CCP 1.3 - Ludlul

Catalogue information
British Museum
NinevehNineveh (Kuyunjik)
BWL pls. 15-17
ORA 14 pls. xlix(!)-l

Lambert, 1960bW. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature. Clarendon Press, 1960.: 31-56



Base text: 
Tablet information
obv 51, r 46
7,62 × 6,98 × 2,54 cm
7th cent (Assurbanipal libraries and other Assyrian cities)

Annus & Lenzi, 2010A. Annus and Lenzi, A. , Ludlul bēl nēmeqi. The Standard Babylonian Poem of the Righteous Sufferer. The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2010.: Text G

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 32, 38-39, 43, 69, 93-94, 119, 137, 276

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.
[On line III 96]
: 142

Genty, 2010aT. Genty, Les commentaires dans les textes cunéiformes assyro-babyloniens. MA thesis, 2010.: 577-608

George & al-Rawi, 1998A. R. George and al-Rawi, F. N. H. , Tablets from the Sippar Library VII: Three Wisdom Texts, Iraq, vol. 60, pp. 187-206, 1998.
[On line o 18': Correct reading of the line]
: 200

Lambert, 1960bW. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature. Clarendon Press, 1960.: 31-56

Lenzi, 2013A. Lenzi, The Commentary to Ludlul Bēl Nēmeqi: A closer Look, Handout AOS 2013, 2013.
[Shows that many equations were (indirectly) inspired by LL.]

Mayer, 2017W. R. Mayer, Zum akkadischen Wörterbuch: M-S, Orientalia Nova Series, vol. 86, pp. 1-41, 2017.
[On line r 32: “halbseitig wurde ich vom Schlag getroffen”]
: 12

Lenzi, 02/2015 (ATF Transliteration)
Lenzi, 02/2015 (Translation)
Lenzi, 02/2015 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 03/2015 (Revision and annotation)
Jiménez, 03/2015 (Lemmatization)
Brown-deVost, 09/2015 (Correction [r 9])
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Alan Lenzi | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Lenzi, A., 2015, “Commentary on Ludlul (CCP 1.3),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed July 24, 2024, at DOI: 10079/cc2frb2
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

Ludlul Bēl Nēmeqi is one of the few Akkadian literary texts that attracted the exegetical attention of ancient scholarly commentators.1 Its commentary, preserved only on K.3291, follows the typical Assyrian mukallimtu form:2 a line of the main text is cited and then a lemma (or two) from the cited text is equated with another word or words, thereby providing an explanation. The present commentary may be the same mukallimtu that the catalog Rm.618 refers to in line 19.3

The commentary uses two formats to present the cited text and commentary. In 28 cases, the commentary cites a line from Ludlul and uses the following line for commentary (e.g, 12ˊ-13ˊ). In 36 cases, the cited text from Ludlul is immediately followed on the same line by an explanation of a lemma; only a colon separates the citation from the explanation (e.g., 14ˊ). (The last four lines of the tablet are not counted in these totals.)

The commentary is generally consistent with its use of indentation. When the beginning of a line comprising only commentary is preserved, the line is always indented (21 times; e.g., 13ˊ and 16ˊ). On the basis of space considerations, r37, whose beginning is not clearly preserved, may not have been indented. The position of the traces of the second sign in this line suggests that the first sign was written flush with the left margin. Thus, the scribe likely began without an indentation in this line.

The colon, ubiquitous in commentaries,4 is used for a few different purposes in K.3291. Every time there is text and commentary on the same line and the transition is preserved, a colon separates the citation from the commentary. There are no exceptions. The colon is also used to separate different comments on the same line. When there is more than one comment in succession, a colon usually separates the comments. See lines 13ˊ, 45ˊ (first colon), 51ˊ, r20, r28 (second, fourth, and fifth cola), and r42. Exceptionally, the colon is absent between two comments on the same line in r40. Finally, when two lemma are being equated in the commentary, a colon sometimes (not always) separates the equated lemma. See lines 31ˊ, 38ˊ, 39ˊ, 40ˊ, 45ˊ (second divider), 49ˊ, r3, r17 (the first one is a triple Winkelhaken rather than a normal colon), r22, r24, r25, r26, r28 (first and third cola), r29, r37, and r40.

In terms of its hermeneutical intention, on the surface of it, the commentary seems simply to explain obscure words (or spelling, see lines 1ˊ-2ˊ) via more frequently occurring ones. For example, ṣabāru, “to chatter,” in line 13ˊ is explained with dabābu, “to speak.” This kind of explanation is attested clearly in almost 40 lexical equations, that is, over half of all equations in the commentary. But there are about 10 cases in which a rare word is equated with an equally rare word (according to our modern lexica). And, oddly, there is one case in which a word is explained with a more obscure word: ṣillâtu, “thorns” in 51ˊ occurs many, many more times than the word used to explain it, katâtu, “needles,” which is a hapax. We might presume that these lexical equations followed the majority pattern; that is, the explanation was indeed a more common word in the commentator’s time. But we cannot prove this on the basis of available evidence. Moreover, we should not exclude other explanations.

Many of the lexical equations in the text are known from lexical series, thus suggesting that they were traditional within scribal circles. For example, there are about a dozen common lexical equations in the Ludlul commentary and the Akkadian synonym list Malku.

Evidence suggests that this commentary, however, sometimes does more than simply equate synonyms in order to explain lemma in the cited text. For example, the commentator utilizes a paraphrase in line 34ˊ, cites Tintir V 63 in r37,5 and may use a single word at the end of a comment in r28 to sum up the purpose of the entire line: “to wipe dirt” results in something becoming ebbi, “clean.”6

The commentary may also have used some of the same exegetical and philological techniques that are found in commentaries exhibiting a more sophisticated presentation. A few simple examples make this clear.

1. Lemma in the commentary may be equated because both translate a common Sumerian term. For example, ḫurbāšu can be equated with kuṣṣu in 4ˊ because both Akkadian words translate Sumerian sed in Aa VIII/1 174, 177 (see MSL 14, 493) and še₄ in Idu II 270, 272 (cited in CAD K, 594). (Both Sumerian words are written with the same sign: mùš×a-di.)

2. A more interesting case occurs in 31ˊ, where ippiru is equated with mānaḫtu and gig (= murṣu). Mānaḫtu is equated with ippiru in Malku IV 205.7 But ippiru is never equated with murṣu. Note, however, that Sumerian gigam, “conflict, trouble,” is translated by ippiru, “trouble,” in Diri VI B 29 (see MSL 15, 190) and elsewhere. This fact could have easily suggested the equation of ippiru (Sum. gigam) with the very generic murṣu, “illness,” written logographically in the commentary as gig. In other words, the shared syllable /gig/ may have been enough to suggest the lexical equation.

3. The final example uses Akkadian homonymy for a contextual interpretive purpose. Napraku, “crossbar,” is equated with pirku, “fraud,” in line 11ˊ (Ludlul I 69). But there is no lexical evidence outside this commentary for such an equation. Note, however, that napraku, “bar, bolt, obstruction,” is similar in meaning to CAD’s pirku B, which is some part of a gate that can be bolted (parāku, “to bar, bolt”; see CAD P, 408), and there is a homonym, pirku A, which means “harm, wrong, fraud” (CAD P, 403). The commentator may not have made a distinction between the two pirku’s based on semantic domains (or ignored them if he did). Thus, napraku could be explained as pirku in the sense of fraud through Akkadian homonymy (contra CAD P, 407). This lexical equation shifts the semantics of napraku in a way that explains the relationship between napraku and tuššu, “slander,” used earlier in the same line. The nature of the obstruction was fraud. It was slander and fraud that the sufferer’s enemies put in alliance against him.


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CDLI Literary, ex. 001[via ccpo]

o 1'o 1'

[... an]-nu

[] guilt [].

o 2'2'

   [... an-nu ar]-nu

[ Guilt] (means) guilt.

o 3'3'

[... ḫur]-ba-šú

[] cold tremors.

o 4'4'

   [... ḫur-ba-šú ku]-uṣ-ṣu

[ Cold tremors] (mean) chill.

o 5'5'

[... du-ú-ti ú]-tam-mil

[ my masculine features] obscured.

o 6'6'

   [... du-ú-tu bu-un]-na-nu-ú

[ Masculine features] (mean) outer appearance.

o 7'7'

[...] x : ta-ra-nu ṣil-lu

[] Protection (means) covering.

o 8'8'

[...] a-tam-maḫ

[] I will lay hold of [].

o 9'9'

   [... ta]-ma-ḫu ṣa-ba-tu₄

[] To lay hold of (means) to sieze.

o 10'10'

[... ú]-šam-ga-ru UGU-MU

They set [] in alliance against me.

o 11'11'

   [...] nap-ra-ku pe-er-ku

[] Obstruction (means) fraud.

o 12'12'

[šap-ta-a-a šá it-ta-aṣ]-ba-ra ḫa-šik-kiš e-me

[My lips, which] chattered constantly, became those of a deaf-mute.

o 13'13'

    [ṣa-ba-ru da]-ba-bu : ḫa-šik-ku suk-ku-ku : e-mu-u ma-šá-lu

[To chatter] (means) to speak. Deaf (means) deaf. To become (means) to be like.

o 14'14'

šar-ra-ḫa-ku-ma a-tur a-na re-e-ši : re-e-šu ARAD

I was (once) dignified but became a slave. Head (means) slave.

o 15'15'

na-al-bu-bu tap-pe-e ú-nam-ga-ra-an-ni

In a rage (my) comrade would denounce me.

o 16'16'

    na-al-bu-bu še₂₀-gu-ú

Raging (means) rabid.

o 17'17'

[ki]-na-at-[ti a-na na-aq] da-me ú-[mar]-ra-áš giš[TUKUL]

My colleague made (his) weapon dirty [for spilling] blood.

o 18'18'

    [ana] na-aq* da-mi ta-[bak da-mi]1

For spilling blood (means) for pouring out blood.

o 19'19'

šu-piš ina pu-uḫ-ri e-ru-ra-an-ni ar?-[di : x x x (x)]

My slave openly cursed me in the assembly. [...]

o 20'20'

a-na qa-ab munusSIG₅-ia pe-ta-as-su ḫaš-tu₄ : ḫa-áš-tu₄ šu-ut-[ta-tu₄]

A pit lies open for one speaking well of me. Pit (means) grave.

o 21'21'

u₄-mu šu-ta-nu-ḫu mu-šu ger-ra-a-ni : ger-ra-a-ni bi-[ki-tu₄]2

The day (was) sighing, the night lamentation. Lamentation (means) weeping.

o 22'22'

ITI -ta-a-a-ú-lu i-dir-tu MU.AN.[NA]

(Every) month a daze, the year misery.

o 23'23'

    -ta-a-a-ú-lu qu-ú-[lu]

Daze (means) stupor.

o 24'24'

za-pur-tu₄ ú-ta-aṣ-ṣa-pa i-šar-tu₄ ul ut-[tu]

My bad luck was increasing, I could not find prosperity.

o 25'25'

    za-pur-tu₄ ru-ub-[bu?]

Bad luck (means) wrath.

o 26'26'

i-na maš-šak-ki ENSI ul ú!(I-)šá-pi di-ni

The dream interpreter did not clarify my case with his incense.

o 27'27'

    maš-šak-ku sur--nu šá ENSI

Incense (means) offering of the dream interpreter.

o 28'28'

MAŠ.MAŠ ina KÌD.KÌDṭè-e ki-mil-ti ul ip-ṭur

The exorcist with his ritual did not release the divine anger against me.

o 29'29'

    KÌD.KÌDṭu-ú -pe-ši

Ritual (means) ritual procedure.

o 30'30'

a-mur-ma ár-ka-tu₄ ri-da-a-tu₄ ip-pe-e-ri

I looked behind me, harassment and trouble.

o 31'31'

    ip-pi-ri : ma-na-aḫ-tu₄ : GIG

Trouble (means) fatigue (and) illness.

o 32'32'

a-na šá im-ḫu-ú be-la-šú im-šu-ú : im-ḫu-ú ka-ba-tu₄

Like the one who raves, and forgot his lord. He raves (means) to be lethargic.

o 33'33'

tés-li-tu₄ ta-ši-ma-tu₄ ni-qu-ú sak-ku-ú-a : sak-ku-u par-ṣi

Prayer (was) common sense, sacrifice my rule. Rule/rites (mean) custom/ritual regulation.

o 34'34'

ki-i pe-te-e ù ka-ta-me ṭè-en-ši-na šit-ni : u₄-mu ù mu-ši

Their mind changes in a blink of the eye; literally, like opening and closing. : (Their mind changes like) day and night.

o 35'35'

im-mu-ṣa-ma im-ma-a šá-lam-tíš [:] un-ṣu bu-bu-tu₄

When they are hungry, they become as corpses. Hunger (means) starvation.

o 36'36'

šu-lu₄ lem-nu it-ta-ṣa-a ABZU--šú : šu-lu₄ e-ṭém-mu

A wicked demon/cough has come forth from its Apsu. Shulu-demon (means) ghost.

o 37'37'

it-ti ur-qit KItu₄ i-pe-eṣ-ṣu lu--tu₄

Debility broke through the land with the plants.

o 38'38'

    lu--tu₄ : mur-ṣu3

Debility (means) illness.

o 39'39'

la-ba-ni i-ti- ú-ram-mu-ú ki-šá-du : i-ti- : ra-mu-u : še--ru

They strained my neck muscles, they made (my) neck limp. To cross over/strain (means) to loosen (and) to break.

o 40'40'

gat-ti rap-šá-tu ur-ba-ti- -ni-il-lu₄ : ur-ba-tu : gišur-ba-nu

My broad build they leveled like rushes. Rushes (means) papyrus.

o 41'41'

ki-i ú-lil-tu₄ an-na-bi-ik bu-up-pa-niš an-na-di

I was thrown down like a dried fig, I was cast on my face.

o 42'42'

    ú-lil-tu₄ su-un-gir-tu₄

Dried fig (means) sungirtu-plant.

o 43'43'

áš-na-an šum-ma da-ad-da-riš a-la-ut : da-da-ru bu--šá-nu

If (it is) grain, I swallow it like stinkweed. Stinkweed (means) buʾšānu-plant.

o 44'44'

ap-pu-na-ma e-te-rik si-le-e-tu₄

Indeed, (my) illness was chronic.

o 45'45'

    ap-pu-na-ma ma--diš : si-le-e-tu₄ : GIG

Indeed (means) very much. Sickness (means) illness.

o 46'46'

a-na ki-šuk-ki-ia i-tu-ra -e-tu : ki-šuk-ku ki-lu₄

(My) house became my prison. Prison (means) captivity.

o 47'47'

gišil-lu-ur-tu₄ ši-ri-ia na-da-a i-da-a-a

A fetter for my flesh, my arms were useless.

o 48'48'

    gišil-lu-ur-tu₄ iz-qa-tu₄

Fetter (means) handcuff.

o 49'49'

maš-kan ram-ni-ia muq-qu- še-pa-a-a : maš-kan : bi-ri-tu₄

A shackle to my person, my feet were done for. Shackle (means) fetter.

o 50'50'

qin-na-zi iṭ-ṭa-an-ni ma-la-a ṣil-la-a-tu₄

The whip that beat me was full of thorns.

o 51'51'

    qin-na-zu is-tuḫ-ḫu : ṣil-la-a-tu₄ ka-ta-a-tu₄

Whip (means) whip. Thorns (means) needles.

r 1r 1

gišpa-ru--šú ú-saḫ-ḫi-la-an-ni zi-qa-tu₄ lab-šat : gišpa-ru--šú gišGIDRU

A goad covered with thorns pricked me. Goad (means) staff.

r 22

ub-tal-lil ki-i UDU.NÍTA ina ta-ba-áš-ta-ni-ia

I wallowed in my own excrement like a sheep.

r 33

    ta-ba-áš-ta-nu : zu-ú ši-na-tu₄

Excrement (means) shit (and) piss.

r 44

kab-ta-at ŠU-su ul a-le-ʾi na-šá-šá : kab-tu dan-nu

His hand was (so) heavy I could not bear it. Heavy (means) strong.

r 55

làl-úr-alim-ma a-šib NIBRUki : ṭa-a-bi-ú-tu-ul-dBE

Laluralimma, resident of Nippur (means) Ṭabi-utul-Enlil (i.e., "sweet is the lap of Enlil").

r 66

iq-ba-a a-ḫu-la-pi ma-gal šu-nu-uḫ-ma : a-ḫu-la-pi a-di ma-ti

She spoke my deliverance, “he is extremely exhausted.” My deliverance (means) how long?

r 77

eṭ-lu ṭàr-ru a-pir a-ga-šú : ṭàr-ru dan-nu

A bearded man, wearing his crown. Bearded (means) strong.

r 88

e-ga-ti-ia ú-šá-bil IM : e-ga-a-ti ḫi-ṭa-a-ti

He caused the wind to carry off my acts of negligence. Acts of negligence (mean) sins.

r 99

GEŠTU-MIN-a-a šá uṭ-ṭam-me-ma us-sak-ki-ra ḫa-šik-kiš : ḫa-šik-ku suk-ku-ku

My ears, which were clogged and stopped up like a deaf man’s. Deaf (means) deaf.

r 1010

it-bal a-mir-ši-na ip-te-te neš-ma-a-a : a-me-ra ze-e uz-ni

He removed their wax, he opened my hearing. Wax obstruction of the ear (means) ear shit.

r 1111

ur-ú-di šá in-ni-is-ru ú-nap-pi-qu la-gab-biš : la-gab-biš šá a-šaṭ pag-ri4

(My) throat, which was constricted, was blocked as with a lump. : Like a lump (refers to the man whose) body is stiff.

r 1212

-ṭib-ma i-ra-ti-šá ma-li-liš uḫ-tal?-lil?-šá ma-li-lu₄ em-bu-bu

He made it well and caused it to sound its songs like a reed flute. Reed flute (means) flute/windpipe.

r 1313

la-ga-a-a-šá i-šír i-dil-taš ip-ti : la-ga-ú ši-ik-tu₄

Its swelling went down, and he opened its stoppage. Scales (mean) scales.

r 1414

šam-ma-ḫu šá ina un-ṣi it-tar-ru-ú ki-ma pi-sa-an-ni ir-rak-su un-ṣu bu-bu-tu₄

The large intestine, which was lead away in hunger and woven together like a basket. Hunger (means) starvation.

r 1515

i-maḫ-ḫar ip-te-en-ni ub-ba-la maš--ta : ip-te-en-ni ma-ka-lu-u

It accepts meals, it takes drink. Meals (mean) food.

r 1616

ki-šá-di šá ir-mu-ú er-na-ma ik-kap-pu

My neck, which was loose and twisted at its base,

r 1717

    e-re-e-na :. šur-šu : e-ri-na-ti

Root (means) root (and) ...

r 1818

ú-pat-tin kin--e a-ma-liš iz-qu-up : kin-nu-u KURú : a-ma-lu gišÙ.SUḪ₅

He strengthened it (as) a mountain, he planted (it) erect like a tree. Mountain (means) mountain. Tree (means) pine tree.

r 1919

a-na ga-mir a-ba-ri ú-ma-ši ú-maš-šil

He made my physique like one perfect in strength.

r 2020

    a-ba-ri e-mu-qu : ú-ma-ši ṣal-mu

Strength (means) strength : Physique (means) image.

r 2121

GIM! na-kim-tu₄ šu-ṣi-i ú-ṣap-pi-ra ṣu-pur-a-a

As to expel ..., he trimmed my nails.

r 2222

    šu-ṣu-ú : šá d-tar ana IZI Èa

One who expels (means) one whom Ishtar expels to the fire.

r 2323

it-bu-uk ma-[na]-aḫ-ta-šin x-x-šá-šin -ṭib

He dispelled their fatigue, their ... he made well.

r 2424

    ma-na-aḫ-tu : GIG [x-x]-šá-šú : SAG.DU

Fatigue (means) illness. [...] ... (means) head.

r 2525

bir-ka-a-a šá uk-tas-sa-a bu-ṣi-[ ub-bu]-ṭa : bu-ṣi : iṣ-ṣur ḫur-ri

My knees, which were bound and restrained like a būṣu-bird. Būṣu-bird (means) partridge.

r 2626

šuk-lul-tu₄ pag-[ri]-ia -ta-at-x [x x] x : šuk-lul- : la-a-nu

The form of my body ... [...] ... Form (means) stature.

r 2727

im-šu- ma-am--e ru-šu- ú-zak-ki5

He wiped clean the dirt, he cleaned its filth.

r 2828

    ma-ša-šú : ka-pa-ru : ma-am-mu-u : šu-uḫ-tu : ru-ši- : eb-bi6

To wipe (means) to wipe. Dirt (means) rust (and) like dirt. (The line means) clean.

r 2929

du-ú-tu₄ um-mul-tu₄ it-ta-per-di : du-ú-tu : bu-un-na-nu-u

(My) overshadowed masculine features have become brilliant (again). Masculine features (mean) outer appearance.

r 3030

i-na i-te-e dÍD a-šar de-en UN-MEŠ ib-bir-ru

On the bank of the River, where people’s judgment is decided,

r 3131

    i-te-e dÍD ḫur-šá-an

Bank of the River (means) ordeal.

r 3232

mut-ta-tu am-ma-šid ab-bu-ut-tu₄ ap-pa-šir [: ab-bu-ut]-tu bi-ri-tu

I was struck on the forehead, I was released from slavery. [:] abbuttu-hair clasp (means) fetter.

r 3333



r 3434



r 3535

[...] x [...] x re-e-mu

[...] ... [...] ... mercy.

r 3636

[ku-nu-]-kàd-ru i-na pi-šèr-ti a-ba-ʾa

I walked along (the street) Kunush-kadru released.

r 3737

    [ku]-nu--kàd-ru : - qat-nu

Kunush-kadru (means) narrow street.

r 3838

[šá] a-na É.SAG.ÍL e-gu-u ina ŠU-ia li-mur : e-gu-u ḫa-ṭu-u

Let [the one who] was negligent of/sinned against Esagil learn from my example. To be negligent (means) to do wrong.

r 3939

i-na pi-i ger-ra GU₇-ia id-di nap-sa-ma dAMAR.UTU

In/on the mouth of the lion that was eating me, Marduk put a bit/muzzle.

r 4040

    ger-ra : UR.MAḪ nap-sa-mu : ma-ak-ṣa-ru šá KA ANŠE.KUR.RA

Lion (means) lion. Bit/muzzle (means) a bit for a horse’s mouth.

r 4141

dAMAR.UTU šá mu-kaš-ši-di-ia i-kim as-pa-šú as-suk-ka-šú ú-saḫ-ḫír

Marduk confiscated my pursuer’s sling, he turned back his sling stone.

r 4242

    as-suk-ku [a]-bat-tu : ás-pu ús-pu7

Sling stone (means) slingstone. Sling (means) sling.

r 4343

id-di [...]-bir : KI.ḪULu bi-ki-tu₄

... [...] ... Mourning rites (mean) weeping.

r 4444

x [...] x i-na-an-na

... [...] ... (means) now.

r 4545

[...] x tum x ru

[...] ...

r 4646

[...] bit

[...] ...

r 4747

[...] x

[...] ...

1The reading of the line follows George & al-Rawi Iraq 60 (1998) p. 200. [EJ]

2This line of Ludlul is cited in a Late Babylonian commentary fragment, CCP 3.5.u7. [EJ]

3On the equation luʾtu = murṣu, cf. [l]u-'-tum mur-ṣ[u] in K.5872 9' (unpubl.) [EJ] and CT 41 31 l. 33 (CCP 3.5.49) [AL].

4The explanation seems to consist of a paraphrase of the hapax legomenon lagabbiš. CAD P 12a reads ša amāt pagri, "in the manner of(?) a corpse," but it seems preferable to understand it as a constuction of the rapaš uzni type. [EJ]

5There is a sign erased after imšuš.

6The scribe may have left out rūšuš from the base text immediately before rūšiš, the explanation.

7The second equation explains a Babylonian word by means of its Assyrian form, thus suggesting that the Ludlul commentary might be Assyrian creation. [EJ]

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum