BARRA, or Bāru, an Iranian loanword designating a tax in Babylonian texts, borrowed from Old Iranian bar- “to carry” (cf. Gk. phóros).The word appears nearly seventy times between 442 and 417 B.C. in the archives of the house of Murāšu in different spellings (bar-ra, ba-a-ri, ba-ar-ra) intended to indicate the long vowel. It occurs almost exclusively in tax receipts, in enumerations of the following kind: “x minas of silver, y measures of beer, barley, or flour, total taxes: the soldier of the king, the flour of the king, the bāru,and all sorts of payments for the house of the king.” The context and the fact that taxable lands were always fiefs attest that the bāru was an obligation for military purposes, payable in kind but especially in silver, and that it was probably the least important of the three mentioned taxes. Aside from the receipts there exists a suspension of tenancy for nonpayment of “the flour of the king and of the bāru.”
Despite the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (s.vv. al-lāku, bāru,and zabālu 1, b) and W. von Soden, Akkadisches Handwörterbuch,Wiesbaden, 1959- (s.v. bāru), the homonym bāru,cited in H. H. Figulla (p. 48 lines 2, 4, 7, 10, 14; and p. 49 lines 2, 4, 5, 7, 11, 16), refers to a “litter” carried at royal succession ceremonies and must be another Iranian loanword (also from the base bar- “to carry”).
G. Cardascia, Les archives des Murašū,Paris, 1951, pp. 98ff.
M. A. Dandamaev, “Svobodnye naemnye rabotniki v pozdneĭ Babilonii,” Assiriologiya i egiptologiya. Sbornik stateĭ, Leningrad, 1964, pp. 31-50.
W. Eilers, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung,1934, col. 96, n. 4.
H. H. Figulla, Ur Excavation Texts 4, Philadelphia, 1949, p. 12.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: December 15, 1988
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