CCP 3.5.48 - Ālu 48

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 92700
DT 36
Borsippa(Borsippa or Babylon)
CT 41 32

Labat, 1933R. Labat, Commentaires assyro-babyloniens sur les présages. Imprimerie-Librairie de l’Université, 1933.: 66-69

DivinationTerrestrial omens (Šumma Ālu)

ṣâtu 3b

Base text: 
Ālu 48
Tablet information
Complete tablet (surface damaged)
obv 15, rev 10
6,03 × 7,93 cm
Seleucid / Parthian (3rd cent - ca 100 BCE) (Babylon / Uruk)
Nabû-balāssu-iqbi s. Marduk-zēru-ibni d. Egibatila
Nabû-šumu-līšir (his son)

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 29, 51, 194, 199, 308

Freedman, 1998S. M. Freedman, If a City is set on a Height. The Akkadian omen series šumma ālu ina mēlê šakin. Volume 1: Tablets 1-21. The University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1998.: 335

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.: 64 (r 3–5), 74 (11, 15)

Genty, 2010aT. Genty, Les commentaires dans les textes cunéiformes assyro-babyloniens. MA thesis, 2010.
: 427-428

Hunger, 1968H. Hunger, Babylonische und assyrische Kolophone. Neukirchener Verlag, 1968.
: 121 no. 411

Labat, 1933R. Labat, Commentaires assyro-babyloniens sur les présages. Imprimerie-Librairie de l’Université, 1933.
: 66-69

Lambert, 1978aW. G. Lambert, Nabû Hymns on Cylinders, in Festschrift Lubor Matouš, B. Hruška and Komoróczy, G. 1978, pp. 75-111.
[Other tablet by the same author?]
: 98-99

Oelsner, 1986J. Oelsner, Materialien zur Babylonischen Gesellschaft und Kultur in Hellenistischer Zeit. Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, 1986.: 212

Oelsner, 2002J. Oelsner, "Sie ist gefallen, sie ist gefallen, Babylon, die große Stadt". Vom Ende einer Kultur. Hirzel, 2002.
[Nabû-balāssu-iqbi s. Marduk-zēru-ibni d. Egibatila]
: 12 fn. 27

Jiménez, 05/2014 (ATF Transliteration)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Translation)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Lemmatization)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Introduction)
Y. Cohen, 02/2016 (Typo correction [6 and 18])
Freedman, 04/2016 (Correction [13 and 14])
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Enrique Jiménez |
Cite this edition
Jiménez, E., “Commentary on Ālu 48 (CCP no. 3.5.48),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (2017), at (accessed September 23, 2017)
Make a correction or suggestion

This small tablet, containing 25 lines in total, is a commentary on Šumma Ālu 48. According to its colophon, it was written by Nabû-šumu-līšir, a scribe from the Egibatila family who also wrote CCP 3.5.49, a commentary on ŠĀ 49 very similar to this one. As is the case with the other Egibatila tablets from the DT collection, DT 36 was probably written at the end of cuneiform culture, during the second or first centuries BC.

Little is known of its base text, Šumma Ālu 48. Some 20 fragmentary omens are preserved in the first section of the reverse of K.217+ (DA 103-106), but they do not seem to correspond to those commented on in the present tablet. Work on this commentary has allowed the editor to identify as belonging to ŠĀ 48 a fragment that was hitherto thought to belong to Šumma Izbu, K.7033 (CT 28 13), and which contains meager remains of the base text on which the present tablet comments.

The tablet is mostly concerned with philological matters: for instance, l. 7 renders the logogram a.ri.a syllabically, as namû, "pasturage"; and line 13 explains the rare word ubāru, "alien," as nakru, "enemy." Occasionally it contains some of the same glosses found in its sister tablet, CCP 3.5.49. More interestingly, it quotes at least twice from Malku (ll. 2 and 12). The second of these quotations ("'(his) reign' means '(his) days'") is particularly intriguing, since it seems to attempt the transformation of an omen that originally pertained to the crown into one valid also for private individuals, perhaps reflecting the political situation of the time (the section ll. 9-12 can be understood otherwise only poorly).

This commentary uses šanîš to introduce alternative interpretations. The explanation takes on one occasion the form of a paraphrase introduced by ša (l. 6). The different explanations, as well as the various lines commented upon, are separated by cola (note that in l. 12 a triple colon is used to introduce a new line).

The end of the tablet contains a line from the base text that is left unexplained. After this there is a whole section (ll. 19-21), separated from the preceding and the following text by rulings, with only the gloss ḫepi eššu, "broken recently," repeated twice in each line. This indicates that a whole section was broken in its Vorlage. The interpretation of this commentary is further hindered by the poor condition of the tablet. Several signs from each line are missing, and the surface of the tablet has greatly deteriorated since it was copied by Gadd in 1931. Consequently some of the new readings proposed here are hypothetical.


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CT 41, pl. 32, DT 036 [commentaries]

o 1 o 1

[* NIG-MEŠ ina -MEŠ ú-nab-ba]-⸢ḫu? ú-kul-ti dÈR.RA ina KUR GÁLši

(o 1) "If bitches bark at the city gates, the voracity of the plague god will be over the land" (= Šumma Ālu 48 1). [...] "exercise of power" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown) means "hostility;" "half" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown) means ["half" ...].

o 2 2

[x x x x x x x x x] : kiš-šu : nu-kúr-tu₄ : mut-ta- 1

o 3 3

[miš-lu x x x x x] x-x⸣-ku-šu-ma : A-MEŠ i-sap-pa-nu-šú : 2

(o 3) [...] means "they will ... him." "The waters will level it" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown) means [... "..."] means "to take." "His slander will be hostile with him" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown) [means "his enemies] will be hostile with him."

o 4 4

[x x x x x] : le-qu-ú : DU₁₁.DU₁₁-BI i-ger-ri-šu

o 5 5

[x x x i]-ger-ru-šú : * NIG ina É 1 Ù.TU É BI

(o 5) "If a bitch gives birth to one in a man's house, that house will achieve its desires" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown) refers (to the bitch) that gives birth to one female.

o 6 6

[ṣu-mi-ra-tu]-šú KURád : šá 1*et MUNUS ul-la-du : ina ṣar*-ti PAP.ḪAL DABbat 3

(o 6) In "Through treachery difficulty will befall (that house)" (= Šumma Ālu 48 K.7033 5'), ["treachery" means ...]; "difficulty" means "straits."

o 7 7

[ṣar- : x x :] PAP.ḪAL : dan-na- : ina A.RI.A ÚŠ : A.RI.A : na-mu-ú

(o 7) In "He will die in the steppe" (= Šumma Ālu 48 K.7033 6'), A.RI.A means "steppe" [and ÚŠ means "to die" (?)].

o 8 8

[ÚŠ : ma-a- : DUMU-MEŠ] É KÚR-ma É i-be-el : DUMU-MEŠ É KÚR-ma

(o 8) "[The sons] of the man's house will be estranged and will rule the house" (= Šumma Ālu 48 K.7033 9') means "the sons of the man's house will be estranged [...] and someone else should rule the house."

o 9 9

[x x x x] mam-ma šá-nam-ma É i-be-el : * NIG ina É

(o 9) In "If a bitch gives birth to [...] in a man's house, [the owner of] the house will die, [...] (variant) he will achieve (a long) reign" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown), "he will achieve a BALA" means "he will achieve (a long) reign" [...] alternatively, "he will achieve peace for (his) reign" means "he will achieve peace for the crown" [...] In "he will achieve for (his) reign," "(his) reign" means "(his) days."

o 10 10

[x-MEŠ Ù.TU EN] É ÚŠ x x : BALA TUKUši <:> pa-lu-ú TUKUši 4

o 11 11

[x x x x] šá-niš mit-gur- BALA TUKUši : mit-gur- AGA? TUKUši

o 12 12

[x x x x] x BALA TUKUši <:> pa-lu-ú : u₄-mu :. * NIG ina KUN₄ É NA Ù.TU 5

(o 12) In "If a bitch gives birth on the staircase (KUN₄)" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown), [KUN₄ means "staircase"].

o 13 13

[x x x] x :⸣ É BI U.BARru- šad-ru-šú : U.BAR : nak-ri 6

(o 13) In "That house, foreigners will be in store for it" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown), "foe" means "enemy." [...] ... "will be in store for it."

o 14 14

[x x] x šad-ru-šú : ur-ši : dul-ba-nu : * NIG ina ÁLAL? ÙR? Ù.TU 7

(o 14) "Bedroom" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown) means "storey." In "A bitch will give birth in the roof drain pipe" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown), ["in the roof drain pipe"] means "on the drainage slope of the roof," alternatively, "in the roof drain pipe."

o 15 15

[ina ÁLAL? ÙR? : ina] ki-in-šú šá ú-ri : šá-niš ina ÁLAL? šá u-ri : 8

o 16 16

[(x x x) x ina?] šu-bat

(o 16) In "[(...) in] the man's residence." (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown), ... means "residence."

r 17 r 17

x x : šub- : -di-ḫi : -me-lu : * NIG ina É 9

(r 17) "Profit" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown) beans "benefit." "If a bitch gives birth at the threshold of a man's house, that house will achieve its desires" (= Šumma Ālu 48 unknown).

r 18 18

Ù.TU É BI ṣu-mi-ra-tu-šú KURád 10

r 19 19

ḫe- -šú ḫe- -šú

(r 19) (Broken recently).

r 20 20

ḫe- -šú ḫe- -šú

r 21 21

ḫe- -šú ḫe- -šú

r 22 22

ṣa-a- ù šu-ut KA šá * NIG-MEŠ ina -MEŠ ú-nab-ba-ḫu

(r 22) Lemmata and oral explanations relating to (the tablet) "If bitches bark at the city gates" (= Šumma Ālu 48), tablet of "If a City is Set on a Height."

r 23 23

* URU ina SUKUDe GARin

r 24 24

LIBIR.RA-šú TA muḫ-ḫi im--⸢da* SUMUN GABA⸣.RI bar-sìpki SAR-ma IGI.TAB

(r 24) Its original was copied from a one-column tablet whose original was from Borsippa.

r 25 25

im--da mdAG-DIN-su-E A šá mdAMAR*.UTU*-NUMUN*⸣- A mdegi-ba*-ti-la

(r 25) One-column tablet of Nabû-balāssu-iqbi son of Marduk-zēru-ibni, descendant of Egibatila. Handwork of Nabû-šumu-līšir, his son.

r 26 26


1kiššū = nukurtu is elsewhere attested only in Malku II 266

2The first word has been restored with the Principal Commentary on Šumma Izbu (CCP 3.6.1.A) l. 42: muttatu = mešlu.

3Collation shows that the sign copied by Gadd as IT looks rather like 1+et. On the other hand, only another instance of pušqu iṣabbat is booked in the dictionaries: YOS 10 42 i 30: rubâm pušqum iṣabbat, "difficulty will befall the prince" (OB extispicy). Compare also VAT 10218 ii 5 (CCP 3.1.58.A.a): āl kiššūti ina ṣarti PAP?.ḪAL? iṣabbat, "difficulties will befall a city of world dominion."

4The beginning is restored with K.7033 10' (see introduction). Both the explanandum and the text of the commentary remain obscure.

5Compare palû = ūmu in Malku III 134.

6The reading É BI U.BARru- šad-ru-šú here and in the next line is courtesy of Sally M. Freedman. It is likely that the missing first part of this line explained KUN₄ = simmiltu. On the other hand, ubāru = nakru is also attested in a commentary on Šumma Ālu 49 written by the same scribe (CT 41 31 r 25 = CCP 3.5.49). CAD U/W 10a reads the the verb as ittarrušu, a reading that does not fit the traces.

7Cf. uršu = dulbānu in the Principal Commentary on Šumma Izbu (CCP 3.6.1.A) l. 535. The signs before Ù.TU are written over the margin and are difficult to decipher, ÁLAL ÙR is a tentative reading.

8The word kinšu, "drainage slope," is elsewhere attested in a couple of NB documents (CAD K 388b) and in Šumma Ālu 6 94: šumma bīt amēli kinša lawi, "if a man's house is surrounded by a slope" (Freedman, S.M. OPKF 17 (1998) p. 118).

9The second sign of the line is probably not DI, as copied by Gadd, but rather RU. On the occurrences of the equation išdiḫu = nēmelu in commentaries, see Frahm, E. GMTR 5 (2011) p. 284.

10The line is here simply enunciated, and no explanation is offered. Probably the Vorlage contained the commentary in the lines that followed this one, which were apparently broken.

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum