Citing Text Collections 7: ARAB

Authors citing collections of ancient texts often must weigh competing interests. On the one hand, scholars generally prefer to reference the most recent research in order to demonstrate that they are au courant in a given field. On the other hand, not all readers will have access to the newest resources, and they might be better served by a reference to a more widely available source.

How that balancing act should play out for each author is not for us to say. However, we do believe that authors should feel free to cite dated but still valuable resources when doing so best accomplishes their goals. Daniel David Luckenbill’s Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia (ARAB) is one such resource. Although nearly a century old, it remains a common resource for scholars who wish to cite translations of primary texts from ancient Mesopotamia. For example, Josette Elayi’s recent SBL Press publication, Sargon II, King of Assyria (here), contains more than a hundred references to ARAB, in addition to citations of more recent resources such as the volumes of RIMA, RIMB, and RINAP.

One factor favoring continued citation of ARAB is its wide availability. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the publisher of ARAB, has posted the entire work online for any user to download in PDF format (see here for vol. 1; here for vol. 2). Both volumes are also viewable online at (vol. 1 here; vol. 2 here).

Given the strong likelihood that ARAB will continue to be cited often by scholars and students alike, we offer the following principles for identifying texts within the work.

1. Because every paragraph in ARAB is numbered, authors should cite volume and paragraph rather than volume and page.

2. As usual, SBL Press prefers a period between a volume number and paragraph or section (we use a colon only when the volume is followed by a page number).

3. Luckenbill further numbers the texts within each section of ARAB; that internal numbering need not be included, since the volume.paragraph citation already offers a more precise pointer to the text in question.

4. Most of the headings assigned to texts are more descriptive labels than formal titles, so they need not be enclosed within quotation marks or formatted with title-case capitalization. However, if the designation of a particular text has gained the status of a standard title, it may be capitalized following the analogy of other ancient works.

5. Assuming that ARAB is included within an abbreviations list (see below), one can cite a text from the work in short form by abbreviation plus the volume.paragraph.

Putting all these principles together produces citations such as the following:

28. For a translation of a bull inscription from Sennacherib’s palace, see ARAB 2.407–16.

5. The Prism Inscription of Tiglath-pileser I concludes with a series of blessings and curses reminiscent of those found within the Hebrew Bible (see ARAB 1.265–66).


Work Cited


Luckenbill, Daniel David. Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia. 2 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1926–1927.


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