CCP 7.2.u166 - Plants, materia medica

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 48532
BabylonBabylon (Rassam)
BM 48532+ BM 48963


Base text: 
Plants, materia medica
Tablet information
Fragment (upper half)
obv 11, rev 11, le.e. 2
5 × 6,9 cm
Neo/Late Babylonian, specifics unknown
Stadhouders, 05/2016 (Transliteration)
Geller, 05/2016 (Revision)
Jiménez, 05/2016 (Revision)
Jiménez, 11/2016 (Translation & annotation)
Jiménez, 11/2016 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 11/2016 (Lemmatization)
Stadhouders, 01/2017 (Annotation [r 3′])
By Henry Stadhouders | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Stadhouders, H., 2016, “Commentary on Plants, materia medica (CCP 7.2.u166),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed July 18, 2024, at DOI: 10079/n8pk121
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

This poorly preserved tablet contains a commentary on plant names. It consists of two fragments joined by Irving L. Finkel, both of them from the British Museum’s 81-11-3 consignment. It probably stems from Achaemenid or Hellenistic Babylon.

Most entries in the present commentary seem to deal with rare plant names, which are explained by means of other plant names. Thus the ṣutānu-plant is explained as the ṣudânu-plant in r 3′. Besides plants, the commentary also explains several names of diseases or disease-agents: thus, o 2′ provides an “etymography” for the disease name “epilepsy” (antašubba) and o 6′ renders syllabically the logogram líl.lá (“lillû-demon”). In connection to the latter entry, the commentary quotes a text in which the name of Enlil is explained as “the lord of the breeze(-demons)” (bēl zaqīqī). The commentary also mentions the “noise of a spider,” which probably refers to the hissing noise produced by certain species of spiders.

The commentary contains the technical terms ana muḫḫi, which introduces the lemma from which a word ostensibly derives (o 4′), and ša iqbû (l.e. 1). The edition below has benefitted from remarks by Mark J. Geller.


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BM 048532[via ccpo]

o 1'o 1'

[...] x x : x x x x x [...]

[...] ... [...]

o 2'2'

[AN.TA].ŠUB.BA : qa-at d30 : da-num : d30 : TAa : [...]

[anta]šubba means “hand of Sîn,” (since) Anu (i.e., an) means “Sîn,” ta means [...]

o 3'3'

[x] úim-ra-nu : IGI.DU₈. : im-ri : IGI.DU₈. [...]1

... means imrānu-plant, (since) igi.du. means charity (imru) and igi.du. [means ...].

o 4'4'

x ILLU? GI.AMBAR È : na-ba-ʾ-a : a-ṣu-ú : ra--[...]2

x illu gi.ambar è means “to rise,” i.e., “to sprout,” ... [...]

o 5'5'

NUMUN-šú GIM gišÚed-de-et.GÍR x x [x x x] di : úed-de-[tu ...]

Its seed is like the eddettu-bush ... [...] ... the eddet[tu-bush ...]

o 6'6'

LÍL..EN.NA : li-lu-[ú ...] x il? [...]

líl.lá means lill[û-demon ...].

o 7'7'

dEN.LÍL : EN za-- [...] x mulKA₅.A [...]3

Enlil means “lord of the breezes” [...] ... the Fox star [...].

o 8'8'

x x tu ši È : [...] ti? : tu-ú : [...]

... [...] ... incantation ... [...]

o 9'9'

x x : bal-tu₄ : na x [...] :? ṣal-tu : ta-[ḫa-zu? ...]

... means “thistle” [...] ... “strife” means ba[ttle ...].

o 10'10'

dsìg-ga : šu-lak : SÌG : sa-lu-ú šá x (x) x : úmur-ra-nu : ú[...]4

The Sì means “Šulak,” (since) sìg means “to infect,” said of ... The murrānu-plant is the [...]-plant, [...]

o 11'11'

[...] x x x x x [...]

[...] ... [...]

r 1'r 1'

im id? x x [...] x x [...]

... [...] ... [...]

r 2'2'

šá AMAR?/niš!? KAri-gim tu₄et-tu-tu [x] x x [...]5

... the “noise of the spider” ... [...]

r 3'3'

úṣu-ta-nu : úṣa-da-nu : DUa-lak us-si : ana MUNUS a-la-ku [...]6

The ṣutānu-plant is the ṣadānu-plant. Duck walk” means “to walk towards a woman” [...]

r 4'4'

úni-iḫ-lini-ʾi-lu : a-na UGU na-a-lu ra-ḫu-ú : d-bu/su₁₃ : dGÌR/AMARx.[UTU ...]7

The niʾlu-plant stems from “to lie down” (nâlu), i.e., “to mate.” Kūbu/Kūsu means ... [...]

r 5'5'

MAŠ.MAŠ?.TAB : a-šu-ú : SA.GIG? : ki--tu₄ : uzuka-sis-tu₄ [...]8

maš.maš.tab means ašû-disease, sa.gig (?) means kissatu-disease.” “Devouring (body part) [...]

r 6'6'

úŠIM.ŠEŠ šá ŠIM.SAR : šá ra-[qi-i] : Ú MINúš úṣa-ṣu-ut-tiúṣa-ṣu-[x-x]-x ŠIMšim? [...]

“Plants of the oil-perfumer,” means “of the oil [perfumer.”] Ditto-plant. Ṣaṣuttu-plant, ... [...]

r 7'7'

úPÍL : ki-si-it-tu₄ : [x x] ti? x x úsu-pa-[lu ...]

píl-plant means “wood shavings,” ... [...] ... “Juni[per” ...]

r 8'8'

[x x] x x È : úsu-pa-lu MU píl-lu-ú : úx [...]

[...] ... “Juniper” (supālu), on account of (the equation) “‘Mandragora’ (pillû) equals ‘...-plant’” [...]

r 9'9'

[...] x x x : ki-si-it-tu₄ : úx lu lu? [...]

[...] ... “wood shavings” ... [...]

r 10'10'

[...] úUKUŠ.ḪAB : úNAM.TI.LA [...]

[...] errû-plant means “plant of life” [...]

r 11'11'

[...] úim-ra-nu MU? [...]9

[...] imrānu-plant ... [...]

l.e. 1l.e. 1

[...] x SAR? šá Eú x [...]

[...] ... which it says, ... [...]

l.e. 22

[...] DIŠ ka ki nam?-maš-tu₄ da x [...]

[...] ... [...]

1Compare IGI.TUM₄(NIM). = im-ru₃ in Izi B ii 18 (MSL 13 p. 169, see CAD I/J 138a). Variants of the Sumerian word read IGI.. and IGI.TÙM. (see Reisman, Two Neo-sumerian Royal Himns [1969], pp. 82-83). On IGI.TUM₄(NIM)., see also Powell ZA 68 (1978) pp. 192 and Wilcke ibid. p. 220-221 (the latter’s interpretation is followed here). [EJ]

2The line might contain an explanation of the plant name nibʾu. [EJ]

3The first equation is also attested in the Nippur Compendium (BTT p. 152-153 no. 18) iii 4′ (said of Ninlil). [EJ]

4The equation dSÌG.GA = dšu-lak is attested in the lexical list , as quoted by Reiner, Šurpu, p. 56, ad III, 75 and Stol, Epilepsy, p. 71, ad rev. 21, with fn. 49 and p. 76. Note also the incantations Šulak māḫiṣ eṭli, “Šulak, hitter of the young man,” and Eṭlu ša Šulak imhaṣūšū-ma imšidu pagaršu, “the young man, who was hit by Šulak, and his body beat up,” both in the series Qutāru. [HS]

5The “noise of the spider” brings to mind the stridulation observed in various species of tarantula (fam. Theraphosidae). However, for the Middle East region, the most likely candidates to have produced the “spider’s noise” are the “camel spiders” (solpugids): solpugids make a hissing sound like a Saw-scale viper when molested. [Henry Stadhouders & Rick C. West]

6(Mallard) drakes are notoriously horny animals when coming in mating season, chasing every female they spot on land, water and in the air, and (gang) raping her when she remains unwilling. In 2008 a mallard drake mated for over half an hour with a dead fellow who just had crashed into a window at the Rotterdam Museum of Natural History; the director of the museum made the case world-famous in a study that was awarded the Ignobel Price. Note the mention of ducks quacking so as to incite the lover to chase the woman in N. Wasserman, Akkadian Love Literature (2016) Text No. 11, l. 9 (and rev. 5). [Henry Stadhouders]

7The last sign is perhaps dU.GUR?. [EJ]

8The second sign might be LÁL. [EJ]

9The last line of the text, separated from the preceding line by a ruling, might contain the incipit of the text (note that the plant imrānu also appears in o 3′). [EJ]

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum