Chapter 6 Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase

In: Medicine in Ancient Assur
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In this and the following chapter, I examine the mašmaššu-phase of Kiṣir-Aššur’s training, alongside associated material from the mašmaššu- and mašmaš bīt Aššur-phases. Chapter 6 consists of a close examination of the texts that can be securely assigned to this phase by means of the colophons, in which Kiṣir-Aššur is identified as a mašmaššu, and it provides an in-depth discussion of the significance of some of these texts for Kiṣir-Aššur’s career. In chapter 7, the tablets that can be assigned to the mašmaššu-phase on the basis of text-internal criteria are discussed, even though they do not explicitly identify Kiṣir-Aššur as mašmaššu. The medical texts from Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase are discussed in relation to his entire production of magico-medical texts in Section 9.1.

The texts written during the mašmaššu-phase indicate that Kiṣir-Aššur’s education was not completed until sometime during this phase, yet the precise date on which he would have “graduated” is unclear. It is possible that we have to assume an on-the-job transition from student or trainee to independent practitioner, but this has to remain hypothetical. If my reconstruction is correct, it is possible that some time after he was qualified as an exorcist he was able to begin treating patients on his own, i.e., without supervision, and he was also allowed to conduct house calls.

6.1 Texts with Colophons including the Title mašmaššu

Table 9 shows that only eight tablets can be securely assigned to Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase of training, as well as one text that may have been copied by either Kiṣir-Aššur or Kiṣir-Nabû. As in the previous phases, none of the tablets are dated. Consequently, the tablets are discussed according to their contents, because no chronological order or sequencing can be established at this point.

Table 9
Table 9
Table 9
Table 9

Texts assigned to Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phasea

I have tentatively grouped the tablets in groups of medical texts, ritual texts, and other technical literature perhaps connected to scholarship. The tablets indicate that Kiṣir-Aššur focused on more diverse areas, in contrast with the earlier phases of his education. According to the available evidence, it is also the first time since the šamallû ṣeḫru-phase that he copied symptom descriptions with medical diagnoses. During this phase he also copied out treatments of illnesses related to the lower body and the “strings” (BAM 81 and 122),1 on which he may have focused later as well, and it is likely also the first time that he copied namburbi-rituals. Among the limited medical texts from Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase, BAM 81 contains a prescription possibly against maškadu, which partly duplicates another treatment in BAM 122 likely designed for ill feet.2

Other text genres copied during this phase were rituals connected to ill patients (a ritual for going to a patient’s house, KAR 230) and preventing evil and illness from entering a house (a ritual intended to safeguard a house from evil demons, KAR 298). The only non-related text is CT 37 pl. 24f., which is a fragmentary copy of a Lú lexical list (Veldhuis 2014: 252–53; Civil 1969: 223ff.).3 LKA 146, copied by either Kiṣir-Aššur or Kiṣir-Nabû, contains a mythological incantation that describes how Ea endowed humanity with 21 poultices and provides the associated prescriptions for these (LKA 146; Lambert 1980; Lambert 1956: 144; cf. Lawson 1994: 47–48).

Several of the tablets contain specific features that either are observed for the first time (see below) or appear during the mašmaššu-phase, although one would expect such types of texts earlier. An example of the latter is the IM.GÍD.DA (lit.: “long tablet”) label found in BAM 102. The NA reading of the label remains uncertain,4 but it is typically interpreted as having had an education or pedagogical function throughout most periods.5 The label therefore either indicates that Kiṣir-Aššur was not fully trained as a mašmaššu or that the label was used differently in N4. Kiṣir-Aššur also copied another IM.GÍD.DA, N4 no. 24, during his šamallû mašmaššu ṣeḫru-phase and he or Kiṣir-Nabû copied the single-columned tablet BAM 206 in portrait format during an uncertain phase (Section 5.2). Although the term IM.GÍD.DA may not necessarily refer to format during the NA period, both BAM 102 and N4 no. 24 were copied as single-column tablets in landscape orientation.

LKA 115 is not only one of the first namburbi-rituals from Kiṣir-Aššur, which can be assigned to a career phase, but it is also the first tablet containing a “purpose statement”, i.e., a statement declaring that the content was copied “for undertaking a (ritual) procedure” (ana ṣabāt epēši). Such statements are investigated in Section 7.4. LKA 115 also states that Kiṣir-Aššur had someone copy the text on his behalf (ú-šaš-ṭir-ma íb-ri). Such authority indicates Kiṣir-Aššur was in a position to supervise junior exorcists, and this evidence will be further examined in Section 7.4.2.

The following sections evaluate the specific content and use of Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase tablet KAR 230 for making house calls, KAR 298 for providing rituals securing houses, LKA 115 and KAL 4 no. 7 in relation to a general discussion on his use of namburbi-rituals, and finally CT 37 pl. 24f. and its connection to scholarship.

6.2 Making House Calls: Discussion of KAR 230

It is possible that making house calls could be interpreted as marking the transition from trainee to practitioner. We know that exorcists made house calls to diagnose illnesses and cure them. The opening phrase of the 1st subseries of Sa-gig was also the name of the series: “When the exorcist goes to the house of the sick man” enūma ana bīt marṣi āšipu illaku (Heeßel 2000: 19, 20–21).6 Furthermore, several healing ceremonies explicitly refer to the house and especially the bed of the patient.7 Although it has been suggested that patients were treated in their homes because of impurity (Avalos 1995: 177–82), Stol has stressed that phrases such as “his bed has seized him” must be considered as evidence that one was also bedridden in a physical sense (Stol 1997: 408; Arbøll 2019; see CAD E: 318a for examples).

There is no indication before Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase that he was in charge of patients and made house calls to diagnose and treat people’s maladies on his own. The unedited text KAR 230, written during Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase, may designate the critical point at which Kiṣir-Aššur was considered qualified to be responsible for a patient’s healing.8 The text consists of a Babylonian ritual for making house calls and contains an incantation and ritual designated as: “Recitation: the exorcist goes to the house of the sick man”.9 Heeßel (2000: 70 and note 7) originally saw this incantation as a means for the exorcist to determine the cause of an illness en route to the patient’s house, although this was not necessarily the only purpose. The text remains unedited and without known duplicates. In what follows, I discuss some aspects of the incantation and ritual instruction in KAR 230 in order to contextualize this text in relation to Kiṣir-Aššur’s use during his mašmaššu-phase.

6.2.1 The Incantation of KAR 230

The first line of the incantation in KAR 230 states: “Incantation: Who attacked him (i.e., the patient) and changed his mind? His heels [are swollen(?), and] he is unable to [wa]lk about”.10 The line refers to two commonplace evils encountered in Mesopotamian diagnostics, namely the “attack” (maqātu) of a god or demon (Salin 2015; Heeßel 2000: 1–6; van der Toorn 1985: 68–69), indicating the physical symptoms, and the “changed mind” (ṭēmu šanû), indicating a mental illness (CAD Ṭ: 95–96; Arbøll 2019 with references; Stol 2009; Kinnier Wilson 1965).

The word ṭēmu combined with the verb šanû “to be changed, become different” indicates an alteration of the mind, which is often translated as “insane” (CAD Ṭ: 95–96d ; Stol 2009; Farber 1977: 74–75). However, an affected ṭēmu is also occasionally hinted at during severe illness or imbalance.11 In SAA 10 no. 196, for example, an advice reads: “not eating and not drinking confuse (D-stem ašāšu) the mind (ṭēmu) and adds to illness” (Parpola 1993: 159; CAD Ṭ: 95b).12 Likewise, a variant in a diagnosis in Sa-gig illustrates a concrete affliction’s diagnostic traditions, ranging from physical to psychological: “[If …] his affliction keeps changing: (var.) his mentality keeps changing, ‘Hand’ of Sîn […]”.13 Although ṭēmu šanû refers specifically to a state of insanity, and not a generic symptom of illness,14 it is not impossible that the phrase in KAR 230 intends to cover other alterations of the mind as well.

Several lines of the incantation are too broken to be completely restored, although the recitation seems to relate to whether or not a divine power can hurt the patient.15 The more legible ending reads:

Obv. 10 a-na KUR.NU.GI.A

Obv. 11 GIM ÚŠ NU rud-u TI.LA16

Obv. 12 ù dKù-bu la in-ni-qu GA AMA-šú

Obv. 13 a-pa-qid-ka {ki} ana 7 dÌ.DU₈.GAL šá dereš-ki-gal17

Obv. 14 mim-ma lem-nu NU TE-a-šú šá dMAŠ EN INIM šu-ú ÉN

To kurnugia (the Netherworld), like a dead man cannot ‘add (to) life’ and Kūbu (the divine stillborn baby) cannot suckle the milk of its mother, I entrust you to the seven gatekeepers (idugallu) of Ereškigal; mimma lemnu shall not approach him! It is (an incantation) of Ninurta, lord of the command.18

These lines imply that the malady was sent to the netherworld.19 The text symbolically cuts off the devouring malady by referring to the dead’s inability to become well and the divine unborn fetus Kūbu’s inability to suck at its mother’s breast (Stol 2000: 26–32). The demonic force is then handed over (paqādu) to the gatekeepers of Ereškigal and thereafter kept in the netherworld.20 Finally, the incantation specifies that the generic mimma lemnu “Any Evil” should not approach the patient, and that this command – i.e., the entire incantation – is a spell of Ninurta.

Several largely unedited Ḫulbazizi incantations also revolve around themes of identifying mimma lemnu (at-ta man-nu mim-ma lemnu), and at least one example explicitly hands the evil over (paqādu) to the doorkeepers of the underworld (SpTU III no. 82 col. ii 27–33). The incantation therefore addresses any malady that may have come upon a patient and attempts a dismissal of a generic and unidentified evil, perhaps before the healer has provided a diagnosis or as a broadly applicable means against any cause of illness.21

6.2.2 The Ritual and Purpose of KAR 230

The ritual instruction largely adds to the above section. The instruction contains four relevant points. First, two figurines of Marduk and Ninurta are made out of wax, the exorcist performs mouth-washing to enable them to receive a number of offerings placed before them on paṭiru-tables, and the incantation is recited three times.22 Thereafter, the incantation is recited three times over the sick patient before performing a takpirtu purification rite.23 Then, the Marduk figurine is placed at the head of the patient’s bed and the Ninurta figurine is placed at the lower end, and for one day the incantation is recited three times before them while a brazier is supplied with burāšu-juniper.24 Finally, the last two lines of the ritual instruction likely relate to the efficacy of the ritual and how it was obtained:

Rev. 7 ne-pi₅-šam lat-ku šu-ú?⸣ [x (x)]

Rev. 8 ina KA IM.GÍD.DA šá ana <ŠU> È-u?⸣[x?]-x x x x-ḫa25

This is a tested ritual procedure [x?]; [extra]cted? ‘according to’ an imgiddû-tablet, which (is) suitable for use […].26

The ritual itself does not focus on determining the cause of illness. Instead, it produces two figurines of deities that are intended to combat the non-specific evil,27 provides a purification ritual for the idols and the patient, and provides an attempt at a scholarly reasoning why this ritual was applied and how it was conceived. As such, the ritual intends to protect the patient and provide a “universal” protection ritual, which could presumably be performed at the start of a healing ceremony.

The last section of the ritual instruction cited above describes the ritual as a “tested ritual procedure” (Section 8.3). Furthermore, this section likely states that the text was extracted from an unspecified IM.GÍD.DA, maybe for checking something (e.g., the effect of the ritual?) or possibly considered suitable for use. As a result, the ritual instruction contained a statement similar to those found in colophon describing how the text itself was conceived. However, this was not the colophon, and the statement therefore served another purpose than the copying statements found in colophons. It may have been a description of a scholarly method for obtaining the cure found within the text or simply intended to underline the usefulness of the ritual.

6.2.3 The Secrecy Statement of KAR 230

KAR 230 contains a section between the ritual instructions and the final colophon, separated from them by horizontal lines, stating: “A secret of exorcism (āšipūtu). An expert may show an expert; a non [exper]t may not see (it). (As) for your son whom you love, make him swear by Asalluḫi and Ninurta and (only) then show (it to) him!” (see Lenzi 2008a: 166–78).28

The statement focuses on keeping knowledge within a professional sphere. But how these phrases should be understood is still unclear. Such so-called “secrecy labels” and the associated “Geheimwissen colophons”29 have had a problematic research history due to the recurring problem of their inconsistent and low distribution over time and space (Stevens 2013: 211–13; Lenzi 2008a: 204; Beaulieu 1992: 107).30 Earlier studies, such as Borger 1957–71, listed the examples and provided a typology. Later, Beaulieu (1992: 109–10), for example, suggested secrecy statements in LB Uruk could work to restrict dissemination of certain learning within a social setting. In the past decade, Lenzi (2008a: 204, 214, 380) conceded that texts with such statements cannot be distinguished from others based on content. However, he suggested that texts with such secrecy statements were “restricted to authorized individuals” (Lenzi 2008a: 160; cf. Stevens 2013: 211 note 3).

Others have argued that the phrases merely attest to professional pride (Koch 1995: 95–96; Livingstone 1986: 1; Neugebauer 1969: 144).31 Recently, Stevens (2013: 211, 214–15) has reasoned for both secrecy and protective phrases32 working together towards protecting knowledge and categorising texts linked to professional and individual intellectual identity in LB Uruk. As a result, Stevens stated that the marked texts express “a network of clearly articulated relationships between the professional specialism(s) of the individual scholar and the text he sought to protect” (ibid.: 231). Regardless, these results cannot be compared directly to the NA evidence.

Among Kiṣir-Aššur’s texts with colophons, two “Geheimwissen colophons” are attested: KAR 230, copied when Kiṣir-Aššur was mašmaššu, and the cultic explanatory text KAR 307, copied when he was mašmaš bīt Aššur.33 Considering Kiṣir-Aššur’s wider use of protective phrases, such as curses, these are found on seven of Kiṣir-Aššur’s texts.34 Among these texts, four are from his šamallû ṣeḫru-phase,35 two are from his šamallû-phase, and one is from his mašmaš bīt Aššur-phase. These texts include both numbered extracts (RA 15 pl. 76) and text copied according to known rows of entries from standardized therapeutic Nineveh tablets (BAM 129, see Section 9.3.4).

No truly recognizable features can be deducted from the texts with secrecy and protective phrases. Although they may have been particularly important to Kiṣir-Aššur, one can easily find groups of texts comparable to these, but without such phrases. The texts relate to all areas of importance for Kiṣir-Aššur’s career, i.e., healing (BAM 129, BAM 131, RA 15 pl. 76, RA 40 pl. 116), making house calls (KAR 230), ritually demarcating houses (N4 no. 175), performing exorcistic rituals (KAL 10 no. 4, LKA 77), and possibly participating in rituals connected to the Aššur temple (KAR 307).

6.2.4 Interpretation of KAR 230

In relation to KAR 230, Lenzi (2008a: 167) argued that this secrecy phrase may have represented an actual formalized procedure wherein a father or master may have passed on the knowledge contained on a “secret” tablet to a son or apprentice, and therefore this procedure would have provided “an objective marker in the subordinate’s experience to indicate that he passed from normal activity into one that was marked as in some way special”. Although this interpretation entails a literal understanding of the statement and a synthesis of ancient practices based on conjecture, it is appealing to accept such an understanding in relation to how KAR 230 functioned in Kiṣir-Aššur’s training.

Regardless of how the secrecy statement is interpreted, KAR 230 may have represented Kiṣir-Aššur’s initiation into a special ritual procedure, perhaps particularly appreciated and transmitted within this family.36 The text is without known duplicates, which underlines its significance among the N4 tablets. Furthermore, the tablet was designated as a “copy from Babylon” and labelled as an uʾiltu.37 Such uʾiltus can perhaps be considered a commitment of some sort (see Section 5.3.2). Maybe Kiṣir-Aššur was expected to know this or similar rituals as part of his specialized training in order to become a practicing exorcist, and the uʾiltu-label, if understood as a commitment, may have been the task of acquiring the final pieces necessary to practice.

Presumably, when Kiṣir-Aššur copied KAR 230 he acquired the knowledge this text represents (Section 1.4). If this was the case, KAR 230 may have been a ritual Kiṣir-Aššur copied before being able to make house calls on his own, although he was already mašmaššu at the time and dabbled in scholarly matters (see Section 6.5). Maul (2010a: 216) has suggested that approbation probably took place when one was awarded the title mašmaššu, but in this case we may assume the authorization for making house calls may have occurred when Kiṣir-Aššur gained the necessary ritual. I suggest that KAR 230 represents the dividing line between Kiṣir-Aššur acting as an assistant and taking charge of a patient’s healing. Perhaps Kiṣir-Aššur’s family used the secrecy phrase in the particular case of KAR 230 to emphasize the meaning of this text. Though this may have been the case, secrecy labels must have varied over time and place and cannot generally be explained in relation to exorcistic training.

6.2.5 Nabû-bēssunu’s Ritual for Approaching a Patient: KAR 31

Another ritual from Kiṣir-Aššur’s father, Nabû-bēssunu, relates directly to attending patients as a healer. Nabû-bēssunu copied the bilingual incantation KAR 31 at an unclear stage of his career (edited in Maul 2018; Geller 2016: 38–39). The incantation was a recitation to keep various demons from approaching the exorcist when he approaches a patient.38 The ritual states:

Its ritual: grind up male and female nikiptu-plant, mix it in honey and ghee, when you will approach the patient, you first anoint yourself, (so that) in order to approach the patient, ‘Any evil’ (mimma lemnu) will not approach you.

Geller 2016: 4039

The incantation and ritual are therefore designed to make the exorcist apply a cream to his skin to protect himself from the potential danger inherent in being in close proximity to illness (Maul 2018: 181; Geller 2016: 40).40 Such protection for the healer is also prescribed in the third tablet of Udug-ḫul, which in all respects resembles the colophon of the second tablet of Sa-gig: “If you approach a patient; until you cast an incantation onto yourself, you should not approach the patient”.41

The two incantations and rituals KAR 31 and KAR 230 therefore cover two crucial areas connected to healing, which are also attested as two vital points in Sa-gig, namely: going to the patient’s house and approaching the patient. Whereas KAR 230 covers the first part, KAR 31 covers the protection of the exorcist when approaching the patient. At least Kiṣir-Aššur and his father Nabû-bēssunu seem to have focused on and transmitted this knowledge as part of the family trade.

6.3 Ritually Protecting the Houses of Clients: Discussion of KAR 298

Kiṣir-Aššur also copied KAR 298 as mašmaššu. The text contains several rituals intended to protect households from illness and epidemics. Kiṣir-Aššur had previously worked with prophylactic measures as šamallû mašmaššu ṣeḫru in relation to calming a crying child in order to revoke the evils heralded by its cries. However, the rituals in KAR 298 provide the performer(s) with the power to keep out various demons and plagues. This is another relatively new area of ritual performance learned by Kiṣir-Aššur during his mašmaššu-phase, and the following sections investigate KAR 298 and discuss it in relation to Kiṣir-Aššur and his family’s use of certain quarantine measures in connection to illness treatments.

6.3.1 The Purpose and Content of KAR 298

KAR 298 contains extracts of two texts listed in the EM as 1) “to block (the entry of) ‘the foot of evil’ into a man’s house” and 2) “to avert diʾu-illness, plague and epidemic …” (Wiggermann 1992: 41ff., 91).42 The text likely had a broken label in the colophon and it was “quickly [extracted]”.43

In order “to block (the entry of) ‘the foot of evil’ into a man’s house”, the ritual used protective figurines buried in various places underneath a house. This ensured that šēp lemutti “the foot of evil” would not enter a man’s house.44 Households experiencing ominous happenings could be diagnosed with šēp lemutti “foot of evil”, which forewarned about other maladies, such as mūtānu “plague” (Wiggermann 1992: 96). Comparable rituals such as “to keep diʾu-illness (and) plague, pestilence from nearing the horses and the army of the king” (Maul 2013: 18 and note 19) and for purifying the stables (ibid.: 19ff., 22 note 43) suggest (zoonotic) epidemics must have been regularly attested.

Wiggermann (1992) edited both KAR 298 (text II) and the standard Nineveh recension of “to block (the entry of) …” (text I), and he noted several differences between the two texts. The Nineveh recension, for example, describes figurines made of ēru, tamarisk, and clay consecutively, whereas KAR 298 breaks this sequence to describe groups of related figurines (ibid.: 87). Additionally, KAR 298 differs by specifying the place of interment of each statue in the relevant entry, providing more complete descriptions of figures, and quoting incipits of incantations in the relevant instructions (ibid.: 89–90). These discrepancies may stem from an unidentified Assur recension (ibid.: 88), but could also attest to a manageable reference layout for eased use.

Furthermore, KAR 298 has double rulings between obverse lines 40–41 and reverse lines 10–11. The first ruling seems to mark a shift from a related group of gods and sages to a group of monsters, whereas the purpose of the second ruling is unclear (Wiggermann 1992: 45). At reverse line 23, the text changes to another group of rituals known as “to make diʾu-illness, stroke, and plague pass by” (ibid.: 90). This second group of rituals may have had a similar purpose to the first group in KAR 298, although they use different means of accomplishing this (ibid.: 91–92). In addition to using wooden ships to carry the illness away (rev. 23–25), the third and penultimate sections prescribe smearing certain substances on the doorpost of the house in question (rev. 41–42), as well as burying substances at the outer gate (rev. 43–44) in order to ensure that witchcraft does not approach a man’s house (CMAwR 1: 215 ms U, 233, 426 ms B, 428).45 The third to last entry also specifies the duration of the prophylactic effect: “illness, diʾu-illness, distress, and pestilence will not come near the man or his house for one year” (CAD M/2: 297c).46

As mentioned in Section 2.3, many figurines were excavated underneath the floor of the N4 house.47 However, Wiggermann (1992: 99–100, cf. 102–3) concluded that the figurines found in N4, albeit the house is incompletely excavated, “show differences with the figurines of the ritual” in details and “their positions do not conform strictly to the prescriptions of the ritual but rather to the general ideas underlying these prescriptions”. He conceded, however, that we do not know for what ritual these figurines were installed. Perhaps the rituals in KAR 298 were ideal models, which could be modified according to need and context.

Kiṣir-Aššur’s hypothesized position as head of ceremonies, possibly foreshadowed by KAR 230 as argued above, was likely cemented before or after KAR 230 through his acquisition of the relevant rituals for protecting clients’ houses in KAR 298. KAR 298 may represent a convenient aide mémoire, which Kiṣir-Aššur could consult easily upon having to perform the necessary part of the rituals. The text is therefore similar to other of his manuscripts concerning the information it provides (e.g., KAL 10 no. 1 and N4 no. 175). The inherent responsibility in providing ritual protection for an entire house and its household also indicate that Kiṣir-Aššur was in a capacity to supervise rituals.

6.3.2 KAR 298 in the Context of Associated Rituals

The focus on keeping out various evils in KAR 298 illustrates that Kiṣir-Aššur as mašmaššu utilized certain procedures to protect houses. Considering Kiṣir-Aššur’s function as a healer, it is not surprising that the rituals in KAR 298 contain elements comparable to bīt mēseri “the house of confinement”, which was a ritual intended to confine a patient already afflicted with a malady (Wiggermann 1992: 105–6).48 As such, evidence suggests part of the production of figurines in KAR 298 could be adapted to serve as a “quarantine procedure” in cases of illness. This is substantiated through associated texts within Kiṣir-Nabû’s material discussed in this section.

The ritual bīt mēseri was also known in N4. Kiṣir-Aššur copied an overview of the ritual with incantation incipits as šamallû (N4 no. 175) as well as part of this ritual(?) during an uncertain phase of training.49 Furthermore, an extract of the second tablet was excavated in the N4 collection (no. 572, VAT 13666+; Meier 1941–44, ms C). Unfortunately, both Kiṣir-Aššur’s texts and the ritual series bīt mēseri in general remain largely unpublished and unedited.50 Generally, bīt mēseri used a number of figurines and drawings, which through incantations and rituals rid the patient and his house of demons, as well as ensuring that additional evils were kept out of the house (Seidl and Sallaberger 2005–06: 67; Wiggermann 1992: 106–13; Meier 1941–44: 140). A certain type of figurine produced in both KAR 298 and bīt mēseri includes depictions of “sages” (apkallus).51 However, ritual loci,52 actions performed during and after the ritual,53 as well as the use of some depictions54 differed in several instances between KAR 298 and bīt mēseri.

Nonetheless, there is further evidence for the use of rituals demarcating houses to exclude or expel evil among the Bāba-šuma-ibni family members, through their association with an incantation known as: “The house is put under a spell” (tummu bītu). The so-called “Curse, curse” rituals (Sag-ba sag-ba; Schramm 2001: 12) were used for producing flour circles to create ritual enclosures, and these also made use of this incantation. The incantation was also associated with bīt mēseri (Wiggermann 1992: 105, 111–12, 117). The incantation is mentioned on the fifth tablet of bīt mēseri (AMT 34,2) where a goat (urīṣu/MÁŠ) was tied to the head of the patient.55 A similar “scapegoat” ritual was known as “a substitute for Ereškigal” (Tsukimoto 1985: 125ff. with references),56 and it was copied by both Kiṣir-Aššur as šamallû ṣehru (N4 no. 289) and Kiṣir-Nabû at an uncertain stage of his career (LKA 79).

Tummu bītu was featured in two of Kiṣir-Nabû’s commentaries,57 perhaps indicative of its likely use as part of advanced education (Gesche 2001: 176; Finkel 1991: 102). Unfortunately, only individual lines of tummu bītu are known, e.g., via Kiṣir-Nabû’s commentaries.58 The commentaries are fortunately illustrative and show that the incantation focused on ritually demarcating a house:59

The house is put under a spell, the floor has been prepared,
(Meaning) GIŠ.ḪUR is esēqu (which) is ‘to incise, make a drawing’ (which) is a drawing,60
Do not enter to him through the window of the side (of the house),
(Meaning) the window of the bathroom (bīt ramāki),
… (Variety of windows follows with explanations) …
Ditto (i.e., do not enter to him) hidden in the shadow of a man,
(Meaning) in secret,
… (Variety of entrance-related materials follows with explanations).61

The incantation therefore emphasizes shutting out evil and denying it a place to hide within a house. This mirrors the purpose of the rituals in the prophylactic KAR 298 and the curative bīt mēseri. Several elements in this and associated rituals therefore appear to have functioned as a sort of “quarantine”, admittedly more ritually than medically.62 KAR 298 and its associated rituals include procedures for marking the gate of a patient’s house.63 Although such actions were ritualistic, these markings could also have indicated that the home of the patient was that of an afflicted patient under treatment.

6.4 Namburbi-rituals and House Calls: KAL 4 no. 7 and LKA 115

Rituals designed to remove the future effects of an evil omen were called namburbi-rituals (lit.: “its release”).64 Kiṣir-Aššur copied the namburbi-rituals KAL 4 no. 7 and LKA 115 as mašmaššu, the former to release the evil portended and caused by witchcraft65 and the latter to avert the evil portended by any observation made within a man’s house (CMAwR 2: 427–30 no. 11.5 ms A; Maul 1994: 446–52, 502ff.). KAL 4 no. 7 may be a copy by Aššur-šākin-šumi from one of Kiṣir-Aššur’s tablets (see below), whereas LKA 115 was copied on the request of Kiṣir-Aššur (ú-šaš-ṭir-ma íb-ri), presumably by an apprentice, and thereafter checked by Kiṣir-Aššur.

These are the first namburbi-rituals attributed to any career phase with certainty.66 The attestation of namburbi-rituals, whereof LKA 115 was copied on behalf of Kiṣir-Aššur, could also indicate that Kiṣir-Aššur became a fully-fledged practitioner sometime during his mašmaššu-phase. This is underlined by the inclusion in LKA 115 of a purpose statement (Section 7.4), likely indicating that the tablet was copied for a particular ceremony.

KAL 4 no. 7 and LKA 115, alongside all Kiṣir-Aššur’s and his family’s other manuscripts containing namburbi-rituals, are analysed in the following two subsections to provide a broader understanding of when such rituals were generally employed and for what purposes.

