CCP 4.2.R - Therapeutic (ana antašubba nasāḫi u [pašāri]) R

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 54595
Sippar(Sippar), 82-5-22 consignment
CT 41 43

Labat, 1933R. Labat, Commentaires assyro-babyloniens sur les présages. Imprimerie-Librairie de l’Université, 1933.: 112-113 no. 16

MedicalTherapeutic texts

ṣâtu 3b

Base text: 
Therapeutic (ana antašubba nasāḫi u [pašāri])
Commentary no: 
Tablet information
obv 13, rev 3
5,08 × 3,49 cm
Chaldean / early Achaemenid (late 7th / 6th cent) (mostly "Sippar Collection")

Borger, 1967R. Borger, Handbuch der Keilschriftliteratur. Band I. Repertorium der sumerischen und akkadischen Texte. de Gruyter, 1967.
[43 54595) Kommentar, Labat ib nXVI,]
: 138

Borger, 1975R. Borger, Handbuch der Keilschriftliteratur. Band II. Supplement zu Band I. de Gruyter, 1975.
[43 54595) Kommentar zu medizinischer Beschwörung o.ä.]
: 74

Butler, 1998S. A. L. Butler, Mesopotamian Conceptions of Dreams and Dream Rituals. Ugarit-Verlag, 1998.
[On line o 9]
: 215

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 4, 34, 51, 94, 230, 238, 287

Genty, 2010aT. Genty, Les commentaires dans les textes cunéiformes assyro-babyloniens. MA thesis, 2010.
: 400

Labat, 1933R. Labat, Commentaires assyro-babyloniens sur les présages. Imprimerie-Librairie de l’Université, 1933.
: 112-113 no. 16

Lambert, 1960aW. G. Lambert, Gilgamesh in religious, historical and omen texts and the historicity of Gilgamesh, in Gilgamesh et sa légende. Études recueillies par Paul Garelli à l'occasion de la VIIe Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (Paris, 1958), P. Garelli, Ed. Imprimerie Nationale, 1960, pp. 39-56.
[Name of Gilgameš]
: 39 fn. 1

Parpola, 1998S. Parpola, The Esoteric Meaning of the Name of Gilgamesh, in Intellectual Life of the Ancient Near East. Papers Presented at the 43rd Rencontre assyriologique internationale, J. Prosecký, Ed. Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Oriental Institute, 1998, pp. 315-329.
[Meaning of the name of Gilgameš]
: 316

Pinches, 1889T. G. Pinches, Exit Gišṭubar!, The Babylonian and Oriental Record, vol. 4, p. 264, 1889.
[Correct rendering of the name of Gilgameš]
: 264

Frazer, 05/2017 (Transliteration)
Frazer, 05/2017 (Translation)
Frazer, 05/2017 (Introduction)
Stadhouders, 09/2017 (Suggestions & corrections [introduction])
By Mary Frazer | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Frazer, M., 2017, “Commentary on Therapeutic (ana antašubba nasāḫi u [pašāri]) (CCP 4.2.R),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed May 24, 2024, at DOI: 10079/xwdbs71
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

This tablet contains a commentary in Late Babylonian script whose subscript describes itself as “Lemmata and oral explanations relating to (the work) ana antašubbâ nasāhi u pašāri, ‘In order to tear out and disperse antašubbû(-disease).’”1 The base text of this commentary has several points in common with a passage in a compilation of medical texts from Assur that begins ana antašubbâ nasāhi, ‘In order to tear out antašubbû(-disease)’ (BAM 311 ll. 59′-76′ = KAR 186 = VAT 8914).2 The scribe did not include any details about the circumstances in which he wrote the commentary, however the tablet’s consignment in the British Museum suggests that it comes from either Babylon or Sippar (Abu Habbah).3 It is probably therefore later in date than the seventh century BCE.4

The commentary contains Akkadian synonyms for various Sumerian terms and Akkadian words or phrases encountered in the base text. However, only three of the twelve preserved terms in the commentary are encountered in the putative base text, BAM 311 ll. 56′-76′ and all three of them come from the first ten lines. These terms are zību (l. 3 = l. 59′), dgiš-gím-maš (l. 4 = l. 60′), and gu (l. 5 = l. 65′).5 A fourth term that the commentary may have in common with BAM 311, arrabu (l. 8 = l. 55′), appears as an explanans, as well as out of sequence vis-à-vis its appearance in the base text before dgiš-gím-maš and gu. Perhaps, then, the commentator drew on several different sets of prescriptions against epilepsy when creating his commentary. Alternatively, he may have been commenting on a single set of prescriptions which has not yet been discovered but which has some words in common with BAM 311 ll. 56′-65′. Editions of the relevant sections of BAM 311 ll. 55′-65′ can be found below:


(51′) šumma(diš) amēlu(n[a]) [in]a erši(ki.ná)-šú igtanallut(luḫ.⸢luḫ⸣-ut) kīma(gim) rigim(gù) enzi(ùz) išassi(-si) ⸢i⸣-[ram-mu-um] (52′) i-par-ru-ud ma-ga[l] išassi(gù.gù-si) qāt(šu) be-en-nu antašubbû(an.[ta.šub]) (53′) ana bulluṭī(ti)-šú karān šēlebi(ú⸢geštin⸣.ka₅.a) úan-nu-n[u-t]ú ḫašḫūr(⸢gišḫašḫur⸣) [api(giš.gi)] d[x x x] (54′) ḫarmunu(ú[š]ir) úa-ra-ri-a-nu ḫīl abukkati(illu li.dur) (55′) šīpāt/šārat(sík) pagî(ug[uu.gu₅.bi]) [ina] mašak([ku]š) arrabi(péš.ùr.[r]a) tašappi(dù.dù) ina kišādi()-šú tašakkan(gar)

(51′) “If a man is very fearful in his bed, bleats like a goat, roars, (52′) is scared, (and) shouts loudly, (then it is) the hand of bennu-disease, fallen-from-hea[ven-disease.] (53′) In order to save him you wrap up fox-grape, annunūtu-plant, [“swamp] apple”, (54′) ḫarmunu-plant, arariānu-plant, ḫīl abukkati-resin, (55′) hair of an ape, you wrap (the drugs) in the skin of a dormouse and place it around his neck.”

(BAM 311 ll. 51′-55′ // BAM 202 r 5′-11′)


(59′) ana antašubbâ(⸢an⸣.ta.šub) nasāḫi(zi) kappi(pa) šutinni(su.tinmušen) kappi(pa) zi-i-bi úḫa ina maški(kuš)

(59′) In order to remove antašubbû-disease: a batwing, a feather of a vulture, and a ḫa-plant in a leather (bag, to be carried around the neck).

(BAM 311 l. 59′)


(60′) ana kimin èš-me-ku atbara( parzilla( šamna(ì) labīra(sumun) bāb() dgiš-gím-maš ina maški(kuš)

(60′) In order to ditto: malachite, basalt, iron, old oil from the gate of Gilgameš, in a leather (bag to be carried around the neck).

(BAM 311 l. 60′)


(65′) ana kimin šamna(ì) labīra(sumun) šá libbi(šà) (gu) ṣurru() ṣalmu(gi₆) ṣurru() peṣû(babbar) namru(zálag) ina maški(kuš)

(65′) In order to ditto: old oil from inside a vessel, black obsidian, bright white obsidian, in a leather (bag to be carried around the neck).

(BAM 311 l. 65′)


To modern scholars this commentary is best known for the crucial role it played in the decipherment of the Akkadian pronunciation of the name Gilgamesh, the protagonist of the most famous piece of ancient Mesopotamia literature. Until the discovery of the equation of dgiš-gím-maš with dgi-il-ga-meš in l. 4, these signs were read as “Gišṭubar.”6 The discovery of this equation seems all the more fortuitous because dgiš-gím-maš is the most common way in which Gilgamesh’s name was written in the first millennium BCE.7 That this writing merited a phonetic spelling in a commentary is, therefore, by no means expected.


This commentary is one of only two therapeutic text commentaries known to have a tabular format.8 A tabular format is attested for other Babylonian commentaries with ṣâtu designations in their subscripts.9

The number of lines broken away at the end of the obverse and the beginning of the reverse is unclear, but they are probably not too many.


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(Base textCommentaryQuotations from other texts)


CT 41, pl. 43, BM 054595

o 1o 1


: a-[šam-šu-tu]1

“Dust storm (Sumerian) means “du[st storm (Akkadian).”]

o 22



“Twin (Sumerian) means “twi[n (Akkadian).”]

o 33



“Vulture (Sumerian) means “vulture (Akkadian).”

o 44



“d.GIŠ-gím-maš” is pronounced “Gilgamesh.”

o 55



(A particular type of) metal bowl” (pronounced ) means (a particular type of) metal bowl.”

o 66



“Owl (Sumerian) (pronounced nennu) means “owl (Akkadian).”

o 77

KUŠ <d>ku-ši

KUŠ al-pi7

“Hide of Kūšu” means “hide of an ox.”

o 88


ar-ra-bi ú-la-lu8

“Caterpillar” means “dormouse” (which also means) “weakling.”

o 99



“Reed stalk” means “bush.”

o 1010



ŠÚ means “to set.”

o 1111



“The ‘larva’ (plant) means “the ‘caterpillar’ (plant).”

o 1212



“Saltpeter” means lump (of salt).”

o 1313

[x x] x-ú

na-an-[(x x x)]

[] []

r 1'r 1'

[x] x x


[] []

r 2'2'

[x] x u i-na-al? [(...)]

[] he lies down (?) [()]

r 3'3'

ṣa-a- u šu-ut pi-i

Lemmata and oral explanations

r 4'4'

šá ana an-ta-šub ZIḫi u BÚR12

relating to (the work) “In order to tear out and disperse antašubbû(-disease).”

1The restoration was first made by R. Labat, Commentaires assyro-babyloniens sur les présages (1933), p. 112. The equation is attested in lexical texts (CAD A/1 411b-412a) and imDAL.ḪA.MUN is also probably to be restored in l. 45’ of the commentary CCP 3.1.47 (on Enūma Anu Enlil), in which an equation of a lost word with ašamšūtu is explained as “on account of the disturbance” (duluhhû). The latter entry thus indicates that at least some ancient scholars considered imDAL.ḪA.MUN to be etymologically related to ašamšūtu.

2The restoration of the traces of the sign following ma as mu follows CAD T 443a. The equation is attested in Nabnītu IV 318 and Sumerian entries that include MAŠ.TAB.BA as a component are equated with tūʾamu in several places in Ur₅.ra (as cited by CAD T 443a).

3This equation is also attested in Ur₅.ra = ḫubullu (as cited by CAD Z 106a) and Mur.gud B IV 307 and C 21 (as cited by CAD Z 105a and 106). In Mur.gud, the Akkadian zību is then equated with the word ḫa-ru-ḫa-a-a.

4See Introduction.

5The correct decipherment of this entry was reported first in CAD (Q 289a and S 166b).The equation of qû/gû with sappu also appears in Diri, Proto-Diri, and A = nâqu (as cited by CAD Q 291a). CAD Q lists “measuring vessel” and “copper” as two different words, whereas AHw (followed by CDA) understands them as one lemma.

6As noted by M. Stol Epilepsy in Babylonia (1993), p. 9, eating the flesh of eššebu-bird is recommended in a prescription against antašubbû (BAM 487 r. 7). The same advice is attested in a prescription “in order to tear out and disperse ‘hand-of-a-ghost’(-disease)” (anaŠU.GIDIM.MAnasāḫi u pašāri) (= BAM 471 III 15), which suggests a conceptual connection between antašubbû and ŠU.GIDIM.MA.

7This equation is attested in a commentary on the medical treatise on fumigations, Qutāru (CCP 4.2.M.a, ll. 8-9). Note also TCL 6 34, ll. 6-7.

8This equation is attested in a commentary on the medical treatise on fumigations, Qutāru (CCP 4.2.M.a, l. 28), where the equation with ulālu is stated more fully as: “Caterpillar” means “dormouse” (which also) means “weakling from Subartu.”

9The explanans was previously read as kabnu, which von Soden suggests understanding as an Aramaic loanword meaning “encasement” (AHw 417b) whereas CAD K 22a tentatively suggests “a tree.” It seems, however, preferable to read it as gáp-nu, a writing also attested in the Neo-Babylonian economic document VAS 5, 121 ll. 9 and 14 (gišgáp-nu), or perhaps gùp-nu, “tree trunk”.

10As noted already by E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011, p. 94, this equation – which is also attested in another medical commentary, CCP 4.2.Q (o. 13) – draws on an entry in the plant lexikon Uruanna (III 251-252).

11Saltpeter appears in two commentaries on Šumma ālu, namely CCP 3.5.6 r. 7’ (where the explanation is entirely broken away) and CCP 3.5.54 l. 26 (where it is equated with ṭabtu, which does not fit the traces of the present line).

12M. Stol, Epilepsy in Babylonia (1993), p. 9 notes that antašubbû(-disease) is the only form of epilepsy that is said to be “torn out” in Babylonia.

Photos by Enrique Jiménez & Mary Frazer

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum