On amīltūtu in Emar

On amīltūtu in Emar

Masamichi Yamada

(REFEMA 3rd Workshop: Sep. 3-4, 2013, Carqueiranne)


The recently published Emar text, Subartu 17-T, is significant for its attestation of the term amīltūtu, the female counterpart of amīlūtu. An analysis of the amīlūtu contracts, a kind of debt contract, shows that this term indicates a debtor owing silver who himself enters into the household of the creditor as possessory (antichretic) pledge; at the same time another security (hypothecary pledge) is set. Subartu 17-T, which deals with the renewal of an amīltūtu contract, confirms the features of amīlūtu contracts, but is a case in which a surety instead of a hypothecary pledge is set at the time of making that contract.


I. Introduction

In 1981 Prof. Daniel Arnaud described the Akkadian word amīlūtu attested in the Emar texts as a technical term meaning personal “antichretic pledge,” thus neither “mankind, status of (free) man” as is usual in Akkadian, nor “retainer, slave” as is well known in MB and NB, as well as rarely in Nuzi. However, I am of the opinion that its meaning is actually more restricted than just an antichretic pledge. It is interesting to note that its female counterpart amīltūtu is attested in a new Emar text published in Subartu 17, the Festschrift for Prof. Jean-Claude Margueron, the leading excavator of Emar (Meskene-Qadime). I will call this text Subartu 17-T below. Before analyzing the contents of this specific text, however, it is necessary to clarify who the people called amīlūtus in Emar were. So, let us start with making general remarks on the term amīlūtu, as well as on amīltūtu.

II. General Remarks

To my knowledge, the term amīlūtu is attested in ten Emar texts and probably can be restored also in another, ASJ 13-T 38. All of them are of the Syro-Hittite type. As shown in the handout, this term is always written using the unique logogram LÚ.Ú.LU with a phonetic complement; no use of the usual LÚ or LÚ.U18/19.LU for this term has been attested. As MEŠ is put between LÚ and Ú in the plural forms, LÚ seems to have been taken as the determinative. Subartu 17-T is also a text of the Syro-Hittite type, and the term amīltūtu is written using the logogram MÍ.Ú.LU, with MÍ instead of LÚ. The phonetic complement added to it, -tù-ut-ti, indicates that this term cannot be read as sinnišūtu, the abstract noun of sinništu.

Most of the above twelve texts fall into two groups. Firstly, three are amīlūtu contracts, which we will treat in the next section. Secondly, six are contracts of caring, in which an amīlūtu, usually in return for having all his debt remitted, accepts the obligation to take care of his creditor and a family member (mostly the wife) during their lives, to be released after their deaths. Of the other texts, Emar VI 279 is a ration list of barley in Temple M1, in which Abi-Šaggar, an amīlūtu of Awiru, receives 26 parīsus, and RE 39 is a testament of a certain Igmu-X, whose PN is partly broken. In my opinion, in this text, he gives a certain amount of silver, i.e., the right to the debt owed by three amīlūtus, to his wife. However, though Subartu 17-T concerns an amīltūtu contract, it cannot be exactly classified in the first group.

I would note here that, except for the amīlūtu in the ration list, all the amīlūtus are clearly stated to be debtors owing silver, who came under the control of their creditors as possessory pledges of the debts. Though the text does not specifically say so, the amīltūtu in Subartu 17-T seems to be no exception. The amounts of the debts are listed in the handout (§ II.4). Although the debts listed range from 25 to 140 shekels, it seems that around 40 shekels was the norm.

III. The amīlūtu Contracts

To clarify the essence of the amīlūtu in Emar, let us look at the three amīlūtu contracts. I would first take the well preserved RA 77-T 5. According to this text, Itur-Dagan, one of the creditors of Yašur-Dagan, paid off all his debts to other creditors and became his single creditor. As cited in the handout, he then took Yašur-Dagan as his amīlūtu. The fact that at this time Yašur-Dagan’s family and house are set as pledges, indicates that this is a kind of debt contract. The reason why he could avoid being taken as a debt slave as in Emar VI 215 must have been that the value of the pledges was estimated to be at least as much as the amount of his debt. Here, the following two points are noteworthy. Firstly, although the debt is stated to be 47 shekels of silver, there is no reference to the date of repayment or the rate of interest, which are essential elements in ordinary debt contracts. Secondly, actually, two kinds of pledges are set. Since Yašur-Dagan himself is no doubt a possessory pledge, as we shall see on ASJ 10-T A below, his family and house are to be understood as hypothecary pledges. In a contract which lacks concrete conditions for repayment, what does this exact setting of twofold pledges mean? One may well ask also, if the debtor himself is held by the creditor, how does he repay the debt? Keeping these questions in mind, let us look at the other amīlūtu contracts.

Similarly in Emar VI 77, Dagan-kabar became the single creditor of Muḫra-aḫi for 140 shekels of silver, and took him as his amīlūtu. As in the case of RA 77-T 5, no date of repayment and no rate of interest are given, and, besides the debtor himself, his house and son are set as hypothecary pledges. We learn some more about the conditions from ll. 4b-6. Firstly, this is a debt contract with indefinite term, as the text states simply, “on the day when he pays his silver.” Secondly, the “silver” in l. 5 which Muḫra-aḫi is to repay, apparently points to the above-mentioned “140 shekels,” i.e., the capital only.

These points are well confirmed in ASJ 10-T A. Accurately speaking, this document is the renewal of an amīlūtu contract. In the first contract, when Dudu borrowed 105 shekels and 40 grains of silver, he and his two sons entered into the household of the creditor Šei-Dagan as amīlūtus. Now, Dudu has paid 40 shekels and released himself, so he has to pay 65 shekels and 40 grains of silver some day in the future in order to release his sons. This clearly shows that the term is indefinite and that the debtor repays only the capital. No payment of interest is required, since in its stead the amīlūtus undertake to work (šiprī ṣabātu) in the household of the creditor, as ll. 18-20 indicate. Therefore, there is no doubt that these three were antichretic pledges.

As for the wife and daughters of the debtor Dudu mentioned in the defective sentence of ll. 10b-11, in view of RA 77-T 5 and Emar VI 77, it seems reasonable that they were hypothecary pledges in both the first and the second contracts. Although I would not exclude the possibility that they were possessory pledges, it seems less likely, since in that case no one could take care of Dudu’s house and field, though he may have been too poor to own property. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that there is no stipulation for the release of Dudu’s wife and daughters in this text.

If amīlūtus were antichretic pledges for paying interest, how did they repay their debts? If the basic means were sales of the surplus production of their fields, which their family members cultivated, it would not have been easy for them to repay, particularly when the debt was heavy. So I suspect that some, if not most, of the amīlūtus did not expect to repay the debt from the beginning. However, ASJ 10-T A provides us with a case in which an amīlūtu did succeed in repaying at least a part of his debt. This text seems to state that Dudu was allowed to work somewhere outside the creditor’s house for nine months and earned 40 shekels of silver. It is possible that the amīlūtu Abi-Šaggar, who was on the ration list of Temple M1 as referred to in Emar VI 279: 4, was on such a temporal work release, but such cases must have been rather exceptional. Because, if there was only one amīlūtu for a debt, it would be meaningless to hold him as a possessory pledge. In this respect, note that Dudu’s two sons remained in the creditor’s household.

To summarize the above analyses, we may recognize the following as features of an amīlūtu contract. It is a debt contract of silver of the Syro-Hittite type, in which the debtor himself enters into the household of the creditor as a possessory pledge. At the same time, another security, i.e., a hypothecary pledge, is set, always including a member of the debtor’s family. Although the above three contracts are all concerned with married men, it is not clear if this feature holds when the amīlūtu was a single man, as was the case in the caring contracts. To this point we will return later. In any case, in these three contracts, the debtor repays only the capital, but instead of paying interest, he is obliged to work for the creditor, probably like a slave of his household, until the debt is paid off. Finally, the term of the contract is indefinite.

If so, what was the merit of the amīlūtu contracts for the debtor? As the term itself indicates, each amīlūtu most probably kept his legal status as a free man, although his substantial position in the creditor’s household must have been more or less the same as a slave. In view of the indefinite term of the contract, however, it is difficult to find here any actual merit for the amīlūtu. On the other hand, we can easily point out the merit for the creditor, the presence of the second security attested as hypothecary pledges in the three amīlūtu contracts treated above. Unlike in a simple slave contract, the creditor was to be compensated for the loss when the amīlūtu died, fled, or became unable to work. The advantage to the protected creditor is obvious.

The above features indicate that amīlūtu does not mean an antichretic pledge in general, but a specific type. To clarify this point, for comparison let us look at other debt contracts of the Syro-Hittite type from Emar, which involve a personal pledge. Of the four such texts, TS 25 is a debt contract of barley — so may be fairly excluded — but the other three are those of silver. Although all of them can be regarded as contracts of indefinite term and with an antichretic pledge in lieu of interest, there is no reference to an amīlūtu. I think, this is because they lack the double securities involving the debtor that we find as in the amīlūtu contracts. To be sure, double securities appear in Emar VI 209, if my reading of the text is correct. But the līṭu, “hostage,” thus a possessory pledge, is a third person, not the debtor himself, and this man is responsible for the debtor’s surety. In TS 34, the debtor becomes a possessory pledge, replacing his family members held as such by the creditor. So, this is not the case of double securities. To be sure, in the second contract in the above ASJ 10-T A, the sons of Dudu are possessory pledges, while he himself is the debtor. However, it should be noted that his sons also were already recognized as amīlūtus in the first contract.

When compared with the well-known tidennūtu, the antichretic pledge in general in Nuzi, the restricted character of the amīlūtu as a personal, antichretic pledge is obvious. Even when we confine ourselves to personal tidennūtu contracts, the variety is astonishing. The objects of debt include silver and other metals, several kinds of livestock, barley and other agricultural products, and slaves. The tidennūtu assigned to the creditor can be the debtor himself, his son or other member of his family, or a slave in his household. As for the term of contract, we see both definite type, the terms for which range from the next harvest time to fifty years and to the lifetime of the tidennūtu, and indefinite type. If the above four comparative Emar texts were from Nuzi, there is no doubt that the pledges mentioned in them would be called tidennūtus.

On the basis of the above discussion, we may conclude that the amīlūtu in Emar is a specific type of antichretic pledge with the above-mentioned features, or conditions. Keeping this in mind, now let us turn to Subartu 17-T, in which the term amīltūtu is attested.

IV. amīltūtu in Subartu 17-T

When A. Cavigneaux and D. Beyer published Subartu 17-T, they read the term as munusú-lu-du-ut-ti for ulūduttu or ulluduttu, meaning “nubilité” rather than “grossesse.” However, it is obvious that their reading does not make sense here. S. Démare-Lafont and I pointed out that it must be taken as MÍ.Ú.LU-tù-ut-ti for amīltūtu, i.e., the female counterpart of amīlūtu. The main text is cited in the handout.

At first glance, one might take Matiya to be the debtor and Al-ummi to be the possessory, thus antichretic, pledge of his debt. However, this interpretation should be rejected in light of the above discussion on the amīlūtu. Rather, we have to regard Al-ummi as both the debtor and the possessory pledge. This is our starting point. Then, how can this text be rationally understood?

The creditor is Belu-malik. Although the amount of her debt is not specified, Al-ummi was taken as his amīltūtu. As observed above, an amīlūtu contract requires another security at the same time. As she was apparently a single woman in this case, this role was performed by a surety, ša qātātiši ilqû, literally “one who took her hands.” Here, the problem is the use of yānu, literally “there is/was not,” in l. 5. Since it seems that amīlūtu contracts required another security as we saw above, Al-ummi must have had a surety at the time she made her amīltūtu contract, but now he was gone because of his death, flight or some other reason.

When the terms of Al-ummi’s contract were not being completely fulfilled, the creditor Belu-malik took her into the presence of the men of authority. As shown in l. 21, Kapi-Dagan was a son of the well-known diviner Zu-Ba‘la. Although it is not certain that “the ‘great (men)’ of Emar” were the same as the city elders, they urged a certain Matiya to repay the debt of Al-ummi. Who was this Matiya? The use of the verb in the imperative tēr, “pay back!” in l. 10 seems to indicate that he was the debtor. However, if Al-ummi was an amīltūtu, it seems from the above discussion that the debt was hers. In this respect, Emar VI 205 is noteworthy.

If my reading of this text is correct, a certain Madi-Dagan borrowed 25 shekels of silver from Ibni-Dagan, another son of the above-mentioned Zu-Ba‘la, giving his two children to the creditor as possessory pledges. But thereafter he died without repaying the debt. Then Ibni-Dagan took the children left with him into the presence of the Hittite dignitary Mudri-Tešub and the city elders as well as the brothers of the debtor Madi-Dagan. The words of Ibni-Dagan to those brothers and the resultant situation are cited in the handout. The brothers are urged to “pay back” the debt of Madi-Dagan, although apparently they were not his co-debtors. This means that the verb turru can be used for other persons than the debtor himself, in this case his brothers, i.e., his closest relatives. Since they refused to pay the money and voluntarily agreed to assign the children to Ibni-Dagan as his slaves, it was legally established that “dead (or) alive, they are slaves of Ibni-[Dag]an.” Thus, Emar VI 205 provides us with a case in which the creditor gives relatives a chance to redeem personal pledges before their enslavement due to the default on a debt contract. After Madi-Dagan’s brothers formally abandoned their right of redemption, it is stipulated in ll. 17-23 that if they later want to redeem the children, they shall give two persons for each of them, i.e., pay double.

In my opinion, a similar situation is to be assumed in Subartu 17-T. Since the amīltūtu Al-ummi no longer had a surety, the men of authority urged Matiya, her closest relative, to pay back her debt and redeem her. But he refused and voluntarily, thus formally, agreed that she should become the slave of the creditor Belu-malik.

However, at this moment Lad-Dagan intervened in the affair by undertaking to be her new surety. He may have been a son of the above Kapi-Dagan, son of the diviner Zu-Ba‘la, although this cannot be proved. In any case, why would he do this? I think, because he was her private creditor. According to ll. 19f., Lad-Dagan once took care of her in the year of famine and war, no doubt out of good will, apparently without making a debt contract. One may say easily that his behavior was natural as a human, and all the more so if he was a man of sacred profession. He probably considered that he had spent 30 shekels on this charity, the amount of silver mentioned in l. 18. Probably, because Lad-Dagan’s expenditure was not legally recognized as a formal loan, he could not prevent her from becoming Belu-malik’s amīltūtu. But money is money, and 30 shekels is not small amount of silver. If Al-ummi were enslaved by Belu-malik, Lad-Dagan would lose any hope of recovering his ‘loan.’ This must be the reason why he stood surety for her so she could keep the amīltūtu contract. Although it is not written in the text, there is no doubt that in the future someone who wants to take her would have to pay the amount of her debt to the creditor Belu-malik. However, Lad-Dagan now adds one condition: such a person should also pay 30 shekels of silver to him. This extrapayment was probably made possible by the formal abandonment of the redemption right by Matiya.

On the basis of the above discussion, Subartu 17-T can reasonably be taken as the renewal of an amīltūtu contract with modification, issued for Lad-Dagan, the new surety. Also, the amīltūtu Al-ummi can well be understood as the female counterpart of an amīlūtu.


V. Final Remarks

Thus, Subartu 17-T confirms our understanding of the amīlūtu in Emar, providing a unique female case. Both the amīlūtu and the amīltūtu are to be regarded as at once debtors and possessory, thus antichretic, pledges. Furthermore, concerning the required additional security, Subartu 17-T provides us with a case of a surety, instead of the hypothecary pledges attested in the three amīlūtu contracts made by married men. This is reasonable, particularly since a single person cannot offer a wife or child as a hypothecary pledge. So, though above I stated that in amīlūtu contracts a hypothecary pledge had to be set, this text indicates that this condition (feature 3) should be modified to: at the same time, another security, either a hypothecary pledge or a surety, is set. Although it was probably as difficult to find a surety as it is today, the existence of one would enable a debtor without enough property for hypothecary pledge to make an amīlūtu contract, as in the case of Al-ummi.

Before closing this study, it may be worth considering the relationship of Al-ummi with her lost surety and Matiya, her closest living relative. The main point we have to consider is whether the woman Al-ummi was independent of or subordinate to a man in her family. In the former case, she would presumably be the single inheritress of her family estate. In Emar a daughter was frequently nominated as the inheritress when her father had no son, but such a woman could be seriously impoverished, as attested in Emar VI 213 and TS 74. If she was an impoverished inheritress, the first candidate for Matiya’s relationship would be her uncle or cousin, though we have no idea of who needed to stand surety for her.

On the other hand, if she was subordinate to a man in her family, it was likely to her father, her brother, or perhaps her husband. Let us take the father as the most likely candidate. If her father was still alive at the time of the first contract, he was most probably her surety. This would mean that he was the substantial debtor who had Al-ummi, his daughter, borrow silver as his substitute. Then the first candidate for Matiya would be her brother. Although this interpretation may be simple, the following problems remain to be answered. Firstly, why did Lad-Dagan, no doubt an outsider to her family, take care of Al-ummi alone? Note that Subartu 17-T does not refer to any other members of her family. Secondly, why did Belu-malik risk taking her as an amīltūtu? If he had lent silver to her father and taken her as possessory pledge, the result would have been the same for him. Then, does the fact that he did not take her father as amīlūtu indicate that for him female labor was more important than the male labor? Lastly and most basically, could a woman subordinate to her father, or other male member of her family, borrow money? To the best of my knowledge, no such case is clearly attested, at least in the Emar texts.

Although the arguments are admittedly indecisive, I would support the interpretation that she was independent, in view of the number of difficulties in the interpretation that she was not. In any case, in view of the above observations, one may reasonably conclude that amīltūtu contract(s), i.e., amīlūtu contracts involving women, must have been rare cases.



I. Introduction

amīlūtu in Emar: “antichretic pledge”[1] (Arnaud); cf. “retainer, slave” (MB, NB, also Nuzi)

amīltūtu: its female counterpart (Subartu 17-T)


II. General Remarks

 1. Tablet type: Syro-Hittite type only

2. Orthography

amīlūtu: <sg.> LÚ.Ú.LU-ti-ia (Emar VI 16: 2; 117: 3; TS 39: 3; 40: 2); LÚ.Ú.LU-tù (Emar VI 77: 2; 279: 4; QVO 5-T 2: 1); LÚ!.Ú.LU-ut-ti (RA 77-T 5: 4); broken (ASJ 13-T 38: 3);

<pl.> LÚ.MEŠ.Ú.LU-te-i[a] (RE 39: 13); LÚ.MEŠ.Ú.LU-ti4 (ASJ 10-T A: 2)

amīltūtu: <sg.> MÍ.Ú.LU-tù-ut-ti (Subartu 17-T: 3).

cf. LÚ.U18/19.LU = amīlu; freq. LÚ.MEŠ = amīlūtu (Borger, MesZL2, 357 [no. 514])

3. Document types

1) amīlūtu contracts: Emar VI 77, ASJ 10-T A, RA 77-T 5

2) Contracts of caring by an amīlūtu: Emar VI 16, 117; ASJ 13-T 38!; QVO 5-T 2; TS 39, 40

3) Others: Emar VI 279, RE 39, Subartu 17-T

4. Amount of debt (shekels of silver)

         Emar VI 16            41                                      QVO 5-T 2            40

         Emar VI 77            140                                    RA 77-T 5              47

         Emar VI 117          40                                      RE 39                     [?] (3 persons)!

         Emar VI 279          not stated                          Subartu 17-T         not stated

         ASJ 10-T A            105 2/9 (3 persons)           TS 39                     25

         ASJ 13-T 38           56                                      TS 40                     30


III. The amīlūtu Contracts

 1. Texts

1) RA 77-T 5 (= ASJ 13-T 35)

(As for) Yašur-Dagan, son of Bada, 2-4 I, Itur-Dagan, son of Iddilli, have taken him (altaqe-šu) as amīlūtu for 47 shekels of silver. 5-6 He has placed his wife Na’ittu with her son, and his house, as (hypothecary) pledges.

2) Emar VI 77

1-3a Muḫra-aḫi, son of Kutta, son of Zadamma, s[on of x]-za, is the amīlūtu for 140 shekels of silver of Dagan-kabar, son of Ḫima. 3b-4a His (hypothecary) pledges are his house and his s[on] Add[a]. 4b-6 On the day when he pays his silver to Dagan-kabar, son of Ḫima, he b[rea]ks his document.

3) ASJ 10-T A

1-4a Dudu, son of Mašru, (and) also (lit. “with”) his sons, Kiri-Dagan and Abdi-ili, were staying (ašbū) as amīlūtus of Še’i-Dagan for 105 shekels (and) 40 (grains) of silver. 4b-6 Now, Dudu has paid back to Še’i-Dagan [4]0 shekels of silver from that silver. 7-10a (Since) Dudu has made himself (able to) leave, Kiri-Dagan and Abdi-ili will stay in the house of Še’i-Dagan for 65 (shekels and) 40 (grains) of silver. 10b-11 Their mo[th]er Ṣariptu (and) their sisters <  >.[2] 12-14 On the day when Dudu pays their silver, he breaks their document.

15-17 When Dudu was staying in the house of Še’i-Dagan, he was released and went away (for) nine months. 18-20a So, on <the day> when Dud[u] pays his [s]ilver, he gives his one son [t]o Še’i-Dagan, 20b so that he (the son shall) take on work (for) nine months.

 2. Features

0)    Text is of the Syro-Hittite type.

1)    The debt contracted is of silver.

2)    The debtor himself enters into the household of the creditor as a possessory pledge.

3)    At the same time, a hypothecary pledge, always including a member of the debtor’s family, is set (but cf. § IV.2.3 below).

4)    The debtor repays only the capital.

5)    But instead of paying interest, he is obliged to work at the house of the creditor until the debt is paid.

6)    The term of the contract is indefinite.

 3. Comparison

1) Other debt contracts in Emar (Syro-Hittite type), involving a personal pledge



F. member



Emar VI 205

poss. pledge

Emar VI 209


līṭu for the surety
TS 25

poss. pledge

debt in barley
TS 34

poss. pledge

poss. pledge

・No case of setting double securities (pledges) involving the debtor himself

2) tidennūtu in Nuzi: antichretic pledge in general

∴ amīlūtu: a specific type of antichretic pledge = a debtor owing silver


IV. amīltūtu in Subartu 17-T

 1. Text

1 ⸢fal-um-mi DUMU.MÍ mzu-ba-la 2 DUMU ḪAR-da a-na le-et mEN-ma-lik DUMU NIR-dKUR a-na MÍ.Ú.LU-tù-ut-ti[3] aš-ba-at ù ša qa-ta-ti-ši il-qu i-ia-nu ù mEN– ma-lik fal-um-mi a-na pa-ni mka-pí-dKUR ù [G]AL.MEŠ URU.e-mar ul-te-li ù GAL.MEŠ URU.e-mar a-na mma-ti-ia i-dáb-bu-bu ma-a KÙ.BABBAR-šú! ša mEN– ma-lik 10 te-er-mi um-ma mma-ti-ia-ma 11 [ma-a] KÙ.BABBAR-šú la-a a-na-din-mi 12 [ma]amal-um-mi-ma li-iṣ-bat-mi 13 [ù] mla-ad-dKUR DUMU ka-pí-dKUR! 14 [(x)] qa- ta-ti-ši il-qè 15 i[n]a EGIR-ki u4-mi šum-ma mma-ti-ia 16 i-ia-nu-mi-eša-nu-um-ma il-la-ak 17 ù fal-um-mi i-la-aq-qè 18 30 GÍN KÙ.BABBAR.MEŠ a-na mla-ad-dKUR li-din 19 fal-um-mi lil-qè i-na MU.KAM dan-na-ti 20 ù i-na MU.KAM ša nu-ku-[r]a-ti ub-tal- <li>-iṭ-ši  /

Al-ummi, daughter of Zu-Ba‘la, son of ḪARda, was staying with Belu-malik, son of Matkali-Dagan, as (his) amīltūtu, but the one who had stood surety for her was gone.[4]

So, Belu-malik brought Al-ummi up into the presence of Kapi-Dagan and the ‘great (men)’ of Emar. The ‘great (men)’ of Emar said to Matiya: “Pay back the silver of Belu-malik!” (But) thus Matiya: “I will not pay his silver. Let him seize Al-ummi (as his slave).”

[Then] Lad-Dagan, son of Kapi-Dagan, stood surety for her. I[n] the future, if Matiya or someone else (should) come[5] and take Al-ummi, he shall pay 30 shekels of silver to Lad-Dagan, so that he may take Al-ummi. (For) he (Lad-Dagan) kept her provided with food in the year of distress (i.e., famine) and in the year of hostility (i.e., war).

 2. Discussion on the people in the text

1) Al-ummi: the amīltūtu

・The debtor and possessory pledge, who had lost her surety

not a case of Matiya = the debtor vs. Al-ummi = the possessory pledge

2) Belu-malik: the creditor, the amount of whose loan is unknown

3) The lost surety (ša qātātiši ilqû)

・The other required security: cf. the (hypothecary) pledges in the amīlūtu contracts

yānu (l. 5), “there (was, but now) is not”: double securities required

4) Matiya and tēr (l. 10)

・The closest relative of Al-ummi, probably not the debtor

cf. Emar VI 205: When Madi-Dagan (debtor) died and his children (possessory pledges) were left with Ibni-Dagan (creditor), Ibni-Dagan took them into the presence of the men of authority and said to the brothers of Madi-Dagan:

9b-11a “If [you would take] the two children of [your] br[other], pay back (terrā) my 25 shekels of silver! 11b-12 [Otherwise], give the[se] two children of your brother into my slavery of you[r own accord]!” 13-14a Then, the brother[s of their father did not a]gree to pay the 25 shekels of silver of Ibni-[Dagan], 14b-16a and (gave in a) sealed (document) the two children of their brother into the slavery [of] Ibni-Dagan of their [o]wn accord. 16b Dead (or) alive, they are slaves of Ibni-[Dag]an.

・He formally abandoned his right to redeem Al-ummi.

5) Lad-Dagan: Al-ummi’s private creditor → her new surety

・Son of Kapi-Dagan (l. 13): cf. Kapi-Dagan in ll. 6, 21 (son of Zu-Ba‘la, the diviner)

・30 shekels: expenditure for taking care of her in the year of famine and war

・No legal debt contract?: so debt ignored when Belu-malik took Al-ummi as his amīltūtu

→ no chance to recover his 30 shekels if Al-ummi is enslaved by Belu-malik

∴1 Subartu 17-T: renewal of the amīltūtu contract with modification, issued for Lad-Dagan

He stood surety for Al-ummi, adding one condition: the one who takes Al-ummi shall pay 30 shekels to Lad-Dagan (besides the amount of the debt to Belu-malik).

∴2 amīltūtu: can be well understood as the female counterpart of amīlūtu


V. Final Remarks

 1. amīlūtus and amīltūtu(s): debtors and possessory (= antichretic) pledges

・Additional security required (feature 3’): hypothecary pledge or surety

 2. Al-ummi

・If independent: single inheritress of her family estate (cf. Emar VI 213, TS 74)

→ surety = ?, Matiya = probably her uncle or cousin

・If subordinate: substitute for a dominant man (esp. father) in her family

→ surety = her father (= substantial debtor!), Matiya = most likely her brother

∴ amīltūtu contract(s): rare



Arnaud, D. 1981: “Humbles et superbes à Emar (Syrie) à la fin de l’âge du Bronze récent,” in: A. Caquot & M. Delcor (eds.), Mélanges bibliques et orientaux en l’honneur de M. Henri Cazelles (AOAT 212), Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1-14.

— 1985-86: Recherches au pays d’Aštata. Emar VI/1-3, Paris (= Emar VI).

— 1991: Textes syriens de l’âge du Bronze récent (AuOrS 1), Sabadell (= TS).

Beckman, G. 1996: Texts from the Vicinity of Emar in the Collection of Jonathan Rosen (HANE/M II), Padova (= RE).

Cavigneaux, A. & D. Beyer 2006: “Une orpheline d’Emar,” in: P. Butterlin, et.al. (eds.), Les espaces syro-mésopotamiens (Subartu 17 = Fs. Margueron), Turnhout, 497-503 (= Subartu 17-T).

Démare-Lafont, S. 2010: “Éléments pour une diplomatique juridique des textes d’Émar,” in: S. Démare-Lafont & A. Lemaire (eds.), Trois millénaires de formulaires juridiques (HEO 48), Paris, 43-84.

Di Filippo, F. 2010: “Two Tablets from the Vicinity of Emar,” in M. G. Biga & M. Liverani (eds.), ana turri gimilli (Quaderni di Vicino Oriente V = Fs. Mayer), Roma, 105-115 (= QVO 5-T).

Eichler, B. 1973: Indenture at Nuzi: The Personal Tidennūtu Contract and its Mesopotamian Analogues (YNER 5), New Haven.

Huehnergard, J. 1983 “Five Tablets from the Vicinity of Emar,” RA 77, 11-43 (= RA 77-T).

Tsukimoto, A. 1988: “Sieben spätbronzezeitliche Urkunden aus Syrien,” ASJ 10, 153-189 (= ASJ 10-T).

— 1991: “Akkadian Tablets in the Hirayama Collection (II),” ASJ 13, 275-333 (= ASJ 13-T).

Westbrook, R. 2001:”Introduction” and “Conclusions,” in: R. Westbrook & R. Jasnow (eds.), Security for Debt in Ancient Near Eastern Law, Leiden, 2001, 1-3, 327-339.

Yamada, M. 2010: “On amīlūtu in Emar: As a Type of Antichretic Pledge,” Bulletin of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan (= BSNESJ) 53/2, 55-73 (in Japanese with English summary).

— 2011a: “Notes on amīltūtu and qātātu in Emar,” BSNESJ 54/1, 139-157 (in Japanese with English summary).

— 2011b: “On QVO 5-T 2, a Recently Published Emar Text,” BSNESJ 54/2, 119-122 (in Japanese).

— 2012: “The Contracts of Caring by amīlūtus in Emar: In Comparison with Slaves, Adopted Sons and Creditors,” BSNESJ 55/1, 2-21 (in Japanese with English summary).

[1] Security: (1) pledge – property that the debtor gives or assigns to the creditor by way of security; 1a) possessory, if actually handed over; 1b) hypothecary, if only assigned; (2) surety (guarantor) – a person who assumed liability instead of the debtor in case of default. Possessory pledge was for the most part antichretic, i.e., the income from the pledge was taken by the creditor in lieu of interest, leaving the capital to be repaid in its entirety in order to redeem the pledge (Westbrook 2001, 3, 329).

[2] Probably, they are (hypothecary) pledges as in the first contract. Cf. “(So auch) Ṣāriptu, ihre Mutter, <und> ihre Schwestern” (Tsukimoto). If so, this would mean they are (possessory) pledges.

[3] Cf. munusú-lu-du-ut-ti, “(Mille Al-ummī … est désormais) nubile,” taken as ulūduttu/ulluduttu, “nubilité” (plutôt que “grossesse”), from *wld (Cavigneaux & Beyer).

[4] Lit. “there was no one who stood surety for her.”

[5] Cf. “if Matiya should disappear (and then) someone comes” (Yamada).

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