6.4.1 Namburbi-rituals and Ceremonial Supervisors

The namburbi-rituals were mentioned at least once in the EM and must be considered an integral part of the exorcist’s duties in official and private contexts.67 Most such rituals are generally well attested and they are directed against many different signs (Koch 2010: 45–47, 53; Maul 1994). Furthermore, the namburbi-rituals were incorporated into a variety of works such as Šumma ālu (Freedman 1998: 12–13). Namburbi-rituals were also written on amulets and used prophylactically.68 Almost all namburbi-rituals from Assur stem from the N4 collection, although none of the amulets with such related rituals from Assur were found in this collection.69 It is currently unknown if namburbi-rituals were considered advanced knowledge,70 but namburbi-rituals were not among the school tablets treated by Gesche.

Kiṣir-Aššur does not seem to have practiced namburbi-rituals until he had LKA 115 copied for a performance as mašmaššu and Aššur-šākin-šumi copied KAL 4 no. 7 from a tablet written by Kiṣir-Aššur as mašmaššu. In total, Kiṣir-Aššur is attested in the colophons of at least six namburbi-rituals during his mašmaššu- and mašmaš bīt Aššur-phases. In comparison, his nephew Kiṣir-Nabû copied five namburbi-rituals and his father Nabû-bēssunu at least three. What appears to be the common denominator for all the examples with colophons is that all namburbi-rituals attested within the Bāba-šuma-ibni family seem to stem from their later career phases. Table 10 contains an overview of the attested phases.

Table 10
Table 10

Namburbi-rituals assigned to career phasesa

Keeping in mind that tablets without titles may stem from the mašmaššu ṣeḫru phase and onwards (Sections 7.2 and 7.4), the evidence here tentatively suggests that namburbi-rituals were not copied, kept or written with colophons until the mašmaššu ṣeḫru-phase within the Bāba-šuma-ibni family. Why such rituals do not appear in the Bāba-šuma-ibni family’s earlier material may be due to chance survival, and unfortunately the sample size is too small to generalize. Still, a suggestion could be that Kiṣir-Aššur learned the structure of such rituals before his mašmaššu-phase, although he was perhaps not expected to copy namburbi-rituals until he needed them.

6.4.2 Namburbi-rituals and House Calls

LKA 115 was written with a purpose statement, which Section 7.4 argues may indicate that the purpose of the text was pragmatic in relation to a ritual performance. The ritual within LKA 115 was designed to annul any type of evil omen observed within a man’s house. This ritual was therefore broadly applicable, and it is difficult to pin the use of such rituals to specific duties. However, Kiṣir-Aššur and his family’s namburbi-rituals in general may provide an indication regarding their use within this family’s responsibilities as healers.

Due to ominous sightings often occurring in the city or a house, namburbi-rituals were generally closely connected to the terrestrial omen series Šumma ālu (Koch 2015: 261–62; Heeßel 2007a: 4; Freedman 1998: 12–13; Maul 1994: 29, 163–65). Therefore, several of the specific evils to be averted in namburbi- rituals were related to Šumma ālu.71

There exists an overlap between sightings in Šumma ālu and the 1st subseries of Sa-gig, which is concerned with omens observed en route to and within the patient’s house (Freedman 1998: 11–12). Such observations were ominous in combination with the patient’s symptoms for establishing a diagnosis and prognosis (Heeßel 2001–02: 24). The omens in Sa-gig’s 1st subseries have not previously been considered in the context of namburbi-rituals, perhaps because the main bulk of Sa-gig has occasionally been considered as different from other areas of Mesopotamian divination (Geller 2010: 90–91; Heeßel 2007b: 105–110; Heeßel 2000: 4–5; Stol 1991–92: 42–43; cf. Koch unpublished: 12–14; Koch 2015: 274).72

Reiner stressed that omen collections are expected to have had parallel apotropaic rituals, although the surviving evidence indicates to her that omens regarding future events could be treated via namburbi-rituals, whereas diagnostic and physiognomic omens could not.73 However, this relates to the idea that the namburbis influence the diagnosis. Most recently, Koch (unpublished: 11 note 63) has suggested certain namburbis may have played a role in treating the cause of illness. Perhaps they could even affect the illness’ prognosis, i.e., the patient’s future (Maul 1994: 12), if we assume that the omens from Sa-gig’s 1st subseries were sent by divine causers of illness to herald their presence or provide indications concerning the prognosis of the illness. I therefore hypothesize that the terrestrial omens in at least Sa-gig’s 1st subseries could perhaps be averted or manipulated apotropaically to treat the cause of illness via namburbi-rituals.74

Table 11
Table 11

The Bāba-šuma-ibni family’s namburbi-rituals

Some of the Bāba-šuma-ibni family members’ namburbi-rituals overlap terrestrial omens found in Šumma ālu and the 1st subseries of Sa-gig (cf. Veldhuis 1995–96: 152). Table 11 presents the content of the namburbi-rituals with colophons naming Bāba-šuma-ibni family members in order to discuss the possible use of such rituals. At least two of the namburbi-rituals above cover specific instances, which are recorded in the 1st subseries of Sa-gig:

