CCP 4.2.B - Therapeutic (šumma amēlu qablāšu ikkalāšu, bulṭu bīt Dābibi 24) B

Catalogue information
National Museum of Iraq
NippurNippur, WA50c VI
The Oriental Institute News & Notes 10 p. 2

Civil, 1974aM. Civil, Medical Commentaries from Nippur, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 33, pp. 329-338, 1974.: 329-344

MedicalTherapeutic texts

ṣâtu 7c

Base text: 
Therapeutic (šumma amēlu qablāšu ikkalāšu, bulṭu bīt Dābibi 24)
Commentary no: 
Tablet information
Complete tablet
5,5 × 4,2 × 1,3 cm
Achaemenid (5th cent - 331 BCE) (Uruk, Anu-ikṣur / Nippur / Babylon)
Enlil-kāṣir kalû of Enlil

Böck, 2008B. Böck, Babylonisch-assyrisiche Medizin in Texten und Untersuchungen: Erkrankungen des uro-genitalen Traktes, des Enddarmes und des Anus [Review of Geller BAM 7], Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. 98, pp. 295-346, 2008.: 299-300

Civil, 1974aM. Civil, Medical Commentaries from Nippur, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 33, pp. 329-338, 1974.
: 329-344

Civil, 1975M. Civil, Appendix A: Cuneiform Texts, in Excavations at Nippur. Eleventh Season, M. G. Gibson, Ed. The University of Chicago, 1975, pp. 125-142.
: 132

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 54, 231-32, 237, 302, 304

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.: 64 (3), 74 (23), 129 (22–23), 135 (8), 144 (7), 206 (6), 222 (6–7, 6–8), 64, 119 (2), 119, 128 (9), 201, 206 (20–21), 201, 207 (10–11, 12–13)

Genty, 2010aT. Genty, Les commentaires dans les textes cunéiformes assyro-babyloniens. MA thesis, 2010.
: 396

Gordin, 2016S. Gordin, The Cult and Clergy of Ea in Babylon, Welt des Orients, vol. 18, pp. 177-201, 2016.
: 184

Köcher, 1978F. Köcher, Spätbabylonische medizinische Texte aus Uruk, in Medizinische Diagnostik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Festschrift für H. Goerke zum sechzigsten Geburtstag, C. Habrich, Marguth, F. , and Wolf, J. H. , Eds. Werner Fritsch, 1978, pp. 17-39.
[On line 28: bīt Dābibi]
: 33 fn. 14

Reiner, 1993E. Reiner, Two Babylonian precursors of astrology, N.A.B.U. Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, vol. 1993/26, 1993.
[On line 6-7, 20-21]

Reiner, 1995E. Reiner, Astral Magic in Babylonia. The American Philosophical Society, 1995.
[On line 6-7, 20-21]
: 59-60

Scurlock, 2017J. A. Scurlock, Medical Text Commentaries (4.88N), in The Context of Scripture. Volume 4. Supplements, K. L. Younger, Ed. Brill, 2017.
: 310-312

Watson, 1987W. G. E. Watson, Ugaritic kknt, Aula Orientalis, vol. 5, pp. 309-311, 1987.
[On line 16-18: kukkānītu]
: 309-310

Wee, 2017J. Wee, Pan-astronomical Hermeneutics and the Arts of the Lamentation Priest, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, vol. 107, pp. 236-260, 2017.
: 240

Jiménez, 10/2015 (ATF Transliteration)
Stadhouders, 10/2015 (Note [l. 19])
Frazer, 11/2015 (Translation)
Frazer, 11/2015 (Annotation)
Frazer, 11/2015 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 11/2015 (Lemmatization)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Mary Frazer | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Frazer, M., 2015, “Commentary on Therapeutic (šumma amēlu qablāšu ikkalāšu, bulṭu bīt Dābibi 24) (CCP 4.2.B),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed April 23, 2024, at DOI: 10079/8cz8wpc
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

This tablet contains a well-preserved commentary of twenty-seven lines that was found during the eleventh campaign of excavations of the Oriental Institute at Nippur (1972/1973). More specifically, it was found in a trash pit dating to the Persian period, in area WA. The tablet was subsequently published by M. Civil.

The colophon of the tablet states that it belonged to Enlil-kâṣir, a kalû-priest of Enlil. This Enlil-kâṣir is the same man who owned the commentary CCP 4.2.A.a, on a ritual for childbirth. 

The tablet’s first rubric classifies the text as a commentary on the twenty-fourth section (pirsu) of the series “Prescription(s) of the house of Dābibu” (Bulṭu/ū bīt Dābibi ). This is a poorly known series that seems to have consisted of various therapeutic texts. Another commentary, CCP 4.2.P, comments on the twenty-second section of the series; CCP 4.2.P was probably also written by a Nippurean scribe, but unlike the present tablet it was found in Sippar.

The second rubric of the tablet classifies the text as a type 7c ṣâtu-commentary on two tablets of the series. The two tablets in question are (1) that which begins with the words “If a man’s middle hurts him” (šumma amēlu qablāšu ikkalšu) and (2) what is probably the next tablet in the series, “If a man pours out blood in his urine” (šumma amēlu ina šīnātīšu dāma utabbakam).


The exegete notes that the Vorlage contains a “recent break” (ḫepi eššu) in three consecutive lines (ll. 2-4), which indicates that this tablet contains a copy of an earlier commentary, not an original composition.

As is typical for commentaries on therapeutic texts, several of the entries in the present commentary identify obscure names of plants with one or two other plants (or names of the same plants): see lines 19, 21 and 27 (and possibly line 2). Another straight-forward hermeneutical technique present in this commentary is the syllabic rendering of logographic writings, which occurs e.g. in lines 2 and 8.

In addition to philological explanations, the commentary also contains non-philological explanations, such as paraphrase: thus in l. 24 the word “urethra” is explained as “the perforation of the penis” (pilšu ša ušari). More interestingly, the commentator occasionally attempts to establish the inner coherence of the base text by showing how the prescription in the base text is relevant to the patient’s symptom (also mentioned in the base text). In line six, for example, the commentator explains the following line of the base text, “if a man’s spleen hurts him, he should visit the temple of Marduk assiduously ...,” as deriving from a connection between the spleen and Marduk’s celestial avatar, the planet Jupiter. This connection is established by means of homonyms, namely the unusual writing of spleen, šà.gig, which is – according to the commentator – also an unusual writing for Jupiter. A similar attempt to establish the coherence of the base text occurs in line 20, which explains the connection between pain in the kidney and the “hand of Nergal” on account of the fact that the constellation “Kidney” is related to the Nergal’s planet, Mars.

Three technical terms appear in the text: in line 6, the term ina libbi (here: “is because”) introduces the explanation; in line 23, a more common form of the same term, libbû (“as in”), clarifies the first explanation of the signs bar u₄-mu. In the same line, šanîš (“alternatively”) introduces a second interpretation of the same signs. The technical term ša iqbû (“what is said”) is often used to cite the base text. In addition, line 12 contains a quotation from “Marduk’s Address to the Demons,” which is used to contextualize an equation.


Civil’s edition has been collated on a basis of a low-resolution photo published in The Oriental Institute News & Notes 10 p. 2. Several inaccuracies have been discovered, most importantly in line 20.


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OIC 22, 132 21


* NA MURUB₄-MEŠ-šú GU₇-MEŠ-šú : mun-ga : mur-ṣu

(1) "If a man's middle hurts him" (= Incipit); "cramp" means "disease."


útùn-lal ḫe- -šú ina U₄ 4.KÁM DU₈ : ina re-bi-i U₄mu1

(2) The plant ú.tùn-lal is the same as (recent break). "ina U₄ 4.KÁM DU₈" means "to dissolve on the fourth day."


pa-ṭa-ri ḫe- -šú ba-aḫ-ri ta-šáḫ-ḫal

(3) (Recent break) means "you filter boiling hot ...," (since) È means "to filter" and BI means (recent break).


È : šá-ḫa-lu₄ : BI ḫe- -šú : pa-ru-ru šá -mi2

(4) (Recent break) means "parūru of the flour."


údi-šu- : údi-i-šú

(5) The di-šu-tú-plant means "growth" (dīšu).


* NA tu-lim-šú GU₇-šú -rat dAMAR.UTU KIN.KIN-ma TIuṭ šá Eu3

(6) What it says, "If a man's spleen hurts him, he should visit the temple of Marduk assiduously and he will live," is because (lit. "as in") ŠÀ.GIG means "Jupiter" and ŠÀ.GIG means "spleen."


ina ŠÀ šá* ŠÀ.GIG : dSAG.ME.GAR : ŠÀ.GIG : ṭu-li-mu4


ŠIM GU₄ ḪÁD.A SÚD : ana ga-bi-du al-pi tu-ub-bal5

(8) "ŠIM.GU₄ HAD₂.A SUD" (is said) with respect to "you should dry the plant 'liver of a bull' and grind it up."


ta-sa-ku <:> ma-ḫaṣ : ba-a-a-ri GIM pa-ni SÚR.*mušen6

(9) "ma-ḫaṣ" means "huntsman like the face of a falcon."


tu₉(KU)-lim MÁŠ : ṭu-li-mu MÁŠ.ZU šá Eú*7

(10) What it says, "tu₉-lim MÁŠ" - i.e., "spleen of a young male goat" - refers to the constellation Capricorn (and) the land of Subartu and Eridu.


mulSUḪUR.MÁŠ kursu-bar- u ERI.DU₁₀8


an-du-ḫal-la- šá Eú* : NIR.UŠUMGAL : an-da-ḫal-lat9

(12) What it says, "The constellation Capricorn, the land of Subartu and Eridu, the anduḫallatu-lizard" NIR.UŠUMGAL means "anduḫallatu-lizard," (as in) "I am Asarluḫi, dragon of the Anunnaki, lion of the Igigi" (= quotation from Marduk's Address to the Demons).


ana-ku dASAR..ḪI UŠUMGAL da-nun-na-ki lab*-bi dí*--


PAP.ŠEŠ SIMtu₄ šu-um-šá : nap-pu-ú u na-pi- šum-šú*

(14) The sequence PAP.ŠEŠ SIM-tu₄ šu-um-ša₂ means "its name is sieve and filter," since PAP.ŠEŠ, read /papur/, means "sieve," and SIM means "to sieve."


PAPpa-ap-úr.ŠEŠ : nap-pu-ú : SIM : na-pu-ú10


ina na-aṣ-ṣa-bu lab-bi li-nu-uḫ

(16) The line ina na-aṣ-ṣa-bu lab-bi li-nu-uh means "May the heart calm down in the plant naṣṣabu!," (in which) nuṣābu means the plant kukkānītu with five branches.


ina na-ṣa-bu lìb-bi li-nu-uḫ : únu-ṣa-bu


úku-uk-ka-ni-ti 5 la-a-ri šá-kin


úḫal-la-pa-a-na : úḫal-tap-pa-na : útu--ru11

(19) The plant ḫallapānu is the same as ḫaltappānu and tušru.


* NA BIR-su GU₇-šú ŠU* dnergal šá Eú*12

(20) What it says: "If a man's kidney (BIR) hurts him, it is the hand of Nergal" (= Incipit); the constellation Kidney (mul.BIR) is the planet Mars.


mulBIR : dṣal-bat-a-nu : gišÚ.GÍR.LAGAB : pu-qut-13

(21) The plant giš.U₂.GIR₂.LAGAB is the same as the puquttu plant.


mu-ṣa : ḫi-níq-tu₄ : BAR U₄mu : mi-šil ta-am-mu14

(22) The term "discharge" means "constriction." The phrase BAR U₄-mu means "half a tammu" (mišil tammi), as in "half of a twin" (māšu). Alternatively, BAR U₄-mu means "half a day."


ŠÀú mi-šil šá ma-<ši> šá-niš BAR U₄mu : mi-šil U₄mu15


múš-tin-ni-šú : mu--tin-ni : pi-il-šú šá ú-šá-ri16

(24) "His urethra" means "urethra," which means "the perforation of the penis." The word šú-ḫi-šú means "his buttock."


šú-ḫi-šú : šu-uḫ-ḫa-šú : em-ra ú-zaq-qa-ta-šú

(25) "A swollen part causes him stinging pain" - "to swell" means "to become inflamed."


e-me-ri : na-pa-ḫa : ú-ḫar-ra-aṣ : ú-bat-taq

(26) "He diminishes" means "he cuts off."


mi-sis tam- : mi-ši-is-su tam- : úḫa-ḫi-in : pu-qut-

(27) The phrase mi-sis tam-tim means "meerschaum." The plant hahinnu is the same as the plant puquttu.


24 pir-su bul-ṭu É da-bi-bi NU AL.TIL

(28) (Commentary on) the twenty-fourth section of Bulṭu bīt Dābibi. Incomplete.


UL šu-ut KA u maš-a-a-al-ti šá KA um-ma-nu šá ŠÀ

(29) Lemmata (and) oral explanations, (materials for) a 'questioning,' following the sayings of a (master-)scholar, (relating to entries) from "If a man's middle hurts him" and "If a man pours out blood in his urine."




* NA ina KÀŠ-šú MÚD ú-tab-ba-kam


im-ṭa mden-líl-KÁD GALA dALIM

(32) One-column tablet of Enlil-kāṣir, lamentation priest of Enlil, whose personal god is Nuska.



1Civil suggests that the plant úTÙN. is a variant writing of útu-lal and útúl-lal

2As noted in CAD P 211b, the phrase parūr buqli, attested in Uruanna, suggests that pa-ru-ru is a form of malt. AHw suggests that it is a drug of some kind.

3As Civil (p. 337) observes, ll. 6-19 comment on BAM 77: 20' ff. // BAM 78: 1 f. Line 6 of the commentary comments on BAM 77: 21'.

4The commentary seeks to demonstrate the coherence of protasis and apodosis by proving that the "spleen" and Marduk (represented by the planet Jupiter) are connected.

5As observed by Civil (p. 337), this line comments on BAM 77: 24'. The plant gabid alpi is otherwise unattested, but the plant gabīd ubarri ("wolf's liver") is equated with bīnu ("tamarisk"): see CAD G 6b, lexical section.

6The restoration of the separation 'colon' after ta-sa-ku follows Civil (p. 337). He suggests reading ma-TAR as ma-ḫaṣ on the grounds that the act of striking could have been associated with hunting, although he also acknowledges the possibility of reading ma-kut on the grounds of the phonetic connection between ma-kut and ga-bid. As Civil observes, the entry beginning ma-TAR may contain a comment on BAM 77: 25', since one could restore ba-a-a-ri in that line, which in its current state of preservation reads [...] x a-a-ri ik-ta-na-su-us. Although "the huntsman repeatedly gnaws" would be an unusual phrase to encounter in a medical text, Civil suggests that it could be a simile (i.e., one could restore GIM in the preceding break in BAM 77: 25') that refers to an otherwise unattested hunting custom. To return to the commentary, if the entry beginning ma-TARis indeed a comment on BAM 77: 25', one would (as Civil acknowledges) expect the phrase beginning ba-a-a-ri to be cited in the commentary first, as the base text; instead, however, it seems to function here as the means of explanation. Civil therefore proposes that the word SÚR.*mušen is cited because of the possibility of reading it as kasūsu ("falcon"), which would be phonetically similar to the verbal form iktanassus in the proposed base text.

7As noted by Civil (p. 337), the basis for equating KU-ŠI with tulīmu ("spleen") is unclear. It probably represents a fanciful reading of KU-ŠI as tu₉-lim, vel sim. [EJ]. He proposes that MÁŠ.ZU, i.e. kizzu ("young male goat) is cited because of its phonetic similarity with iktanassus (see preceding note).

8Civil (p. 337) suggests that Capricorn (mulSUḪUR.MÁŠ) is cited here because of its phonetic similarity with iktanassus (see preceding notes).

9As noted by Civil (p. 337), the word anduḫallatu appears several times in BAM 77 from l. 34' on.

10As Civil (pp. 337-8) notes, the equation PAP.ŠEŠ = nappû is new. It may have appeared in the npʾ section of Nabnītu, which is only partly preserved.

11The otherwise unattested term ḫallapānu may, as Civil suggests, be a result of a scribal error for ḫaltappānu on the tablet of the base text. The plant tušru appears rarely, and only in therapeutic texts: see Heeßel Iraq 65 (2003) p. 231, §27, l. 17. See also BM 66560 r 4' and BM 67158 4' (information and references courtesy of H. Stadhouders).

12As Civil (p. 338) notes, this section of the text resembles the MB Nippur tablet CBS 19801 (BAM 396) i 23' ff.

13The commentary seeks to prove that the "kidney" in the protasis is related to "Nergal" in the apodosis. As Civil (p. 338) notes, the astrological equation between 'Kidney' and Mars is attested elsewhere.

14As noted by Civil (p. 338), this line parallels BAM 396 i 24'. The second equation is based on the possibility of reading U₄mu as tam-mu. As noted by Civil, tammu is either a Sumerian loanword (tam-ma = talīmu, according to several sources) or an alternative phonetic interpretation of tū(ʾ)amu, "twin."

15The restoration mi-šil šá ma-<ši> follows Civil (p. 338).

16As noted by Civil (p. 338), this line parallels BAM 396 i 29'.