Chapter 3 Kiṣir-Aššur’s Magico-Medical Education as šamallû ṣeḫru

In: Medicine in Ancient Assur
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Kiṣir-Aššur was likely in his teens when he began his earliest career stage as a “young apprentice” (šamallû ṣeḫru). By then, Kiṣir-Aššur is assumed to have completed his primary education and begun a process of specialization (cf. Gesche 2001: 210 and its review in George 2003–04 and Veldhuis 2003). He must therefore already have undergone the education necessary for him to acquire basic reading and writing skills for various subgenres of āšipūtu.

Supposedly, students of any craft were not adults (Gesche 2001: 219; Cohen and Kedar 2011: 240; Kedar 2014: 540). We can only estimate the years spent during education through comparative material, and suggestions for the age at which students began their education range from five (Waetzoldt 1974: 9) to 14–15 years of age (Gehlken 2005: 102, 106 and note 25; Cohen and Kedar 2011: 240–41 with further references).1 The length of a complete education may have been as much as ten years (Wiggermann 2008: 211; Waetzoldt 1989: 38), but in the Book of Daniel the education of an astrologer is three years.2 In the MA period, two brothers likely had the ṭupšarru ṣeḫru title for at least three years (Jakob 2003: 257). Apprentices probably trained through (competitive) teamwork under the tutelage of a senior colleague or family member.3

Although the šamallû ṣeḫru phase is Kiṣir-Aššur’s earliest attested phase, he was already copying complicated medical knowledge. This could indicate that the Bāba-šuma-ibni family did not follow the later Babylonian educational phases established by Gesche, but instead utilized a curriculum targeted at training practical skills. The following table is a list of the texts written by Kiṣir-Aššur as šamallû ṣeḫru. I have assigned the texts to three groups, namely, medical texts, ritual texts and other texts, as specified in Section 1.2.3. The text BAM 9 is not explicitly supplied with the šamallû ṣeḫru title in the colophon, but Section 5.4.1 argues for its place among these tablets. Consequently, it is included in the following table:

Table 2
Table 2
Table 2
Table 2
Table 2

Texts assigned to Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣehru-phase

Assuming Kiṣir-Aššur accompanied his father when performing his āšipu duties during his šamallû ṣeḫru-phase, it is plausible that the knowledge Kiṣir-Aššur acquired was for educational reasons with a practical dimension (Maul 2010a: 216).4 I distinguish three groups of texts among Kiṣir-Aššur’s 13 šamallû ṣeḫru texts based on whether or not they are related to manipulating the body of the patient. These three groups are: 1) prescriptions and rituals with diagnoses intended to cure symptoms and illnesses affecting a patient’s body, 2) rituals and prayers directed towards removing bad omens potentially causing illness(?) or soothing the anger of a cause of affliction,5 and 3) texts unrealted to healing.

In the first group we find BAM 9, which comprises numerous diagnoses and prescriptions for headaches (sagkidabbû) and ghost-induced head conditions on both the obverse and reverse. BAM 129 is one of the few examples of a library copy (multi-columned tablet) among Kiṣir-Aššur’s tablets with colophons. The two obverse columns consist of abracadabra incantations and associated rituals intended to cure a patient with sagallu-illness. Column three is completely broken, but column four contains diagnoses and complicated prescriptions treating the associated šaššaṭu-illness (see Section 3.1).

BAM 201 consists of long prescriptions curing an unknown malady, “Curse” (māmītu), and “inability to talk” (kadabbedû) and associated symptoms. The unpublished N4 A 400 is a small tablet with a single incantation with accompanying instructions intended to cure maškadu-illness. The manuscript N4 no. 237 contains a prayer to Šamaš and two prescriptions for treating the effects of a ghost. The obverse of RA 15 pl. 76 concerns brief prescriptions for snakebites and scorpion stings, and the reverse contains two prescriptions likely treating a horse. RA 40 pl. 116 comprises prescriptions concerning the illness ašû, pašittu-bile, lubāṭu-sweat and various lung problems related to coughs. The broken KAL 4 no. 41 likely treats the skin malady garābu.6 The last example may not have manipulated the patient’s body.

In the second group we find the broken ritual KAL 4 no. 197 and a šuʾilla-prayer (ŠU.ÍL.LÁ) to the divine judge Madānu, a divine personification of “judgement” related to Marduk.8 Additionally, N4 A 2191 contains a ritual against a ghost, which duplicates an unspecified part of BAM 323 (Daniel Schwemer, personal communication). Kiṣir-Aššur also copied the ritual N4 no. 289 for substituting a patient with a goat kid, which is killed and handed over to Ereškigal, the goddess of the netherworld.9

The third group contains the text N4 no. 241 covering words and phrases in Sumerian and Akkadian in individual lines, which are ruled off from one another. The specific entries were described collectively as ṣâtu, a term related to lexical lists and commentaries (see Gabbay 2016: 51–52, 101–103; Frahm 2011a: 48ff.). The tablet was described as copied on behalf of Kiṣir-Aššur.

In general, it is surprising that so few of the surviving colophons from the hand of Kiṣir-Aššur date to this early stage of his career, as we would expect a production of library copies during his early phases of specialization.10 Several circumstances may explain this situation, such as the chance of survival, very few of his early tablets were provided with colophons, or such tablets were discarded. Individual tablets are discussed in detail below.

3.1 Complex Diagnoses in Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru Texts

The texts generally imply that Kiṣir-Aššur as a šamallû ṣeḫru learned skills related to healing various physiological areas that have the common trait of being influenced by complex illnesses, which are not solely related to a single, easily defined set of symptoms. In what follows, I briefly discuss the various diagnoses copied by Kiṣir-Aššur as šamallû ṣeḫru in order to evaluate the difficulties inherent in them. Snakebites and scorpion stings have been excluded from the discussion, although Chapter 4 shows that they were considered to be physiologically complex and intellectually important.

A limited number of diagnoses appear among the earliest tablets from the hand of Kiṣir-Aššur, of which Scurlock and Andersen (2005) classify several as “syndromes”.11 Ghosts (eṭemmu) could produce everything from headaches (sagkidabbû),12 ringing ears, bloated and hurting abdomen, and upper abdominal fevers, to various one-sided pains (ibid.: 312, 525–27). Māmītu likewise does not always represent a clear-cut set of symptoms (Maul 2010a: 135). This syndrome was frequently connected to or used as an overarching cause of illness related to, e.g., cough or colic.13 The associated kadabbedû (lit.: ‘seizing-of-the-mouth’) was connected to witchcraft and disabled the proper use of one’s mouth and speech (CMAwR 2: 398; CMAwR 1: 3–4, 16; Kinnier Wilson and Reynolds 2007: 72–76).

The illness ašû designated a skin malady, although it also encompassed internal symptoms (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 74–75, 191, 224; Fincke 2000: 100–3). As such, the illness was not necessarily easily diagnosed. Also a skin ailment, garābu produced a certain type of white lesion called pindû (KAL 4: 91; cf. Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 231–32). It was furthermore connected to epilepsy, and it has been suggested that it designates leprosy.14

Sagallu and šaššaṭu were two illnesses affecting the (lower) bodily “strings” (šerʾānu), here especially the body’s muscles and tendons. The two illnesses may have been part of a syndrome beginning with the condition maškadu that could progress into sagallu and ultimately become šaššaṭu. I have studied these three illnesses in a recent article (Arbøll 2018a). These illnesses have traditionally been considered part of the advanced knowledge of the āšipu.15

A common trait of these diagnoses is that a majority of them are listed as diagnoses of illnesses in the diagnostic-prognostic series Sa-gig.16 They can therefore be considered complex illness concepts that must have been important for Kiṣir-Aššur to understand in order to provide the right cure. These illnesses can also be considered complex in relation to their symptoms, which inform on the physiological conception of the body. The areas of the body affected by the illnesses in Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru texts are listed in Table 3.

Table 3
Table 3

Illnesses and affected areas of the body

Clearly, these few illnesses cover a large portion of the body. However, the texts only include a limited number of actual symptom descriptions and diagnoses, a fair amount of “ditto” (KI.MIN) prescriptions, and other prescriptions without listing symptoms or diagnoses altogether. In Table 4 is a schematic overview of the types of symptom descriptions and diagnoses in Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru texts.

Table 4
Table 4

Types of illness descriptions in Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru texts

Interestingly, several tablets contain symptom descriptions with or without diagnoses, as well as diagnoses with additional symptom descriptions that were likely directed towards broadening Kiṣir-Aššur’s conceptions of how an illness can manifest itself. Other entries simply refer to the name of the illness, presumably because Kiṣir-Aššur already knew (parts of) the illness’ manifestations or because his teacher would fill in the gaps during his apprenticeship (see below). I discuss Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru diagnoses in relation to the diagnostic-prognostic series Sa-gig in Section 3.6.1.

3.1.1 Earlier Diagnostic Training

To what extent Kiṣir-Aššur was allowed to engage in actual medical treatments as šamallû ṣeḫru is unknown, but, as I argue in Section 6.2.4, he was probably not allowed to “practice” medicine on his own until he was mašmaššu. Thus, he may not have studied diagnoses and physiology in depth before becoming a šamallû ṣeḫru. However, none of Kiṣir-Aššur’s tablets with colophons attest to early-stage educational excerpts with one or two prescriptions.17 To evaluate Kiṣir-Aššur’s prior medical knowledge, Finkel’s study of a group of LB school tablets is currently the best comparative material.18 The majority of the material edited by Finkel consists of single prescriptions, incantations, or small plant lists with no direct duplicates in the therapeutic series Ugu (Finkel 2000: 142). Both the LB school texts, as well as the 24 elementary medical exercises from the N4 collection listed by Finkel (ibid.: 143–44), appear to revolve around relatively simple problems, such as headache, fever (ummu),19 or “Anus illness”,20 of which few are attested in Sa-gig.21

Drawing on Finkel’s findings, the earlier knowledge taught to Kiṣir-Aššur likely consisted of symptoms grouped under less complex illness headings. As a result, the complex diagnoses copied by him as šamallû ṣeḫru stand out and attest to the fact that he was taught āšipūtu: he needed to learn about the overarching illnesses and causes behind the symptoms. Furthermore, Kiṣir-Aššur’s surviving material suggests that he learned about the nature of such illnesses through the therapeutic texts coupled with oral instructions, as discussed in Sections 3.6 and 3.6.1. Although his šamallû ṣeḫru texts were not directly related to complex causes of illness, they likely provided prescriptions concerning causes that were illustrative for understanding the human anatomy and physiological processes. Aspects of Kiṣir-Aššur’s training in anatomy and physiology are explored in chapter 4. In light of the above evidence, Kiṣir-Aššur appears to have made use of the diagnoses copied as šamallû ṣeḫru to learn how to establish a complex diagnosis, and to understand (roughly) how the body functioned and how these treatments were believed to work in relation to symptoms and causes.

3.2 Principles Understood through Examples

Mesopotamian scholarly disciplines likely relied on lists of omens to provide the written, “scientific” background for a principle.22 Omen series, such as Sa-gig, are therefore often regarded as lists of omens used to establish “theories”.23 But, how would Kiṣir-Aššur have learned the necessary diagnostic principles, if not from Sa-gig? We must assume the Bāba-šuma-ibni family had an extensive oral dimension to their teachings.24 However, although someone in N4 copied “questions” related to Sa-gig,25 it still stands to reason that the majority of the written material for Kiṣir-Aššur’s diagnostic understanding must have been derived from the therapeutic texts.26

Kiṣir-Aššur’s therapeutic texts copied as šamallû ṣeḫru provided him with the knowledge necessary for producing and providing a therapeutic treatment for the disorders in question (see Section 3.6). While his texts contain some “ditto” (KI.MIN) prescriptions, especially on the obverse of RA 15 pl. 76, the majority of entries copied contain at least the name of the illness and a treatment. Finkel’s hypothesis that a student would collect (in the KI.MIN format) all the prescriptions that he had learned and copy them onto a large tablet at the end of his studies is therefore not applicable in this context (Finkel 2000: 143).

Instead, as shown in the following sections, Kiṣir-Aššur seems to have copied material related to assignments involving a particular physiological area or malady. However, in order to apply this knowledge, he must also have acquired the necessary abilities for understanding human physiology. While a few useful lists of anatomy from which an abundance of medical knowledge could originate are known,27 the majority of such knowledge was probably obtained from the principles one could derive from the therapeutic texts with diagnoses and contextualized via the actual praxis of the family. In the following sections, Kiṣir-Aššur’s diagnostic-therapeutic texts from the first category of šamallû ṣeḫru texts are subjected to a thorough investigation in order to establish what Kiṣir-Aššur may have learned from them and how they were possibly used in his training.

3.3 The Head: BAM 9

BAM 9 relates to headaches (sagkidabbû; lit.: “affliction of the temple(s)”), the temples, ghosts (eṭemmu), and ringing ears. Headaches and pulsating temples are among the most common symptoms of ghostly disorders, although other symptoms were also considered ominous concerning ghostly diagnoses (Scurlock 2006: 12–18).28 Finally, possibly two entries relate to “burning ṣētu-fever” (UD.DA TAB-ma) of the head.

In BAM 9, Kiṣir-Aššur writes out the diagnosis “[If a man]’s [he]ad burns with ṣētu and the hair of his ‘head’ (muḫḫu) falls out, (and) he [(repeatedly?) suff]ers [‘rising’ (strings of his) temple(s)] …”.29 This line differs in one significant regard from its four duplicates, namely in the writing of SAG.DU-šú in reference to the place wherefrom the hair falls out.30 Kiṣir-Aššur writes muḫḫišu (UGU-šú), which Worthington translated “crown (of his head)” (Worthington 2005: 19).31 However, the other duplicates preserve qaqqadišu (SAG.DU-šú). According to Westenholz and Sigrist (2006: 4, 8), the first subseries of Ugu contains a distinction between the use of qaqqadu and muḫḫu. The former designates the cutaneous layer around the skull, i.e., the outside of the head and its skin, whereas the latter designated the skull and brain, i.e., a bony structure with marrow (= the brain).32

Since the relevant passage in BAM 9 is duplicated by another Assur manuscript, BAM 3, which has the writing SAG.DU over UGU, BAM 9 does not seem to have been a varying tradition. Instead, it must be regarded as an idiosyncrasy on behalf of Kiṣir-Aššur, who either made the mistake when copying, or because he did not recall the difference between the terms anatomically (cf. Worthington 2012: 112). If Kiṣir-Aššur copied from a writing-board containing a version parallel to Nineveh Ugu, then muḫḫu would have been the subject until this prescription, in which the focus changed to qaqqadu (cf. Westenholz and Sigrist 2006: 4). A third possibility is that he consciously wrote this sign, as (ṣētu-)fevers may have been able to reside within the bones, i.e., the marrow or brain(?).33

BAM 9 is an extract (nisḫu), and all the entries are extracted according to uncertain principles from the first tablets of the 1st subseries of the therapeutic Ugu series, as shown in Table 20 in Section The entries duplicated in the Ugu tablets were chosen from sections concerning the qaqqadu and not the muḫḫu.35 The choice of entries for BAM 9 may therefore have been based on their relation to physical symptoms occurring mainly on the outside of the head (i.e., not the internal brain-area). Perhaps the extracts were chosen according to instructions or maybe they were arranged as such on the writing-board from which Kiṣir-Aššur copied.

In two instances in BAM 9, Kiṣir-Aššur writes a dual of the cuneiform sign for eye (IGIII) where the specification relates to the “right” or “left” eye.36 Although this is not necessarily uncommon, it is not attested in the parallel Nineveh library copy BAM 482.37 However, this was likely a scribal convention rather than anatomical unawareness (see, e.g., BAM 202 rev. 7’, KAR 298 rev. 30).

The catch-line of BAM 9 is preserved in two Assur duplicates and states: “[If] ṣētu-fever burns [a man] so that the hair of his head continually stands on end”.38 This diagnosis and its symptoms are known to have affected various bodily areas, and we must assume that Kiṣir-Aššur was supposed to move on to other illnesses or areas of the body after copying BAM 9.

3.3.1 Treating Ghostly Afflictions

The unpublished manuscript N4 no. 237 contains a prayer to Šamaš and two prescriptions for treating a man seized by a ghost.39 The content is therefore directed against similar problems as some prescriptions in BAM 9. However, there are no symptom descriptions in N4 no. 237 and only a single preserved diagnosis (rev. 4: DIŠ NA GIDIM DAB-su; cf. obv. 14–15). Presumably, all the treatments in N4 no. 237 were directed against this problem. The tablet mentions two ritual elements, which Kiṣir-Aššur could have learned in connection to this text. Obverse lines 20–21 mention: “You draw the line [… in the manner o]f a diviner” (šiddu [… kīma š]a bārî tašaddad), referring to an act of ritually marking an offering arrangement apart from the environment, and obverse line 22 states: “You distribute small heap(s) of flour” ([zid]ubdubbâ tattanaddi).40

The final prescription contains at least three notations of a “new break” in slightly smaller script, indicating that the original copied from contained a number of breaks (see Sections 3.4.1 and 7.4.3 for further discussion of such statements). This treatment is also preserved in Kiṣir-Aššur’s BAM 9, Kiṣir-Nabû’s KAR 56 from his mašmaššu-phase,41 as well as a manuscript from contemporary Nineveh (AMT 93,1; see Scurlock 2006: 607 no. 290). The prescription is presented in partitur below with a composite translation:

If a ghost afflicts (lit.: seizes) a man, you char and mix (list of ingredients). Grind together kibrītu-sulphur (and) ēru-tree, (and) mix (there)in resin of erēnu-cedar. You anoint him (with it), and he will recover.

The edition above shows that KAR 56 also contained notations of a “new break” in smaller script in almost the exact same lines as N4 no. 237.42 Furthermore, both these manuscripts contain identical spellings and writings of the prescriptions. The only difference is the addition of the comment “new break” in N4 no. 237 reverse line 6. Comparatively, the two additional duplicate passages in BAM 9 and AMT 93,1 contain different spellings and added ingredients in the passages where N4 no. 237 and KAR 56 noted breaks in the original.43 Accordingly, these manuscripts differ, although they do not appear to represent a single divergent tradition.44 N4 no. 237 contains passages also considered useful to Kiṣir-Nabû, and the knowledge was therefore employed in N4 at various career stages. Furthermore, the text was labelled as an uʾiltu-tablet, which could indicate the purpose behind the text was different from other šamallû ṣeḫru manuscripts labelled as ṭuppus (see Section 5.3.2).

The prescription above is not the only duplicate passage in N4 no. 237 and KAR 57. The three opening lines of the initial prayer in N4 no. 237 are parallel to KAR 56 obverse lines 12–14, although the remaining spell and the following ritual instruction in KAR 56 differ from the prayer and the following prescription in N4 no. 237.45 KAR 56 also contains two additional entries not incorporated into N4 no. 237 (KAR 56 obv. 1–4, rev. 11–13). The colophon of KAR 56 reads: “(Catch-line), a copy of an Assyrian writing-board, for undertaking a (ritual) procedure of Kiṣir-Nabû, the mašmaššu-exorcist, he [qu]ickly extracted (it)”.46 As discussed in Section 9.2.1, KAR 56 was presumably copied from a writing board with Assyrian sign forms.47 Comparatively, N4 no. 237 is only “copied and checked according to its original”.48 Considering the numerous notes on breaks in identical places in N4 no. 237 and KAR 56, it is possible that the prescription was copied by Kiṣir-Aššur and later Kiṣir-Nabû from the same partly broken writing-board. The added note on a “new break” in N4 no. 237 rev. 6, which is not found in KAR 56, or filled out with an ingredient in the two additional duplicate manuscripts, indicates that Kiṣir-Aššur saw a broken space on the writing-board copied from, which had originally not listed an ingredient. Kiṣir-Nabû may have realized this when producing his copy since the note was not added to his manuscript. This indicates that Kiṣir-Aššur was an inexperienced copyist when he produced N4 no. 237, which is substantiated by a peculiar writing of his father’s name as Nabû-bēssuni in the colophon (N4 no. 237 rev. 15: p.dAG-bi-su-ni).

BAM 9 was a “first extract” and a “copy of a writing-board”, which may have been further described in a broken passage (Section 9.2.1). Thus, it is possible to pose two hypotheses concerning this text in relation to N4 no. 237. Possibly, BAM 9 was copied from the same writing-board as N4 no. 237 and KAR 56, but the text served another purpose than the former.49 Thus, broken spaces could have been filled and different spellings employed. Alternatively, BAM 9 was copied from another writing-board with a different text.

3.4 The “Strings” and “Inner” Body

Four of Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru texts attest to him learning about the mouth, lungs, abdomen, and “strings” (i.e., muscles, tendons, arteries, veins, etc.) of the body via the illnesses sagallu-šaššaṭu (BAM 129), māmītu and kadabbedû (BAM 201,), maškadu (N4 A 400), and ašû, pašittu, lubāṭu, as well as various lung illnesses (RA 40 pl. 116). BAM 129, BAM 201 and RA 40 pl. 116 are discussed individually here to provide a discussion of their content in relation to Kiṣir-Aššur’s training. The manuscript N4 A 400 is still unpublished, and only a single general observation can be made. The text is likely the only tablet among Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru-phase manuscripts, which contain a single incantation and instructions for treating a concrete illness.

3.4.1 BAM 129

BAM 129 has a preserved first and fourth column, only the beginning lines are preserved in column two, and none of column three survives. The two columns on the obverse consist of abracadabra incantations and ritual instructions against sagallu,50 but without diagnoses, whereas column four contains diagnoses and elaborate prescriptions for treating šaššaṭu. Presumably, column three also contained cures for this illness. Unlike bilingual and monolingual Akkadian incantations, it is unclear if abracadabra incantations had any place in LB scribal education, and their appearance in the šamallû ṣeḫru manuscript BAM 129 is therefore peculiar.51

Kiṣir-Aššur included three annotations in spaces left blank in the first column of BAM 129, noting that the tablet copied from contained a “new break”.52 In two of these examples the presumed correct reading of the line is known:

The ritual in BAM 129 col. i 8–11 is difficult to understand, even in the preserved Nineveh versions. The internal evidence suggests that Kiṣir-Aššur may have understood even less. In addition to the “new break” in col. i 8, the beginning of the line is broken and leaves room for no more than five reconstructed signs. This amount of space does not fit any of the duplicate versions. The break must therefore be reconstructed with another “new break” note, an unknown line from a different tradition, or represent a mistake in Kiṣir-Aššur’s copy. Notably, Kiṣir-Aššur makes at least one mistake in this passage, copying gišGIM for gišBAN. Due to the similarity of the two signs, Kiṣir-Aššur possibly mistook BAN for GIM.53

Finkel has argued that the ḫe-pí glosses among his group of LB exercises may be an attempt by the writer to show his ability to faithfully preserve and transmit an older, fragmentary text (Finkel 2000: 180; cf. Worthington 2012: 26–27). Considering that the production of tablets to be integrated into the family’s tablet collection seems to have been one of the goals of aspiring scholars,54 BAM 129 may be an example of Kiṣir-Aššur showing his ability to copy a difficult and fragmentary tablet. Therefore, the copy here could be an exercise. Nevertheless, several passages in the treatments prescribe ritualistic acts, which Kiṣir-Aššur perhaps copied in order to aid his father. The same conclusions may hold true for N4 no. 237 above.

Peculiarly, Kiṣir-Aššur did not copy any of the numerous maškadu- or araḫḫi-themed incantations and rituals often prescribed against sagallu.55 Unlike the entries chosen for BAM 9, the duplicate passages of BAM 129 run consecutively on the Nineveh (Ugu?) manuscript CT 23 pl. 5–14, which included all such incantations and ritual instructions (Section 9.3.4).

3.4.2 BAM 201

The five preserved prescriptions on BAM 201 mainly concern māmītu and kadabbedû causing fever and swollen insides,56 throwing up saliva with blood and pus,57 and having yellow eyes.58 None of the diagnoses or prescriptions has any direct duplicate, but all of the long prescriptions seem to contain one step in the treatment wherein the patient is bandaged with a cloth (TÚG).59 The combination of clearly internal illnesses and mainly external applications suggests these were the factors behind the arrangement.

Of note, the tablet provides an alternative treatment method for the final application on the reverse, which is unusual in Kiṣir-Aššur’s copies.60 Additionally, almost all prescriptions on this tablet are quite long. The catch-line is also peculiar, as it does not spell out the following diagnosis, but simply writes “If ‘ditto’ …”.61 Furthermore, in the colophon Kiṣir-Aššur writes na-às-ḫa with AŠ for ÀS, which is rare in Kiṣir-Aššur’s colophons.62

The colophon specifies that the content was extracted from “a writing-board of prescriptions from the Gula temple”.63 The tablet is labelled as an uʾiltu-tablet, which perhaps designates a commitment or an obligation inherent in the purpose for copying the text.64 As this tablet was different from the others copied by Kiṣir-Aššur as šamallû ṣeḫru, I would argue that the uʾiltu label here must designate some sort of exercise Kiṣir-Aššur was obligated to make. In this case, it is not inconceivable that Kiṣir-Aššur was tasked with finding māmītu treatments, which also included bandages.

3.4.3 RA 40 pl. 116

RA 40 pl. 116 consists of six prescriptions on the obverse. As noted by its editors Labat and Tournay (1945–46: 113), the first diagnosis concerning ašû, pašittu, and lubāṭu illnesses is roughly duplicated in the 3rd tablet (BAM 578) of the suālu subsection of the Nineveh Ugu series that deals specifically with bile affecting the chest and epigastrium with or without fever (ummu) as well as jaundice (see Section 9.3.4).65 The remaining five prescriptions and four diagnoses have no direct parallels, however, and appear to concern illnesses of the airways.66 The opening diagnosis, mentioning the names of ašû, pašittu, and lubāṭu, suggests that Kiṣir-Aššur previously may have copied material related to these illnesses with more thorough symptom descriptions.

Interestingly, Kiṣir-Aššur wrote the ḫašû-plant in obv. 19 as úḪAR.MEŠ. Such a writing is unique, and Labat and Tournay (1945–46: 121) suggested that this was likely a graphic writing of ḫašû, the word for this plant and for “lungs”. Since Kiṣir-Aššur had just copied two prescriptions concerning the “lungs”, written MUR.MEŠ (MUR being identical to ḪAR) he likely made an “error of attraction” and wrote “plant (for) the lungs” (cf. Worthington 2012: 109).67

Certain illnesses could affect the stomach and induce vomit. One such affliction was pašittu, a dangerous bile-like fluid in the gastro-intestinal system.68 Vomiting could be considered a symptom of imbalance within the body or be induced in order to expel the problem, which was the case in two instances in RA 40 pl. 116, for expelling pašittu-bile and phlegm.69 As shown below in Chapter 4, this text and RA 15 pl. 76 likely enhanced Kiṣir-Aššur’s knowledge about internal physiology, and also improved his skills for removing certain internal maladies by inducing vomit and using the nostrils to introduce medication.

3.5 Snakes, Scorpions and Horses: A Discussion of RA 15 pl. 76

The text published by Scheil in RA 15 on pl. 76 does not have a museum number. Consequently, the original cannot be consulted and one must rely on his problematic copy (see Appendix 2 with a new edition). The tablet consists of a number of one-line prescriptions against snakebites and scorpion stings on the obverse, and at least two longer prescriptions designed for horse ailments on the reverse (Stol 2011: 400–402).

3.5.1 Snakes and Scorpions: The Obverse

While incantations for stings and bites seem to be relatively well attested in the OB corpus,70 Finkel stresses that “prescriptions for bites and stings by and large did not enter the traditional corpus of therapeutic medical texts”.71 The effects of snake and scorpion venom are, however, well attested in incantations in which venom became a metaphor for various illnesses.72 The relatively few snake and scorpion treatments known from the first millennium primarily originate from the N4 collection and various works concerning plants.73

The prescriptions on the obverse of RA 15 pl. 76 consist mainly of so-called “simples”, i.e., prescriptions comprising a single ingredient.74 Presumably, the first diagnosis states: “If a snake bit a man”,75 and obverse line 14 changes the subject with the diagnosis: “If a scorpion stung a man”.76 RA 15 pl. 76 obv. 1’–6’ is duplicated in the final section of BAM 42 (rev. 63–67). BAM 42 was written during an unknown stage by Aššur-šākin-šumi, likely a contemporary of Kiṣir-Aššur in the N4 collection (Maul 2010a: 216 note 101). According to Finkel (2000: 213 note 3), the snake treatments were added at the end in a smaller hand as an “afterthought”. While this may be the case, it is noteworthy that the preceding treatments were directed against breathing illnesses (Köcher 1963a: XVII). The inclusion of snakebite treatments in BAM 42 could therefore be based on a symptomatic relationship between snake venom and such symptoms (see Section 4.1.2).

Peculiarly, several duplicate passages end with the present verbal form ina-eš in RA 15 pl. 76 and the stative form né-eš in BAM 42, both derived from the verb “to live, stay alive, recover” nêšu, suggesting that the two texts were not copied from the same original or that individual choice was involved (cf. CAD N/2: 197). Moreover, RA 15 pl. 76 obverse lines 8’–10’ is found in parallel passages in the plant list CT 14 pl. 23. The parallel passages all make use of a “wad of reeds” (ḫi-mu-ú) applied to the bite, and they describe the “bandaging” in the infinitive (LÁ-du, NIGIN-ú).77 Considering that RA 15 pl. 76 represents an extract from a writing-board (see Section 9.2.3), presumably with prescriptions, it is noteworthy that several entries in the plant list CT 14 pl. 23 largely correspond to those in the therapeutic text RA 15 pl. 76. Although these texts are not exact duplicates, they contain parallel entries with similar problems, plants, and how the drugs are to be administered. Such a correlation seems unexpected.78

3.5.2 Horse Colic: The Reverse

The reverse of RA 15 pl. 76 contains two prescriptions presumably intended for horses (Stol 2011: 400–402). Horses were important animals in the NA period (ibid.: 386). In addition to the corpus of Hippiatric texts from 13th century Ugarit,79 treatments for horses are primarily known from the NA manuscripts RA 15 pl. 76, BAM 159, BAM 309, and some plant lists.80 Such treatments were transmitted together with human treatments, although several of the prescriptions utilize plants and treatments exclusively attested in these contexts (ibid.: 392). Additionally, they typically are not considered part of the normal sphere of healing knowledge.81 As a result, Scurlock suggested that the horse treatments in BAM 159 were inserted due to a thematic parallel in referring to the nostril (naḫīru).82

The reverse of RA 15 pl. 76 is fragmentary and poorly copied, but it refers to pouring liquid into the left “nostril” (naḫīru) in two instances (rev. 4’, 7’) and likely mentions “horse” in reverse line 8’ (Stol 2011: 401). Administering ingredients into the irrational left nostril is only attested in veterinarian praxis, which indicates that both these prescriptions relate to horses (ibid.: 392). Unfortunately, the illness described in reverse line 8’ remains unclear.83 RA 15 pl. 76 also has a peculiar and previously unknown catch-line, which may read: “If a man’s! stomach rises (to vomit) and settles!, (and) his stomach (after having) settled rises(?) (again)”.84 Considering the two previous prescriptions dealt with horses, the catch-line likely reflects a continuation of symptoms that indicate a relationship with colic and the stomach. The content of the horse prescriptions are discussed in detail in relation to physiology in Section 4.4.3.

Comparatively, two prescriptions in BAM 159 deal with horse colic, of which the first was likely a prescription designed for horses, although the second may have been a human prescription applied to horses (Stol 2011: 387, 393–95). What is translated “horse colic” is written kīs libbi “binding of the ‘heart’” or “abdomen, belly” in BAM 159. Colic is the most common horse illness, and it is also attested in the pastoral god Šakkan (ibid.: 397–98). In horses, colic can have many causes and it is defined as a digestive disease causing abdominal pain.85 Due to the horse’s animalistic nature, kīs libbi is a more complicated affair in humans, as there is slight evidence that it may also have had a psychological dimension that manifests as an emotional disturbance.86

The above evidence suggests that RA 15 pl. 76 may not be as extraordinary as has typically been assumed. In the so-called “Assur Medical Catalogue”, hereafter referred to as the AMC (see Section 9.3.2), bites and stings as well as veterinarian knowledge are listed after works known to have been included in the Nineveh Ugu series. Their titles in the AMC could indicate that such knowledge was considered to be as important as human healing to the medical traditions in Assur.87 However, it is unknown if application methods or other associative factors had created clusters of prescriptions that were transmitted in the medical tradition (cf. Geller 2010: 97–108).

The common theme of RA 15 pl. 76 seems to be animals influencing other individuals or being influenced. However, a tentative suggestion could be that the stings/bites and affected horses were connected, as animals in the fields were likely more susceptible to being stung or bitten.88 Thematically, it therefore describes venomous animals as disease agents with either humans or domestic animals as victims or patients. Apart from being an introduction to these different genres of healing literature, RA 15 pl. 76 likely initiated Kiṣir-Aššur into the anatomical conceptions lying latent in the cuneiform medical literature. At least one OB incantation could be applied to humans and animals alike, and Stol argues that the second horse treatment in BAM 159 was originally designed for humans.89 By extension, the veterinarian material could perhaps be utilized by students to understand some aspects of human anatomy.90 This was also the case in several instances in the history of Greek and Roman medicine (see Mattern 2013: 145–55, 158–60, 163; Stol 2011: 395 note 224 with references; van der Eijk 2008: 398–99; Nutton 2004: 49, 77, 119–120, 128, 132, 214–15, 231–32).

3.6 Gaining an Understanding of Anatomy and Physiology

As previously discussed, Kiṣir-Aššur, and his teacher(s), likely drew on the healing texts copied as šamallû ṣeḫru to widen his diagnostic and anatomical understanding. But while anatomical conceptions in the ancient sources (e.g., Steinert 2016: 206; Couto Ferreira 2009; Westenholz and Sigrist 2008; Stol 2006; Landsberger 1967), as well as descriptions of anatomical terms in specific corpuses (e.g., Heeßel 2000: 25, 28–29; Böck 2001),91 have been the subject of individual studies, it has also been pointed out on occasion that some Mesopotamian anatomical descriptions do not always appear coherent or specific.92

One particular problem seems to be the descriptions of internal areas and organs of the torso.93 Autopsy was to the best of our knowledge not performed on the human body.94 As a result, the internal processes were formulated in a tradition that combined observable external symptoms with anatomical features observed in animals and possibly human war casualties (see Section 4.4.1). Therefore, many blank holes had to be filled in order to produce even a rough understanding of how the insides functioned.95

As hypothesized in Section 3.1.1, the material copied in Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru tablets attests to a wide range of bodily areas and was possibly used to achieve an associated understanding of the bodily processes through the written diagnoses. Considering that BAM 9 was described as a “first extract” from either one or several writing-boards and RA 15 pl. 76 was the “32nd? extract”, it is possible that BAM 129 and RA 40 pl. 116 also once contained a phrase that designated them as extracts.96 Although this remains uncertain, Kiṣir-Aššur likely copied 31 extracts before RA 15 pl. 76, and, if so, it stands to reason that he copied these as šamallû ṣeḫru.97 Additionally, BAM 9, RA 15 pl. 76, and RA 40 pl. 116 contain two general types of protective phrases, namely “you must not erase my written name” and “he who takes (the tablet) away, let Nabû order his disappearance” or “let [DN] take aw[ay] his eyesight”.98

BAM 9, BAM 201, and RA 15 pl. 76 also explain what originals Kiṣir-Aššur copied from, and in all three cases this was a writing-board. BAM 201 even adds that it was copied from “a writing-board of prescriptions from the Gula temple”, which was likely located in Assur (see Section 9.5.2). This suggests that Kiṣir-Aššur drew his medical šamallû ṣeḫru material from one or several writing-boards, perhaps all of which were located in a library in the temple dedicated to the goddess of healing. Unfortunately, little is known about the Gula temple in Assur, its library, and whether or not Kiṣir-Aššur received any education there (cf. Wiggermann 2008). Additionally, the unpublished text N4 A 2191 was perhaps copied from a tablet by a certain […]-Marduk, an asû from the land of […].99

This evidence could tentatively be interpreted as an indication that Kiṣir-Aššur was made to copy out the pertinent parts of a writing-board, which contained a text relevant for education and practice, in order to learn (and discuss) the passages required to educate him in the subjects described. This education also included physiological conceptions. This is supported by the general evaluation of the Bāba-šuma-ibni family’s numbered extracts investigated in Section 9.2. Preliminarily, Kiṣir-Aššur copied out an idiosyncratic handbook, which consisted of a number of relevant extracts (nisḫu), and these adhered to his family’s school of thought and his own education.

3.6.1 Kiṣir-Aššur’s Diagnostic Training and Sa-gig

Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru texts show relatively few complex diagnoses affecting several bodily areas, and they are probably extracted from one or more collections of therapeutic texts possibly arranged from head-to-toe according to specific bodily areas (BAM 9, BAM 129, RA 40 pl. 116). Additionally, Kiṣir-Aššur copied at least one exercise(?) according to a malady that affected several bodily areas (māmītu in BAM 201; ghost in N4 no. 237(?)). Therefore, Kiṣir-Aššur studied both select groups of chosen illnesses that affected certain bodily areas, as well as how one or more complex illnesses could manifest themselves in a multitude of areas (cf. Wee 2012: 239).

Complex diagnoses, as the ones discussed in Section 3.1, seem to require advanced medical understanding. Correlating symptoms with diagnoses and subsequently determining the cause behind the illness, is often described as a process illustrated by the Esagil-kīn-apli recension of the diagnostic prognostic handbook Sa-gig, especially its 2nd subseries “When you approach the patient” (Heeßel 2007b: 120–29; Heeßel 2000: 49–52; cf. Wee 2012: 183–84, 186).100 The 2nd subseries was arranged head-to-toe according to the symptom that was mentioned first in the description (Wee 2012: 222, 240; Heeßel 2000: 19, 24–30). Therefore, this subseries prioritizes symptom over illness in its arrangement (Wee 2012: 156, 476, 479). However, Sa-gig’s practical use as well as its function for education is less clear (Robson 2008: 474; Heeßel 2000: 90–94; cf. Wee 2012: 239). Contemporary exorcist at the royal court in Nineveh never quoted the series, perhaps relying on observation, experience and pragmatism for prognostic purposes (Robson 2019: 118). Other scholars at the royal court quoted omen series such as Enūma Anu Enlil extensively (Rochberg 2011: 627). A few of Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru diagnoses are comparable to concrete entries in Sa-gig.

The šaššaṭu diagnosis in BAM 129 col. iv 3’ was partly duplicated in two sections of Sa-gig, namely tablets 10 and 33.101 The line in BAM 129 states: “[If a man]’s [neck] (and) his hips are stiff: šaššaṭu is its name”.102 This line is almost duplicated in the two sections of Sa-gig, but with a variation between šaššaṭu in Sa-gig 33 and “Heavy Strings” (SA.DUGUD) – another name for šaššaṭu – in Sa-gig 10. Furthermore, all passages in Sa-gig add the symptoms stiff (ašṭu) hands and feet.103

Such correlations between Sa-gig and the therapeutic material seem to appear irregularly.104 However, a connection in Kiṣir-Aššur’s tablets to Sa-gig is evident. It is unknown at what stage an āšipu would have learned Sa-gig, although the N4 exercise BAM 310 suggests that such omens could have been introduced at an early stage.105 Unlike Finkel’s (2000: 142) hypothesis, adopted by Wee (2012: 87, 452) that Sa-gig and its commentaries would be the work of advanced students, the evidence from Kiṣir-Aššur does not show any traces of the Sa-gig series during his traceable educational phases. It should therefore be noted that no copies of Sa-gig were found in the N4 collection, and almost no evidence for the series exists in Assur.106 In comparison, the N4 collection has not yielded a single regular manuscript of Maqlû (Schwemer 2017: 50). Yet, in a list of tablet incipits (VAT 13723+), presumably listing texts held in the N4 collection, the enumeration of the nine tablets of Maqlû (col. i 5’–13’) ends with the summary: “Eight (tablets) of Maqlû (incantations) together with the ritual (instruction)s of Maqlû: 2 (copies?)” (ibid.: 51; Geller 2000: 227). The question remains how to interpret the last number, but Schwemer suggests that the collection held two complete copies of the whole series, perhaps on clay tablets or writing-boards. Noticeably, if the N4 collection held complete texts on writing-boards not represented in the surviving clay tablets, this has the implication that Sa-gig may have existed in the collection as well.107 This remains uncertain.

The pre-Esagil-kīn-apli recension(s) of Sa-gig appears to have been grouped according to particular maladies, prognoses, or divine agents with disconnected symptom descriptions, and they mirror tendencies in groupings found in therapeutic texts (Wee 2012: 272, 279; CMAwR 1: 434–43; Heeßel 2000: 105–11; Stol 1993: 91–98). This tradition was still copied around 700 BCE in Ḫuzirina (cf. STT 89).108 Considering that Assur and Ḫuzirina may have shared intellectual traditions to some extent,109 coupled with the fact that Assur has provided almost no examples of Sa-gig (Heeßel 2010a: 160–61), Kiṣir-Aššur may well have been taught according to different principles than the established Sa-gig series. Furthermore, these observations tentatively imply that the 2nd subseries of Esagil-kīn-apli’s Sa-gig was not required when learning about physiology or acquiring the ability to perform differential diagnosis.

Although most therapeutic texts contain a lower density of symptom descriptions compared to Sa-gig, Wee (2012: 312) observed that therapeutic tablets frequently include several similar maladies, facilitating a degree of differential diagnosis (distinguishing similar illnesses) by juxtaposing noteworthy symptoms that were used to distinguish the maladies (e.g., BAM 129). In the absence of Sa-gig, I believe acquiring the skill to perform differential diagnosis was among the purposes of Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru texts. In addition to providing him with the relevant prescriptions for such maladies, the diagnoses coupled with oral teachings received from his father in professional situations would have enabled him to diagnose illnesses.110 Only circumstantial evidence describe how aspiring āšipus were taught the material they copied, but it is likely that the content copied became subject to dissemination within a scholarly context.111 Thus, these combined factors would have filled the gap left by the missing (written) Sa-gig tradition. Additionally, the following chapter argues that Kiṣir-Aššur also acquired his physiological understanding of the human body from the therapeutic texts in combination with tangible experience gained from aiding his father.

3.7 Preparation for Other Duties as šamallû ṣeḫru

As šamallû ṣeḫru, Kiṣir-Aššur copied KAL 4 no. 19, a fragmentary ritual text perhaps similar to a namburbi-ritual, LKA 43, a šuʾilla-prayer (lit.: “hand-lifting”) to Madānu, a divine personification of judgement related to Marduk (Krebernik 2007: 356–57),112 N4 A 2191, a ritual against a ghost duplicating an uncertain part of BAM 323 (cf. Scurlock 2006: 712–713), and N4 no. 289, a ritual intended to provide a patient with a substitute for the goddess Ereškigal of the netherworld (Verderame 2013: 315ff.; Tuskimoto 1985: 125ff.). All three genres are among the categories for practicing āšipūtu.113 Generally, namburbi-rituals were used apotropaically against worrying terrestrial, astrological, and birth omens, as well as to safeguard the diviner (Koch 2010: 46, 53; Maul 1994: 12–13). The šuʾillas were adaptable prayers used by individuals to address particular concerns by petitioning (greeting) a specific deity.114

KAL 4 no. 19 is very poorly preserved, and considering that the first healing instruction for garābu in KAL 4 no. 41 ended similarly to one of three relatively badly preserved lines in KAL 4 no. 19: “you throw (it) into the river”,115 KAL 4 no. 19 was perhaps not a namburbi-ritual. Section 6.4 evaluates Kiṣir-Aššur’s other namburbi-ritual texts, which are all from his later phases. This adds to the suspicion that KAL 4 no. 19 was likely not a namburbi-ritual. Possibly, both KAL 4 no. 19 and LKA 43 functioned as part of rituals that were intended to cure the divine cause behind some illnesses, and they attest to Kiṣir-Aššur’s training in these areas of practice (see Koch unpublished: 11 note 63; Heeßel 2000: 81–86; see Ch. 6 note 72). N4 no. 289 transfers illness through the use of ritual substitution.

3.7.1 Kiṣir-Aššur’s šuʾilla-prayers

Šuʾilla-prayers usually consist of an invocation of a deity, presentation of the worshipper and his/her need, petition for what is wished for, and a thanksgiving (Hrůša 2015: 120; Frechette 2012: 130–31; Zgoll 2004).116 Therefore, šuʾillas were used to gain the aid of a deity by creating (= restoring) a favourable relationship between supplicant and the divine sphere (Frechette 2012: 9).

LKA 43 is addressed to Madānu and the text is largely similar to a šuʾilla-prayer to Nusku.117 The text is known in multiple duplicates from the N4 library and Assur in general, and must have been broadly circulated among these specialists.118 The prayer is listed as part of bīt salāʾ mê, performed during Tašrītu in connection to the New Year celebrations, as well as the bīt rimki ritual, which was associated with the substitute king ritual (Ambos 2013a: 42, 262ff.; Frechette 2012: 166, 169, 178; Læssøe 1955: 25 col. iii 61).

The various copies show slight individual differences in terms of content, division of lines as well as number of lines, in addition to variants in writings.119 Consequently, at least LKA 43 appears not to have been written according to poetic principles that divide lines into evenly distributed verse units. Unfortunately, LKA 43 is the only duplicate of this prayer with a copying statement, which specifies that it was “written and checked according to its original”.120 We can therefore hypothesize that LKA 43 was either not copied from the same tablet as the other examples, or that individual choice in lines and divisions was an active component when copying this text.

Incidentally, only one additional šuʾilla-prayer can be identified among Kiṣir-Aššur’s tablets with colophons, namely LKA 40 for Tašmētu.121 As argued in Section 7.2.1, this tablet likely derived from his mašmaššu-phase. Despite these two being the only explicit examples of šuʾillas copied by Kiṣir-Aššur, the N4 collection contained many “Hand-lifting”-prayers (Pedersén 1986: 50).

Although such texts could function in a variety of “official” state or temple contexts, they could also be used to heal the cause behind an illness (see Ch. 6 note 72). Several lines of petitioning in LKA 43 focus on health and healing, which supports this proposal.122 Certain “Curses” māmītu are frequently observed as Kiṣir-Aššur’s opponents, and perhaps Madānu (justice) could dispatch as well as remove such an affliction. As such, this prayer may be considered an ad hoc item in Kiṣir-Aššur’s ritualistic inventory.

3.7.2 N4 no. 289: A Substitute for Ereškigal

The ritual known as “A man’s substitute for Ereškigal” (ana pūḫi amēli Ereškigal) was copied by Kiṣir-Aššur during his šamallû ṣeḫru-phase. This unpublished manuscript was listed by Pedersén (1986) as N4 no. 289. Only the upper half of the obverse and the colophon on the reverse are extant. The text duplicates Kiṣir-Nabû’s LKA 79, written during an uncertain stage of his career “for undertaking a (ritual) procedure” and copied according to some unknown original,123 as well as the damaged text KAR 245 from an uncertain place in Assur.124 Furthermore, the N4 manuscript LKA 80 (N4 no. 324) partly duplicates some passages of N4 no. 289 and LKA 79 (see Tsukimoto 1985: 128–129). These texts have hitherto been the only known copies of this ritual, intended to substitute a patient with a female goat kid. The text may have been circulated particularly in Assur,125 although the ceremony must have been known in Nineveh since the rite was mentioned in two letters from the royal court: one inquiring why the ceremony had not been not performed for the king (SAA 10 no. 89), and another stating that the ritual had been performed for Assurbanipal when he was crown prince (SAA 10 no. 193).126

The actions described in the preserved section of N4 no. 289 are described as follows: the ritual begins before sunset and takes place in the patient’s house (obv. 2–5). The exorcist digs a hole in the earth, intended to function as a grave, and he makes the patient and the goat lie on the ground (obv. 6). He touches the patient’s throat with a dagger made of tamarisk wood, and he cuts the throat of the goat with a dagger made of bronze (obv. 7–8). The insides of the “dead” (mītu, ÚŠ-ti), i.e., the goat, are washed, anointed and filled with aromatic plants (obv. 8–9). It is dressed in a garment, its feet supplied with sandals, its eyes smeared with kohl, oil is poured on its head, and it is wrapped in the patient’s turban (obv. 9–12). The goat is thereafter arranged and disposed of “as a dead man” (obv. 12–13: … GIM ÚŠ te-pu-si⸣ 13 ⸢tu-kan-na-ši). The patient leaves, and various incantations and a lamentation are performed (obv. 13–15). N4 no 289 breaks off after this passage. In the duplicate LKA 79, the ritual concluded with funerary offerings (kispu) for Ereškigal, the family’s collective ghost, as well as the substitute animal itself, in order to keep the substitute in the netherworld and to ensure that it was accepted as a deceased family member. Finally, the goat is buried and the patient returns into the chamber (Verderame 2013: 315–317; Tsukimoto 1985: 134–135).

The purpose of the ritual was to remove illness through substitution, i.e., by transferring the patient’s persona to a female goat kid, and letting the prognosticated outcome of the ailment come to fruition. As such, the ceremony did not appease the cause of illness or eliminate the actual malady, but it moved the sufferer’s identity to a substitute animal.127

Although Kiṣir-Nabû’s copy was likely from a later phase of his career,128 Kiṣir-Aššur may have copied the ritual in N4 no. 289 during an early stage of his šamallû ṣeḫru-phase. In the colophon, Kiṣir-Aššur supplies his father Nabû-bēssunu with the title mašmaššu aššurû(?).129 This title for Nabû-bēssunu is otherwise only preserved among his own texts (see Ch. 2 note 44). Unless Nabû-bēssunu held various titles at the same time, or was able to employ different titles according to duties, N4 no. 289 would have been one of the earliest texts with colophons copied by Kiṣir-Aššur (see also Section 5.4.1). This observation is substantiated by a mistake in obverse line 13.130

In general, the rite was presumably employed in cases where a patient was considered severely ill, and if the household could afford the prescribed materials (see Tsukimoto 1985: 130). Considering the copies from various career phases of the Bāba-šuma-ibni family members, it is plausible that the ritual was employed in this family as an ad hoc cure used in cases of severe illness. Kiṣir-Aššur may have acquired knowledge about this ritual so he could aid his father in preparing and conducting the ceremony or for educational reasons without immediate practical application.

3.7.3 Activities Unrelated to Healing

The unpublished manuscript N4 no. 241 contains brief words and phrases in Sumerian and Akkadian. The individual lines are ruled off from one another, clearly denoting individual entries. The outline suggests the text held incipits of individual compositions. However, the entries are not incipits, and individual words are awkward and cannot be properly contextualized.131 Following 18 lines with individual entries, the text states: “including 18? explanatory comments” (rev. 3: EN 18? ṣa-a-ti).132 The problematic term ṣâtu can refer to lexical lists, commentaries, explanatory word lists, or generalized “lemmata” (see, e.g., Gabbay 2016: 51–52, 82–83, 101–103, 297; Rochberg 2015: 229 note 88; Frahm 2011a: 48ff.). However, the exact nuances of the term can be difficult to evaluate in individual contexts, and my translation above is a tentative suggestion. The inclusion of the term in N4 no. 241 indicates that the manuscript was meant to function as a commentary on various entries. However, this interpretation does not seem suitable based on the content. If the text functioned as a commentary, the explanatory element must have been supplied orally. Before the colophon, N4 no. 241 contains seven lines of uncertain content, which is located in a badly damaged section of the reverse of the tablet. If this peculiar text contains an inherent organizing principle, it cannot be understood from the preliminary reading.

The colophon informs us that N4 no. 241 was copied and checked according to an original, that the text was an uʾiltu of Kiṣir-Aššur, and finally that the tablet was copied on behalf of Kiṣir-Aššur.133 As shown in Section 7.4.2, the three additional examples of tablets copied on Kiṣir-Aššur’s behalf all originate among his mašmaššu and mašmaš bīt Aššur tablets. N4 no. 241 is therefore the only text copied on Kiṣir-Aššur’s behalf from any apprentice phase, and the text must be considered peculiar.134 Texts with similar content from early education phases are not widely attested in N4. The tablet N4 no. 241 therefore appears, to the best of my knowledge, to be unique in the N4 text collection.

Judging from the content and colophon of N4 no. 241, the text seems to have been copied by a young pupil, who was presumably in the process of developing his writing skills and literacy.135 N4 no. 241 therefore suggests that the junior apprentice Kiṣir-Aššur acted as a teaching assistant to at least one younger student. However, this remains conjecture. We can only speculate on who this young student might have been. Yet, it is noteworthy that Nabû-bēssunu’s title “exorcist of the Aššur temple” was written with a Babylonian form of the sign É. The sign suggests that the writer of the colophon had been exposed to Babylonian in addition to NA sign forms during his initial schooling.136

3.8 Summary

Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru-phase tablets mainly focus on treatments of bodily symptoms, although he also copied material related to soothing the cause of an illness. The diagnoses attested in the texts can generally be considered complex. It is therefore peculiar that the diagnostic-prognostic series Sa-gig is completely missing from the written remains of Kiṣir-Aššur’s education, and it remains uncertain when Kiṣir-Aššur was educated in Sa-gig and if the family made use of this series at all. The material indicates that the diagnoses in the therapeutic texts were intended to function as the basis for Kiṣir-Aššur’s education in how to diagnose and treat illnesses.

Tablets appear to have been copied according to assignments focusing on, for example, a physiological area, a section of a collection of therapeutic prescriptions, or according to a specific malady. Furthermore, in at least Kiṣir-Aššur’s case, snakebites, scorpion stings, and horse treatments were studied on equal footing with the other treatment texts. Kiṣir-Aššur presumably extracted an idiosyncratic sourcebook from one or more writing-boards related to a recension of Ugu, throughout his šamallû ṣeḫru-phase. This is discussed further in Sections 9.2 and 9.3. Additionally, this chapter showed that Kiṣir-Aššur copied tablets concerning šuʾilla-prayers and ritual instructions, possibly to familiarize himself with methods for treating a cause of illness. Kiṣir-Aššur also copied a ritual to provide a substitute for a patient. They were therefore part of the relevant tools for Kiṣir-Aššur’s education as a healer. Finally, a tablet copied on behalf of Kiṣir-Aššur suggests he may have functioned as a teaching assistant for novice students.

Venom treatments and veterinary prescriptions may have been used to conceptualize several physiological processes of the human body and perhaps human prescriptions could be applied to animals in some instances. These suggestions form the basis for a broader discussion of Kiṣir-Aššur’s education in physiology as šamallû ṣeḫru in the following chapter.


Guinan and Leichty (2008) published an OB school text that had deliberately been bitten into by the student and subsequently broken. The dental marks were identified as belonging to an individual around 12 to 13 years old. The content was the lexical text Proto-Ea, which “was studied toward the end of the first year of scribal training” (ibid.: 50). They conclude, for the OB period: “The beginning of school would have coincided with the reaching of sexual maturity” (ibid.). See Pearce and Doty 2000: 337–38.


Book of Daniel chapter 1.3–1.5; cf. Gesche 2001: 219 note 840–42.


Radner 2011: 363; SAA 10 no. 385 rev. 1–3: da-di-bé-[e] 2 lu-šá-an-ši-[lu] 3 is-se-šú-nu l[i-zi-zu], “The apprentices should imitate and assist them”. See Robson 2011b: 608.


Finkel (2000: 147) suggested that, for example, dosage measuring was often neglected in the texts because the correct proportions were taught through demonstration. Rote learning was likely also an integral part of copying texts (Clancier 2014: 45–46; Koch 1995: 139; see Maul 2010a: 215 note 215).


The evidence presented here does not agree with the general picture presented by Maul (2010a: 216) regarding the early phase tablets from N4: “Fast alle dieser Manuskripte enthalten Gebete oder Beschreibungen von Heilverfahren, die vorwiegend exorzistischer Natur sind.”


It remains uncertain what the fragment KAL 4 no. 41 treated. Maul reconstructs the first line as [šumma ina zumur amēli pindû peṣû ša garābu i-qa]b-bu-šu x [x (x)] based on the parallel in BAM 580 col. v 17’–20’ (= AMT 84,4 col. iii 9’–12’), where line 17’ reads: šum₄-ma ina SU NA pi-in-du-ú BABBAR ša ga-ra-bu i-qab-bu-x[…]. While the remaining ritual in BAM 580 duplicates KAL 4 no. 41, the context differs. Although the ending is not preserved in the first example, the parallel prescriptions in BAM 580 contain instructions for “applying” (LÁ) or “anointing” (EŠ.MEŠ), whereas KAL 4 no. 41 ends with something being thrown into the river. This action fits the other parallel text, KAR 25 col. iii 13’–20’, which contains a ritual for a šuʾilla-prayer to Sîn. As a result, KAR 25 makes no mention of garābu in col. iii 13’, although we know that persons suffering from garābu should perform a ritual invoking Sîn possibly due to a connection to epilepsy (Stol 1993: 128 and note 65; cf. BAM 580 col. v 20).


Maul and Strauß (2011: 49) labelled the text as a namburbi-ritual although this remains uncertain. See the discussion in Section 3.7.


Krebernik 2007: 356. For šuʾilla-prayers in general, see Frechette 2012; Lenzi 2011; Zgoll 2004; Mayer 1976.


See Ch. 3 note 124.


See Robson 2011a: 562–65; Gesche 2001: 155, 158.


The illnesses are ašû, eṭemmu, māmītu, pašittu, sagallu, šaššaṭu (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 505–506, 525). See a discussion of sagallu and šaššaṭu, as well as a definition and discussion of the term “syndrome”, in Arbøll 2018a.


For various types of headaches and migraines labelled sagkidabbû, see Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 311–12.


For māmītu and its cures, see Maul 2019: 29–46. For māmītu and the associated “witchcraft” kišpu, see Schwemer 2015: 33; Schwemer 2007a: 195–96, 235; Maul 2004: 93. The illness suālu, a diagnosis as well as a symptom related to coughs (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 178–79; Cadelli 2000: 313ff.), could turn into kīs libbi, a type of colic (see Ch. 9 note 47). A MB letter indicates that a patient with cough (ganāḫu and suālu) was treated for kīs libbi and was in danger of developing “Hand of curse” qāt māmīti (Plantholt 2014: 179; Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 508; Parpola 1983a: 495–96; see Wee 2012: 48–49, 500ff.). It is worth noting that RA 40 pl. 116 obv. 8 lists suālu as a symptom and the prescriptions on the reverse of RA 15 pl. 76 may refer to some sort of colic, perhaps similar to kīs libbi (see below). Whether or not Kiṣir-Aššur copied any of his šamallû ṣeḫru material with these possible relationships in mind remains uncertain.


Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 71, 231–232, 722–724 note 124, 139–140 with discussion and references; Stol 1987–88: 30; Kinnier Wilson 1966: 57–58.


KAR 44 rev. 32: ši-pir šim-mat ri-mu-ti u SA.GAL SA.GIG GIG ki-sat … The hypothesis rests on observing the second part (rev. 28–40) of KAR 44 as a more advanced section in relation to the first (obv. 1-rev. 27). See Section 9.4.


The associated illness kadabbedû is not mentioned in the NA version of Sa-gig, although it was in an earlier version (CMAwR 1: 16, 434–443). For the Sa-gig series, see Scurlock 2014: 13–272; Wee 2012; Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 575ff.; Heeßel 2000; Finkel 1988; Labat 1951. Wee (2012: 186) states that it is not clear if the goal of Sa-gig always was to identify cause over illness.


Although, e.g., LKA 43 only contains one text. Some N4 tablets may derive from an earlier education phase. See, e.g., Veldhuis 2014: 369–70; Finkel 2000: 144. In general, the earlier school texts are poorly attested in the NA sources (Veldhuis 2014: 353–72; Gesche 2001: 23–24 and note 113, 41). For LB Uruk, see Clancier 2014: 45 note 16, 48 note 35.


See Finkel 2000. The tablets belong to the archive of Bēl-rēmanni. However, Jursa (1999: 1) has stressed that this Bēl-rēmanni was not part of the scribal elite, and the medical texts in this archive may represent certain specific needs related to this family (ibid.: 28–29). Gesche lists medical texts as part of āšipūtu specialization, and generally not as part of the NB and LB school texts she investigated (Gesche 2001: 172, 214).


BAM 10 rev. 18 and 28: SAG.DU-su LÁ-ma; BAM 143 obv. 1: DIŠ NA KÚM DAB-su.


BAM 89 obv. 1: DIŠ NA k[i-iṣ ŠÀ(?)], and rev. 9: NA BI qé-reb DÚR.GIG; BAM 98 rev. 2: nap-šal-ti DÚR.GIG. However, a few of the N4 elementary exercises contain more complex diagnoses. BAM 183 obv. 19: … AN.T[A.ŠUB.BA(?)], rev. 23: … dDIM₁₁.ME, rev. 27: … AN.TA.ŠUB.BA, rev. 28: … mim-ma lem-nu, etc.; BAM 184 col. i 13–14 states: [n]ap-šal-ti 14 [A]N.TA.ŠUB.BA.


See references to DÚR.GIG in medical texts in Wee 2012: 226. See Finkel 2000: 203 (text 48), 207 (text 50), 208 (text 51) and 210 (text 52) for more complicated diagnoses.


For discussions with further references, see Rochberg 2016: 140–41; van de Mieroop 2016: 185–93.


See Wee 2012: 476–481; Rochberg 2010; Heeßel 2007b: 98, 104, 110–14.


Some commentaries exist from the N4 collection, especially from Kiṣir-Nabû, although they do not seem to attest to oral teachings (Frahm 2011a: 268–270).


See Ch. 3 note 105.


Comparatively, Robson (2013: 49–50) noted that omens account for a small portion of the Ḫuzirina texts and describes the situation as follows: “As its students were not preparing to access the inner circle of the royal court, they had no great need for omens” (ibid.: 50). However, the court scholars rarely quoted Sa-gig (Robson 2008: 474; Heeßel 2000: 93).


See the list Ugumu and Ur₅-ra tablet 15 (Couto Ferreira 2009; Westenholz and Sigrist 2008; MSL 9). See also the “List of Diseases”, known from Nineveh and Assur, in which a few anatomical features are also described in relation to illnesses (MSL 9: 90ff., ms B = VAT 11507).


Scurlock 2006; cf. Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 166, 312, 324, 502, 524, 527, 555, 736 note 100.


Edition in Worthington 2005: 11 line 141’–42’ and p. 27 for comments on these lines.


Furthermore, this line contains an erasure and possibly only one TUKU sign to denote the Gtn stem. See Ch. 3 note 29.


In the edition of the 1st tablet (Worthington 2005) and the 2nd tablet (Attia and Buisson 2003) of the first subsection of Ugu the opening incipit has been translated as “If a man’s head is feverish” or “Si le crâne d’un homme contient de la chaleur”, although Geller at one point advocated a translation as “If a man’s brain contains heat (fever)” (Geller 2001–02: 58, 68; cf. Westenholz and Sigrist 2006: 4).


The OB lexical list Ugumu lists body parts in Sumerian, in which we find a range of words related to the head in Sumerian (Couto Ferreira 2009; Westenholz and Sigrist 2008).


This is perhaps indicated in several diagnoses concerning (ḫimiṭ) ṣētu, e.g., BAM 145 obv. 11–12: “… the flesh above is cold (but) his bone below (feels) burning hot …” (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 53). See the NA royal letter SAA 10 no. 242: “… this fever has lingered inside the very bones” (obv. 10–12: ina ŠÀ ša ḫu-un-ṭu 11 šu-ú ina ŠÀ eṣ-ma-a-ti 12 ú-kil-lu-u-ni). See also BAM 575 col. i 21 (2nd tablet of the suālu Ugu subseries): DIŠ NA ŠÀ-šú GIG-ma ŠÀ GÌR.PAD.DU-šú SIG₇ Š[À-šú G]IG.MEŠ SA₅ UD.DA SÁ.SÁ “If a man is ill in the ‘abdomen’, the inside of his bone(s) is yellow, his belly is covered with ‘sores’ (simmu), he is overcome by ṣētu (Cadelli 2000: 125). As a result, fevers such as ṣētu may occasionally have been related to the marrow and, by extension, the brain. Cf. Stol 2007a: 12, 22, 25, 27 with examples.


BAM 9 contain duplicate passages of lines 141’–146’ and 148’ from BAM 480 = 1st tablet (Worthington 2005 ms A) and lines 7–9, 67–67, 68–69, 84–89 and 169’–176’ of BAM 482 = 2nd tablet (Attia and Buisson 2003 ms A).


Westenholz and Sigrist (2006: 4) noted that lines 1–140’ and 190’–197’ in BAM 480 (Worthington 2005) concerned the muḫḫu, whereas lines 141’–189’ and 206’–end concerned the qaqqadu.


A few differences, however, suggest that BAM 9 was copied from a tradition varying from the Nineveh traditions. The diagnosis in BAM 9 obv. 35 is broken, but two duplicates have DIŠ KI.MIN and two have DIŠ NA SAG.KI.DAB.BA TUKU.TUKU-ši (Attia and Buisson 2003: 3 line 7). Neither line fits the BAM 9 entry. Furthermore, BAM 9 obv. 4 and another manuscript share an order of two drugs, [šimGÚR].GÚR … šimLI, which are reversed in three other duplicates, e.g., the Nineveh library copy BAM 482 (ibid.: 8 line 171’). BAM 9 also formulates the diagnosis in obv. 18 differently than in BAM 482 (ibid: 6 line 88).


For translations and the illness, see, e.g., Stol 2007a: 28–29; Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 53 no. 3.121. The colophon of BAM 145 is broken, but on the picture on CDLI (P285241) the middle of rev. 7 may read: bà-rì. The end of rev. 9 may read: ŠÁMAN!?.LÁ [TUR(?)], but this requires further collation. See Ch. 5 note 57.


The partly damaged initial prescription (obv. 16–rev. 3) presumably described actions accompanying the prayer.


N4 no. 237 obv. 20–22: … šid-du [x x x] 21 [GIM š]á ḪAL GÍD-ad A SIKIL B[AL-] 22 [ZÌ.D]UB.DUB.BU ŠUB.ŠUB-ma …, see Abusch and Schwemer 2011: 138, 145, 148 with further references. Note that N4 no. 237 is the only of Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru texts mentioning “flour heap(s)” zidubdubbû, whereas BAM 129 col. i 27 and 31 is the only of his text from this phase mentioning a “magical flour circle” zisurrû.


Edited, except for the colophon, in Scurlock 2006: 442 no. 177 (obv. 1–4), 448–449 no. 179 (obv. 12–rev. 10), 450 no. 180 (rev. 11–13), 607 no. 290 (obv. 5–11).


N4 no. 237 rev. 7/KAR 56 obv. 7; N4 no. 237 rev. 8/KAR 56 obv. 8; N4 no. 237 rev. 10(?)/KAR 56 obv. 10.


E.g., N4 no. 237 rev. 7 vs. BAM 9 rev. 48; N4 no. 237 rev. 8 vs. BAM 9 rev. 48; N4 no. 237 rev. 8 vs. BAM 9 rev. 49; N4 no. 237 rev. 10 vs. BAM 9 rev. 49.


BAM 9 and AMT 93,1 do not agree on various spellings, see e.g., BAM 9 rev. 48 vs. AMT 93,1 obv.? 3’ and BAM 9 rev. 50 vs. AMT 93,1 obv.? 4’. Other spellings in the two manuscripts are identical, although they differ from N4 no. 237 and KAR 56, see e.g., BAM 9 rev. 49 vs. AMT 93,1 obv.? 3’. BAM 9 and AMT 93,1 contain the same added ingredients in the “breaks”, e.g., BAM 9 rev. 48/AMT 93,1 obv.? 3’, BAM 9 rev. 49/AMT 93,1 obv.? 3’.


N4 no. 237 obv. 1–3: [ÉN dutu lu]gal an-ki-ke₄ dutu di-<ku₅>-kur-kur-ra-ke₄ 2 [dutu] saĝ-kal diĝir-re-e-ne-ke₄ 3 [d]utu kala-ga pa.è.


KAR 56 rev. 14–17: DIŠ NA lu AN.TA.ŠUB.BA lu-u dlugal-ùr-ra 15 GABA.RI gišZU Aš-šurki-i 16 ana DAB DÙ-ši pKi-ṣir-dPA MAŠ.MAŠ 17 [ḫa]-an-ṭiš ZI-ḫa.


Whether or not the Assyrianism i-bal-laṭ-ma, instead of the expected Babylonian iballuṭ in KAR 56 rev. 9, can be attributed to the writing-board or Kiṣir-Nabû’s idiosyncracies is uncertain.


N4 no. 237 rev. 12: [LIBIR.R]A.BI.GIM AB.SAR BA.AN.È.


Additionally, BAM 9 was labelled a ṭuppu and N4 no. 237 an uʾiltu. The latter types may have served different purposes, see Section 5.3.2.


The abracadabra incantation beginning in BAM 129 obv. 12 is also attested as incipit against “roaring ears” in AMT 35,1 obv. 6’: […] ḫa gi ḫu ú-a na-an-ku-ud-ri KA.INIM.MA GEŠTUGII-šú i-šag-gu-ma.


Cf. Gesche 2001: 50, 55, 173–77, 214–15. Finkel included one abracadabra incantation (Finkel 2000 no. 51). However, sagallu-illness may occasionally have been treated with abracadabra incantations, such as the ones found in BAM 129.


See BAM 129 col. i 8, 10, 31: ḫe-pí eš-šú. No breaks are noted in col. iv.


BAM 129 col. i 10. Worthington (2012: 93–98) classified such errors as “errors of sign identification” (see a similar example in Heeßel 2000: 306 note 30).


Memorization through repeated copying was an integral part of cuneiform training (Robson 2011a: 562–63). For apprentice manuscripts at Ḫuzirina, see ibid.: 564–65. Manuscripts from šamallû ṣeḫrus, such as K. 2016a+, were also excavated in Assurbanipal’s tablet collection (Veldhuis 2014: 384–85; Lieberman 1990: 215–16). Many apprentices left behind few tablets in the N4 collection, perhaps to commemorate their time in the house (Maul 2010a: 215 and note 93; see Fadhil 2012: 34, 51). Comparatively, the LB text production was generally related to learning and teaching (Clancier 2014: 45–46, 50, 52; George 2003–04: 404). Several NB and LB examples exist of educational tablets donated to temple libraries, see Gesche 2001: 155, 158; Pearce 1993: 190; Cohen 1988: 25; Cavigneaux 1981.


See CT 23 pl. 4 rev. 9–11 and pl. 10–11 col. iii 26–28 (Arbøll 2018a; Abusch 2016: 169–70, 263, 350; Cavigneaux 1999b; Cooper 1996).


Obv. 23’–25’: DIŠ NA KÚM ṣar-ḫa TUKU-ma ŠÀII-šú MÚ.MÚ-ḫu i-te-ne-em-me-rù! 24’ […]-šú?⌉ MÚ.MÚ-{ḫu? x} ŠÀ-šú KA.<KEŠDA>- GÌR[II]-šú t[e]-bu 25’ […]-x NA BI ŠU.NAM.ÉRIM.MA KA.DAB.BÉ.DA, “If a man’s insides continually becomes swollen and there is a hot fever, his(?) […] is swollen (and) his inside (are) constricted, his fee[t] are raised […]; that man (suffers from) ‘Hand of Curse (or) kadabbedû” (cf. Maul 2019: 310–312).


Obv. 29’: [DIŠ NA …] GIG-ma KI ÚḪ-šú ÚŠ u LUGUD Š[UB!.ŠUB?], “[If a man] is ill with […], and he [continually throws] up blood and pus with his saliva” (see Maul 2019: 310–312).


Rev. 31’: [DIŠ NA (x)] IGIII⌉-šú SIG₇ DIRI-ut NA BI ŠU.NAM.ÉRIM.[MA?], “[If a man]’s eyes are full of yellow, that man (is ill from) ‘Hand of Curse”. Maul (2019: 310–312) reads [DIŠ NA ŠÀ(?)] IGI-šú SIG₇ SA₅ BABBAR NA BI ŠU NAM.ÉRIM, and states that the dual of IGI is not visible on the original tablet. However, there is at least one vertical wedge at the end of the partly visible IGI, which does not belong to this sign or -šú. Regarding the reading DIRI-ut over SA₅ BABBAR, see also BabMed onlines. Rev. 31’ on Köcher’s copy reads: … ŠU NAM.ÉRIM. If we follow the Sa-gig principle, this could designate māmītu as “Krankheitsverursacher” and not only “Krankheitsname”, which would be the only such example among Kiṣir-Aššur’s texts (see Heeßel 2000: 50). However, the tablet may contain the remains of a damaged /MA/ on the side, which could negate this observation. It remains uncertain.


BAM 201 obv. 15’: ina TÚG SUR-ri LÁ-id; 18’: ina TÚG SUR-ri ur-ra u GE₆ LÁ; 22’: ina TÚG SUR-ri LÁ-id; 28’: [… UZ]U.MEŠ-šú LÁ-id; 30’: […] TAR sa/ru? al?!⌉ LÁ [(x?)]; rev. 37’–38’: ina TÚG SUR-ri 38’ ina KUŠ.EDIN ur-ra u GE₆ SAG ŠÀ-šú LÁL (see Maul 2019: 310–312). Note the new interpretation of ṭerû (SUR) in CAD (Ṭ: 103–4) as “to extract, squeeze or press out liquid (via a piece of leather, cloth)” over the previous translation “to rub into” (CDA: 414; AHw: 1388–89). Regardless, the patient must have been bandaged with the mentioned piece of leather or cloth.


BAM 201 rev. 40’–41’: … saḫ-lé-e ina KAŠ NAG-ma ina-eš 41’: ÚḪ dÍD ina A NAG.


BAM 201 rev. 42’–43’: DIŠ KI.MIN úḪAB úGÌR.NAGA.GAmušen úSIKIL 43’ EGIR-šú iš-šaṭ-ṭar (see Maul 2019: 310–312).


The only other instance is BAM 28 rev. 17’: … na-às-ḫa. According to Borger (2003: 245), this reading was rare.


See Maul 2010: 213–214 and the discussion in Section 9.5.1; BAM 201 rev. 44’–45’: TA ŠÀ gišZU šá bul-ṭi ša É dME.ME 45’ SAR È ḫa-an-ṭiš! na-às-ḫa.


BAM 201 rev. 46’: ú-ìl-ti pKi-ṣir-AN.ŠÁR ŠÁMAN.LÁ TUR. See Section 5.3.2.


See Cadelli 2000: 195 lines 9–10 and 13. Labat and Tournay (1945–46: 114) read obv. 2: tuballala[l] and Cadelli (2000: 195 note 25) notes this must be ḪE, albeit the reading is odd as obv. 17 has ḪE.ḪE. I would argue that the picture on CDLI looks more like LÁL! for šaqālu “to weigh out”, which could also fit the context.


RA 40 pl. 116 obv. 8–9: “If a person is sick with wheezing suālu (barking-coughs) so that his windpipe (trachea and/or bronchi) is full of wind, he coughs (and) coughs (and) has phlegm …” (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 48 no. 3.98).


Note that the pharmacological text BAM 1 lists several plants with various names, which are listed as Ú MUR.MEŠ, i.e., “a plant for the lungs” (Attia and Buisson 2012: 27 lines ms B1 col. ii 21–26).


For this type of bile, see Section 4.1.3.


RA 40 pl. 116 obv. 4–7; obv. 8–12. Cf. BAM 201 obv. 16’–22’.


See SEAL section 5.1 (accessed 23/01/2017); George 2016: 98–118. The earliest incantations against scorpions and snakes were found in ED III Ebla and Fara (Krebernik 1984; Finkel 1999: 213 note 2 for further references).


Finkel 1999: 213 and note 3. Finkel, however, noted that such treatments were considered as part of āšipūtu, cf. KAR 44 obv. 19: ZÚ M[U]Š TI.LA GÍR.TAB TI.LA …, “to cure a snake bite, to cure a scorpion (sting) …”. For a discussion of prescriptions against snakebites in medical texts, see Steinert 2018d: 249–250.


E.g., Böck 2007: 290 line 155 (= ms j col. iv 14) in an incantation concerning maškadu: “It took half the venom of the snake; it took half the venom of the scorpion”, mi-šil im-ti ša MUŠ il-qí mi-šil im-ti šá GÍR.TAB il-qí; see Arbøll 2018a: 269.


N4 tablets: BAM 42 rev. 63–67, BAM 176 obv. 11’–15’ (Pedersén 1986, N4 no. 605 and no. 277), RA 15 pl. 76 obv. 1’–25’. Plant lists mentioning bites and stings include šammu šikinšu (Stadhouders 2012: 12–13). For BAM 42, see also Heeßel 2010c: 153–54. Note also KAR 181 (N4 no. 96), which contains incantations and rituals against scorpions, snakes, and dogs (Steinert 2018d: 250).


For the concept of “simples” in Babylonian medicine, see Geller 2005: 4.


RA 15 pl. 76 obv. 14’: [DIŠ NA G]ÍR!.TAB SÌG!-su


The ḫimû-wad is mainly attested in these two texts (cf. CAD Ḫ: 193–94).


Some entries show slight changes; cf. RA 15 pl. 76 obv. 6 partly duplicated in BAM 42 rev. 68 and CT 14 pl. 23 obv. 9; RA 15 pl. 76 obv. 11’ duplicated in CT 14 pl. 23 obv. 11.


Cohen and Sivan 1983; see Stol 2011: 386 note 171 for additional references.


BAM 159 was also excavated in N4, although it was written by one Bēl-apkal-ilāni from outside the Bāba-šuma-ibni family (Parys 2014: 8; cf. Stol 2011: 386–402).


However, such prescriptions were part of written knowledge early on. See the prescription for a calf from Ebla in Fronzaroli 2005.


Parys 2014: 4, 6; Scurlock 2014: 498; Stol 2011: 387; see the recent discussion and edition of BAM 159 in Parys 2014. The relevant sections can be found in BAM 159 col. v 33–36 (potion through the left nostril) and col. v 37–47 (enema). See also Cohen 1983.


Rev. 8’: [a?]-na ANŠE!.KUR.RA ša bu ḫi DAB-su SIG₅-iq, “It is good [f]or a horse that is seized (by) bu ḫi”. See the discussion of this sentence in Appendix 2 and Stol 2011: 401 and note 254.


RA 15 pl. 76 rev. 9’: DIŠ NA! ŠÀ-šú E₁₁! ù ú!-rad ŠÀ-ba-šú E₁₁ a-lam?. The verb elû with phonetic initial a- is attested in imperatives and second person singular forms, mainly from OB examples (CAD E: 116). The spelling cannot be explained here, but I fail to see other interpretations. For further discussion of this line, see Appendix 2 and Scheil 1918: 77, 79.


Gonçalves et al. 2002.


Cadelli (2000: 363 and note 457) quotes a dream omen wherein kīs libbi is given as an opposite to “joy” ḫūd libbi (see CAD K: 433b; possibly also AbB 1 no. 36 obv. 17). This probably stemmed from the fact that emotions were linked to the heart (ŠÀ) and by extension the entire abdomen (Parys 2014: 4–5; Chalendar 2013: 14–17; Steinert 2012: 232–33; Böck 2010a: 69; Cadelli 2000: 363–65, 372–73). However, the reference is not from a purely medical context. For kīs libbi, see also Steinert and Vacín 2018: 708–709, 713–715. Considering kīs libbi’s affect on the gastro-intestinal system, it may also have been related in some way to bile. Böck (2014a: 121–128) has suggested that bile regulated the intestinal fluids. Interestingly, “heart-break” ḫīp libbi was translated as “panic” by Stol (1993: 27–31) and he relates this to melancholy and bile. However, kīs libbi should probably be considered distinct from ḫīp libbi.


AMC lines 76–78: [… N]A! ⌈MUŠ iš-šuk-š[u] 77 … Ú.ḪI.A ša BÚR ša ni-šik MUŠ⌉ 78 [UR.GI₇] lu?⌉ [… zi-q]it GÍR.TAB SÌG-iṣ …; line 122: 1 DUB ša! ANŠE.KUR.RA.[MEŠ u] ša GU₄.M[EŠ]. See also Panayotov 2018b: 91.


See Section 4.2.2. Scorpions are occasionally compared to angry bulls (see the Ur III incantation in Finkel 1999: 234, text 10; the OB incantation RA 88 pl. 161 obv. 1–2; see also George 2016: 102–4; SEAL text ((accessed 23/01/2017)). This comparison could originate in the observation of a bull’s reaction after being stung. Note that the first Ugaritic prescription for horses edited by Cohen and Sivan (1983: 9–10, 13 line 2) utilizes the ingredient ‘qrbn translated as a “scorpion-like plant”.


Stol 2011: 395 and note 223; cf. Böck 2009a: 117–118. See the OB incantation CT 4 pl. 8a obv. 33f. (lū awīlūtum lū alpu lū immeru, Steinert and Vacín 2018: 720–722 line 217, 726). Horse sweat is also used in a prescription as a metaphoric ingredient in a prescription for use on humans (Scurlock 2014: 412), and bull saliva was used in RA 15 pl. 76 against a scorpion sting (see Appendix 2). For a livestock remedy amid human remedies, see George 2016: 132–34.


If Steinert’s suggestion that the Mesopotamian healers visualized the human body as a container filled with fluids can be generalized, one could imagine animals were occasionally visualized similarly (Steinert 2016: 209–210).


See also Dhorme 1923 and Holma 1911.


E.g., Steinert 2016: 205–9 and note 32–33; Stol 2006; Geller 2004; Attia 2000; Cadelli 2000: 290–292. This was perhaps occasionally the case among the ancient Greek sources as well (Nutton 2004: 77; see Steinert 2016: 203; Geller 2010: 116).


E.g., Steinert 2016: 205–6; Böck 2014b: 103–4, 106, 111–15; Geller 2010: 21–22; Westenholz 2010; Stol 2006.


E.g., Steinert 2016: 203; Geller 2010: 21; cf. Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 43, 117, 135, 416–17.


The enhanced focus on four organs in attributing illnesses to body parts in the LB SpTU I no. 43 may have been related to astral medicine (Steinert 2016: 230ff., 241–242; Geller 2014: 291–293; cf. Heeßel 2010b: 30–31; Köcher 1978: 24–25; for astral medicine in general, see Heeßel 2008a).


However, BAM 129 may have been intended to function as a library copy. This remains unclear.


As argued in Section 9.2.3, RA 15 pl. 76 likely represented one of the later extracts in this sequence. For a discussion of Kiṣir-Aššur’s numbered extracts, see Section 9.2.


Beside these texts, similar statements are found at the end of colophons in BAM 131, Beckman and Foster 1988 no. 21, KAL 10 no. 4, LKA 77 and N4 no. 175. Possibly, Kiṣir-Aššur did not write a title in the final example; the remaining three are from Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaš bīt Aššur phase.


N4 A 2191 colophon line 2: [x x x x]x da?⌉-dAMAR.UTU A.ZU šá KUR [x]. The interpretation is uncertain. Kiṣir-Aššur may also have copied LKA 113 from an IM.GÍD.DA of someone else (see Ch. 8 note 86). Kiṣir-Nabû copied at least two tablets from uʾiltus of a certain Aššur-šarrāni (LKA 96, LKA 100).


In general, Sa-gig lists fewer illnesses as diagnoses than are known throughout the therapeutic corpus, and only around 40 actual reasons for why an illness was caused are listed (Koch 2015: 277; Heeßel 2000: 58–60). See Johnson (2018) for a discussion of illness names in prescriptions and the diagnostic-prognostic series Sa-gig.


Sa-gig 10 = AMT 106,2 and TDP pl. 19 (Labat 1951: 80ff.; Scurlock 2014: 74ff.); Sa-gig 33 = SpTU IV no. 152 (Heeßel 2000: 353ff.).


Although hands and feet are not mentioned in BAM 129 col. iv 3’, they are mentioned in the diagnosis following this entry:


Heeßel 2000: 87–89 and note 69; Stol 1991–92: 49–50; cf. Wee 2012: 156–57. Another parallel appears in Kiṣir-Aššur’s BAM 131 obv. 9 duplicating Sa-gig 33 = SpTU IV no. 152 rev. 96 (Heeßel 2000: 353ff.), which Kiṣir-Aššur copied at an unknown stage of his career. In the first subseries of the Nineveh Ugu series, the 2nd tablet (BAM 482) contain 10 passages duplicating diagnoses from Sa-gig 4 (Attia and Buisson 2003, MS H = Sa-gig 4: line 60 (= H 124), 126’ (= H 31), 130’ (= H 32), 134’ (= H 17), 136’ (= H 13), 238’ (= H 15), 240’ (= H 12), 241’ (= H 10), 242’ (= H 11), 243’ (= H 8)). In the suālu subseries of Ugu edited by Cadelli (2000), we find one passage in the 3rd tablet (BAM 587) col. iii 7 duplicated in Sa-gig 18 line 24 (TDP: 170 line 24) and Sa-gig 33 line 92 = SpTU IV no. 152: 92, and one passage in col. iv 26 duplicated in Sa-gig 9 line 13 (TDP: 72 line 13) and Sa-gig 33 line 93 = SpTU IV no. 152: 93 (Heeßel 2000: 353ff.). SAG.KI.DAB.BA is not attested in Sa-gig, but it does occur several times in the first tablets of Ugu. However, several entries in Sa-gig begin with “his temple is seized” (SAG.KI-šú DAB-su), which could indicate that the relationship between the two was self-evident (Wee 2012: 238 and note 90 for references). Wee’s discussion of the diagnosis in BAM 129 col. iv 6’ in relation to Sa-gig 33 rev. 96 is not relevant, as the entry in Sa-gig 33 likely relates to the šaššaṭu diagnosis in BAM 131 obv. 9–10 (cf. Wee 2012: 473).


N4 no. 57 (= BAM 310) consists of nine lines and is designated as “questions of Sa-gig” on obv. 3–4: maš-al-a-te 4 ša SA.GIG. The tablet is certainly an early school tablet.


Pedersén 1986: 50–51 and note 31; Heeßel 2010a: 158. As noted by Pedersén (1986: 51) BAM 114 (N4 no. 354) opens with 10 single-line diagnoses concerning renal and rectal maladies (Geller 2005: 70–71), and KADP 22 (= N4 no. 487 = 3rd tablet of Uruanna) col. i–ii comments on the nature of certain diagnoses.


Cf. Pedersén 1986: 50–51 and note 31; Heeßel 2000: 94, 109 and note 55. Maul (2010a: 207) proposes that the largely missing Sa-gig recensions in N4 may be related to the existence of separate collections. Presumably, the brother of Nabû-bēssunu and of Kiṣir-Aššur made their own collections elsewhere, and perhaps they subdivided their work into areas of responsibilities. Although the existence of more libraries is plausible, it remains uncertain if Esagil-kīn-apli’s Sa-gig was accepted in Assur (Heeßel 2010a: 161). For an example of a writing-board from N4, see Klengel-Brandt 1975. See also Section 9.2.1 on the use of writing-boards in N4.


STT 403, however, is a commentary on the Esagil-kīn-apli recension of Sa-gig tablet 1–3. This version was therefore also known in Ḫuzirina (Wee 2012: 543ff.; Stol 1993: 91–98).


The evidence is tentative, and only overlaps have been pointed out (Reiner and Civil 1967: 209; Lambert 1959: 122, 124, 127–28). Furthermore, at least one son was sent to the Ḫuzirina school from Assur, albeit none from Nineveh, Kalḫu, or Dūr-Šarrukēn (Robson 2014: 154; Robson 2013: 50). See Heeßel 2010a: 161.


For therapeutic texts in relation to illness identification, see Johnson 2015.


Zamazalová 2011: 318; van der Toorn 2007: 58; Gesche 2001: 5, 198; Sjöberg 1972.


LKA 43 contains a few mistakes in sign forms underlining that Kiṣir-Aššur was a young apprentice when he copied this text. See obv. 7: ga-; obv. 11: … -li-.


Jean 2006: 83–86, 99. Three types of šuʾilla-prayers can be distinguished: Emesal Sumerian prayers of the kalû, Sumerian prayers for the mīs pî ritual, and (largely) Akkadian prayers as part of āšipūtu (Frechette 2012: 3–4). A few more are also known from other professions via incipits (ibid.: 4–5). It is unclear if the ritual “A substitute for Ereškigal” was included in the EM (see Geller 2018b: 299 line 20, 306).


Frechette 2012: 4, 7–8, 165–66. These prayers were included in, e.g., bīt rimki and some namburbi-rituals.


KAR 44 obv. 4: ŠU.ÍL.LA.KAM.


Madānu 1; Frechette 2012: 170 note 10, 178 note 6, 259; Mayer 1976: 394, 406. Nusku was also important in relation to the lamp present during healing ceremonies (Panayotov 2016).


KAL 4 no. 58, KAL 4 no. 59(=LKA 46 and 47a+b), LKA 44, LKA 45 (Frechette 2012: 259; KAL 4: 112–14). It appears as though all five examples of this prayer, including LKA 43, were written without instructions (Frechette 2012: 144 note 3). At least one šuʾilla-prayer to Nabû was part of Gesche’s 2nd school phase and is also found on prisms (Gesche 2001: 177, 193ff.).


Lines divided differently: LKA 43 obv. 1–2 vs. LKA 44 obv. 1, KAL 4 no. 58 obv. 1; LKA 43 obv. 7–8 vs. LKA 44 obv. 4, KAL 4 no. 59 obv. 1’–2’, KAL 4 no. 58 obv. 4. Couplets divided onto two lines: LKA 43 obv. 2–3 vs. LKA 44 obv. 2, KAL 4 no. 58 obv. 2; LKA 43 obv. 5–6 vs. LKA 44 obv. 3, KAL 4 no. 58 obv. 3. Differing text in the various manuscripts: LKA 43 obv. 13–14/LKA 44 obv. 8/KAL 4 no. 59 obv. 6’; KAL 4 no. 59 obv. 14’–15’. Editions in Mayer 1976: 459ff.; KAL 4: 112–14.


Rev. 15: ki-ma SUMUN-šú šá-ṭir ba-ri.


LKA 40 rev. 12’: KA.INIM.MA ŠU.ÍL.LÁ dTaš-me-t[u₄?].


E.g., obv. 20: [m]u-bal-liṭ lú⌈ÚŠ “the reviver of the dead”; obv. 21: … šá bul-lu-ṭu i-ram-m[u] “who loves keeping (people) alive”; rev. 8: u[k]-kiš GIG.MU qí-bi TI.LA “remove my illness, command life!”.


LKA 79 rev. 23–24: ana DAB AG! pKi-ṣir-dPA x[…] 24 ina pi-i x[…].


Verderame 2013: 315–316; Nasrabadi 1999: 41–43; Tsukimoto 1985: 125–130; Ebeling 1931a: 65–69 no. 15, 69–70 no. 16. Individual spellings in N4 no. 289 and LKA 79 only show small variations.


All currently known copies of the ritual are from Assur.


Verderame 2013: 315 note 54; see SAA 10 no. 89 rev. 5–6: “… and (the ritual) ‘A substitute for Ereškigal’ should be performed …”, ù pu-u-ḫi!⌉ ana dEreš-ki-gal 6 na-da-a-nu lu-u e-piš-ma; SAA 10 no. 193 obv. 14-rev. 1: “We shall perform (the ritual) ‘A substitute for Ereškigal’ for the crown prince”, pu-u-ḫia-na dEreš-ki-gal rev. 1 a-na DUMU.MAN né-pa-áš. SAA 10 no. 89 was sent by the Aššur temple scholar Akkullānu (Section 2.3.5).


In some cases, it is possible that Ereškigal’s messenger “Death”, mūtu, hid underneath the patient’s bed and was ready to take a patient to the netherworld (Plantholt in press; Wiggermann 2011: 313–14; Wiggermann 2007b: 106–109; see also Arbøll 2019: 10).


I suggest this on the basis of the purpose statement in the colophon of LKA 79, see Section 7.4.


N4 no. 289 rev. 3’: DUMU p.dAG-bi-su-nu MAŠ.MAŠ BAL.TILki-u. If BAM 9 was copied around Kiṣir-Aššur’s šamallû ṣeḫru-phase, as argued in Section 5.4.1, then Nabû-bēssunu may have been mašmaššu aššurû in the broken colophon of this text as well.


Kiṣir-Aššur seems to have misread the passage on the original, perhaps intending to write ina KUN₄(I.DIB) “by the threshold/doorsill” instead of i-teb-bi. Thus, the line was misunderstood and several mistakes occur, among these the superfluous ina and a lacking UD near the end.


E.g. obv. 2: “For [N]inurta”, [dN]in-urta-ra, obv. 9: “My big? brother”, šeš-ḪAL(mistake for GAL?)-ĝu₁₀, obv. 11: “he goes”, il-lak. If Kiṣir-Aššur acted as a teaching assistant, as suggested below, the content could originate in a specific teaching context, although the colophon specifies the text was “copied and checked according to its original” (Appendix 1).


The use of adi/EN in the meaning “including” is frequently attested in lists of various works (see Geller 2018b: 301 and note 29; Steinert 2018d: 204).


See Appendix 1. Sadly, the context of the final statement is damaged and the line contains an erasure, rev. 13: [ḫa?-a]n?-⌈ṭiš?⌉ ú-šá-áš-ṭir *{ma}*.


Although the sign SAR in colophons, here and in other publications, tends to be read as a G-stem of the verb šaṭāru “to write, copy”, it cannot be excluded that some of these generic statements could have been causative Š-stems. E.g., LKA 119 from Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaš bīt Aššur-phase was “copied and checked” (SAR-ma ba-rì), but it appears to have two mistakes in the colophon, which Kiṣir-Aššur cannot have made at this stage of his career: a missing <> in Kiṣir-Aššur’s name rev. 16 and Bāba-šuma-ibni’s name spelled in an otherwise unattested manner in the family’s colophons as p.dBa-ba?⌉. Still, one would have expected the writing SAR.SAR or SAR.MEŠ for a Š-stem of šaṭāru.


This observation confirms the interpretation of the title šamallû as “apprentice”, as a person striving towards becoming skilled at a trade. In the case of āšipus, the title implies that the person had acquired basic literacy.


Kiṣir-Nabû explicitly notes that several manuscripts from which he copied were in Babylonian writing (Section 9.2.1).