CCP 3.5.73 - Ālu 72-74

Catalogue information
British Museum
NinevehNineveh (Kuyunjik)
RA 17 140-141
DivinationTerrestrial omens (Šumma Ālu)

ṣâtu 2b

Base text: 
Ālu 72-74
Tablet information
obv 14, rev 13
6,98 × 5,71 × 2,54 cm
7th cent (Assurbanipal libraries and other Assyrian cities)

Borger, 1967R. Borger, Handbuch der Keilschriftliteratur. Band I. Repertorium der sumerischen und akkadischen Texte. de Gruyter, 1967.
[140-141 K 4229) Šumma ālu-Kommentar. Cf Meissner MAOG 11/I-II 63, ZA 34 27.]
: 335

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 50, 193, 200-01

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.: 10

Genty, 2010aT. Genty, Les commentaires dans les textes cunéiformes assyro-babyloniens. MA thesis, 2010.
: 437

George & al-Rawi, 1996A. R. George and al-Rawi, F. N. H. , Tablets from the Sippar Library VI: Atra-ḫasīs, Iraq, vol. 58, pp. 147-190, 1996.
[On line o 12': ḫupšu = ṣābu]
: 18 ad 32

Heeßel, 2000N. P. Heeßel, Babylonisch-assyrische Diagnostik. Ugarit-Verlag, 2000.
[On line r 9']
: 189 ad 25-27

Moren[-Freedman], 1978S. M. Moren[-Freedman], The omen series šumma ālu. PhD thesis, 1978.: 28

Stol, 2007M. Stol, Fevers in Babylonia, in Disease in Babylonia, I. L. Finkel and Geller, M. J. , Eds. Brill, 2007, pp. 1-39.
[On line r 9': Catchline]
: 14 g)

von Weiher, 1974E. von Weiher, Review of Salonen, Vögel und Vogelfang im alten Mesopotamien, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, vol. 64, pp. 291-293, 1974.
[On line o 4']
: 293

Jiménez, 03/2015 (Transliteration)
Jiménez, 03/2015 (Translation)
Jiménez, 03/2015 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Enrique Jiménez | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Jiménez, E., 2015, “Commentary on Ālu 72-74 (CCP 3.5.73),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed April 23, 2024, at DOI: 10079/8sf7mc7
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

This tablet, which was found in Ashurbanipal’s libraries in Nineveh, contains a commentary on three or more chapters of the divinatory series Šumma Ālu. The tablet is very similar to other ṣâtu commentaries on the same series written in Babylonian script and found in Ashurbanipal’s libraries, such as CCP 3.5.17 (Ālu 17-20), CCP 3.5.30 (Ālu 30-32), CCP 3.5.41 (Ālu 41-44), CCP 3.5.57 (Ālu 57-58), CCP 3.5.94 (on Ālu 94 alt [ṣâtu 2c]), and CCP 3.5.103 (Ālu [...], 103, 104 alt, and [...] [ṣâtu 2c]). All of them are small tablets with no colophon, which contain commentaries on three or more chapters of Šumma Ālu. In all of them each section is followed by a ṣâtu 2b or 2c rubric. It is conceivable that all these tablets originally stemmed from the same library, and were brought to Nineveh at a later point.1 More information on their provenance may be obtained from the study of the numeration of the chapters of Šumma Ālu reflected in their rubrics, which differs to a large extend from that of the Assyrian copies of Šumma Ālu found in Nineveh.


This tablet preserves two rubrics on the reverse, which classify the text as a ṣâtu 2b commentary on Šumma Ālu 73 and 74. The text contained on its obverse should therefore belong to a previous chapter, perhaps Šumma Ālu 71 or 72. Since there is no edition of these tablets, only occasionally it is possible to relate the glosses in the commentary with actual entries from a manuscript (see below lines o 4’, 6’, 7’, r 2’, 5’ and 7’).

The text is concerned only with philological issues. The tablets it deals with contain bird omens: as a consequence, one of the main interests of the commentary is to provide Akkadian reading for bird names written logographically. The explanations provided for the most unconventional writings come from the lexical tradition: thus r 5’ an.zi.nam.lá = mimma šumšu napḫar iṣṣūrāti is elsewhere attested only in Antagal III 211; and r 10’ ígiramušen = igirû is known in Diri IV 303 and Ḫarra XVIII E 14f.

As the rest of the Babylonian ṣâtu commentaries on Šumma Ālu from Nineveh, this tablet would be better described as a short vademecum or companion to its base text rather than as an independent hermeneutical treatise.

  • 1. Many of them have low K-numbers (e.g. K.1, K.36, K.103, or K.118), which means that they were found in Rooms 40-41. See J. E. Reade, Ninive (Nineveh), Reallexikon der Assyriologie, vol. 9, pp. 388-433, 1998. P. 422.

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(Base textCommentaryQuotations from other texts)


RA 017, 140-141

o 1'o 1'

[x x (x x x)] x x.MAmušen

[x x x x]


o 2'2'



The ...-bird means the owl.

o 3'3'



KU₄-rubūnim-ma means "they will enter" (irubūnim-ma).

o 4'4'



The našpartu bird (cf. CT 41 4 Rm.488 8-10) means the eššebû bird.

o 5'5'


mim-ma [šum-šú nap-ḫar MUŠEN-MEŠ]3

anzinamla means "all kinds of [birds]."

o 6'6'


ṣal-la-lu : ṣal-la-[lu : x x]

The udurdur (cf. CT 41 8 79) bird means the ṣallalu bird (a nocturnal bird); the ṣallalu b[ird means ...];

o 7'7'



The udurdurrabaʾuš-bird (cf. CT 41 8 69) means the owl.

o 8'8'



The ayyû-bird means the ayyû-bird (wr. a-a-[ú]).

o 9'9'

TAK₄ EN.NU.UN URU ip-pa-la-

e-zeb ma-aṣ-[ṣar]- URU ip-pal?-[la-]

TAK₄ EN.NU.UN URU ip-pa-la-aš means "deserting the posts, the city will be broken into."

o 10'10'



igira means "heron" (igirû)

o 11'11'

ba-bi-il : ba-ba-lu


"Bearer" (stems from) "to bear," (in the sense of?) "to give birth."

o 12'12'



hupšī means "army,"

o 13'13'



anta means "heigh."

o 14'14'

x [x x]

x [x x]


r 1'r 1'

IGI.[x x x (x x)]



r 2'2'



The kubšī-barmat-bird (cf. CT 41 7 55 and 24 14 [namburbi]) means [...].

r 3'3'

ku-lu-up-pu-[úmušen x x x]


The kuluppû-bird means [...].

r 4'4'




r 5'5'

GÙD šá* PEŠ₁₀ AG? ir-ta


Nest (cf. CT 41 3 K.7153 15) of ... [...]

r 6'6'



burugaledina means dragonfly.

r 7'7'



sudin (cf. CT 41 3 K.7153 16) means bat.

r 8'8'

ṣa-a-tu₄ šá DUB 73.[KAM * URU ina SUKUDe GARin]

Lemmata from the 73th tablet of ["If A City Is Set On A Height"].

r 9'9'

UDU?udu?.KURma*-a-tu₄ : ṣe-e-[nu x]


udukur means flock [...]

r 11'11'

A.RI?.A id-da?-ki [x x]


aria ... [...].

r 12'12'

A.RI.A : na-[mu-ú]


aria means pasture land; [...].

r 13'13'

x x.KUR x [(x) x]



r 14'14'



r 15''15''

[ṣa-a-tu₄ šá] DUB 74.[KAM * URU ina SUKUDe GARin]

Lemmata from the 74th tablet of ["If A City Is Set On A Height"].

r 16''16''

[x x] x x x [...]11


1See below lines o 6'-7'.

2The bird name našpartu is a hapax legomenon, see CAD N/2 76b.

3The line is restored with Antagal III 211.

4The name of this bird, perhaps an owl, literally means "it lies down and pretends to be dead": see CAD I/J 304.

5The bird name ayyû is a hapax legomenon, see CAD A/1 236b.

6The equation ÍGIRAmušen = igirû is attested in Diri IV 303 and Ḫarra XVIII E 14f: see CAD I/J 41 and AHw 367a.

7alādu seems to constitute an explanation of babālu (as interpreted in CAD A/1 288b), rather than a different entry.

8The bird name kubsī-barmat means literally "my cap is multicolored."

9Restored from Ḫḫ XIV 350 (MSL 8/2 38).

10The gloss on UDU? KUR appears in smaller script in the following line. CAD Ṣ 163b and AHw 1097b read the line as DIB KUR : ṣi-bit!, but the traces suggest rather ṣe-e, as drawn by Meek. Stol CM 36 (2007) p. 14 takes this line to be "a the catchline at the end of a ṣātu commentary on Šumma Ālu Tablet 76," but this is not the end of the commentary.

11The faint traces of this line may represent a short colophon.

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Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum