CCP 4.1.4.B - Sagig 4 B

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 66965
82-9-18,6959+ 83-1-18,1878
Sippar(Sippar), 82-9-18 and 83-1-18 consignment
BM 66965+ BM 76508
CT 51 136
Lambert Folio 9882 [tr]
MedicalDiagnostic and prognostic


Base text: 
Sagig 4
Commentary no: 
Tablet information
obv 19
6,03 × 3,49 cm
Chaldean / early Achaemenid (late 7th / 6th cent) (mostly "Sippar Collection")

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 61, 64, 67-68, 105-06, 224, 287, 401

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.: 81 (14), 135 (2), 75, 81 (6, 12)

Genty, 2010aT. Genty, Les commentaires dans les textes cunéiformes assyro-babyloniens. MA thesis, 2010.
: 503

Goodnick-Westenholz, 2006J. Goodnick-Westenholz, The Brain, Marrow, and the Seat of Cognition in Mesopotamian Tradition, Le Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes, vol. 7, pp. 1-10, 2006.
[[muḫḫ]i qaqqadīšu = šibīt qaqqadīšu]
: 2 fn. 7

Heeßel, 2000N. P. Heeßel, Babylonisch-assyrische Diagnostik. Ugarit-Verlag, 2000.
: 141

Jiménez, 2013aE. Jiménez, La imagen de los vientos en la literatura babilónica. PhD thesis, 2013.
[On line 13-14: Quotation from Ee, rationale]
: 332

Jiménez & Schmidtchen, 2017bE. Jiménez and Schmidtchen, E. , Explaining Diagnosis. Two New Commentaries on the Diagnostic Series Sagig, Welt des Orients, vol. 47, pp. 216-241, 2017.
[Extensive quotations from the commentary]
: 225-227, 232 fn. 31, 233-236

Lambert, 1984W. G. Lambert, Studies in Marduk, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol. 47, pp. 1-9, 1984.
[On line 10: ìl-āli-ia]
: 9

Stol, 2000M. Stol, Birth in Babylonia and the Bible. Its Mediterranean Setting. Styx, 2000.
[On line 3-8: Kūbu]
: 31 fn. 28

Jiménez, 08/2016 (Transliteration)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Translation)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Collation)
Schmidtchen, 08/2016 (Suggestions [ll. 1 and 18])
Vorontsov, 02/2018 (Suggestions [ll. 8 and 13])
By Enrique Jiménez | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Jiménez, E., 2016, “Commentary on Sagig 4 (CCP 4.1.4.B),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed June 24, 2024, at DOI: 10079/7h44jcv
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

The present tablet contains the first 19 lines of a commentary on the fourth tablet of the diagnostic medical series Sagig. It belongs to the British Museum’s “Sippar Collection,” but it is likely to stem from Babylon or Borsippa and to date to the Hellenistic period.


No fewer than eight lines of commentary (ll. 1-8) are devoted to elucidating the very first line of the tablet, which reads: ḫe-si-ma kúm-im used⸣ [šu] dkù-bi
If (the patient) is battered (around) his temple, and is warm and cold – hand of Kūbu.


In its first entry, the commentary explains the symptom “he is battered” (ḫesī-ma) by means of synonyms. The second entry relates the “temple” to the moon god, an entry that is then justified by means of a quotation from Lugale. The third entry explains that the rare god Kūbu (some sort of demonic representation of a miscarriage), who in the base text is said to be responsible for the patient’s disease, is in fact a name of a more common god. According to the commentary, this god can be either Nergal or the Anunnaki, and this dual identification is then justified by quoting a line from an unknown literary text (l. 3).

The next entry apparently tries to demonstrate the internal coherence of the line by proving that Kūbu is elsewhere related to the temples (l. 4). The fifth commentarial entry provides a notarikon explanation for the name of Kūbu: according to it, it means “he who goes from darkness (i.e., from the mother’s womb) into light”; this etymology is then demonstrated by means of a quotation from an unknown text in which a midwife is instructed to bring the baby “like Kūbu” from [darkness] to light (ll. 5-6). An alternative etymography of the name Kūbu is then given in line 7, according to which it would mean “he who guards the Netherworld”: this explanation is demonstrated by quoting a line from the Šamaš Hymn in which both Kūbu and the idea of “guarding” or “controlling” the Netherworld appear.1

Line 8 explains the paradoxical symptom “it is warm and cold” (which in some manuscripts is ostensibly related to the god Pabilsag) by citing a line from the astronomical compendium Mulapin, according to which when the sun is in the Pabilsag constellation (i.e., Sagittarius, thus from November 21 to December 21), it is winter. In order to explain the medical symptom, the commentary thus resorts to an astronomical phenomenon that features the same elements: “warmth” (the sun), “cold” (the winter) and Pabilsag (in the shape of his constellation, Sagittarius).


The rest of this commentary’s explanations are more straightforward. One of them, which is discussed elsewhere in this website (click here), justifies the internal coherence of an omen in which a disease that provokes the patient to cry “my belly, my belly!” is said to have been caused by Ištar. According to lines 13-14 of the commentary, “belly” in the protasis is related to “Ištar” in the apodosis, since they both appear together, mutatis mutandis, in a line from Enūma eliš IV.


Several of the explanations contained in this commentary are closely paralleled by the badly damaged obverse of BM 40837 (CCP 4.1.4.C), a tablet identified by E. Schmidtchen as a commentary on Sagig 4. The present edition has been collated and several new readings have been obtained: they are marked with an asterisk in the text below.

  • 1. Note that this same line of the Šamaš Hymn is quoted in the commentary DT 35 (CCP 3.8.2.B) to justify the explanation of the common noun malku, “prince,” as either Nergal or the Anunnaki.

Powered by Oracc
(Base textCommentaryQuotations from other texts)


CT 51, 136

o 1o 1

[ḫe?-si?-ma? :] GAZ : ḫe-su-u : GAZ : ṭe-pu-ú : DAB : ḫe-su-ú : DAB : ka-ba-su [x x x (x)]1

(o 1) [He is battered (= Sagig IV 1)] GAZ means “to batter,” GAZ means “to append”; DAB means “to batter,” DAB means “to trample.” [...]

o 22

[x x x x (x) SAG].KI? : d30 : SAG.KI : ana na-qa-pu : qar-ra-du šá ki-ma d30 qar-nu ú : [x x (x x)]2

(o 2) [... the temp]le (?) (= Sagig IV 1) (represents) Sîn; “temple” (nakkaptu) (stems) from “to stub,” (as in) “warrior whose horns grow like those of Sîn” (= quotation from Lugale 143) [...].

o 33

[x x x x (x)] x : d-bi : dU*.GUR* :* MIN* : da-nun-na-ki : i-la-at da-nun-na-ki ina šu-bat? [d??-bi?]3

(o 3) Kūbu (= Sagig IV 1) means “Nergal,” alternatively, it means “Anunnaki,” (as in) “the goddess of the Anunnaki in the dwelling [of Kūbu (?) (quotation from unknown literary text)].

o 44

[x (x)] SAG?.. : d-bi : SAG : qaq-qa-du : SAG*.ÚS* : kul*-lu šá re-e-šú : SAG.. : ṣi-bit nak-[kap-ti]4

(o 4) [... SA]G?.GÁ.GÁ means “Kūbu,” (because) SAG means “head,” SAG.ÚS means “to pay attention” (lit. “to hold, said of the head”), SAG.GÁ.GÁ means “seizure of the te[mple” ...] means Kūbu. (In) Kūbu (written ku₁₀-bi), KU₁₀ means “darkness” and BU means “light,” (as in) “you drive (the baby) like a foetus from the womb [... towards the] ... of the brightness” (quotation from unknown literary text).

o 55

[x (x)] x x-an : d-bu : dku₁₀(MI)-bi : KU₁₀(MI) : e-ṭu-tu : BU [:] nu*-ú-ri : ki-ma d-bi ul-tu ŠÀ [x (x)]

o 66

[(x)] x-li?-la na-ma-ri ta-re-ed-di : šá-niš KU₁₀(MI) : ek-let : BU : na-mar : GI.IZI. : d30 : d[x (x)]5

(o 6) Alternatively, KU₁₀ means “gloom” and BU means “brightness,” (it refers to) the torch, (i.e.), Sîn, (which is) the god [...].

o 77

[(x)] ? (:) KI : SU? : na-ṣa-ri : šá šap-la-a- ma-al-ku d-bi da-nun-na-ki ta-paq-qid : SAG.KI [x (x)]6

(o 7) [(...)] (?) means “Netherworld” and SU (?) means “to guard,” (as in) “In the depth you review the Anunnaki, the princes of Kūbu” (quotation from Šamaš Hymn 31).

(7) “The temple [...] ... Pabilsag will fall upon him, it is warm and it is cold” (because) “in Kislīmu the sun stands in the Pabilsag constelation (i.e., Sagittarius) (and) it is win[ter] (quotation from Mulapin II gap A 7).

o 88

[x (x)] x dpa-bil-sag ŠUB*-su* KÚMim u* SED : ina itiGAN dUTU ina múlpa-bil-sag GUB-ma EN.TE.[NA (x)]7

o 99

[(x)] al?-duṭu* : dan-nu : ana na-pa-ḫu šá ŠÀ : it-te-nen-bi-ṭu : e--ṭu : na-pa-ḫu : ub-bu-[ṭu (x x)]8

(o 9) AL.DU (= Sagig IV 2) (read as al-ṭù) means “hard,” (it refers) to the bloating of the belly.

(9) “It is constantly swollen” (= Sagig IV 3) “to swell” means “to bloat,” “swol[len ...], “bloated” means “swollen,” (since) means “to bloat” and means “to swell.”

o 1010

nap-paḫ- : ub-bu-uṭ : : e--ṭu : : na-pa-ḫu : ŠU DINGIR-šú : dUG.URU : DINGIR a-lu : d[UG : x x]9

(o 10) The “Hand of his god” (= Sagig IV 4) refers to the god d.<U₄>.UK.URU, (i.e.), the “god of the town” (quotation from An = Anu VI 113), (since) d.[UG means god] and URU means “town.”

o 1111

URU : a-lu : UGU-šú? um*-mu*-da-at : : e-me-du šá qa-tu₄ : : ka-a-nu : ŠUBut : [x x (x)]

(o 11) “It is imposed upon him” (= Sagig IV 4) means “to impose,” said of a hand; means “to establish.” ŠUB-ut (= Sagig IV 5) means [...].

o 1212

a-ši-a : e-šu-u : da-la-ḫu : šá-niš ÉR(A.ŠI)a : ba-ka-a : šá dim- ina lìb-bi DUku šá x [...]

(o 12) (The word) a-ši-a (= Sagig IV 6) (stems from) “to confuse” (ešû), i.e., “to trouble.” Alternatively, (parsed as) ÉR-a, it means “to cry,” (it refers to the man) who cries in his heart, ... [...].

o 1313

[(x)] UGU SAG.DU-šú : ši-bit SAG.DU-šú : ḫa-biš : ḫa-bi- : ŠÀ ŠÀ DUG₄.DUG₄si [ŠU GIDIM (x)]

(o 13) The marrow of the skull” (= Sagig IV 8) means “the seam of the skull.” (The word) ḫa-biš (= Sagig IV 9) (should be parsed as) ḫa-bi-iš (“it is swollen”).

(13) (If) he cries once and again ‘my belly, my belly!’: [hand of a ghost], emissary of Ištar. He will die” (= Sagig IV 10). “Belly” (in the protasis is related to) “Ištar” (in the apodosis), (as in) “He shot an arrow that pierced her belly” (quotation from Enūma eliš IV 101).

o 1414

[(x)] šá--e d15 ÚŠ ŠÀ : d15 : is-suk mul-mul iḫ-te-pi ka-ras-[sa]10

o 1515

i*-à*-a-ru : i-par-ru : a-ru-u : pa-ru-u : KI. : KI : ši-i-[x : : x x (x)]

(o 15) “He vomits” (= Sagig IV 11) means “he retches,” (since) “to vomit” means “to retch.” (In) KI.NÁ (= Sagig IV 11), KI means ... [and means ...].

o 1616

[TA dUTU.ŠÚ].A EN EN.NUN.U₄.ZAL.LI : TA še-e-ri EN ki-iṣ U₄mu [x x x (x)]

(o 16) “From sunset until the third watch of the night” (= Sagig IV 12) means “from the morning until the evening (lit. ‘until the cool of the day’) [...].

o 1717

[...] x x x-ša-mu : ina ra-a-x [...]

(o 17) [...] ... [...]

o 1818

[...] x ḫu : sa-la?-ḫu : šá [...]11

(o 18) [...] ... to twitch ... [...]

o 1919

[...] x [...]

(o 19) ...

rOnly odd signs and traces preserved

1Neither ṭepû nor ṭebû are elsewhere equated with GAZ. The latter, however, is equated with ZÁḪ in Diri VI B 5, which suggests that it is the verb referred to here.

2The line seems to try to relate the “temple” (nakkaptu) with the moon god. The line commented upon, Sagig IV 1, reads: ¶ SAG.KI ḫe-si-ma KÚMim : SED ŠU d-bi, “If (his) temple is battered and hot (variant:) cold – hand of Kūbu.” On the verb naqāpu, see Lambert Fs Borger p. 144 fn. 2 and George CUSAS 18 (2013) pp. 163-164. The missing part of the line and the beginning of the next line might have equated nakāpu (in Sumerian DU₇) and banû (in Sumerian DU₃).

3Quotation from unknown literary text. Compare perhaps Angim 89: da-nun-na-ki ina šu-bat UB.ŠU.UKKIN.NA.KE₄ la tu-ra-ar, “Do not panic the Anunna in the residence Ubšukkina!”

4Compare SAG.ÚS = kullu ša rēši in Antagal A 43 (MSL 17 p. 183).

5The line contains a quotation from an unknown text, perhaps from a childbirth ritual or a hymn to a mother goddess.

6The first part of the line provides perhaps a notarikon explanation of the name of d-bu as “he who guards the Netherworld,” an explanation that is then supported by a quotation from the Šamaš Hymn. Note the parallel explanation [...]-si : : KItim [...] in BM 40837(+) o 2′.

7Pabilsag features rarely in medical texts (e.g. BAM 580 iii 16′-17′: si-ḫi-[ip-ti] / dpa-bil-sag), but apparently not in Sagig. The end of the line contains a quotation from Mulapin II gap A 7: [ultu ūm 1] ša kislīmi adi ūm 30 ša šabāṭi šamaš ina ḫarrān šūt ea izzaz(GUB)-ma kuṣṣu(EN.TE.NA), [“From the 1st] of Kislīmu until the 30th of Šabāṭu the sun stands in the Path of Ea (and) it is winter.” Note that the symptom “it is hot and cold” (or perhaps the variant “hot” : “cold,” preserved in Sagig IV 1, KÚMim : SED) is explained by means of an astronomical phenomenon that is at the same time “hot” (because of the sun) and “cold” (because of the winter). Illya Vorontsov (privatim) suggests that Nergal is the tertium comparationis between Pabilsag and Kūbu. According to Vorontsov, Nergal and Pabilsag are linked because they are both associated with the month Kislīmu (Nergal, among other places, in the Astrolabe B section A [KAV 218 iii 1-5 & 6-10]; Pabilsag in Mulapin I iii 6), and because they both represent warrior gods, elsewhere equated with Ninurta.

8The equation ašṭu = dannu, which also occurs in the commentary on the same passage from BM 40837(+), originates in all likelihood from a misparsing of ŠÁ-MEŠ-šú AL.DU in Sagig IV 2 as al-ṭù, i.e., a Babylonian form of ašṭu. Note that the commentary SpTU 1 30 (CCP 4.1.4.A) l. 2 explains the form as ŠÀ-MEŠ-šú il-la-ku, “his intestines flow.”

9On nappaḫtu as a variant of napḫu, see Schwemer BagM 37 (2006) p. 206. The end of the line contains a quotation from An = Anu VI 113.

10The line tries to demonstrate that the apodosis can be inferred from the protasis. To do so, it states that a word from the protasis (libbu, “belly”) is related to a word from the apodosis (Ištar), since they both appear together, mutatis mutandis, in a line from the Epic of Creation. The line in question describes how Marduk pierces Tiāmat’s “belly” by means of an “arrow”: the latter word, written mul-mul in the commentary, is reinterpreted as symbolizing the astral aspect of the goddess Ištar. However the exact way in which the goddess’s planet, Venus, is related to the “Pleiades” (mulMUL) is not specified in the commentary.

11If the reading sa-la?-ḫu is correct, compare SpTU 1 30 (CCP 4.1.4.A) l. 9: [i]-rad-ma : ra-a-du : sa-la-ḫa (on Sagig IV 23). Compare also BM 38273 (CCP 7.2.u26) r 2 ḫa-mu-u : sa-la-ḫu. According to E. Schmidtchen (private communication), sa-la?-ḫu might comment on Sagig IV 21 (ŠU KI.SIKIL.LÍL..EN.NA la-ʾ-bi), either on laʾbu or on ŠU KI.SIKIL.LÍL..EN.NA (note the equation LÍL = salāḫu).

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum