CCP 2.3 - Namburbi

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 38271
Pinches unpub. copy


Base text: 
Tablet information
Complete tablet
obv 13, rev 8
Neo/Late Babylonian, specifics unknown

CAD Š/3 101b, 112b[On line 6-7, 10]

CAD N/2 235b[80-11-12,x, unpub. namburbi comm. cited from a copy by Pinches]

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 127

Landsberger & Kilmer, 1962B. Landsberger and Kilmer, A. D. , The Fauna of Ancient Mesopotamia, Part 1: Tablets XIV and XVIII, Materialien zum Sumerischen Lexikon 8/2, Rome 1962. Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1962.: 105

Jiménez, 07/2015 (Transliteration)
Jiménez, 07/2015 (Translation)
Jiménez, 07/2015 (Introduction)
Frazer, 07/2015 (Revision [introduction])
Gabbay, 07/2015 (Suggestions [l. 18])
Finkel, 07/2015 (Suggestions [ll. 17-18])
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Enrique Jiménez | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Jiménez, E., 2015, “Commentary on Namburbi (CCP 2.3),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed July 12, 2024, at DOI: 10079/tb2rc1w
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

According to its rubric, this tablet contains a series of “questions” (mašʾaltu) on a ritual against the “evil signs that are seen against a man and his house.” The base text of the commentary is preserved in a tablet from Assur, LKA 115, which was edited by Maul as “Ein Namburbi-Ritual gegen das Unheil, das von beliebigen Omenanzeigem ausgeht, die im Hause eines Menschen gesehen wurden.”1 This is in fact the only known commentary on a Namburbi ritual. However, the first entry of the commentary that can be related to the base text appears only in line 10: it is therefore uncertain to which text the preceding 9 lines of the commentary refer.

The commentary addresses several basic philological issues, mostly with the help of the Mesopotamian lexical tradition. Thus the first entry explains the Akkadian noun rigmu, “noise,” as “cry” (šisītu), and justifies the equation by stating that both terms are paired with the Sumerian word gú.dè in lexical lists. Other entries refer rather to astronomical bodies: in these cases, the text draws its explanations mostly from the astronomical compendium Mulapin. This is the case in ll. 6-7, which explain the logogram mulmu.bu.kéš.da as da-num ra-bu-ú šá an-e dni-i-ri, “the great Anu of Heaven, (i.e.), the Yoke constellation,” a quotation from Mulapin.

Some of the explanations are not drawn from the lexical tradition, but rather created ad hoc. Thus for instance the inconspicuous phrase “(vessel) of clay” (šá im) is explained in the commentary as an “unfired vessel” (lā bašāl), i.e., a vessel of unbaked clay. Similarly, the phrase “a figurine of clay” (nu im) is explained as “a figurine of the sorcerer and the sorceress.” It thus makes explicit what was ambiguous in the text.

Other entries of the commentary do not attempt to explain philologically difficult words or specify ambiguous elements of the ritual. They are perhaps better regarded as a display of erudition and ingenuity, since they explain common words using sophisticated hermeneutical techniques such as etymography. Thus the god name Išum is etymologically translated as “the attentive slaughterer,” since the two syllables of the name, i and šum, correspond to Sumerian verbs with the meaning “to be attentive” and “to slaughter,” respectively (ll. 12-13). Similarly, the logogram, “friend,” is explained as “he who is loyal to a man,” and a series of alternative etymological renderings of the word are provided on the reverse of the tablet.


The tablet stems in all likelihood from Babylon and dates, perhaps, to the Hellenistic period. Although it was previously unpublished, a copy by Pinches was made accessible to Landsberger and is cited in MSL 8/2 105. Similarly, an unpublished transliteration by Finkel is cited in CAD Š/3 101b and 112b.


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ri-ig-mu : ši-si-ti

(1) "Noise" (= LKA 115 unknown) means "cry," since GÙ.DÉ means "noise" and GÙ.DÉ means "cry."


. : ri-ig-mu : . : šá-su-ú


i-da-al : DU.DU : da-li šá i-dal-lu?1

(3) "He moves around" (idâl) (= LKA 115 unknown), (can be written) DU.DU, (it derives from) dâlu, (it refers to a person) who moves around.


ni--šu-la-a-ti : bi-na-a-ti

(4) "(Fish) roe" (= LKA 115 unknown) means "spawn," since ZIZNA means "roe" and ZIZNA means "spawn."


ZIZNA(TUR&TUR.ZA&ZA) : nim-šu-lu₄ : ZIZNA(TUR&TUR.ZA&ZA) : bi-ni-ti2


ši-i-qu : MUL : mulMU.BU.KÉŠ.DA3

(6) "šīqu" (= LKA 115 unknown) means "star." The star mul.MU.BU.KÉŠ.DA is the great Anu of Heaven, (i.e.), the Yoke constellation.


da-num ra-bu-ú šá ANe dni-i-ri4


mulSÚG(LAḪ₄).GE : mulḪUN. : dDUMU.ZI5

(8) "The LAḪ₄.GI star" (= LKA 115 unknown) is Aries, i.e., Dumuzi.


lu-ú : la-a : li-i : mulBIR : MUL e-ri-du6

(9) "" (= LKA 115 unknown) means , i.e., "Bull" (). The "Kidney star" is the star of Eridu.


dugSÌLA.GAZ : ši-ir-mu : šá IM : la ba-šal

(10) dug.SÌLA.GAZ (= LKA 115 o 5) means širmu-vessel. "(Made) of clay" (šá IM) (= LKA 115 o 6) means "unfired."


NU IM : NU UŠ₁₁.ZU u munusUŠ₁₁.ZU

(11) "A figurine of clay" (= LKA 115 o 6) means "a figurine of the sorcerer and sorceress."


di-šum : ṭa-bi-ḫu na-ʾ-du7

(12) Išum (= LKA 115 o 9) means "attentive slaughterer," since I means "attentive" and ŠUM means "to slaughter."


I : na-ʾa-du : ŠUM : ṭa-ba-ḫu


[TAB].BA? :? šá it-ti a-me-lu ku-un-nu

(14) [TAB].BA (i.e., "friend") (= LKA 115 o 14) is "he who is loyal to a man." [A] means "son" and DAB means "to seize." [Com]panion (tappû) means "another (lit. second) man," since TAB means "to double."


[A] : ma-a-ri : DAB : ṣa-ba-ti8


[tap]-pu-ú : a-me-lu šá-nu-ú : TAB : e-ṣe-pa9


[?] šá-nu-ú : ki-na-a-ti : ki-ia-a-ti10

(17) "A second [man]" is a kināti or kiyyāti. IGI-it means "colleague" (kinattu); the same (also) means "porter" (lit., "in front of the gate"). NIR means "to reach."


IGIet : ki-na-at-ti : MIN : IGI ba-bi11


NIR : ta-ra-ṣi : 12

(1 line blank)

maš-al-ti šá BEma GISKIM-MEŠ ḪUL-ME

(20) Questioning for "If evil signs against a man and his house are seen" (= LKA 115 incipit).


ana u É-šú it-ta-na-an-ma-ri

1Compare BUL.DU.šá-šá.DU = dâlu in Erimḫuš I 187 (MSL 17 17) and du-du BÚR.BÚR = dubbubu ša dâlu in Antagal E iv 13' (MSL 17 212).

2Compare Ḫḫ XVIII 44-48 (MSL 8/2).

3The line is cited in CAD Š/3 s.v. šīqu, "irrigation." Perhaps šīqu = šiqqu, "garum," and hence related to the previous line? (on the latter see Stol, M. "An Old Babylonian List of Objects" Gs Hruška (2011) p. 247-252, here p. 248).

4Quotation from Mulapin I i 19: ¶ mulMU.BU.KÉŠ.DA da-num GALú šá ANe.

5The star name mul.LAḪ₄.GI (s.v.l.) is unattested. The last equation is a quotation from Mulapin I i 43: mulḪUN. : dDUMU.ZI.

6Compare mulBIR mulNUNki, "Kidney is the star of Eridu," in Reiner & Pingree BPO 2 (1985), p. 42 III 27a.

7Compare Erra and Išum I 4.

8Si vera lectio, this line would contain a notarikon analysis of the previous line (DAB.BA > DAB+A).

9Compare TAB = eṣēpu in SbB II 66 (MSL 3 135).

10As suggested by I. Finkel, the successive comments on kinattu may have been triggered by the reference to kunnu above, in l. 14, where it is used in a paraphrastic definition of the word "friend" (TAB.BA).

11The interpretation of the line offered here, which follows suggestions by I. Finkel and U. Gabbay, takes IGI-et as writing of a synonym of kinattu, probably meḫertu (in its meaning "equal"). The translation of IGI ba-bi as "porter" was suggested by I.L. Finkel; it could also be interpreted as "the front part of the door," vel sim., corresponding to miḫirtu. Alternatively, the first equation may be based on e.g. še₂₅(KA׊ID)-gi-na = kīnūtim (Sag B viii 345, MSL SS 1 p. 35),

12NIR need not be in the main text: cp. NIR.GÁL = kinattu (CAD K 381a).

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum