CCP 3.5.u6 - Ālu (?)

Catalogue information
Vorderasiatisches Museum
VAT 17122
BabylonBabylon, Emašdari
VS 24 14
PhBab.2395 (2 1)
DivinationTerrestrial omens (Šumma Ālu)


Base text: 
Ālu (?)
Tablet information
Complete tablet
Chaldean / early Achaemenid (late 7th / 6th cent) (mostly "Sippar Collection")

CAD Ḫ 77a, 163a; B 224a[On line 6': unpub. comm. (courtesy Köcher)]

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.
["VAT 17123"]
: 260, 305

Pedersén, 2005O. Pedersén, Archive und Bibliotheken in Babylon. Die Tontafeln der Grabung Robert Koldeweys 1899-1917. Saarländische Druckerei und Verlag, 2005.
["Mehr auf PhBab"]
: 190 (7)

van Dijk & Mayer, 1987J. J. A. van Dijk and Mayer, W. R. , Literarische Texte aus Babylon. Akademie Verlag, 1987.
[On line 8': ku-nu-gùn-gùn (kolI.).]
: 9 ad 14

Jiménez, 05/2014 (ATF Transliteration)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Collation)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Translation)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Lemmatization)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
Frahm, 09/2016 (Collation of PhBab photo)
Jiménez, 10/2017 (Revision)
By Enrique Jiménez | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Jiménez, E., 2014, “Commentary on Ālu (?) (CCP 3.5.u6),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2020; accessed September 26, 2020, at DOI: 10079/7sqvb4z
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

This small tablet was found in the Emašdari temple of Ištar of Akkad in Babylon, along with other 22 literary tablets dating probably to the Chaldaean or early Achaemenid period. Pedersén states that more of the tablet can be seen in the excavation photo,1 which has however been inaccessible for the present transliteration.

The portions of this commentary that can be deciphered seem to be concerned with the elucidation of difficult Akkadian words. Thus l. 5' explains the rare word ḫamû, "to howl," with the more common verb šasû, "to shout." In one case the equation seems to have been borrowed from a synonym list: l. 3', which renders the logogram nu.tuku syllabically as lā išānû, "he who has nothing," and further equates this rendering with the more common word muškēnu, "humble," with the use of Malku IV 44 (lā išānû = muškēnu).

Several of the words that feature in this commentary are attested elsewhere almost exclusively in tablets belonging to the series of terrestrial omens Šumma Ālu. This is the case of e.g. ḫamû, "to howl" (l. 5') and nussus, "to flap" (l. 8'). It thus stands to reason that the base text of this commentary is a tablet of Šumma Ālu, although it is not yet possible to narrow it down any further.

O. Pedersén, Archive und Bibliotheken in Babylon. Die Tontafeln der Grabung Robert Koldeweys 1899-1917. Saarländische Druckerei und Verlag, 2005. P. 190 (7) stated that the tablet was in better shape on the excavation photograph. Eckart Frahm studied said photograph in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in September 2016, and made the results of his collation available for the present edition. The photo shows an additional fragment, which contains the top and right edge of the tablet, thus demonstrating that it was a very small tablet, with only twelve lines per side.


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(Base textCommentaryQuotations from other texts)


VS 24, 014

o 1o 1

[x (x)] x⸣.SIG.GA : ni-ip-ḫu šá? x

[] means “rising of the …”

o 22

[x (x)]-ḫu : mi-šil : 1

[] means “half.”

o 33

[x x] x [:] bu-šu-ú :

[] [means] “property.”

o 44

[x x] x -⸢re⸣-e-ti :

[] “sanctuaries”

o 55


[Temple]s of the gods.

o 66

NU TUKU : la i-šá-nu-ú : muš-ke?⸣-[nu :] 2

nu tuku means “non important,” (i.e.), “hum[bl]e.”

o 77

IḪ-ri : ru-ʾu : [(x)] 3

iḫ-ru means “friend.”

o 88

ḫa-mu-ú : ša-su-ú [:] 4

“To howl” means “to shout.”

o 99

ḫa-na-su : bi-ki-tu₄ [:]

Mourning means “weeping.”

o 1010

KU.NU gu?-gu-un : ru-mu-⸢mu [:] 5

means “to fawn” [].

o 1111

KU.NU DÚB? ⸢:⸣ nu-us-su-⸢us [:] 6

dúb (?) means “to flap" [].

o 1212

ra-⸢x x x x [x x]

end of obverse
reverse is missing

1Probably a-ḫu, since both aḫu and mišlu can be equated with Sumerian BAR.

2The equation lā išānû = muškēnu is also attested in Malku IV 44.

3These two words do not seem to go together (IḪ-ri for ib-ri?): it seems possible that the first one is actually a gloss on a word that appeared at the end of the previous line. Note that this could also be the case of the first word of l. 6', ḫanāsu, accepted by both dictionaries as a synonym of bikītu solely on the basis of this text.

4The verb ḫamû is attested apparently only in Šumma Ālu (AHw 338b and CAD Ḫ 163a), hence the tentative identification of this fragment as a commentary on that series.

5If correctly read, the verb râmu D, "to fawn (?)" (CAD R 145b) would be elsewhere attested almost exclusively in the incipit of Šumma Ālu 47.

6The sign read here tentatively as DÚB (after Nabnītu X 42 DÚB.DÚB.BU = nussusu ša pērti) is read in VS 24 p. 9 as KU.NU.GÙN.GÙN, a meaningless sequence of signs. If correctly read, the verb nussusu would also be attested in Šumma Ālu 65 10 (Sm.1376+).

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

© Vorderasiatisches Museum