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The thousands of Babylonian texts form an extremely varied corpus that documents individual destinies and collective activities alike. This documentation is of a legal, administrative and socio-economic nature and is spread over a large number of archives on clay tablets, the most significant of which come from two types of sources.
Ebabbar, the temple of the god Šamaš at Sippar in northern Babylonia, and Eanna, the temple of the goddess Ištar at Uruk in the south, produced texts that are highly representative of the diversity of administrative practices and daily administration.
They are also good testaments to the power maintained by the great institutional organisations under the joint control of the official administration and the local notables. These two archives show no break with the previous neo-Babylonian period, but they both stop around the early 5th century BC.
A few major private archives of entrepreneurs document the multifarious activities and the family lives of city notables who often served the Crown in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, in Babylon (Egibi family) or in Nippur (Murašû family).
The political upheavals experienced in Babylonia at the start of Xerxes’s reign provoked a major break, putting a stop to most of the major private archives in the Babylon region, with the exception of those found in the old royal palace (Kasr archive); the situation at Nippur, Uruk or Ur seems to have been less dependent on political ups and downs.
Francis Joannès (université Paris 1) / February 2014