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Based on reviews of Ancient Near Eastern treaties, especially those of the Hittites, scholars have identified six parts to the standard suzerainty-vassal treaty:

  1. The preamble identifies the suzerain (and vassal);
  2. The historical prologue reviews the past relationship between the parties, with particular emphasis upon the magnanimity of the suzerain toward the vassal;
  3. The treaty stipulations comprise the suzerain's detailed demands regarding the vassal's behavior in light of this treaty; one of those demands always is the undivided and exclusive fidelity of the vassal to this suzerain (to take no other lord besides this suzerain);
  4. The deposition states where the written record of the treaty is to be deposited for safekeeping (often the temple of one of the divine witnesses) and how frequently it is to be renewed via public recitation (usually annually);
  5. The list of divine witnesses to this covenant and in whose name the oath is sworn; this list always includes the patron deities of both parties; and
  6. The blessings and curses that will come upon the vassal who keeps or breaks the treaty; the list of curses typically is quite a bit longer and more detailed than the list of blessings.
Sheila E. McGinn, Ph.D.
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Q: What are the Parts of suzerainty treaty?
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