CCP 4.2.W - Therapeutic W

Catalogue information
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
MMA 86.11.109
CTMMA 2 pls. 92-93 no. 69
CTMMA 2 pl. 130(!)

Finkel, 2005I. L. Finkel, No. 69: Explanatory Commentary on a List of Materia Medica, in Cuneiform texts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I. Spar and Lambert, W. G. Metropolitan Museum, 2005, pp. 279-283.: 279-283 no. 69

MedicalTherapeutic texts

ṣâtu 3b

Base text: 
Commentary no: 
Tablet information
obv 18, rev 5
7,9 × 8,7 × 2,8 cm
Nabû-balāssu-iqbi s. Marduk-zēru-ibni d. Egibatila

Finkel, 1986bI. L. Finkel, On the Series Sidu, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, vol. 76, pp. 250-253, 1986.
[Quotation from Sidu]
: 253

Finkel, 2005I. L. Finkel, No. 69: Explanatory Commentary on a List of Materia Medica, in Cuneiform texts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I. Spar and Lambert, W. G. Metropolitan Museum, 2005, pp. 279-283.
: 279-283 no. 69

Frahm, 2005E. Frahm, On Some Recently Published Late Babylonian Copies of Royal Letters, N.A.B.U. Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, vol. 2005/43, 2005.
[Reading of the names in the colophon]

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 37, 52, 103, 139, 172, 239-40, 308

Frahm, 2013E. Frahm, Headhunter, Buecherdiebe und Wandernde Gelehrte Anmerkungen zum altorientalischen Wissenstranfer im 1. Jahrtausend v. Chr., in Wissenskultur im Alten Orient. Weltanschauung, Wissenschaften, Techniken, Technologien 4. Internationales Colloquium der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 20.-22. Februar 2002, Münster Im Auftrag des Vorstands der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft, H. Neumann Harrassowitz, 2013, pp. 15-30.
: 19 fn. 17

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.: 74 (14, 17), 77 (7), 105 (8), 228 (9–10), 69, 226 (4–6)

Jiménez, 05/2014 (ATF Transliteration)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Translation)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Lemmatization)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Collation)
Stadhouders, 06/2016 (Corrections and suggestions)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Enrique Jiménez |
Cite this edition
Jiménez, E., “Commentary on Therapeutic (CCP no. 4.2.W),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (2017), at (accessed October 24, 2017)
Make a correction or suggestion

The present tablet is, according to its rubric, a ṣâtu-commentary on a text whose incipit is not legible. Since most comments refer to plant or tree names, it seems likely that its base text is a medical text of some sort containing a list of drugs.

This commentary is peculiar in several ways. First, its colophon identifies it as having been copied by Nabû-balāssu-iqbi (written cryptographically), of the Egibatila family. This scribe appears in the colophons of nine other commentary tablets, one of which (CCP 3.8.2.B), dated to 103 BC, is the latest datable commentary.

The second peculiar feature of this tablet is that it contains two of the few instances of quotations where the texts are explicitly identified: in this case, the poorly known series Sidu and the series Fox are mentioned. Other apparent quotations in this text are not explicitly identified.

The text uses both double (:) and triple cola (:.), the former to introduce the explanations and the latter, apparently, to distinguish between the glosses to each explanandum and the base text (see the section Technical Terms and Signs).


The greatest part of the preserved portion is devoted to a long speculation on the meaning of the otherwise unattested ḫām-plant (obv 4-10). At some point, the commentary equates this plant with the malodorous plant daddaru, which in turn gives rise to the already mentioned triple quotation from two literary texts.

As in this case, the main concern of the commentary is to provide glosses to difficult plant names. The rationale behind these equations is not always clear. On some occasions the explanans is just an Akkadian rendering of the explanandum (e.g. o 13 ú gal = šammu rabû), while on others it is a more or less obvious synonym (e.g. o 12 ú tin.tin = ú In still other cases the association stems from traditional virtues attributed to the plants in Mesopotamian plant lore, e.g. in o 12, where the “seed of the ḫaluppu-tree,” which is elsewhere known as a simplicium for child birth, is called the “plant of life.” Still at least one instance of notarikon has been revealed by collation: in o 15 the “vine” (geštin) is explained as “tree (geš) of life (tin).”

As for termini technici, the commentary uses šanîš and šalšiš, libbū (o 9, apparently introducing quotations), and ša ina iškār ... qabi/iqbû, “what is said in the series ...” (marking the end of quotations) and iqabbûšu (o 9, apparently with the same function).


Powered by Oracc
(Base textCommentaryQuotations from other texts)


CTMMA 2, 069

t.e. 1 t.e. 1


(t.e. 1) Four (?) collated.

o 1 o 1

[gišGEŠTIN.GÍR : giš]a-mur-di-in :. GIŠ BÚR : iṣ-ṣi piš-ri : úšal-⸢la-pa-ni 2

(o 1) [... GIŠ.GEŠTIN.GÍR] means “bramble” (amurdinnu). GIŠ.BÚR means “plant of purification.” šallapānu means [...]. [...] means -stone. the “tree of Šamaš” is the plane tree, (because) the tree GIŠ.MES.AN (lit., ‘the tree of the divine young hero’) means [...], i.e., the mēsu-tree, which is the Magan-tree (mesukkannu), hence GIŠ.MES.AN is the plane tree.

o 2 2

[x x x x :] na₄su-ú : GIŠ dUTU : dul-bi : GIŠ.MES.AN : 3

o 3 3

[x x x x :] gišme-si : gišme-suk-kan-nu : GIŠ.MES.AN : gišdul-bi :. 4

o 4 4

[gišERIN.BAD :] bal-ṭi-it-tu₄ šá ŠÀ gišERIN : úḫa-am : gišda-ad-da-ri : 5

(o 4) [GIŠ.ERIN.BAD] means “the woodworm which is inside of the cedar.” Ḫām-plant means “centaury” (daddaru), [... (as in)] “When you are in a river, your waters are foul (daddaru), “You frowned at [... (and)] “In his rage he expelled a great stench (daddaru), which is said in the series Sidu. [Alternatively, ḫām-plant can mean ḫaḫinnu-plant], i.e., puquttu-plant. Thirdly, it can mean DAR.DAR.RI, i.e., “centaury” (daddaru) [(as in) ...] the tree has.”

o 5 5

[(x x) lìb-bu-ú] ina ÍD tab!(UB)-ba-ši-i mu-<<:>> -ú-ka da-ad-da-ri te-ek-kel-mu-ú 6

o 6 6

[x x x x x x ina] li⸣-ib-ba-ti-šú dad-da-ri ú-še-ṣi ina ÉŠ.GÀR SI. qa-bi 7

o 7 7

[šá-niš (úḫa-am) : úḫa-ḫi-in] : úpu-qut-tu₄ : šal-šiš údar-dar-ri : úda-da-⸢ri :⸣ 8

o 8 8

[x x x] iṣ-ṣi šá-ki-in : úza-lu-ub úan-za-lu-ub šá ŠE.GIŠ.⸢Ì 9

(o 8) The plant zalub (means) anzalub of sesame” [...], the ḫām-plant on the surface of the water is called azalub-tree, as in [...] the river, šakirû-plant in measuring vessels,” which is said in the series of the Fox.

o 9 9

[x x x] úḫa-am šá IGI me-e giša-za-lu-ub i-qab-bu-šú lìb-⸢bu⸣-[ú]

o 10 10

[x x x] x ÍD úšá-ki-ru-ú ina ši-qa-a- šá ina ÉŠ.GÀR KA₅×A iq-bu-[ú :.?] 10

o 11 11

[x x x].x.⸢IZI ár-tu₄ ḫu-ud?-dul lìb-bi : PA : ár-tu₄ : GI..LUM.[MA x x (x)] 11

(o 11) [...] twig; ... of the heart; PA means “twig;” the kūru-plant [(means) ...], heart.

o 12 12

[x x x] x x lìb-bi :. Ú.TIN.TIN : Ú.NAM.TI.LA : úNUMUN giš⸣[ḪA.LU.ÚB] 12

(o 12) Ú.DIN.DIN means “plant of life,” i.e., “seed of the ḫaluppu-tree.”

o 13 13

[x x x x x] ⸢:⸣ Ú GAL : šam-mu ra-bu-ú : úIGI-lim :.* úU.x [x x x]

(o 13) Ú.GAL means “the great plant,” i.e., the imḫur-līm. The plant [...].

o 14 14

[(x) x x x x :] ú ta-ma-at : šá-niš šam-mi GISSU ku-šá-ri [(x)]

(o 14) [... means] “plant of the teeth of the sea” (i.e. “algae”) alternatively, it can mean “plant of the shade,” i.e., reed stalk.

o 15 15

[x x x x x] šá?⸣-niš giš*GEŠTIN* : iṣ-ṣi bul-ṭu : GIŠ!(DIN) : iṣ-ṣi : TIN : ba-⸢la⸣-[ṭu] 13

(o 15) [...]; alternatively, vine (GEŠTIN) can mean “tree of life,” since GEŠ means “tree” and TIN means “life."

o 16 16

[x x x x x x x x x x x x x šá?]-⸢niš? GIŠ ki--šú GIŠ dUTU x sin nu x [x x (x)]

(o 16) [...]; alternatively, “tree bundle” (means) “wood of Šamaš” [...].

o 17 17

[x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x] x šá-niš GIŠ.⸢x [x x x x x x x x x x]

(o 17) [...] alternatively, [...]

o 18 18

[x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x] x [x x x x x x x x x x]

(rest of obverse missing)
r r NaN  (beginning reverse missing)
r 1' r 1'

x [...]

(r 1') ...

r 2' 2'

[x x x x x x] ṣa-a-* šu-ut KA [šá x] x x x x AL.TIL

(r 2') Lemmata and oral explanations relating to [...] (= tablet incipit). Finished.

r 3' 3'

[GIM LIBIR-šú mdUD.UD.UD].⸢UD⸣.UD.UD.UD.UD.UD-DIN-su-E A šá mdAMAR.UTU-NUMUN- <A> mde₄-gi₇-ba-ti-la

(r 3') [According to its original] Nabû-balāssu-iqbi, son of Marduk-zēra-ibni, descendant of Egibatila, wrote it and collated it.

r 4' 4'

SAR⸣-ma ib-ri

r 5' 5'

[pa-liḫ dUD.UD.UD].⸢UD⸣.UD.UD.UD.UD.UD ma-diš ma-diš li₆-ṣur li₆-šá-qir al-la DUMU EN du-ul-la NU [ú-kal-lam] 14

(r 5') [The reverer] of Nabû should very much protect the tablet and respect it. [He should not show it] to a non-corvée master (i.e., a non andurāru-citizen).

1The meaning of these signs is unknown. H. Stadhouders (privatim) suggests that the line is “possibly a reminder for the copyist or his teacher, to be read: šá IGI.TAB = ša barê ‘(a copy) still to be checked/that needs collating’?”

2The restoration of the first word, based on Hh III 12, is tentative. The second equation (GIŠ.BÚR = GIŠ pišri) is attested e.g. in Hh VI 226.

3As noted by H. Stadhouders (private communication), “In the light of Erra I, 148-153 I strongly believe we should transcribe GIŠ.MES.AN, the last element standing for “tall” (elû, šaqû): the dulbu is defined as the tall mēsu-tree; [unlikely that we should read DINGIR and assume a hint at the mēsu as the ‘flesh of the gods.’] Is the commentator also trying to explain mesukkannu this way? The tree may be Shamash’s just because it is sky-high (the god is associated with the elâti part of the universe in several of his epithets after all).”

4The explanation after iṣ šamaš is difficult to understand because of the lacuna at the begining of line 3. The commentary seems justify the otherwise unattested equation between the "plane tree" and the "tree of Šamaš" with a series of equations. Since the god Šamaš receives frequently the sobriquet "young hero" (ŠUL = eṭlu = MES), it is plausible that the commentary made use of the homonimy between "young hero" (MES) and MES-tree. It is then also conceivable that the equation between MES and ŠUL with the god Šamaš was made explicit at the beginning of the line, now missing.

5The first equation is also attested in BRM 4 32 o 15' [CCP 4.2.M.a], where it appears as an alternative explanation: GIŠ.ERIN.BAD : šupuhru : GIŠ.ERIN.BAD šanîš balṭittu ša libbi erēni. However, there seems to be not enough room at the beginning of the present line to restore GIŠ.ERIN.BAD : šupuhru.

6As first noted by Finkel ZA 76 (1986) p. 253, this line contains a quotation from the bilingual proverb BWL 244 iv 19-24, which in the next line is apparently said to belong to the series Sidu.

7Frahm GMTR 5 (2011) p. 103 fn. 532 and id. CHANE 42 Fs Foster (2010) p. 168 fn. 36 read the sign before SI.DÙ as a Personenkeil. However, as noted by H. Stadhouders (private communication), “the sign is the GAR-like end of QÀR in Babylonian script, only a bit bolder here than in l. 10.”

8The restoration at the beginning of the line is tentative. It is based on the assumption that (1) the first equations contain an alternative explanation on the name of the ḫām-plant (which seems unavoidable in view of the occurrence of šalšiš), and (2) that this alternative explanation is based on the phonetic similarity between ḫām and ḫaḫinnu, one of the plants frequently associated with puquttu (see CAD P 515b). On the other hand, the rationale behind the equation of ḫām and dardarri is not clear. Note however that Finkel’s transliteration inadvertently omits daddaru at the end of the line.

9The names of the plants úZA.LU.UB and úAN.ZA.LU.UB are otherwise unknown. The latter, /anzalub/ is actually the Diri reading of the sign GI.ŠÀ.GI (Diri IV 234) in the meaning ḫandû, "reed pith," but it is uncertain if this has any bearing on the present passage.

10The cite from an otherwise unknown passage in the series of the Fox seems to imply that either the plant ḫām or the plant azalub are identical with the plant šakirû.

11Compare perhaps GI.AN.NA.GI.IZI and GI.PA.GI.IZI = artu in Hh VIII 10-11.

12On the “life-giving” character of the “seed of the ḫaluppu-tree,” see Böck Sefarad 69 (2009) p. 275-276 and fn. 53.

13Collation shows that this line is a notarikon on the name of the vine. The equation DIN = iṣu seems to be elsewhere unattested, and it is probably a lapsus calami provoked by the occurrence of DIN in the next equation.

14The last word has been restored on the basis of CTMMA 2 20 r 13': a-na NU DUMU TIN⸣.[TIR].⸢ki u a-na NU DUMU bar-sìp[ki] la ú-⸢kal⸣-[lam]. alla represents a crasis of ana lā. The expression mār bēl dulli is otherwise attested only in a NA letter (SAA 16 34 r 16).