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).’” 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). 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). It is probably therefore later in date than the seventh century BCE.
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′). 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(gù-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(úhar.hu[m.ba.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(gú)-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.”
ll. 51′-55′ // BAM 202
(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).
(60′) ana kimin èš-me-ku atbara(ad.bar) parzilla(an.bar) šamna(ì) labīra(sumun) bāb(ká) 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).
(65′) ana kimin šamna(ì) labīra(sumun) šá libbi(šà) qî(gu) ṣurru(zú) ṣalmu(gi₆) ṣurru(zú) 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).
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.” 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. 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. A tabular format is attested for other Babylonian commentaries with ṣâtu designations in their subscripts.
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.