CCP 7.2.u103 - Ritual Text

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 36595
BabylonBabylon (Rassam)
BM 36595+ BM 37055
Lambert Folio 9328 [tr] [BM 37055]
Lambert Folio 9844 [tr] [BM 36595]
Livingstone MMEWABS pl. vii [BM 37055]

Livingstone, 1986A. Livingstone, Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars. Eisenbrauns, 1986.: 68-70 [BM 37055]



Base text: 
Ritual Text
Tablet information
Complete tablet
o 17, r 15
8,7 × 11,5 cm
Neo/Late Babylonian, specifics unknown
Marduk-šar-ilī (?) s. Minû-ana-Bēl-dan d. Ileʾʾi-[Marduk]
312/311 BCE

CAD R 298a[si-ma-nu // ma // re-tu-ú šá te-diš-t[i ...] BM 36595:13 (comm., courtesy W. G. Lambert).]

Frahm & Jiménez, 2015E. Frahm and Jiménez, E. , Myth, Ritual, and Interpretation. The Commentary on Enūma eliš I–VII and a Commentary on Elamite Month Names, Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, vol. 4, pp. 293-343, 2015.
[On line 5]
: 318

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.: 87 (BM 37055 r 5), 167 (27), 170 (r 5), 178 (r 3–5), 201 (11), 226, 232 (6)

George, 1992A. R. George, Babylonian Topographical Texts. Peeters, 1992.
[On line r 3]
: 416

Jiménez, 2016bE. Jiménez, May the Reader Not Withhold the Tablet! On a Formula in Late Babylonian Colophons, Babel und Bibel, vol. 9, pp. 227-239, 2016.
: 232 no. 23

Livingstone, 1986A. Livingstone, Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars. Eisenbrauns, 1986.
: 68-70

Reiner, 1998aE. Reiner, Celestial Omen Tablets and Fragments in the British Museum, in tikip santakki mala bašmu.. Festschrift für Rykle Borger zu seinem 65. Geburtstag am 24. Mai 1994, S. M. Maul Styx, 1998, pp. 215-302.
[BM 36595+ BM 37055, comm.]
: 295

Gabbay, 07/2015 (Transliteration)
Finkel, 07/2015 (Collation)
Jiménez, 07/2015 (Introduction & Translation)
Frazer, 07/2015 (Introduction [correction])
By Uri Gabbay, Irving Finkel, and Enrique Jiménez |
Cite this edition
Gabbay, U., Finkel, I., and Jiménez, E., “Commentary on Ritual Text (CCP no. 7.2.u103),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (2017), at (accessed September 23, 2017)
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The present text contains what appears to be a commentary on a ritual, which seems to have taken place during the month of Simānu. The tablet consists of two pieces, joined by I.L. Finkel.1 According to its colophon, the tablet belongs to a Marduk-šar-ilī (?), son of Minû-ana-bēl-dan, of the Ileʾʾi-[Marduk] family. It is dated to the reign of Antigonus “the General,” (i.e., Antigonus Monophthalmus), who ruled Babylonia between 315 and 311 BCE. A badly preserved rubric states that the text contains the “words” (dibbī) of someone or something (l. 29), and a secrecy clause specifies that it cannot be shown to a non-Babylonian. Several explanations are shared verbatim by this tablet and another ritual commentary, BM 47661 // BM 47458 (CCP 7.1.6.A.b). Both tablets are very similar in terms of contents and scope, but they are no duplicates. They are witnesses to the existence of a set of etymologies and interpretations of ritual acts that circulated, perhaps in oral form, in Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylonia.

Several rituals are mentioned in this tablet. At the beginning two cultic lamentations, E turgin niginam and Abzu pelam, are mentioned by title (ll. 4-5): the former is said to be recited “every month,” the latter “on the first day.” Both indications agree with what is known of the cultic setting of these lamentations (see the textual notes below). Line 9 seems to open a section devoted to the month Simānu (III), which begins with a quotation from the last paragraph of the menological series Iqqur īpuš. According to this entry, the month Simānu (written itisig₄) belongs to Sîn. This line provides the exegete with an obvious equation: the god Sîn is to be identified with the god Kulla (written dsig₄), the divine patron of bricks and foundations. The commentary then proceeds to explore, apparently, the cultic calendar of the month of Simānu: thus the 18th is said to belong to Nabû and Madānu (l. 10). A line is quoted, apparently from the Love Lyrics: this line is first cited, followed by the technical term ša iqbû, “what it said.” The line in question, “they go to the rosewood garden,” is then reinterpreted by means of an etymographic analysis of its words as “they lay the foundations of a house”: a sophisticated hermeneutical operation thus enables an interpretation of the text radically different from its original meaning.

After a series of fragmentary lines at the end of the obverse, the reverse of the tablet opens with a series of numerical equivalences whose purpose is unclear. Then the word for “brick” (sig₄) is equated with the word for month (arḫu), by means of a synonym of the former, “half-brick” (arḫu). These lines thus continue to demonstrate the suitability of the month Simānu (itisig₄) for brick-laying rituals. This suitability is explicitly stated in line 24 (“Simānu is the month for laying the foundations of a house”).

The last three lines of the text contain a quotation from a bilingual šuʾila prayer (“Lord Madānu, the inspector of the Annunaki”), together with an etymographic analysis of the god name Madānu, whereby it means “the god who builds the house,” vel sim.

The most common hermeneutical operation in this text seems to be the notarikon or etymographic analysis. Thus the Akkadian word masukkannu, “rosewood,” is interpreted as having to do with house-building, since in some lexical lists the obscure Sumerian words ma and suk are explained as “to build” and “house,” respectively. This is also one of only two known commentaries that use the technical term kakku sakku šū, “this is sealed and shut.” This expression is used apparently to provide a re-interpretation of a ritual object as something else: in this case, the rare luṭṭu-vessel in the hands of a priest is said to represent a brick.


In sum, the main concern of this text seems to be to demonstrate the appropriateness of the month of Simānu for laying the foundations of a house. The ritual commented upon may thus be one for laying bricks, or else some other temple ritual that takes place during the month of Simānu.2 In other words, the commentary sets out to prove the validity of the ritual.

  • 1. The smaller of the two pieces, BM 37055, was previously published by A. Livingstone, Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars. Eisenbrauns, 1986. Pp. 68-70. The largest piece, BM 36595, has remained unpublished, but a transliteration of it can be found among W.G. Lambert’s papers.
  • 2. Note, for instance, that the rituals described in the Divine Love Lyrics, which appear to be mentioned in the text, seem to have taken place during that month. See A. R. George, Four Temple Rituals from Babylon, in Wisdom, Gods and literature: studies in Assyriology in honour of W. G. Lambert, A. R. George and Finkel, I. L. Eisenbrauns, 2000, pp. 259-299. Pp. 270-280.

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BM 036595+ BM 037055 (unpublished unassigned ?) [Commentary (Miscellanea)]

x135 obverse
1 1

[x x x x x x x x x x x x] d30 : DIB : AN : ma-[x x x x]

[...] Sîn means DIB, (since) AN means [...]

2 2

[x x x x x x x x x x] x x⸣-tu di-ib-bi ul-te-ra-[x (x x)] 1

[...] words ... [...],

3 3

[x x x x x x x x x] ul?⸣-tu? U₄ 16.KAM d30 NIGIN-rat iḫ-te-si-[ma] 2

[...] from the 16th day the visible area of the moon is covered,

4 4

[x x x x (x)] ITIḫu-us-su é tùr-<gin₇> niŋin-na-a šag₄-bi a-še-er-[ra] 3

[...] monthly the (lamentation) "The House Is Encircled Like A Cattle Pen; Inside Of It There Are Laments."

5 5

[x x (x)] x x (x) abzu pe-⸢el⸣--àm šá U₄ 1.KAM GARnu bu-ub-bu-lu šu-[ú?] 4

[...] the lamentation "The Apsû is Defiled," which is recited on the 1st day, is the day of the new moon.

6 6

[itix U₄] 3.KAM ṣal-mu šá it⸣-[ti?-i? d]30 ul ib-ba-ni ina lìb-bi iq-ta-⸢bi? 5

On the 3rd of [the month ...], statues of bit[umen ...] and Sîn should not made, it is said there.

7 7

[ul?]-tu in-<>-ep-šú : ul?⸣-[tu ib]-⸢ba?⸣-nu-ú :? bi-kit it-taš-kan : KI⸣-[x (x)]

"After it is done" means "after it is made." A mourning-ritual is performed [...]

8 8

ta-qab-bu-ú um-ma mi?-nu?-⸢ú? [x x]-KAL-lu-man-ni šá U₄ 18.KAM URU₄ é⸣-[sag-gil na-di] 6

You should say thus: who [...] of the 18th day, the foundations of the E[sagil are laid].

9 9

itiSIG₄ šá d30 DUMU reš-tu-ú ša den-líl : dSIG₄ : d30 : dSIG₄ EN [UŠ₈] 7

Simānu (iti.SIG₄) belongs to Sîn, the first-born son of Enlil. Kulla (d.SIG₄) means Sîn; Kulla is the lord [of the foundations],

10 10

4? : er?⸣-bet-tu₄ : 4? : d30 : U₄ 18.KAM šá itiSIG₄ šá dAG [u] dDI⸣.[KU₅] 8

4 means "four" and 4 means Sîn. The 18th day of Simānu belongs to Nabû and Madānu.

11 11

ana gišKIRI₆ ma-suk-kan-nu il-la-ku-ʾ šá Eu -šú [(x x) x x] 9

What it said, "they go to the rosewood garden," means ["they build] the foundations [of the house],

12 12

ma-suk-kan-nu : MA : ba-nu-ú : SUK : bi-⸢tu₄ :⸣ EN : be-lu₄ 10

(since, in) masukkannu, ma means "to build," suk means "house," and en means "lord."

13 13

si-ma-nu : SI : re-tu-ú šá te-me-⸢en-ni : MA : É : EN [: be]-⸢lu₄ 11

(In the word) simānu, si means "to fix," said of the foundations; ma means "house," and en means "lord."

14 14

i/ra⸣-[x x (x)] d30 u dUTU ki-nu AN KI? [x (x)] UR.ḪUL GÁLši : x [(x)] x

[...] Sîn and Šamaš ... [...] there is [...],

15 15

[lìb-bu-u d]⸢EN⸣.KI dUTU u dŠÀ.ZU? ba?-bi?⸣-[lu] x x x x 12

[As in "E]nki, Šamaš, and Šazu to Babylon [...] ...,

16 16

[U₄ 18.KAM UDU.NÍTA ina muḫ-ḫi uḫ]-⸢tat⸣-ta-pu : ÚR : -[di] 13

[On the 18th day a sheep is sl]aughtered [on it] úr means "base,"

17 17

[x x x x x x x x x x x x x x]-ud 19 ŠU.SI IGI[mar]

[...] 19 fingers are visible,

18 18

[x x x x x x x x x x x x x x] x IKU ma-da-as-[(su?)]

[...] ... n ikû is its measurement.

19 19

[x x x x x x x] 3.20 : 3.20 : É.SAG.GIL : x    x [x] 14

[...] 3.20 means Esagila, ...,

20 20

[x x x x .DINGIR.RA]ki šu-bat dAMAR.UTU : 3.20 : ÈŠ : bi-[tu₄] 15

[... Babylon], the abode of Marduk; 3.20 means èš, i.e., "tem[ple"].

21 21

[x x x x x x x] EGIR? SIG₄ ina KISAL? BÀN.DA lu-uṭ-ṭu ina KI.TA-ši-⸢na?

[...] back; a brick in the small courtyard, a vessel that is set up beneath them,

22 22

kin ITI [x x] x x x [ITI?].⸢ITI : ár-ḫa-a- : ár-ḫi : ITI : SIG₄ 16

the month [...]. [ITI]. ⸢ITI⸣ means "half bricks" (arḫātu); arḫu means "month" and SIG₄ means "brick."

23 23

li-bit- lu-uṭ-ṭu šá ina ŠU ma⸣-[še]-⸢en?⸣-nu kak-ku sak-ku šu-u : SIG₄ šu-u-⸢ma? 17

The vessel that is in the hand of the steward - it is "sealed and shut" (i.e. "implicit"?) - it is a brick.

24 24

KUR MAR.TUki : dmar-tu mu-⸢lu ḫur-saŋ-ŋá-⸢ke₄ itiSIG₄ šá UŠ₈ É ŠUB[u] 18

The land of Amurru - "Amurru, the man of the mountains." Simānu (iti.SIG₄) is the month for laying the foundations of a house.

25 25

d30 ina É <iti?>ZÍZ u dUTU ina É itiSIG₄ DUR šá a-ḫa-a-meš [x x x] x x x [(x)]

Sîn in the "house" of Šabāṭu (XI) and Šamaš in the house of Simānu (III); the band that [...] with each other [...].

26 26

be-lu₄ dDI.KU₅ a-ši-ir da-nun-na-ki : MA : É [x x x x x] ? A? [(x)] 19

In "Lord Madānu, the inspector of the Annunaki," ma means "house," [...] means [...],

27 27

EN : be-lu : DINGIR : i-lu : ina lìb-bi ki-i SIG₄-ḪI.A šá? [x x x x x] x 20

en means "lord," dingir means "god"; therefore the bricks of [...]

28 28

          dDI.KU₅ ?-[x x x (x x)]

Madānu ... [...].

29 29

dib-bi šá x x (x) pa⸣-liḫ dAMAR.UTU ma-⸢ʾ⸣-diš ÙRI-ma ana la DUMU TIN?.⸢TIR?⸣[ki? NU ú-kal-lam?] 21

Words of the Esagila. The reverer of Marduk should respect them greatly, [he should not show them] to a non-Babylonian.

30 30

imGÍD.DA mdBE-MAN-⸢DINGIR⸣-[MEŠ A mmi]-⸢nu-ú?⸣-[ana]-⸢dEN⸣-da-nu DUMU mÁ.GÁL-d[AMAR.UTU]

One-colum tablet of Marduk-šar-i[, son] of Minû-ana-Bēl-dan, descendant of Ileʾʾi-[Marduk].

31 31

GIM SUMUN?-šú SAR-⸢ma [ba-ri] u up⸣-pu-    

Written, collated, and checked according to its original.

32 32

[(x x x x) pa]-⸢liḫ? dAMAR.⸢UTU? NU TÙM-šú ina me-reš-tu₄ la lìb-bi NU ú-[šel-liš]

[(...)] The reverer of Marduk shall not steal it, nor deliberately remove it from [it].

33 33

[itix U₄ x.KAM MU x.KAM šá ši-i MU 7/8?].KAM man-ti-gu-nu-us-su GAL ÉRIN

[nth of x month of the nth year ..., i.e., 7th/8th] year of Antigonus the General (i.e. 312/311 BCE).

1The line may contain a quotation, or else arise from the reading dib of LU.

2NIGIN-rat could be read as either saḫrat or ḫap-rat. At the end, the verb could also be reconstructed as iḫ-te-si-ir, "it is trimmed."

3Incipit of an Enki Balag, see CLAM, 73ff. Note that this Balag was perfored monthly on the 15th day in Seleucid Uruk (TCL 6, 48:11-12).

4Incipit of an Enki Balag, see CLAM, 47ff. The Balag is known to have been perfomed on the first of each month in Seleucid Uruk (TCL 6, 48:1-2) and on the first of Addaru in Maul, Fs Lambert, 405: 27'-28' (perhaps on the first of Nisannu in Maul, Fs Renger, 292:1').

5ina libbi may refer to a text mentioned earlier.

6The same entry can be found in the cultic commentary BM 47458 l. 13 (CCP 7.1.6.A.b).

7The first half of the line quotes the last section of Iqqur īpuš (§105).

8For the equation between Sîn and the number four, see CCP 4.2.A.a ll. 18-20. The last signs correspond perhaps to a second god name [ILF]. Inbu bēl arḫi states that the 18th of Simānu belongs to Šamaš and Sîn (Livingstone Hemerologies of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars, CUSAS 25, 2013, p. 208).

9The line may be a quotation from the Love Lyrics. Compare Lambert, W.G. "The Problem of the Love Lyrics" Unity and diversity (1975a) p. 104 ii 15: ana kirî ma-s[uk?-kan-ni ...]. The same entry can be found in the cultic commentary BM 47458 ll. 8-9 (CCP 7.1.6.A.b).

10Compare SUK = bītu in Aa I/2 211.

11The same commentarial entry can be found in the cultic commentary BM 47458 l. 11 (CCP 7.1.6.A.b).

12The same commentarial entry can be found in the cultic commentary BM 47458 l. 11 (CCP 7.1.6.A.b).

13The same commentarial entry can be found in the cultic commentary BM 47458 l. 10 (CCP 7.1.6.A.b).

14The sign after GIL might be erased [ILF]. Does the number 3.20 derive from 20th Simānu (III)? Note earlier 18th Simānu. [EJ]

15ÈŠ may stand for E(sagil) [ILF].

16kīn may be a stative belonging to the previous line [ILF], or perhaps a logogram for šipru ("the duty of the month") [UG].

17Compare BM 34035 (ZA 6 241f = Livingstone Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works, 1986, p. 61) mul-ṭu u mu-šá-lu šá ina ŠU-MIN-šú kak-ku sak-ku šu-ú muš-šu-lu šá mul.ADDA, "The comb and mirror in her hands - it is obstuse and obscure - is a representation of the corpse star." On the technical term kakku sakku see Lambert JNES 48 (1989) p. 220-221. The equation luṭṭu = nalpattu, ‘small bowl or ladle’ is in the background, with overlap with nalbattu, ‘brick mould,’ from SIG₄ month and libittu, ‘brick.’ [ILF]

18The line is attested in several Balags, see CLAM, 299:32, 301:82

19The line is a quotation from the bilingual šuʾila Marduk 1 l. 25 (VAT 8411 and dupls., Maul Fs Borger 1998 pp. 165f). Note that BM 47458 ll. 23-24 (CCP 7.1.6.A.b) cite l. 18 of the same text. In the present commentary, only the Akkadian version of the line is cited. Lines 26-28 of the present commentary seem to explain the godname Madānu by means of a notarikon operation as "the god who builds the house." The last DÙ is perhaps derived from the syllable /da/ of Madānu's name (i.e., DÀ), and may have been equated with banû.

20EN may correspond to the syllable /an/ in Madānu's name. On the meaning "therefore" of ina libbi kī, see AHw 551a s.v. libbu D4.

21Perhaps dibbi šaé-sag-íl (squashed), "Esagil(?) words" vel sim. [ILF]

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum