CCP 3.5.31 - Ālu 31 (“29”)

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 41586

Freedman, 2006bS. M. Freedman, If a City is set on a Height. The Akkadian omen series šumma ālu ina mēlê šakin. Volume 2: Tablets 22-40. The University of Pennsylvania Museum, 2006.: 149-150, 166

DivinationTerrestrial omens (Šumma Ālu)

ṣâtu 3b

Base text: 
Ālu 31 ("29")
Tablet information
Fragment (upper portion)
obv 9, rev 10
Nabû-balāssu-iqbi s. Marduk-zēru-ibni d. Egibatila
Marduk-zēru-ibni (his son)
Babylon (the next tablet)

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.

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 31, 51, 194, 197, 308

Freedman, 2006bS. M. Freedman, If a City is set on a Height. The Akkadian omen series šumma ālu ina mēlê šakin. Volume 2: Tablets 22-40. The University of Pennsylvania Museum, 2006.
: 149-150, 166

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.: 59 (r 5′), 75 (8), 144 (5, 9), 291 (r 5′)

Jiménez, 04/2014 (ATF Transliteration)
Jiménez, 04/2014 (Translation)
Jiménez, 04/2014 (Collation)
Jiménez, 04/2014 (Lemmatization)
Jiménez, 04/2014 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Enrique Jiménez |
Cite this edition
Jiménez, E., “Commentary on Ālu 31 ("29") (CCP no. 3.5.31),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (2017), at (accessed September 22, 2017)
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This small and badly broken tablet preserves the beginning and end of a commentary. According to its rubric it is a commentary on the "29th" tablet of Šumma Ālu, however the incipit it gives for this alleged "29th" tablet corresponds with that called the "31st tablet" in other traditions.

The colophon states that the tablet was copied by Marduk-zēru-ibni, son of Nabû-balāssu-iqbi, from the Egibatila family, for his father, probably as some sort of pedagogical exercise. It is not dated but probably comes from the end of the second or the beginning of the first century BC, like the dated tablets from Nabû-balāssu-iqbi's collection.

The most remarkable feature of the colophon is its statement that the continuation (arkīšu) of the present tablet (Šumma Ālu 32) was written on a leather roll (magallatu). The same statement can be found in another commentary owned by Nabû-balāssu-iqbi, CCP 3.5.25.


A collation of the tablet has improved our understanding of the relationship of the present commentary with its base text. The commentary is mostly concerned with philological matters: e.g. the hardly ever syllabically written ordinal number "eleventh" (ištēnšerû) is said in r 2' to mean "11," and to correspond with Šabāṭu, the eleventh month of the Babylonian calendar.

As is usually the case with commentaries on divination texts, another concern of this tablet is to prove the internal consistency of its base text. It does so by correlating a word from the protasis with a word from the apodosis. For instance, l. 3-4 explain an apodosis that attributes a certain outcome to the "hand of Ištar" by correlating "Ištar" with a word from the protasis.

In the same manner, the commentary tries to justify certain apotropaic measures prescribed in the base text by relating them to the words of the omen. For instance, l. 4 explains the abbreviated writing of the expression "to tie a knot" (ṭurra tarakkas) with a full syllabic writing of the phrase, and then proceeds to explain it with an aššu gloss that probably refers to one of the terms in the protasis.

The commentary has some points common with K.1 (CCP 3.5.30), a commentary on Šumma Ālu 30-32, which perhaps suggests that both of them belong to the same tradition.


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BM 041586 (unpublished unassigned ?) [commentaries]

o 1 o 1

[* GÍR.TAB ina] MÚRU* SAG*.DU*-šú RA-su : šá da-mu ú-še-eṣ-ṣa-a

(o 1) "If a scorpion bites (RA-su) a man in the middle of his head," (= Šumma Ālu 31 1) refers to (the scorpion) which makes blood come out [and ...]. RA means "to kill."

o 2 2

[x x x x] x x ḫa- :* RA : da-a-ku

o 3 3

[x x x]-⸢x⸣-šú šá 2.30* RA*-su* ŠU-MIN d15 URU BI : 1

(o 3) ["If] it stings his left [...], hand of Ištar, that city (...)" (= Šumma Ālu 31 74' (?)). "His [...]" (from the protasis) is related to Ištar (in the apodosis).

o 4 4

[x x x] x-x-⸢šú? : d-tar : tur-ra tara-kas : 2

(o 4) "tur-ra tara-kas" (= Šumma Ālu 31 ca. 73'-80') means "you knot a tie," (and appears) on account of the [...] (word from the omen).

o 5 5

[ṭu-ur]-⸢ra ta*⸣-ra*-ak-ka-as : áš-šú x [(x)]-du : 3

o 6 6

[x x x x x x] x-lam? ana ŠÀ A-⸢MEŠ [ŠUBdi :]

(o 6) "[... throw] in the water" (Šumma Ālu 31 ca. 73'-80') means [...].

o 7 7

[x x x x x NAG-ma] ú*-zaq* : RI : za*-a-⸢qu [šá šá]-⸢a⸣-ri 4

(o 7) "[... make him drink] so that he belches" (Šumma Ālu 31 ca. 73'-80'), RI means "to blow, said of the wind." [...] alternativey, ... [...].

o 8 8

[x x x x x x x]-⸢x šá-niš ti-tu : zu⸣-[x (x x)]

o 9 9

[x x x x x x x x x] x nu-ub x áš-šú x [(x x)]

(o 9) [...] on account of [...].

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

[x x x x x x x x x x x] x x [(x)]

(r 1') ...

r 2' 2'

[ina -te-en-še]-⸢ri⸣-i* ITI : 11 ITI : itiZÍZ-A-⸢AN 5

(r 2') [...] "in the eleventh month" (Šumma Ālu 31 unknown) means the 11th month, i.e., the month of Šabāṭu.

r 3' 3'

[ṣa-a- u] šu-ut KA šá * GÍR.TAB ina MÚRU! SAG.DU-šú RA-su

(r 3') Lemmata and oral explanations relating to (the tablet) "If a scorpion bites a man in the middle of his head," the 29th (sic) tablet of "If a City is Set on a Height."

r 4' 4'


r 5' 5'

DUB šá EGIR-šú * EME.ŠID šá 2 KUN-MEŠ-šú ina É NA ina*-⸢mir?

(r 5') The tablet with the continuation (of the present tablet) is entitled "If a lizard with two tails is seen in a man's house" (incipit of ŠĀ 32). Its continuation is written on a parchment scroll, (copied) from a Babylonian original.

r 6' 6'

EGIR⸣-šú ina kušma-gal-la-tu₄ GABA.RI Eki SAR

r 7' 7'

im*DUB mdAG-DIN-su-E A* šá* mdAMAR.UTU-NUMUN-

(r 7') Tablet of Nabû-balāssu-iqbi son of Marduk-zēru-ibni, descendant of Egibatila. Copied by Marduk-zēru-ibni, his son. He who reveres Šamaš and Marduk (should not take it away)!

r 8' 8'

A mda₄-gi₇-ba-ti-la ŠU-MIN mdAMAR.UTU-NUMUN- A-šú

r 9' 9'

pa⸣-liḫ dUTU u dAMAR.UTU

1Apparently the commentator understood URU BI as part of the first sentence of the apodosis, "hand of the goddess of that city." The commentary probably equated Ištar with one of the words from the protasis. Unfortunately the traces before šú in both this line and the next one could not be deciphered.

2ṭurra tarakkas (collated) probably appeared as a ritual indication in one of the now only partially preserved omens ŠĀ 31 75'-80'. This is proved by the fact that this same expression is commented upon in the commentary K.1 (CCP 3.5.30) l. 30', which preserves comentaries on omens from this section, and in which ṭurra tarakkas is explained as DUR ta-rak-kas.

3The aššu clause refers probably to one of the words either in the protasis or in the apodosis. The commentary would then try to prove that the apotropaic action prescribed is

4Cf. The commentary K.1 (CCP 3.5.30) l. 32', tašaqqī-ma ú-zaq, which is there commented as tašaqqī-ma iparri, "make him drink until he vomits.

5Collated. For the restoration of the first word, cf. ŠĀ 30 11': iš-te-en-še-ri-i ar-ḫi. Perhaps the reconstruction of ŠĀ 30 and 31 should be revised in the light of this new evidence.

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum