This landscape-oriented tablet contains a commentary in the indentation format, written in Babylonian script. Although it provides information on the circumstances in which the tablet was produced, the tablet’s colophon does not refer to the text with any designation, nor does it identify the base text. Accordingly, this introduction to the commentary deals with the four topics in the following order:
The identity of the base text
Since the majority of the preserved commentarial entries refer to omens derived from the moon’s appearance, it has been suggested that the base text may be one of the first 22 (or 23) tablets of Enūma Anu Enlil, all of which (in the recension represented by the tablets in Neo-Assyrian script from Nineveh, at least) deal with lunar phenomena. Reiner tentatively suggested that the base text is EAE 3, but Frahm proposes EAE 5 on the grounds that five of the omens deal specifically with the moon’s horns, which is the main focus of EAE 5.
The obverse of the tablet, which is almost entirely preserved, quotes from twenty-one different omens. In fact, of these twenty-one, six or possibly seven are non-lunar omens: ll. 4-8 treat five omens that begin “If the storm howled ...,” l. 10 treats a solar omen, and in l. 9 too little of the omen is cited for its nature to be clear. In view of the diverse nature of the omens, this commentary may represent a compilation of entries from multiple commentaries on various tablets of EAE.
The purpose of the commentarial entries
If we are dealing here with a compilation of multiple commentaries, it is necessary to recognize that the compiler probably had a distinct purpose in mind; however, owing in part to the poor condition of the reverse of the tablet, it is not clear what this purpose was. The following paragraph provides an overview of the patterns of the commentarial entries when viewed as part of the same text, as well as noting unusual features of some of the entries.
In the majority of the entries preserved on the obverse, the commentator’s purpose is to explain the protasis of an omen. In order to do so, he cites either the protasis of the omen (ll. 4-8, 11, 17-18, 21, 22) or the omen in its entirety (protasis and apodosis: ll. 1-3, 12-16, 19-20, 23-27). In l. 9, the commentator is concerned with the appearance of the divine name Šimut in an (otherwise uncited) omen; the divine name is introduced in an unusual manner, namely by citing only the first two words of the omen (“If Šimut ...”). In l. 15, the entry ‘“On each side” (means) “the horns correspond”’ seems to refer to a different omen from that treated in ll. 14-15, despite the scribe continuing on directly from the preceding entry.
Also of relevance to determining the commentator’s purpose is l. 10, where the commentator cites an entire solar omen but instead of then proceeding to explain part of the omen, he cites a “variant” (kimin) of what seems to be the omen’s apodosis.
The contents of the tablet’s poorly preserved reverse
The text on the tablet’s reverse has been much less fortunate than the text on the obverse: until the colophon, only the last third of each line is legible. The reverse appears to begin with a ten-line section (ll. 28-37) which is demarcated from subsequent entries by a single-ruling (it may, however, have been conceived as a continuation of the lines on the obverse). In this ten-line section, several omens, which were presumably cited in the missing parts of the lines, seem to be interpreted as related to an eclipse.
The contents of the final eleven lines of the commentary are also less than certain: ll. 38-40 seem to contain commentarial entries on omens, perhaps of a lunar nature; ll. 41 and 48 mention two gods, namely Ninurta (twice, once with the learned spelling dninnu.urta) and Ningirsu; ll. 42-44 refer to stars, namely the Lion and the Ninkasi constellations, as well as to the planet Mercury; finally, ll. 45-47 seem to cite omens of uncertain nature in full, since each line ends with an apodosis.
The circumstances in which this tablet was produced
The tablet is furnished with a detailed colophon (BAK 305) in which the owner of the tablet is identified as a well-attested Assyrian scholar, Nabû-zuqup-kēnu Since the tablet is written in Babylonian script but belonged to an Assyrian, it has been cited as evidence that the most learned Assyrian scholars were able to write using Babylonian as well as Assyrian sign forms, but the colophon does not explicitly state that the tablet is the product of Nabû-zuqup-kēnu’s hand.
The colophon also identifies the text as a copy, made in the Assyrian city Kalhu, of an original that was from Babylon and owned by one Nabû-nāṣir son of Ea-pattāni. In this respect K. 75+ seems to be connected to a Nineveh manuscript of another commentary, Rm.2,127 (CCP 3.9.1), also in Babylonian script, which contains a colophon that identifies it as a copy of an original from Assyria (BAK 439) and which seems to have been owned by a son of Ea-pattāni. In light of the existence of K. 75+, this son is quite possibly Nabû-nāṣir himself. If this assumption is correct, then Nabû-nāṣir and Nabû-zuqup-kēnu seem likely to have been contemporary scholars who engaged in some sort of exchange of scholarly texts at Kalhu. Perhaps Nabû-nāṣir travelled there, and the two scholars copied each other’s manuscripts. Comparison of the hand-writing of K. 75+ and Rm. 2 127 might indicate who was responsible for copying the tablets. As suggested by E. Frahm, if Nabû-nāṣir is the copyist, he might have been a student of Nabû-zuqup-kēnu.
A final piece of information given by this well-preserved and particularly informative colophon is the date of the tablet’s production: 694/XII/23. This was the year in which Sennacherib undertook his sixth military campaign, with disastrous results: initially directed against Chaldeans living in Elamite territory in southeastern Mesopotamia, it triggered Elamite reprisals in the form of attacks on northern Babylonia. In the course of the ensuing conflict, Sennacherib’s son, whom he had appointed king of Babylon, was handed over to the Elamites by a group of Babylonians, and probably killed. It is sheer speculation, but perhaps Nabû-nāṣir’s sojourn in Kalhu was connected with political disturbance in Babylon.
The edition below was collated in the British Museum in May 2015, and a number of new readings, marked with an asterisk, were obtained.