to Joseph Epping. With the death of Epping the copies were part of the material passed to Franz Kugler.

Strassmaier Cambyses 400

This tablet relates to 2 lunar eclipses.

Strassmaier copied and published Cambyses 400 (Babylonische Texte, Heft VIII.-IX. Inschriften von Cambyses, König von Babylon (529-521 v. Chr.) (1890).), a unique proto almanac. (Also known as Strassmaier Cambyses 400 (Strm. Camb. 400) or the Strassmaier Cambyses II tablet number 400; after Strassmaier as editor and the number of the tablet in his edition.) Strassmaier and Epping later published a joint paper on the tablet. The tablet was first studied in detail by Kugler in SSB1, Pages 70-71. The tablet provides a marker to date Cyrus II - dating one particular eclipse in the 7th year of Cambyses II. (Many of the synchronizations of astronomical data with events or dates of ancient history are based on solar or lunar eclipses.) On the obverse side it contains Lunar Six for the year 7 Cambyses (522/1 BCE), on the reverse side it contains planetary data (planetary synodic phenomena and miscellaneous conjunctions of the moon and planets) and lunar eclipse data for months IV and X.

The tablet contains the following astronomical information for the 7th year of Cambyses II son of Cyrus II: "Year 7, Tammuz, night of the 14th, 1 2/3 double hours [= three hours and twenty minutes] after night came, a lunar eclipse; visible in its full course; it reached over the northern half disc [of the moon]. Tebet, night of the 14th, two and a half double hours [5 hours] at night before morning [in the latter part of the night], the disc of the moon was eclipsed; the whole course visible; over the southern and northern part the eclipse reached." (See: Strassmaier, Inschriften von Cambyses, König von Babylon (1890), Number 400, lines 45-48; Kugler, Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel (1907), Band I, pages 70-71.) These 2 lunar eclipses can be identified with the lunar eclipses that were visible at Babylon on 16 July, 523 BCE [= Babylonian civil calendar, month 5, day 14, year 7 of Cambyses], and on 10 January, 522 BCE. (See: Oppolzer's Canon of Eclipses, translated by Owen Gingerich (1962), page 335.) The tablet establishes the 7th year of Cambyses II as beginning in the spring of 523 BCE.

Julius Oppert published objections to the results reached by Epping for Cambyses 400. Oppert's objections centred on the identification of terms for the moon and also the term Kakkab mēšri. These objections were replied to by Epping.

Part 17: Strassmaier's Attendance At Oriental Congresses

Strassmaier's ability to travel and attend meetings of the International Congress of Orientalists

Considerable details of Strassmaier's attendance and presentation on contract tablets at the 15th International Congress of Orientalists is given in, Verhandlungen des Fünften Internationalen Orientalisten-Kongresses gehalten zu Berlin im September 1881. Erster Theil: Bericht über die Verhandlungen., Berlin, 1881. There was also a discussion - not conducted by Strassmaier - of Epping's results to date of Babylonian astronomy. (Led by Jules/Julius Oppert(?) as head of the Semitic section.(?))

During the late 19th-century, 25 Neo-Elamite cuneiform fragments were shipped from the archaeological site of Nineveh to the British Museum. In 1883, Strassmaier presented one of these fragments (K 1325) at the International Conference of Orientalists, held at Leiden. (Actes du Huitiéme Congres International des Orientalistes, Deuxiéme Partie (Leiden).)  Also has the title, Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide.) The proceedings, totalling 3 volumes, were published in 1884. Leiden (Leyden / Leide) is a city and municipality in the Dutch province of South Holland. In 1902 the German assyriologist Franz Heinrich Weissbach (1865-1944) published autographs (hand copies) of the 25 tablets.

At the (International) Congress of Orientalists in Vienna in 1886 Strassmaier made a statement on the inscriptions of Nabonidus which he had recently copied. (See: The Babylonian and Oriental Record, Volume 1.)

Source: Hebraica, Volume 6, Number 2, January 2, 1890, Page 152. The meeting would be the 8th International Congress Of Orientalists (held 1889). The Transactions of the Congress were published in 1891. The Congress was held in September at Stockholm, Sweden and Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway.

Ability to move freely

Once permissions/commissions had been given the ability to individually travel, study (at university), work, reside, attend conferences, and interact freely with other persons, away from a usual Jesuit environment or need for supervision/monitoring by being accompanied by another Jesuit, was obviously extended to Strassmaier, Epping, and Kugler.

On journeys the Jesuits traveled second class.

Strassmaier's attendance at the Orientalist Congress in Berlin in 1881

The 5th International Congress of Orientalists was held in Berlin from 12-17 September 1881. However, many presentations were staggered from June to August. Strassmaier presented on 27 July 1881 and at that time he was already at Bleijenbeck and working with Epping on Babylonian astronomical tablets. That Strassmaier was urgently invited to attend the Congress can only be because of the September publication of the preliminary results of his work with Epping. See: Epping, Joseph. (1881). "Zur Entzifferung der astronomischen Tafeln der Chaldäer." [= "The decipherment of the astronomical tablets of the Chaldeans."] (Stimmen aus Maria Laach, Band 21, Number 8, September, Pages 277–292). (Note: With an introduction by Johann Strassmaier.) The urgent attendance request undoubtedly relates to Strassmaier's attendance during 12-17 September 1881. (It was likely at this Congress meeting that Strassmaier received a standing ovation from the audience members.) Strassmaier briefly talked about the results of the decipherment of astronomical tablets. (The paper by Epping was submitted to the Speaker of the Semitic Section.) This was followed by an open discussion. The French-German assyriologist Julius Oppert (1825-1905) took part. Oppert also was involved in discussing with Strassmaier the results of the latter's work on contract tablets from the Old Babylonian period. In the Transactions of the Fifth Oriental Congress at Berlin (Erste Hälfte, Pages 315ff), Strassmaier published, 109 commercial documents (termed 'contract' documents) recovered in 1854 by William Loftus from Tell Sifr. Strassmaier's July 1881 presentation was on these old Babylonian period tablets. (The then British Museum catalogue numbers for the tablets (and fragments) were 33, 158 - 33, 327.) Strassmaier also included an exhaustive description of the period of the First Dynasty of Babylon (as then known). (See also: Travels and Researches in Chaldæa and Susiana by William Loftus (1857).)

All the contract tablets of the Old Babylonian period were published in autography by Strassmaier in the Transactions of the Congress of Orientalists held at Berlin; his autograph copies give a fair idea of the originals. When one knows how difficult these are to read it is mot surprising to find some mistakes.

Extract from: New Zealand Tablet, Volume IX, Issue 450, 25 November 1881, Page 16.

Extract from: Verhandlungen des Fünften Internationalen Orientalisten-Congresses, Erster Theil, 1881, Page 8.

Extract from: Verhandlungen des Fünften Internationalen Orientalisten-Congresses, Erster Theil, 1881, Page 16. Strassmaier showed copies of (supposedly Old) Babylonian contracts and gave explanations.

Extracts from: Verhandlungen des Fünften Internationalen Orientalisten-Congresses, Erster Theil, 1881, Pages 69-72. There is also an early attempt to identify the Pole Star in Babylonian astronomy (Verhandlungen des Fünften Internationalen Orientalisten-Congresses, Erster Theil, 1881, Page 71).

Strassmaier's attendance at the Orientalist Congress in Leiden in 1883

In 1883, Strassmaier presented on several topics at the International Conference of Orientalists, held at Leiden (Leyden). (Actes du Huitiéme Congres International des Orientalistes, Deuxiéme Partie (Leiden).) The proceedings also have the title, Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1883 à Leide. (1884) The proceedings, totalling 3 volumes, were published in 1884. Leiden (Leyden / Leide) is a city and municipality in the Dutch province of South Holland. Strassmaier mentioned, Alphabetiscbes Verzeichnis (1882). Strassmaier summarised the studies he had made on various cuneiform texts kept at the Liverpool Museum. Most the the texts Strassmaier deciphered were contracts of sale and recognition for money loans. Also placed with the Oriental Congress were commercial texts copied at the British Museum. "Changements de domicile" noted that Strassmaier is [now, presumably at date of publication] at Mount Street. [Not at Ditton Hall. ]

Source: Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide. (1884, Page 59). Strassmaier announces the publication of the first 3 parts of his alphabetical dictionary of Assyrian and Akkadian words. He expresses his hope that during 1884 it will be completed and published as a quarto volume of approximately 1100 pages. He explains he has spared no effort in ensuring that it should be of great assistance to person studying cuneiform script. He also mentions copying texts in Paris (but gives no explanatory details). Details are, however, given in Alphabetisches Verzeichniss.

Source: Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide. (1884, Page 204). It is usually stated that the first fascicle appeared in 1884. Here it is announced as appearing in 1882.

Strassmaier's attendance at the Orientalist Congress in Stockholm and Christiania in 1889

Strassmaier's presentation of copied texts at The 8th International Congress of Orientalists, held at Stockholm and Christiania, September, 1889. Source: Trübner's Record, November, 1889, Third Series, Volume I, Number 5, Pages 145-146.

Part 18: Miscellaneous Travel Movements

Strassmaier's 1884 visit to Germany

Prior to his surgery his previous visit to Germany had been in 1884 to visit his former High School teacher, Pater Lang Utto, then Abbot of Kloster Metten. From London to Metten (near Munich) is a substantial journal of some 930 kilometres (578 miles) measured in a straight line. Why Strassmaier would not make the journey in 1883 whilst still in the Netherlands is unresolved. Perhaps he did, prior to, or after, presenting at the Congress at Leiden and returning to England.

Unresolved issues with the date 1884

Most sources, undoubtedly borrowing from each other, have Strassmaier returning to London from Bleijenbeek, in 1884. It is reliably indicated by one source that he visited Pater Lang Utto in Germany in 1884. It is easy to place this as an extension of his return journey to London. However, the journal Zeitschrift für Keilschriftforschung und Verwandte Gebiete, Erster Band, 1884, Pages 70-71, has the brief article: "Aus einem Briefe des Herrn J. N. Strassmaier an Dr. C. Bezold." Under the heading appears the details: "Ditton Hall, near Widnes, Lancashire, England, 7 Nov. 1883." An explanation of why Strassmaier would be at Ditton Hall in November 1883 is given by him in Alphabetisches Verzeichniss. Still, it is yet another example of confusing dates regarding Strassmaier, Epping, and Kugler. See below also for an additional example of apparent confusion of addresses for Strassmaier. It sets out that at some time in 1883 Strassmaier had been residing at Ditton Hall but sometime in 1884 he had begun/resumed  residing in London. (In the Proceedings (Congress of Orientalists) Volume 1, 1884, Pages 27, Strassmaier's location appears a Widnes.) This type of information is not set out in short biographical articles. The dates for the Congress in Leiden were 10-15 September 1883. The dates for Strassmaier at Bleijenbeek, and his movements circa 1883-1884, remain in need of clarification. But "Changements de domicile" in Actes Oriental Congress noted that Strassmaier is [now, presumably at date of publication] at Mount Street [not at Ditton Hall/Widnes]. Interestingly, Joseph Epping does not attend the Congress in Leiden. 

Source: Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide. (1884, Page 17). See bottom of page extract.

Source: Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide. (1884, Page 239). At the time of the Congress in 1883, Strassmaier is listed as being at Ditton Hall. But at the time of publication of the Proceedings in 1884, Strassmaier address is given as London. Note: It is given as a change of address, not an address correction.

Strassmaier's movements indicated for 1880-1881

Year Location Reason
1880 (Fall (Autumn) = September, October, and November/mid August to mid October) Blijenbeck (Holland) Short visit to discuss a lengthy 'study leave' to prepare his Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter (and return to London)
1881 (At least by start/early Spring (mid March) Blijenbeck (Holland) Arrives back at Blijenbeck to begin his AV project
1881 (July (Summer) and again in September (Summer)) Berlin (Germany) Presentations at the International Congress of Orientalists (and return to Blijenbeck)

Strassmaier's movements indicated for 1883-1884

Year Location Reason
1883 Blyenbeek (Holland) Project involving preparation of Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter
1883 (September (Summer)) Leiden (Holland) Attendance and presentation at International Congress of Orientalists. (Indicated that by this time the first 3 fascicles had been completed and published. Perhaps time at which he returned to England.)
1883 (At least November (Winter), but perhaps as early as September (Autumn)) Ditton Hall (England) Project involving preparation of Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter
1884? (Unknown if still at Ditton Hall in early 1884, but perhaps stayed the Winter) Ditton Hall? (England) Would have related to his AV project
1884 Mount Street Presbytery (London, England) To take up permanent residence as a base for copying tablets at the British Museum. Also, completion of project involving preparation of Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter.
1884 (But perhaps 1883? (Autumn), unless 'quick visit' and return in 1884 (but interruptive to his work on Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss) Metten (Germany) To visit his former High School teacher, Pater Lang Utto, then Abbot of Kloster Metten

Part 19: Strassmaier's 1897 Illness

Strassmaier's illness

Strassmaier fell seriously ill in late 1897. Strassmaier appears to have become seriously ill quite suddenly. In his volume of Darius texts, published in 1897, he publishes a text which stops in mid-tablet. (See: Inschriften von Darius, Konig von Babylon (521-485 v. Chr.) ("Babylonische Texte" [VI] Heft X-XII [10-12]) by Johann Strassmaier (1897 [Texts 1-12, 1892-1897]).) Looking through one of my copies of all of Strassmaier's Darius drawings (579 autographs, 3 parts in 1 volume) it is not possible to readily identify the last tablet he worked on and left uncompleted. Nobody at the British Museum was informed of the reason (or given any reason) why Strassmaier had so suddenly discontinued his long established copying regime.

Strassmaier's labours in Assyriology came to a premature end in December 1897, when he was forced to return to Germany for a serious operation. Strassmaier probably went to the University of Heidelberg Clinic for Surgery for the treatment of his kidney disorder. The exact date of the operation is unknown. It may have been late 1897 or early 1898. (In 1897 the possession of the first medical pavilion by the Hospital for Surgery (at the University of Heidelberg) resulted in the number of beds being increased to 158. In 1898 the Clinic for Surgery was renovated and the operating room modernised.) It would appear that Strassmaier suffered from a post-operative infection (of the surgical incision). His health was never again robust. His kidney illness was due to his practice of never relieving his bladder during his time copying at the British Museum. He simply continued with his copying work without interruption (unless another student requested assistance) during the opening hours of the Student Room. The result of this self-imposed work regime was he developed a severe (and life-threatening) kidney disorder. He urgently left for Germany for an operation to save his life.

What Strassmaier went to Germany for his operation and could not be treated in London perhaps has to do with the perceived quality of medical care. According to John Pollen in his obituary for Strassmaier his illness was life-threatening. Strassmaier went back to Germany to a nursing home for special treatment and underwent a serious operation to save his life. It appears the best medical/operating facilities were in Heidelberg. 

His medical treatment in Germany was for almost 1 year His period of recuperation was even longer. According to one source, Strassmaier remained in Germany for 10 months (recovering) after the operation before returning to London. Despite a successful operation and a lengthy period of recuperation/convalescence (indicated as totalling a year and a half) his health never returned and he was now chronically weakened. As a result he resolved not to return to the British Museum to resume copying. The wound from the operation never successfully healed and he was chronically weakened. As a result he resolved not to return to the British Museum to resume his copying. It was only shortly before his death that it became known to others that his surgical wound had never quite healed. (It is not known how much awareness Kugler had regarding Strassmaier's state of health.)

Likely, while at the University of Heidelberg for surgery in 1897, Strassmaier would have renewed his acquaintance with Carl Bezold.

After his illness Strassmaier did not resume his program of copying texts in the British Museum.

Strassmaier's consistent daily work habit at the British Museum involved copying tablets all day without stopping for either a lunch or toilet break. It would seem that Strassmaier's practice of never stopping for lunch and to refrain from urinating was simply in order to ensure he did not lose time from copying. It is unknown whether his copying rate slowed as he became increasingly ill.

Strassmaier in Holland in August 1897

Interestingly, according to The Monitor, Friday, August 13, 1897, Page 1, Reverend John Strassmaier, S.J., was in Holland. (I have not seen the particular copy of The Monitor.) There may be some confusion with the facts. 1897 was the period of Strassmaier's kidney operation and start of his lengthy convalescence. Both tool place in Germany. If Strassmaier was in Holland in 1897 (whereabouts?) it is tempting to suggest that he and Kugler may have met there. It is certainly likely that Strassmaier and Kugler may have met in London on the several occasions when Kugler was visiting the British Museum. Kugler would have stayed at the Jesuit residence in Mount Street. For how long Kugler stayed in London on each of his visits is unknown.

Strassmaier's illness and its effect on his making finished autograph copies

In Catalogus Provinciae Angliae Societatis Jesu Ineunte Anno MDCCCXCIX published 1899 Strassmaier appears, Page 37: "Residentia Londinensis Immaculate Conceptionis ... P. Joannes Nep. Strassmaier, Cur. val." Also, as "Ex Provincia Germana ... P. Joan. Nep. Strassmaier," on Pages 56-57. My understanding is that the Latin cur. val. stands for 'currently fit' or similar. I am unsure of the reason for this remark.

Strassmaier's operation in 1897 resulted in loss of his energy to continue copying tablets. Following his slow recovery from his illness it appears he was a different person.

The death of Epping in 1894, the short duration of Hontheim's involvement (between 1894-1898) in continuing Epping's work, and Strassmaier's own illness (a kidney disorder) (and operation) in 1897 (which led to his withdrawing from further copying work), and 1897 being the year in which Kugler was assigned to continue Epping's work, meant that Strassmaier would no longer repeat the process of making final ("finished") drawings (i.e., making a copy drawing from his provisional drawing copy/copies to send to the user, after successful decoding by the user then the process of collation that involved perhaps checking the original tablet(s) to rectify mistakes in his copying wedge signs and/or transcription, and making a final drawing/drawings).

Strassmaier never attempted to complete the partly copied tablet in his volume of Darius texts published in 1897. The copying of the tablet remained uncompleted. He may have decided that he had copied enough material.

Strassmaier had likely copied a lot of the astronomical material by 1897. However, Kugler was interested in whether Strassmaier could find and copy particular fragments to enable Kugler to work better with his calculations i.e., planetary theory.

Effect of Strassmaier ceasing publication of texts

"Since Strassmaier stopped his publication of Neo-Babylonian tablets [literally when only half-way through copying a tablet] in the British Museum with those dated in the 23rd year of Darius, the published information on the Egibi business House after this date has remained very scarce indeed." (See: K. Abraham, "The End of Marduk-nāsir-apli's Career as Business Man and Scribe." In: Immigration and Emigration within the Near East edited by K. van Lerberghe and A. Schoors. (1995, Pages 1-10). Apparently Strassmaier later published his partly completed copy. It is not indicated it was published in in Babylonische Texte, Heft X.-XII. Inschriften von Darius, König von Babylon (521-485 v. Chr.) von den Thontafeln des Britischen Museums copirt und autographirt. This collection of autographs was published in 1890. The particular tablet was identified to me decades ago by Christopher Walker in a private communication, which I have since lost in a computer hard disk failure.

Strassmaier's post-illness activities

On returning to London after a lengthy recuperation from his surgery he did not renew his cuneiform studies. However, he still retained his interest in oriental languages. He did copy a few tablets and also made some collations to assist Kugler, but nothing comprehensive. His active period as a copyist was circa 1876-1897 - some 20 years with several breaks. After 1897 he had very little involvement with assyriology. After his return to London from convalescence he did not attend any more International Congresses. He still maintained an extensive correspondence and maintained his interest to learn new languages. Anton Deimel, the Jesuit Sumerologist, was a student of Strassmaier for 3 years. Deimel pursued his initial cuneiform studies in London under the guidance of Strassmaier from 1904 to 1907.

Strassmaier's erudition saw him (more) engaged in church administration (and his activities expanded). He belonged to the archbishop's body for theological censorship issues and chaired the clarification of casuistic (moral) disputes. In addition, his advice was often sought in terms of canon law and ecclesiastical privileges.

"Father Hagen's Scientific Journey. (June 21-October 28, 1900. A Letter to the Editor' by J. G. Hagen, S. J. (The Woodstock Letters, Volume XXIX, Number 3, Pages 496-502). Page 501: "Still Father Strassmeyer sacrificed his time to show me as much as possible. One day was spent in inspecting the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, where the Astronomer Royal, whom I had met in Paris, charged Mr Maunder to show us the whole establishment." Strassmaier had only recently return to London from his kidney operation and the travelling must have added to his considerable chronic pain.

On another trip (circa 1910 (?) Strassmaier accompanied another prominent (academic) Jesuit (Alexander Baumgartner (?) or perhaps Georg Hagen) on a visit to Stonyhurst Jesuit College. This seems to accord with the Jesuit practice of Jesuits not traveling unaccompanied. Stoneyhurst is a 300-acre (1.2 km2) rural estate owned by the Society of Jesus near Clitheroe in Lancashire.

It was remarked that he could be made happy in a childlike way when Catholic missionaries from all around would send him a New Testament or a catechism in a rare language.

Extract from: Catalogus Sociorum Et Officiorum Dispersae Provinciae Germaniae Societatis Jesu (1892, Page 79).

Extract from: Catalogus Provinciæ Angliæ Societatis Jesu (1896, Page 34).

Roles assigned to Strassmaier by 1909. Extract from: Catalogus Provinciæ Angliæ Societatis Jesu (1909, Page 38).

Part 20: Scholarly Use Of Strassmaier's Drawings

Scholarly use of Strassmaier's published drawings

University of Pennsylvania (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/nelc/people/alumni.html) "Graduates of the Department. Since 1892 the following individuals have received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and its predecessors: The Department of Semitics, the Department of Oriental Studies (Near East Division) and the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Near East Division). They are listed together with the titles of their theses and dissertations.”: Babylonian Deeds of Gift Dated to the Reigns of Nebuchadrezzar, Nabonidos and Cyrus, as Published by Strassmaier, and Transliterated, Translated and Commented Upon by Theodore W[illiam]. Kretschmann. Ph.D., 1892, 115 pages. Babylonian Slave Trade of the Time of King Nabuna'id from the Texts Published by Strassmaier, and in Addition the Interpretation of Four Cuneiform Tablets Published for the First Time by Earnest Theodore Kretschmann. Ph.D., 1892.

The Rev. Dr. Theodore W. Kretschmann (of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania), A.B., A.M., B.D., Ph.D. was Professor of Bible and Religion at Susquehanna University. Later, Professor of Hebrew and the Old Testament and Practical Theology in the Theological Department of Susquehanna University. He was a member of the National Association of Bible Instructors, and President of the Philadelphia Seminary Alumni Association from 1912 to 1915. Earnest (sic [Ernest]) Theodore Kretschmann (1866-1897) was the elder brother of Theodore William Kretschmann. Both were Lutheran pastors. They were the sons of Ernest Christian and Wilhelmina Kretschmann of Philadelphia. Brief biographical details are given in The Philadelphia Seminary Biographical Record, 1864-1923 edited by Luther D. Reed (1923). Page 137: "KRETSCHMANN, THEODORE WILLIAM, b. Phila., May 13, 1868; s. Ernest Christian and Wilhelmine (Kuemmerle) Kretschmann; A.B., U. of Pa., 1888; Phila. Sem., 1891; graduate work, U. of Pa., B.D., 1891; Ph.D., 1892; ord. Min. Pa., 1891; m. Margaret Graham Finley, 1894; children, Theodore Ernest, Dorothy Anna, Philip Miller, Herbert Finley, Stephen William; pastor, Christ Ch., Chestnut Hill, Phila., 1891-98; Ch. of the Atonement, Buffalo, N. Y., 1898-1905; Grace Ch., South Buffalo, 1902-03; St. Stephen's, West Phila., 1905-19; instr., Hebrew, Phila. Sem., 1892-94, 1895-98; prof., O. T., Pacific Sem., 1919-; chairman, U. L. C. Necrology Com., 1918-20; mem., Soc. of Biblical Literature and Exegesis; mem., Syn., G. C. and institutional bds. and coms.; author, History of Christ Church, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1896; The Church's Treasures, a History of the Orphans' Home at Germantown, Philadelphia, 1922; contr., Lutheran Church- Review, The Lutheran and other Ch. papers." Page 129: "KRETSCHMANN, ERNEST THEODORE, b. Phila., Feb. 20, 1866; s. Ernest Christian and Wilhelmina Kretschmann; A.B., Muhlenberg Col., 1886; A.M., 1889; Phila. Sem., 1889; graduate work, U. of Pa., Ph.D., 1892; pastor, Augustus Ch., Trappe, Pa., 1889-94; retired on account of ill health, 1894; mem., Soc. Biblical Literature and Exegesis, Boston; Pa. Historical Soc.; jointed., with Dr. H. Hilprecht, Old Babylonian Inscriptions, 1893; author, The Old Trappe Church, 1894; d. Anderson, Ind., May 30, 1897."

Interestingly, Hermann Hilprecht, when teaching at the University of Philadelphia in the late 19th-century, held a series of lecture courses, winter 1898-99, based solely on Strassmaier's text publications.

Part 21: Paris, Berlin

Strassmaier and Paris

One late 19th-century writer has stated that Strassmaier (circa late 1870s/early 1880s?) was engaged in the study and translation of Babylonian inscriptions in both London and Paris. There are a number of unclear aspects to this. I have never seen the Paris claim made by any other writer (but Strassmaier does state that he was involved in copying texts in Paris, but is silent regarding conducting an assessment). Interestingly, none of Strassmaier's published texts originate from a museum in Paris. It appears that Strassmaier was asked to evaluate tablets in a Paris collection but with most sources it is unclear whether he remained in London for the task. However, one source indicates that the tablets were brought to him (which would perhaps seem unusual). The source simply states that the tablets were sent to Strassmaier in London. (The Woodstock Letters, Volume XLIX, Number 2, Page 251.) Any texts brought to Strassmaier from Paris for assessment would have been copied by Strassmaier. It is reported that he pronounced a number of them to be fraudulent. I had previously thought this might possibly be an erroneous recollection of Strassmaier's assessment for the Academy of Berlin. However, see also: Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide. (1884, Page 59). Strassmaier (in a communication) announces the publication of the first 3 parts of his alphabetical "dictionary" of Assyrian and Akkadian words. He mentions copying texts in Paris (but gives no explanatory details). "Ich hoffe durch diese Publication das Studium der Keilschriften wesentlich au fördern, und deshalb habe ich auch keine Mühe gescheut alle darin behandelten Texte selbständig von dem Originalien in London und Paris zu copiren und mit möglichster palæographischer Genauigkeit au reproduciren." (Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes tenu 1883 à Leide. (1884, Page 59).) So here Strassmaier clearly writes of his research in London and Paris and texts copied in both locations. However, I cannot find any published comment by Strassmaier that he assessed cuneiform tablets held in Paris, for fraud. So it seems there were 2 'Paris episodes.' He visited Paris at some time to copy tablets  In the Vorwort (Page IV) his Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss Strassmaier writes that he used material from the Louvre in Paris and from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Also, a description of the material is given, and comprises cylinder and other inscriptions, and contract tablets. He also had tablets from Paris delivered to him in London for for assessment. (The Woodstock Letters, Volume XLIX, Number 2, Page 251.))

Source: Vorwort (Page IV) of Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss by Johann Strassmaier (1886). An explanation of the use of material in Paris collections is given.

Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, Tenth Session 1879-1880, July 6, 1880, Pages 78-79 has the entry: "The Rev. J. N. Strassmaier communicated the translation of a contract tablet of the 17th year of Nabonidus. This tablet which is in the collection of the Louvre, is marked M N B. 1133, and contains a rather unusual form of contract. ..." The contract tablet comprised 30 lines (?). See: Strassmaier, Johann. (1882). "A Contract Tablet from the 17th Year of Nabonidus." (Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology, Volume 7, Pages 407-410. (Read 6th July, 1880.)): "Among the various Assyrian and Babylonian tablets, a very considerable number contain nothing else than private contracts which have no interest for the general public. It has been stated that several thousands of these tablets are known in Europe, and it is probable that further excavations may bring still more to light. Nevertheless, very few of them have yet been published, and most of them have been used only on account of their dates. But besides the chronological interest, there are many other points upon which these inscriptions deserve our attention, as they furnish most valuable material of the Assyrian and Babylonian language, and enable us to form a fair judgment of the legal and social conditions under the Babylonian and Persian Empire. As long, however, as the whole collection of these documents is not published, it is impossible for Assyriologists to discuss successfully these questions. MM. Oppert and Menant have made the first attempt towards an explanation of these texts, and in their publications many valuable remarks may be found, although some points are not yet definitely settled. As I had during last winter [= 1889] the opportunity of examining the Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions at Paris, in the collections of the Louvre and National Library, where several contract tablets are kept, I think it may be of some interest to select one text, which contains a rather unusual form of contract. The tablet is in the collection of the Louvre, marked MNB. 1133, and is sealed on the edges with four seals ; the text is pretty well preserved, as but few lines are slightly damaged, and the meaning of the lost words is almost with certainty to be given from the context. It seems to me impossible still to give an exact literal translation of such documents, as the meaning of the many technical expressions used cannot be obtained except from the context, and further comparisons of parallel passages may suggest many improvements on a first attempt of translation. But even a general rendering, correct in the main parts, will afford an interesting insight into the social conditions of the Babylonian Empire at the time of the prophet Daniel. This prophet was at Babylon in the year when this tablet was written in the royal city, as it is dated from the 17th year of Nabonidus, which king is identified by Josephus ("Antiq., Jud.," X, 11) with Balthassar, the last king of Babylon before the Persian conquest by Cyrus and Darius the Mede. ..."

Strassmaier and the Academy of Berlin

London Daily Mail, Tuesday, January 13, 1920, Page 5: "... The Academy of Berlin purchased a costly collection of alleged Assyrian bricks and tablets covered with cuneiform (arrow-head) inscriptions, some of which were of gold. They were sent to England for Father Strassmaier's inspection, and, to the consternation of the Academy of Berlin, he pronounced the majority of them fakes." Unfortunately, no date is given.

Tablet forgeries

Most of the early forgeries were confined to the manufacture of cuneiform tablets. Circa the 1880s there were means for detecting forged tablets. The techniques comprised of both external and internal evidence and included: (1) frequent repetitions of the same tablets, (2) excessive repetition of a small group of signs, (3) the appearance of the tablets (traces of the joining of the portions in the mould - traces of the casting marks are unable to be entirely removed), (4) the forms of the characters (including a lack of sharpness of the characters), (5) the "feel" of the tablet (a forged tablet would be greasy and soft - quite different from a genuine tablet), (6) the direction in which the tablet turns (i.e., from bottom to top, not right to left), and (7) the historical circumstances presupposed (i.e., a knowledge of the relevant historical circumstances understood as reliably established).

Professor Eberhard Schrader was also skilled at detecting forgeries.

The forgery of tablets was identified as being implemented by certain antiquities dealers in Baghdad. One means of faking was using moulds taken from genuine tablets. By the 1880s forged tablets were a problem but seems to have declined by the late 1880s. However, many fake cuneiform tablets were brought to Europe and North America between 1890 and 1930. The American diplomat and antiquarian Edgar James Banks (1866-1945) wrote: "Four-fifths of all the antiquities offered for sale in Bagdad are spurious." ("Spurious Antiques in Baghdad." by Edgar Banks (The American Journal of Semitic Languages, Volume 21, Number 1, October, 1904, Pages 60-62).)

Part 22: Cooperation With Other Scholars

Strassmaier's later cooperation with Kugler

Ill-health, and other mischances befalling Epping prevented or much retarded further progress. The results achieved by Epping still needed correction (due to inadvertent application of erroneous formula) and completion. The answer was to come nearly a decade later in the person of Franz Kugler. In all Strassmaier provided approximately 300 of his copies of astronomical tablets to Kugler. Strassmaier's autographs provided the basis for Kugler's DBM (1900) and SSB (1907-1924).

Why Strassmaier had never visited Epping at Exaeten is unknown. But late in his life Epping was both ill and deaf. Epping's death in 1894 was unexpected.

Strassmaier's cooperation with other scholars

In 1892 Carl Bezold and Johann Strassmaier examined the tablet Sp II, 471 in the British Museum. See: "Assyriologische Randbemerkungen." by Carl Bezold in ZA, Band 24, Page 346. Strassmaier also provided assistance to Joseph Hontheim. Strassmaier supported Hontheim in the same manner he had supported Epping; providing texts, and commentary, and making collations. So in all, Strassmaier provided astronomical cuneiform texts and support first to Epping (circa 1880-1894), then to Hontheim (circa 1894-circa 1898, and finally to Kugler (circa 1898-1920).

Note: Morris Jastrow Junior (Harvard College) spent the summer of 1891 at the British Museum. It is most likely he and Strassmaier met there. Any cooperation/assistance between the two is unknown.

The assistance given by Strassmaier to other scholars meant interruptions to his copying work.

Strassmaier's professional assistance to Carl Bezold, Samuel Smith, and others

Carl Bezold wrote: "It is therefore, only after having had the kind assistance of the Rev. J. N. Strassmaier, that I venture to publish my copy of the inscription. I am glad to thank here the well-known cuneiform scholar for going with me twice carefully over the text, once collating it with my copy, and once with the printed proof." ("Two Inscriptions of Nabonidus," Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, Volume XI, Pages 84-103, Page 87). Details of the exact working arrangements for Strassmaier's assistance to Carl Bezold are unknown. The Student Room was established circa 1885. As far as is known, once this was done, Strassmaier could only access the resources of the Student Room via a standard reader's ticket (and accompanying rules). A very small Student Room for 2/3 students (=assyriologists) was established circa 1880/1891.

Samuel Smith (Assyrian Letters from the Royal Library at Nineveh, Parts 1-4 (1888, Page 15) wrote: "In this instance it is very difficult to say what the purpose of the letter was. I am also unable to see how certain words and phrases are to be understood or explained. All these things combine to make it one of the most difficult texts that I have met. My esteemed friend Rev. J. N. Strassmaier, S.J., kindly spent an hour in studying this tablet with me, and what I shall have to say by way of explanation includes his suggestions to me."

The production of the Kouyunjik catalogue by Bezold

Outside of the British Museum there were hardly any significant holdings of cuneiform tablets. However, the British Museum had few appropriate persons, and the means and resources, to carefully, register, clean, and organise the constant acquisitions of clay tablets. After the death of George Smith the interim successors proved barely suitable until Theophilus Pinches was employed. With the engagement of Ernst Budge, however, the organistion of the collections underwent continual changes. This made it difficult, if not impossible, to relocate a previously copied tablet for the purpose of collation. The arduous cataloging and descriptive work of Carl Bezold (basically with the Konyunjik collection) helped to change this situation. It now became easier and more certain to find tablets comprising parts of the collection.

During the mid 1880s, after Strassmaier's return from Holland, Henry Rawlinson, after some discussion with Strassmaier, took the line that, as at his advanced age (he was then seventy-five) he was unable to work at the British Museum regularly, the proposed catalogue of cuneiform texts from Kouyunjik must be drawn up in accordance with the rules that governed the production of the other official catalogues. The result was the Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets of the Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum by Carl Bezold (5 Volumes; 1889-1899). This catalogue contains descriptions of approximately 14,500 tablets and fragments. Bezold began work on the catalogue in 1886. Strassmaier assisted Bezold to write the catalogue of cuneiform tablets. Strassmaier is constantly mentioned in the volumes of Carl Bezold's, Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets in the Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum.

For another example of the examination of tablets in the British Museum by Carl Bezold and Johann Strassmaier together see the 1892 example in: "A Neo-Babylonian Syllabary of the class St." by Leonard King in Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Volume 25, 1911, Issue 3-4, Pages 298-303.

The variable quality of Strassmaier's support to Epping, Hontheim and Kugler

Translation by Teije de Jong of end of letter by Kugler, dated 29 October 1900. Though the letter does not identify to whom it was sent, Teije de Jong is most likely correct in (provisionally) identifying Alexander Baumgartner S.J. as the recipient. Source: de Jong, Teije. (2016). "Babylonian Astronomy 1880 - 1950: The Players and the Field." In: Jones, Alexander., Proust, Christine., and Steele, John. (Editors). A Mathematician's Journeys: Otto Neugebauer and Modern Transformations of Ancient Science. (Page 283). [Note: Otto Neugebauer Memorial Volume. The lengthy article by the Dutch astronomer and historian Teije de Jong is valuable for being partly based on information accessed in the Archiv der Deutschen Provinz der Jesuiten.]

It appears from Kugler's comments in the above letter that the assistance that Strassmaier had determined to give Epping, Hontheim, and Kugler was not always wanted and was a source of annoyance with them all. It seems that despite requests and advice Strassmaier was intent on providing assyriological advice for texts that were purely numerical and requiring mathematical analysis to decipher the astronomical content in them. Epping, Hontheim, and Kugler were deciphering texts with numbers, not texts needing linguistic advice. Strassmaier appears to have persisted in giving useless advice and comments, prpositions, and suggestions to all three. The assistance Kugler sought, and likely the same with Epping and Hontheim, was provision and collation of texts. The problem of deciphering the meaning of the numbers on the texts is a mathematical/astronomical problem, not a linguistic problem. In this matters we perhaps have another example of Strassmaier's eccentricity.

It is not indicated that the closeness of support between Strassmaier and Epping was repeated between Strassmaier and Hontheim and between Strassmaier and Kugler. Letter/postcard exchanges between Strassmaier and Kugler were perhaps reasonably frequent. However, a postcard reply sent by Strassmaier in May 1901 to Kugler, identifies by Strassmaier's comments that he was not aware that Kugler was working on Jupiter texts.

Part 23: Correspondence

Public correspondence

A popular early Panbabylonian belief was the ancient Babylonian had left records of sighting the crescent of Venus. "The Crescent of Venus." by Anon (= Editor?), The English Mechanic and World of Science, Volume 77, 1903, Number 1984, Page 161 cites a letter from the pioneering assyriologist Johann Strassmaier to Knowledge: An Illustrated Magazine of Science, Literature and Art, stating that he did not know of any cuneiform inscriptions that mentioned the "phases of Venus."

See also: Offord, Joseph. (1915). "The Deity of the Crescent Venus in Ancient Western Asia." (The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, (New Series), Volume 47, Issue 2, April, Pages 197-203). A responding article is: Campbell, W. W. (1916). "Is the Crescent Form of Venus Visible to the Naked Eye?" (Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volume 28, Number 162, February, Pages 85-86).

The horns of Venus issue within cuneiform records (which dates back to the early period of Assyriology) has been dealt with by Johann Schaumberger in his Erganzungsheft 3 (1935, See pages 290ff but especially page 302) of Franz Kugler's Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel (1907-1924). The cuneiform term "karnu" (or "karni") can mean "horn" or can mean "side." Thus the "horn of Venus" is properly interpreted to mean the "side of Venus." Schaumberger mentions the term "karnu" is also applied to Mars but the interpretation cannot be the "horns of Mars." Schaumberger (page 303, Der Bart der Venus) also explains the "Beard of Venus."

If the ancient Mesopotamians were easily seeing the crescent Venus (and doing so for thousands of years) I would have thought they would have left some clear record about it. The popular belief that the Mesopotamians identified the crescent Venus is seemingly inextinguishable.

"Beigabe zur Abhandlung von H[err]. Prof. Sayce, Oxford." [Adding to the paper by M[ister]. Prof. Sayce, Oxford."] by J. N. Strassmaier S. J., [dated] 16 May 1885. with [undated] Postscript  by A. H. Sayce. (In: Actes du 6e Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1883 à Leide [Leyde], Part II, 1. Section Sémitique, Pages 754-756.) The communications concern a request from Sayce to Strassmaier for the publication of the text of a Median cuneiform tablet as an addition to a paper previously published by Sayce. It concerns a tablet referring to a property sale (house), discovered by Strassmaier in the British Museum and translated by him. It appears that Strassmaier had copied the text on 29 November 1880. Strassmaier describes the tablet as oblong in shape like the so-called astronomical Report tablets and as small as Babylonian purchase agreements, of red clay and, judging by the Registration number, found by Layard in Kuyunjik (Nineveh).

Personal correspondence

Indicated are: John Peters, Joseph Epping, Franz Kugler. Likely: Archibald Sayce, Anton Deimel, Joseph Hontheim, John O'Conor. Most other persons will likely remain unknown. See also: The Letters of Peter Le Page Renouf (1822-1897), Volume 4: London (1864-1897) edited. by Kevin Cathcart (2004).

Nachlaß Carl Bezold  Universitätsbibliothek, Heidelberg: Letter from Johann Strassmaier to Carl Bezold, copy of a letter from Carl Bezold to Johann Strassmaier, copy of a letter from Carl Bezold to Franz Kugler.

Part 24: Religious Convictions

Religious convictions

Following his illness Strassmaier passed the remaining decades of his life chiefly in the exercise of the priestly ministry in London. Few sources elaborate, even in a cursory way, regarding the scope of his beliefs and activities as a religious person and a Jesuit priest. A Jesuit colleague wrote that it would be no exaggeration to say that his place at the Jesuit Residence in Mount Street would be hard to fill. For many years after his 1897 illness Strassmaier had a confessional that was described as one of the most frequented, if not the most frequented, in the Jesuit church in Farm Street (adjoining the Jesuit residence). Also, large numbers of men both young and old, clerics and laymen habitually came to him for confession in the Jesuit residence. For many years he also acted as perpetual subdeacon at High Mass, and also took his turn at involvement in other services. His last illness was both long and painful. One of the Jesuits who attended Strassmaier during his last illness remarked to some of the Jesuit community that Strassmaier, though very grateful in accepting all that was done for him, never asked for anything on his own initiative. In this he was seen as virtuous in rigorously practising the ascetic maxim Quietissimus ille qui nihil petit ("He is most at rest who proffers no request.").

Religious activities

Strassmaier was tied to parish work at the Farm Street Jesuit Church in London. (See: The Jesuits by John Aveling (1982, Page 321).)

In February 1889 Strassmaier was the subdeacon at the Requiem Mass for the late Prince Rudolf, the Crown Prince of Austria, held at the Farm-street Church of the Immaculate Conception. In April 1895 Strassmaier was one of the priests at the Requiem Mass celebrated for the Dowager Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry, the late Lady Charlotte Anne Thynne, held at the Farm-street Church of the Immaculate Conception. A Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as Mass for the dead (Latin: Missa pro defunctis) or Mass of the dead (Latin: Missa defunctorum), is a Mass celebrated for the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons, using a particular form of the Roman Catholic Missal.

Strassmaier was appointed diocese censor ('censor deputatus') (either by the diocese bishop or other ecclesiastical authority) to examine and judge that a submitted manuscript for a Catholic religious work (i.e., dealing with faith or morals) was free from doctrinal error. While a Catholic author could publish a religious manuscript without seeking approval (granting of an 'imprimatur') of the diocese bishop for publication, some Catholic works require this official approval before they can be used by Catholics. Quite a number of Catholic publications carry the approval certification: Nihil Obstat: J.N. Strassmaier, S.J.. Censor Deputatus (or: Nihil Obstat: Joannes N. Strassmaier, S.J. Censor Deputatus). The Latin term 'nihil obstat' means 'nothing hinders.' The Latin term 'imprimatur' means 'let it be printed.' The imprimatur is the bishop's official declaration that the book is free from doctrinal error and has been approved for publication by a censor (i.e., judge).

Sœur Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus, an Autobiography edited by T. N. Taylor (1912) carries the approval Nihil Obstat by Strassmaier as Censor Deputatis. Another example: Strassmaier appeared as "Nihil Obstat J. N. Strassmaier S.J. Censor deputatus" "Westmonasterii, die 3 Novembris 1915" for Memoirs of Sister Mary of Mercy Kéruel.

The views of Bernard Vaughan S. J. in his book, What of To-day? (1915) were censored by accident or intent, by Strassmaier acting as examiner and judge.

The Tablet, 6 August, 1904, Page 39.

The Tablet, 12 December, 1914, Page 39.

One of the greatest Oriental scholars of the age, Strassmaier was in addition one of the best-known and most popular spiritual directors in London. (The spiritual director's role is to recognize the particular circumstances of a person's given situation and to give the advice needed at that moment.) (The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church edited by Charles Herbermann (1922, Page 708).)

Part 25: Miscellaneous

Strassmaier's personality

Strassmaier was a very popular person. Johann Strassmaier was described by colleagues and associates as a kindly man of very gentle disposition and attractive personality; affable and good natured. A Jesuit colleague stated that Strassmaier was easy of access, tolerant and charitable to the faults of others; and his counsels always made for peace.

During his period in Quito, Epping was described as calm and moderate regarding the issues and tensions that occurred there.

Regarding his work in the British Museum he was always ready to help beginners, especially when they became serious students. He copied texts for them, collated their copies, and construed difficult passages for them, quite regardless of his own work, time or convenience. However, he was quite curt/blunt to those 'students' who were indolent and attempted to exploit his willingness to assist and his knowledge. The German assyriologist Felix Peiser, during a stay in London to access tablets in the British Museum, came across the so-called Babylonian "map of the world" tablet (82-7-14, 509 (= BM 92687)). Johann Strassmaier made a drawing of the tablet for Felix Peiser to publish in his article Eine babylonische Landkarte (ZA, Band 4, 1889, Pages 361-370). Peiser and Strassmaier published the text in transliteration, translation, and facsimile. Carl Bezold's Catalogue owed substantially to Strassmaier's comprehensive knowledge and shrewd advice.

Extract from: Persons of Note [Obituaries]. Rev. John N. Strassmaier, S.J., [by Anon] The Guardian [Arkansas Catholic Newspaper, Little Rock, Arkansas], Saturday, February 21, 1920, Page Five.

John Aveling (The Jesuits (1982, Page 321)) describes Strassmaier as "an eccentric Assyriologist," however, no details are given for this judgment. Strassmaier was perhaps considered to be eccentric by some fellow Jesuits because of the way he could effortlessly switch roles between expert copyist of Babylonian cuneiform texts and cuneiform authority and pious priest.

Strassmaier held the most extreme position that the duty of those who were able to read and copy the original cuneiform texts was to make as many texts as possible accessible. Until large numbers of texts had been made accessible and understood there should be no attempt made to establish the meanings of words. This may be considered a somewhat eccentric viewpoint.

Strassmaier had few personal possessions, no more than could be fitted into a single suitcase.

Strassmaier's physical description

His appearance was easily described: small, stocky and compact, a round face, with a constant smile and a nose that can not be easily forgotten.

Strassmaier's attendance/presentations at Oriental Congresses

Congress of Orientalists in Berlin in 1881 (whilst on 'study leave' at Blyenbeek).

Congress of Orientalists in Leiden (Netherlands) in 1883 (whilst on 'study leave' at Blyenbeck).

Congress of Orientalists in Vienna in 1886. This was the 7th meeting of the International Oriental Congress. It was held from September 27 to October 2 in the new University. Strassmaier made communications on the subject of the newly copied inscriptions of Nabonidus.

Strassmaier communicated to the Congress of Orientalists in Stockholm (now Oslo) in 1889. At the 1889 meeting in Stockholm of the 8th International Congress of Orientalists (Stockholm and Christiana, September 2-11), Strassmaier spoke on "Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions of the time of Xerxes and Artaxerxes." According to The Woodstock Letters, Volume XIX, 1890, Page 130, Strassmaier attended the Congress of Orientalists in Stockholm/Christiana in 1899 and gave a presentation of the results of his work on the inscriptions of the time of Cyrus, which had never before been deciphered.

Membership of organisations

At the 1st meeting, 5th November, 1898, of The Society of Biblical Archaeology, Johann Strassmaier (Rev. Jon. N. Strassmaier) was one of the candidates nominated by the council for election as a member of the society. At the 2nd meeting, 3rd December, 1878, Johann Strassmaier was elected a member of the society.

Member of the Congrès International des Orientalistes [International Congress of Orientalists].

Strassmaier's protégé's and students

Strassmaier never taught courses on cuneiform philology/assyriology.

The American Jesuit scholar and linguist (and administrator, teacher, writer, lecturer (professorship at St. Joseph's College, Philadelphia (1903-1906)), and preacher) John O'Conor (born 1-August-1852, New York City - died 31-January-1920, New York City). In 1872 he graduated with a BA from St. Francis Xavier College. On 9 October 1872 he entered the Society of Jesus noviate Maison St-Joseph at Sault au Récollect, Montreal, Canada. O'Conor was a protégé of Johann Strassmaier, who introduced him to the ancient inscriptions of the British Museum. (For example see the monograph: Cuneiform Text of a Recently Discovered Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar [II] King of Babylon by J. O'Conor (1885). It was published by Woodstock College, Maryland. O'Conor writes (Page 8): "He is indebted, also, to the kindness of the Rev, J, N, Strassmaier, S. J., London, Eng., for the completed and autographed text here published [Strassmaier provided his autograph of the cylinder text - 12 drawings] and for direction and encouragement during the work." During late 1884, O'Conor carried out his own copying/collation and transcription and translation. Also, O'Conor S.J., John. (1887). "Inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, Variants of an Unpublished Duplicate of the New York Cylinder." (Hebraica, Volume III (October, 1886 – July, 1887), Number 3, April, Pages 166-170).) His decipherment and publication of this inscription was the first of its kind in the USA. (Once again Strassmaier assisted O'Conor with the task.) Earlier, in 1885, his translation was exhibited with the cylinder and published in the New York Herald and in a triple-text edition. O'Conor became interested in Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, Syrian, and Ethiopic. O'Conor formally studied cuneiform philology at Harvard University and John Hopkins University. Exactly how he fitted this in with his Jesuit formation is not explained in American National Biography Online. (See: American National Biography: Supplement 2 edited by Paul Betz and Mary Carnes (2005).) Note: O'Conor is sometimes misspelled O'Connor. See the detailed biography in: American National Biography Online, "O'Conor, John F. X." by Francis Burch (which was freely accessible but now requires subscriber login). For obituaries: the New York Times, 1 February 1920; the Catholic News, February 1920; and the Woodstock Letters, Volume 49, Number 3, October 1920, Pages 351-353.

O'Conor's literary studies were pursued at the Jesuit College at Roehampton (a suburban district in southwest London), England (1874-1876). This is undoubtedly how he came to meet Strassmaier. Basically, O'Conor's Jesuit formation comprised (1) 2 year novitiate at Sault au Récollect, Canada (1872-1874). (2) 2 year novitiate at Roehampton, England (1874-1876). (3) 4 years philosophy at the Jesuit College at the University of Louvain, Belgium (1876-1879). (4) His obvious regency, teaching at Manresa (misspelled Manressa) School, West Park, New York (1879-1881), Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (1881-1883), and Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts, (1883-1884). (5) Theological studies at Woodstock College, Woodstock, Maryland. No exact dates are given but are indicated as between 1884 and 1888. He was ordained a priest on 29 August 1885. (6) His final Jesuit vows were professed on 2 February 1891. For a shared mistake by Strassmaier and O'Connor in reading a sign see: Assyriaca by H. V. Hilprecht (I. Teil; 1894, Pages 26-27).

Strassmaier was good friends with Pater Cesare Antonio de Cara (1835-1905), an Italian Jesuit and Orientalist. De Cara was a learned writer for La Civiltà Cattolica. Strassmaier attended numerous congresses and never neglected to participate in Orientalists' private gatherings and evening meetings/gatherings. Strassmaier urged de Cara to do the same.

Anton Deimel, the Jesuit Sumerologist, was a student of Strassmaier for 3 years. Deimel pursued his initial cuneiform studies in London under the guidance of Strassmaier from 1904 to 1907. (Interestingly, some sources mistakenly have Deimel studying assyriology under Strassmaier at Valkenburg.) When Strassmaier died in 1920 it was Deimel who (eventually) received all the drawings of tablets that Strassmaier had made. Anton Deimel's, Šumerische Grammatik (1924, revised and augmented 1939) was a substantial attempt at systematising Sumerian grammar. In choosing to work on a particular group of texts (from the 3rd millennium BCE, when Sumerian was still a spoken language), Deimel was possibly influenced in this approach by the approach taken by Strassmaier (who limited himself to a well-defined group of texts).

In the Preface to his book Pantheon Babylonicum (1914), Anton Deimel acknowledges the work of Strassmaier. In the body of the work Deimel makes frequent use of Kugler on astronomical identifications of Babylonian gods/goddesses. In addition to pages 35-39 the entries contain criticisms of Panbabylonism.

Book reviews by Strassmaier

Book review of Corpus Epistolarum by Robert Harper (1892) by Strassmaier in Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie. (= Assyrian and Babylonian Letters Belonging to the Koutunjik Collection of the British Museum by Robert Harper (Part I, 1892).)

Expression of bitterness against Strassmaier, Epping and Scheil

Source: The Notre Dame Scholastic, Volume XXII, May 18, 1889, Number 37, Page 603. (Taken from: The Tablet, April 1889.)

The writer of an article in The Independent (the theme of which was the new danger of clericalism), Volume 60[?], 1906[?], on Page 236 wrote a short tirade against "the disgrace" of "Fathers Scheil and Epping and Strassmayer defiling the pure well of Chaldean lore...." The reason for the outburst is not clear - presently I have not seen the full article. It perhaps reflects a period of anti Catholicism within New York or the wider USA. By the early 20th-century there were an estimated 1,000,000 Catholics in New York Diocese. The increasing Catholic population and the increasing power of the Catholic Church in New York met with some resistances from certain elements of the population. The Independent (later, The Independent and the Weekly Review) was a weekly New York newspaper (periodical) - a weekly organ of the Congregational Church - which was published from 1848 to 1924. It basically originated as an anti Presbyterian and anti-slavery newspaper. In its early period it dominated the religious press of northern USA with a circulation of 30,000 by 1856.

Father Jean-Vincent Scheil (1858–1940) was a French Dominican scholar and Assyriologist. For a time he was a staff instructor at Jerusalem of a school of Biblical studies established in 1893 by the Dominican Fathers of Jerusalem. In the late 19th-century Scheil conducted excavations at Sippar.

Strassmaier and WWI

A Jesuit colleague commented that with Strassmaier being a Bavarian of the old school, and a sufferer under Bismarck's Kulturkampf, his life-long sentiments regarding Prussian dominance could be easily surmised. (The same Jesuit colleague also commented that Strassmaier, with rare self-restraint, was never heard to express any opinion during the course of World War 1, but must have suffered great mental anxiety. See also: Canute's Tower by Paul Edwards (1990, Pages 104-105). That the German Jesuits felt loyalty to Kaiser and Fatherland see page 198 of Life of Father Bernard Vaughan S.J. by C. C. Martindale S.J. (1923).) During the course of WWI he was concerned that he might be repatriated to Germany, but his case, when raised, was not pursued. He was nominally placed under certain restrictions but was actually given great latitude.

Mayer's planned publication of other Strassmaier' drawings

Werner Mayer at the Pontifical Biblical Institute is presently the custodian of Strassmaier's papers, and at one time had planned to publish such of Strassmaier's copies as have not already been published. It is uncertain whether this was done. According to, The Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar: its administration and its prosopography by A. C. V. M. Bongenaar (1997, Page 3) unpublished Strassmaier copies of texts from the Ebabbar archive were prepared for publication by Werner Mayer. As of 2012 Werner Mayer was still teaching at the Pontifical Biblical Institute where he is now Professor Emeritus of Assyriology.

Part 26: Strassmaier's Ill-health, Death

Strassmaier's last years of ill health

During his last few years his health deteriorated rapidly and his work hours were increasingly reduced. In February 1919 Strassmaier collapsed in his office and was found on the floor. It was discovered then that his surgical wound from 1897 had never quite healed. (Priests at the Mount Street residence had their own private room.) (He would not have survived further surgery required to close it.) After some time he recovered sufficiently to say mass. However, from December 21, 1919, he was reliant on the special care given by his confrères.

Strassmaier's death

He died on Sunday morning, 11 January 1920. A modern source identified that Strassmaier died (in London in 1920) from cancer, dropsy (= oedema), and heart failure. There is no indication that Strassmaier was receiving medical treatment for any of these conditions.

The journal Nature, January 22, 1920, Page 540, has a 33 line obituary of Strassmaier. It mentions he died "... at the Jesuit Church, Mount Street, London, W., ...." Strictly speaking, this is incorrect. The obituary in The Observatory states: "Strassmaier died at the Jesuit residence, attached to the church in Farm Street."

Records of Strassmaier's death

Later in his life Strassmaier partly anglicized his name. Johann was (informally ?) changed to John.

(1) England and Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007. Name: John N. Strassmaier; Birth: about 1847; Death: Mar 1920 - St George Hanover Square, London, England.

Note: In official record, St George Hanover Square, London, England, was continually recorded as his residence from 1890. But in professional publications his address was given as: 36, Farm Street, West.

(2) Deaths Registered in January, February, and March, 1920 Sto-Str. Strassmaier, John N. Age 73, District: St. Geo. B.

Note: Street Address: 114 Mount Street; County or Borough: Westminster; Ward or Division/Constituency: St George, Hanover Square.

(3) London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965. 1465 Straissmaier (sic), John N. 114 Mount street dwelling house, 114 Mount street. 6 other names appear as residents at 114 Mount street.

Note: St. George-In-Wards.-Occupiers (Div. 1).

Strassmaier's grave

Strassmaier is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery (in North West London). The full proper name of the cemetery is The General Cemetery of All Souls. (The were sold in perpetuity and the cemetery is now closed.) It is most likely that Strassmaier is buried in St. Mary [Mary's] Roman Catholic Cemetery which forms part of Kensal Green Cemetery. (Also known as Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery.)

Update note: Strassmaier is indeed buried St. Mary [Mary's] Roman Catholic Cemetery at Kensal Green. Plot: Grave number 3991.

St Mary [Mary's] Roman Catholic Cemetery. Photograph date: 2005.

 Kensal Green Cemetery

Originally Londoners used to bury their dead in the churchyards. When these became overcrowded burial grounds were established by the parishes of inner London. However, as London churchyards became overcrowded with bodies in the early 19th-century, locations just outside of London were selected to bury the dead. (In 1824 a campaign was started to remove the graveyards to places where they would cause less problems for the health of people living in their neighbourhood.) Kensal Green Cemetery was one of the first. (It is in the London Borough of Brent, in northwest London.) It was licensed by an Act of Parliament in 1832, and had a quiet few years until it turned into a fashionable place to be buried. Kensal Green Cemetery (The General Cemetery of All souls, to give it its full name) is located in Harrow Road, in the suburb of Kensal Green, London. It is a very large cemetery. (Originally, it was open fields to the west of London.) Established in 1827 on an elevated 79-acre site (53 acres were originally purchased and the additional 26 acres to the west purchased later), it was the first commercial public cemetery in London (and was for the internment of persons of all religious persuasions). (In the late 19th-century the surrounding area was swallowed up by an expanding London.) The "business model" of the cemetery was that grave rights were sold in perpetuity. The land was bought in 1831 and it was laid out in 1832. It contains some 70,000 graves and is the oldest English cemetery still continues as an operational business. It was a privately-backed commercial venture - the first of the 7 great London cemeteries. It was opened in 1833 as the first commercial graveyard. (Between 1837 and 1841 Parliament authorised the establishment of seven commercial cemeteries outside the residential areas.) H. E. Kendall won a competition for the layout and buildings in a romantic gothic style but the Chairman of the (joint-stock) General Cemetery Company preferred the Greek revival style (and overruled the original design) and the new design was done by William Chadwick, a sometime colleague of Sir John Soane (1753-1837). The cemetery is known for the number of famous people who are buried there and also for the great deal of bad taste in monumental art work exhibited there. In the adjoining Roman Catholic Cemetery (St. Marys Roman Catholic Cemetery, which forms part of Kensal Green Cemetery) the remains of Cardinals Wiseman and Manning were interred. Kensal Green Cemetery is surrounded on three sides by a high and massive curtain wall, and, on the remaining side (facing the Grand Union Canal), originally to admit a view of the scenery of the adjoining country, by an iron railing fence of equal height with the wall. The cemetery is now described as leafy and magnificent in its decay. Only the area around the tombs of 2 of George IIIs children is properly maintained.

Part 27: Further Information, Career Summary

Written estate (nachlaß)

Nachlass (plural: nachlasse) is a German word, used in academia to describe the collection of manuscripts, notes, correspondence, and so on left behind when a scholar dies.

The fact that Strassmaier, Epping, and Kugler (and Schaumberger) were not with public institutions meant that their nacklasse were under the control of the Jesuit Order (the Redemptorist Order in the case of Schaumberger) and were not readily accessible to scholars at public institutions. Accessibility was decided by the Jesuit Order (and in the case of Schaumberger, the Redemptorist Order). Basically, only Strassmaier's notebooks survived after being sent to Rome. Whatever of Epping's nachlass was obtained by Kugler initially survived. But very little of Kugler's nachlass ended up in Jesuit archives. There is no record that Schaumberger's nachlass was accessed by secular scholars. Strassmaier's notebooks on loan the Schaumberger were eventually returned to Rome. Some of Strassmaier's drawings became lost during this return process.

It would appear that exchanges of letters were were either not kept, or, rarely kept and eventually lost rather than finding their way into the German provincial archives.

After Strassmaier's death his notebooks languished first in London and then in the Pontifical Institute in Rome for decades - accessed only by Schaumberger - until Anton Deimel permitted them to be passed on (= accessed in Rome only?) to Neugebauer (and Sachs).

After Strassmaier's death in 1920 his notebooks and larger sheets of copies, made between 1878 and 1897 in the British Museum, were passed to the custody of the Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome. (They were at the Pontificio Instituto Biblico by 1923.) Basically, this was due to the fact that in the 1920s Anton Deimel, who had been a student of Strassmaier's in London, was located Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome. It was Deimel who organised for Strassmaier's drawings [at least the copies of the astronomical texts] to be sent to him at Rome. (Schaumberger later accessed Strassmaier's drawings through such.) In 1923 Deimel loaned Schaumberger in Gars some of these astronomical drawings. The small number that were returned on Schaumberger's death in 1955 became lost. (I have not seen any identification of which drawings specifically. Obviously there was a check of drawings returned to Rome.) The Assyriologist Father Werner Mayer S.J. (apparently since the death of Anton Deimel in 1954) is now in charge of Strassmaier's material at the Pontificio Istituto Biblico. In 1981 Werner Mayer successfully arranged the return of the remaining large collection of drawings that had been loaned to Schaumberger. In 1961 Werner Mayer loaned the majority of Strassmaier's astronomical drawings then in possession of the Pontificio Istituto Biblico to the Assyriologist Alfred Pohl S.J. (1890-1961) then at the British Museum. In 1983 these drawings were returned to the Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome.

Note: In 2000, the Rev. Werner Mayer was teaching Akkadian at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (PBI). He was listed as Rev. Werner Mayer S.J., Professor, Akkadian Language and Literature, Faculty of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and residing at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. The PBI was established by Pope Pius X, and, from its beginnings, was entrusted to the Society of Jesus. The PBI also has a branch in Jerusalem (since 1927).

Possible further sources of information

There are likely on 3: (1) British Museum archives. Christopher Walker, then Deputy Keeper, Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities (personal communication, 13 June 2000) wrote: "We do not appear to have much, if anything, in our archives about Epping, Strassmaier, Kugler, and Schaumberger. It looks to me as if this was a German initiative over which the British Museum had no particular influence beyond giving Strassmaier access to the tablets. ..." This is somewhat ambiguous. It also does not acknowledge that at one time the contents of archives were subject to reduction - a lot of deemed unimportant paperwork was discarded. There is no reason to believe that Epping had any correspondence with the British Museum. The same applies to Schaumberger. (2) German Province archives. The don't think anybody has attempted to inquire about this possibility. It is not indicated there would be much information to be gleaned. (3) Personal correspondence in the archives of other academics (or similar). The few letters by Epping that are known me date no later than his time in Quito.

Strassmaier's view of his lifetime work

As a theologian Strassmaier looked at his philological and astronomical work primarily as a contribution to the explanation of the Old Testament and comparative religion. The chronological results from the research with the 'Chaldean' lunar tables helped secure some facts relating to the chronology and history of the Old Testament. In addition, the philological and astronomical studies provided important tools for understanding the use of numbers and expressions in the Old Testament.

Part of the procedure adopted by Strassmaier, explained by Anton Deimel, (ZA, 1909) involved 2 questions: "Where does the evidence point?" and "Is the text secure?"

Note: Strassmaier spent some 25 years largely copying texts from the Ebabbar Temple archive. (The temple of Shamash, the sun god.) Some hundreds were translated and used during his lifetime and after his death. However, it was not until the 1980s that extensive research of the Ebabbar archive was actually begun. In 1982, Theophilus Pinches' copies of the 82-7-14 collection in the British Museum were published in CT 55, CT56, and CT57. They contain 2727 documents from the 82-7-14 collection of tablets excavated by Hormuzd Rassam at Abu Habba, ancient Sippar, and copied by Theophilus Pinches during the years 1892 to 1894. Between 1986 and 1988 the catalogues of the Sippar Collection (which included the Ebabbar archive) were published. It appears that much of Strassmaier's copying efforts with the Ebabbar Temple texts from Sippar have - he published a substantial number of texts - achieved limited usefulness.

Strassmaier's legacy

Strassmaier made 2 decisions/choices about documents he wanted to copy (1) Commercial documents from a late period temple archive in Sippar; and (2) Late period astronomical texts.

Strassmaier's legacy centres on his copying and publication of commercial texts, and his identification, copying and provision of astronomical texts to Epping and Kugler. Strassmaier's broad program of copying was intended to enable him to write a history of Semitic languages. This was abandoned. (But Strassmaier's incomplete recovery from his serious kidney illness and operation would have contributed to this. His fitness/energy levels were considerably reduced and never reestablished.) Also indicated to be published (see: ZA, Band 9, 1894, Page 108; ZA Band 11, 1896, Page 636) but never appearing was Zur babylonisch-assyrischen Paläographie. (It was indicated that Strassmaier intended to give the development of Babylonian writing and to prove their individual phases by illustrating with numerous examples.) The focus became the copying and publication of cuneiform tablets held at the British Museum. On the basis of the published cuneiform texts copied by Strassmaier sources for the economic and scientific historical research became available. He was a tireless and restless copyist of cuneiform texts. His preliminary 'dictionary' of Akkadian and Assyrian words had importance.

Strassmaier's copies of unbaked and uncleaned tablets preserved passages which have now crumbled away. He copied them into his notebooks and sent 2nd copies to Epping . Eventually these copies were passed on to Kugler.

The provision of astronomical texts to Epping and Kugler stimulated the study of the scientific mathematical astronomy of the Babylonians. Almost all the work on Babylonian astronomy between 1880 and 1952 was based, directly or indirectly, on copies of tablets made by Strassmaier between 1880 and 1892. Neither Epping or Kugler exhausted Strassmaier's copies of astronomical material. More completed use of the astronomical material was carried out by Sachs and Neugebauer after WWII.

It is considered by Jesuit colleagues that knew him that Strassmaier completed the greater part of the work he envisioned. Apart from the paramount importance his work had for Assyriology (which benefited enormously), his work also had importance for the subjects of biblical exegesis and comparative religion. The content of the texts he made available showed that the information in the Old Testament about the Assyrians was factual.

Much of his copied text material is now superseded. There is no longer any need to use his copies.

Summary:

(1) Publication of a list of Akkadian/Assyrian words in his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss, 6 Bände, 1882 to 1886.

(2) Publication of over 3000 late period commercial documents in his Babylonische Texte, 5 Bände, 1889 to 1897. (Reproduced and circulated in a lithographic edition.)

(3) Initiation and support of decipherment of late period astronomical texts he had identified (circa 1881 to circa early 1900s).

(4) Substantial assistance to Carl Bezold's Catalogue of Cuneiform Tablets in the Kouyundjik Collection of the British Museum, 5 Bände, 1889 to 1899.

(5) Training of Anton Deimel as an assyriologist (from 1904 to 1907).

(6) Did not produce his projected larger supplementary volume to Alphabetisches Verzeichniss.

(7) At the end of his text-publication project (for Nabonidus inscriptions (at least) or the complete volumes of copied texts) Strassmaier intended to give in transcription a Wörterverzeichniss to the whole work. Unfortunately this was never done.

(8) Did not produce his projected history of Semitic languages.

Obituaries

A biographical sketch of Johann Strassmaier is given by Père Condamin in Recherches de Science Religieuse, January-March, 1920. See also: Persons of Note [Obituaries]. Rev. John N. Strassmaier, S.J., [by Anon], The Guardian [Arkansas Catholic Newspaper, Little Rock, Arkansas], Saturday, February 21, 1920, Page Five. The most detailed obituary/article is by John Pollen in The Month, February, 1920, Pages 137-144. See the entry "Strassmaier" by Werner Mayer in Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie, Band 13, 2012, 3./4. Lieferung, Steuer. E – Susa. B, Pages 210-211. See also the entries: Straßmaier, Johann Nepomuk. In: Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie, Band 9, 2008, Page 755, (by Anon); and in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche.

Strassmaier wrote many details about his work and the current situation of assyriology in the Prefaces to his publications of 'autographs' (comprising Babylonische Textes). Strassmaier also included a short autobiography in Volume 2.1 of the Berlin 1881 Oriental Congress proceedings.

Source: Woodstock Letters, Volume XLIX, Number 2, 1 June 1920. Pages 250-251. Based on John Pollen's obituary in The Month, February, 1920, Pages 137-144.

London Daily Mail, Tuesday, January 13, 1920, Page 5. Note: Strassmaier did not come to England in 1871. Correctly, he came in 1873 (or perhaps even 1874). He was not a priest in 1874 and he did not become a priest in 1874. Correctly, he became a priest in 1876.

Part 28: Publications, Book Royalties

Publications

Johann Strassmaier was convinced that it was a waste of time to compile an Assyrian Dictionary, or to write a history of the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations, whilst so many tens of thousands of tablets in the British Museum and elsewhere remained unpublished; and he determined to devote himself to copying texts and publishing new material. These transcripts he eventually published, with translations, in a series of Texte, Wörterverzeichniss, Inschriften, &c., from 1882 to 1900. He published the inscriptions on tablets of Nabopolassar and Smerdis (Zeit. für Ass., 1889), Nebuchadnezzar II (Leipzig, 1889), Nabonidus (Leipzig, 1889), Cyrus the Great (Leipzig, 1890), Cambyses (Leipzig, 1890), and Darius I (Leipzig, 1892-1897), and so made available to students a very large number of commercial documents written during the Captivity of the Jews in Babylon. He collected all the words in the second volume of Rawlinson's "Selection", and added to these many of the hundreds of words he found in unpublished texts in the British Museum, and gave them to the world in his Alphabetisches Verzeichniss (Leipzig, 1886). This is a volume of 1144 pages quarto; and every page of it was written out in his beautifully clear writing for the lithographer with his own hand. He also published many texts in the Proceedings of the various Oriental Congresses which he attended, and several very interesting popular articles on Babylonian Gods, and the Tall al-'Amârnah Tablets in the (Catholic) Month for June, August and December 1892. Of a later date were his reports on some remarkable tablets, bought at a high price by the Berlin Academy, which paid him the compliment of sending them over for his study; some of the most costly of these Strassmaier pronounced to be not genuine. His discoveries were highly appreciated by Orientalists, and on one occasion participants at an International Congress of Orientalists rose to their feet to welcome him when he entered the hall where he was to lecture.

Strassmaier, Johann. (1882). "Die altbabylonischen Verträge aus Warka." (Verhandlungen des V. Orientalisten-Congresses (Zweiter Theil, Erste Hälfte, Pages 315-364 and 144 Tafeln [There are actually 42 plates.]). [Note: The Warka texts so-called - the first texts that Strassmaier copied and published - were actually Old Babylonian period texts, which through some error he believed came from Warka. The majority of tablets copied by Strassmaier belong to the latest periods of Babylonian history.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1882). "A Contract Tablet from the 17th Year of Nabonidus." (Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology, Volume VII, [sometimes given as Volumes 7-8], May, Part 3, Pages 407-410 + 1 Plate).

Strassmaier, Johann. (6 Parts, 1882-1886; complete edition in 1 volume, 1886). Alphabetisisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter. [= Alphabetical List of Assyrian and Akkadian Words in the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia/Alphabetic list of the Assyrian and Akkadian words in the second volume of the Cuneiform Inscriptions with additions and corrections.] [Note: Appeared as Volume 4 of Assyriologische Bibliothek.]

One catalogue entry has the description::

Alphabetisches Verzeichniss der assyrischen und akkadischen Wörter : der Cuneiform inscriptions of western Asia, vol. II ; sowie anderer meist unveröffentlichter Inschriften
Authors: J. N. Strassmaier; Henry Rawlinson, Sir. Publisher: Leipzig : J.C. Hinrichs, 1886.
Series: Assyriologische Bibliothek, 4.
Continuous paging. Issued in 6 parts, 1882-86.
Appended (with special title page and separate pagination) : Wörterverzeichniss zu den babylonischen inschriften im museum zu Liverpool nebst andern aus der zeit von Nebukadnezzar bis Darius veröffentlicht in den Verhandlungen des VI. Orientalisten-congresses zu Leiden.
Description: 2 volumes (iv, 1144 pages) ; 28 cm.
Series Title: Assyriologische Bibliothek, 4.
Responsibility: von J.N. Strassmaier ; Mit zahlreichen engänzungen und verbesserungen und einem Wörterverzeichniss zu den in den Verhandlungen des VI. Orientalisten-congresses zu Leiden veröffentlichten babylonischen inschriften.

Bezold, Carl. [Strassmaier, Johann.] (1884). "Aus einem Briefe des Herrn J. N. Strassmaier an Dr. C. Bezold." (Zeitschrift für Keilschriftforschung und Verwandte Gebiete, 1. Band, 1. Heft, January, Pages 70-71). [Note: Address given is: Ditton Hall, near Widnes, Lancashire, England, 7 Nov. 1883.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1885). "Die Babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool, nebst andern aus der Zeit von Nebukadnezzar bis Darius." In: Actes du 6e Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1883 à Leide [Leyde], Part II, 1. Section Sémitique, Pages 569–624 and Plates 1–174). [Note: Presented at conference in 1883 and published 1885. They are mostly contract tablets. Liverpool Museum = Mayer Museum; one of two museums forming the Liverpool Museum. The museum curator at the time was Charles T. Gatty. I have yet to determine the sense of the remark: Strassmaier published 33 tablets; 2 remained unpublished, Liverpool Museum numbers 29.11.77, 2 and 29.11.77, 11. / Strassmaier, Johann. (1885). "Die Babylonischen Inschriften im Museum zu Liverpool." In: Actes du Sixième Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1883 â Leide. Deuxième partie. (Pages 569-624 (but 1 page appears to be missing - perhaps a printing/binding error); 174 pages of autographs).]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1885). Akkadisch und Aegyptisch." (Études archéologiques, linguistiques et historiques dédiées a Mr. le Dr. C. Leemans, à l'occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de sa nomination aux fonctions de directeur du Musée archéologique des Pays-Bas. edited by Conradus Leemans, Willem Pleyte, A. P. M. van Cordt, and F. de Stoppelaar. (Pages 105-107). (Leide: E.J. Brill).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1888). "Arsaciden-Inschriften." (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 3, Pages 129-158). [Note: The publication of texts.]

Epping, Joseph. and Strassmaier, Johann. (1889). Astronomisches aus Babylon, oder das Wissen der Chaldäer über den gestirnten Himmel. (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder'sche Verlagshandlung [= Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, Ergänzungshefte number 44.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1889). Babylonische Texte, Heft I.-IV. Inschriften von Nabonidus, König von Babylon (555-538 v. Chr.).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1889). "Inschriften von Nabopolassar und Smerdis." Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 4, Issue 1, Pages 106-152). [Note: Publication of inscriptions on tablets of Nabopolassar and Smerdis.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1889). Babylonische Texte, Hefts V.-VI. Inschriften von Nabuchodonosor, König von Babylon (604-651 v. Chr.).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1890, but also given as 1889). "On Some Later Babylonian Inscriptions." (Hebraica, Volume 6, Number 2, January, Page 152). [Note: Literally a paragraph. Hebraica was commenced as a monthly journal, and 3 numbers were issued, for March, April and May. It was then decided to publish it as a quarterly journal, and count the 3 monthly numbers as Number 1.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1890). Babylonische Texte, Heft VII. Inschriften von Cyrus, König von Babylon (538-529 v. Chr.).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1890). Babylonische Texte, Heft VIII.-IX. Inschriften von Cambyses, König von Babylon (529-521 v. Chr.). [Note: In these no distinction is made between the reigns of Cambyses and Cyrus, Cambyses alone, Cyrus alone. The 441 texts were gathered from 18 different collections in the British Museum.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1891). "?." (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 6, Page 9-?).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1892-1897). Babylonische Texte, Heft X.-XII. Inschriften von Darius, König von Babylon (521-485 v. Chr.).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1892). "The Cuneiform Inscriptions recently discovered in Upper Egypt." (The Month: A Catholic Magazine and Review, Volume LXXV, May-August, Pages 490-498).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1892). "Einige chronologische Daten aus astronomischen Rechnungen." (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 7, Pages 197-204). [Note: A basic study of the Saros tablets.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1892). "Inscription of Nebukadnezzar, Son of Nin-ebnadin-sum." (Hebraica, Volume 9, Issue 1, Page 4 + 1 Plate).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1893). "Einige kleinere babylonische Keilschrifttexte aus dem Britischen Museum." (Actes du 8e [Huitième] Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1889 à Stockholm et à Christiania. (2 Volumes, Volume 2, I Section Sémitique (B), Pages 279-316?)). [Note: "Mit autographirter Beilage." = "With autographs supplement." Autographs with descriptions and transcriptions. Some tablet photographs also.]

Strassmaier, Johann. (1893). "Zur Chronologie der Seleuciden." Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete 8, Pages 106-113.

Strassmaier, Johann, (1893). "Inscription of Nebukadnezzar, Son of Nin-ebnadin-šum." (Hebraica, Volume 9, Number 1/2, October, 1892 - January, 1893, Pages 4-5).

Strassmaier, Johann. (1895). "Der. Saros-canon Sp. II, 71." (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete, Band 10, Pages 64-69).

Sachs, Abraham. and Schaumberger, Johann. (1955). Late Babylonian Astronomical and Related Texts Copied by T.G. Pinches and J.N. Strassmaier. (Providence: Brown University Press) [Note: Texts from this edition are commonly referred to as LBAT. Book review by Bartel van der Waerden in Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Volume 52 [= Neue Folge, Band 18, regarding journal name change], 1957, Pages 339-342; and by ? in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Volume 17, 1958, Pages 157-158.]

Note: This publications list is presently incomplete. Strassmaier published many texts in the Proceedings of the various Oriental Congresses which he attended. He also published popular articles on the Babylonian gods/goddesses, and the Tall al-'Amârnah Tablets in The Month for June, August, and December 1879, March 1884, and August 1892.

Miscellaneous unpublished material

According to the results obtained by Strassmaier - and unpublished by him - in spite of the introduction of Aramaic as the diplomatic language of Western Asia and Egypt, Babylonian remained a commercial language, even down to the early 1st-century CE. (The Biblical World, January 1893, Page 52.)

Verlag Herder; and author book royalties

Strassmaier's work (as a constant visiting copyist) at the British Museum was unpaid. The Jesuit Order permitted/commissioned him to work there. The American Journal of Archaeology (1887, Page 407) noted that Strassmaier was doing his copying work "almost gratuitously" for the science of assyriology.

Strassmaier's publications were published by in Germany by Verlag von Eduard Pfeiffer in Leipzig. The publishing company was involved in publishing professional works on the Ancient Near East, Assyriology, Middle East, Bible studies, and antiquity. From the volume of publications it issued it is indicated as the preferred publishing company by both German and other scholars. No information is presently known regarding author book royalties (if any) to Johann Strassmaier. Perhaps a royalty of 10 percent was paid. If so, where the payments actually went is unknown. Based on the later experience of the Jesuit theologian and writer Karl Rahner, all of Johann Strassmaier's book royalties went directly to the Society of Jesus. (Note: Currently (2017) is is more usual for a publishing company to only pay the small amount of 4-5 percent in book royalties.)

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[I am immensely indebted to Dr Johann Schmuck of Nittenau for generous assistance given in March 2015 with references, provision of information on the family background and early years of Johann Strassmaier, and providing me with a copy of his then soon to be published paper on Strassmaier.]


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