The example from the 2nd tablet line 43 was not cited in Šumma ālu and refers to the loss of the seal of the administrator of a household (Maul 1994: 12, 205, 208). This omen could be removed by Kiṣir-Nabû’s namburbi-ritual LKA 110. Furthermore, Kiṣir-Nabû’s LKA 112 concerns the bad omen derived from a wildcat (muraššû) wailing (bakû), howling (damāmu) and continually crossing (a path) (Ntn-stem of egēru) (Maul 1994: 329–35, esp. 332 and note 32; cf. CAD B: 38). Despite the fact that the omens from Sa-gig concern an ordinary cat (šurānu) “filling the floor”, almost all namburbi-rituals directed specifically against cats concern omens connected to muraššû-cats, and Maul (1994: 329) only provides one example (VAT 13988) mentioning a šurānu-cat.76 As such, these rituals could relate to such omens as the ones quoted above from Sa-gig.

In connection to house calls, it is possible that at least two of Kiṣir-Aššur’s namburbi-rituals were broadly applicable for rituals performed in a client’s house. LKA 115 could serve to dispel problematic omens experienced in the patient’s house, and KAR 38 could serve to protect Kiṣir-Aššur from any wrongdoing on behalf of himself and his assistant(s) while performing a ritual. His father apparently used this ritual as well. Kiṣir-Nabû also copied a namburbi-ritual for a bad omen concerning a frog (muṣaʾʾirānu) (LKA 118),77 and evil emanating from a man’s bed (mayyālu) in case of nocturnal enuresis (N4 no. 404).78 Especially the last ritual could have been useful in connection to a majority of healing ceremonies taking place around the patient’s bed. Nabû-bēssunu, in addition to the duplicate above, also copied a ritual to remove alienation between two long separated persons (KAL 4 no. 6) and a so-called universal namburbi-ritual (LKA 109).79

Although several of the namburbi-rituals above do not directly reflect the elimination of bad omens listed in relation to house calls in Sa-gig, it is plausible that some of the more general types would have been employed to negate the effect of omens counteractive to the purpose of the visit, i.e., to heal an ill patient, or intended to soothe some of the divine anger behind an illness. If at least some of Kiṣir-Aššur’s namburbi-rituals were connected to making house calls, such as LKA 115, this may fit the hypothesis from Section 6.2, that an exorcist would not lead healing ceremonies connected to house calls until he was mašmaššu. Following this hypothesis, LKA 115 would have been copied on behalf of Kiṣir-Aššur for his ceremony.

6.5 Other Technical Literature: CT 37 pl. 24f.

Practice and pragmatic use of the exorcistic knowledge were not the only important aspects of becoming a mašmaššu. In addition to the practical capabilities, exorcists trained to become versed in interpretation of their text corpus. Therefore, contemporary texts focus on the competences needed to become an “expert” (ummânu), which included understanding the intellectual heritage learned and practiced up until becoming a mašmaššu (Section 9.4). Perhaps, therefore, Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase is the first part of his career wherein he copied a text relating to scholarship. The text CT 37 pl. 24f. is a fragmentary copy of a Lú lexical list (Civil 1969: 87ff., 223ff.).80 Generally, lexical extracts are regarded as educational texts at some level in the first millennium, and the Lú lists may have been employed during the first school phase among the NB and LB tablets.81 However, CT 37 pl. 24f. is not an extract and stems from Kiṣir-Aššur’s mašmaššu-phase.82

The content of CT 37 pl. 24f. is probably similar or even related to the 25th tablet of Ur₅-ra (Civil 1969: 225 ms B).83 The text contains two columns on each side. Each column consists of Sumerian words for a profession and the Akkadian equivalent of that word, with entries divided by a vertical line. The first column of the obverse likely provided Sumerian titles equivalent to bārû and āšipu, although it is now broken (ibid.: 227).84 CT 37 pl. 24f. may therefore have been used in some way to emphasize a scholarly identity or read unusual Sumerograms as exorcistic titles via the broken beginning with Sumerian equivalents to the āšipu title (see Robson 2011a: 564; Gesche 2001: 130–31).

The text includes very elementary glosses and notes to individual words, e.g., spelling out the phonetic reading of a Sumerogram, and these are written in a smaller script.85 Such notes are not commonly found in the N4 texts, but are also seen on, e.g., Kiṣir-Nabû’s copy of the EM, KAR 44.86 At Nineveh, such glosses and notes occasionally appear in the royal correspondence in letters and astrological reports, and they have generally been interpreted as educational glosses for the king reading the text.87 However, Talon (2003: 649, 653–54) has shown that the glosses in the royal letters cannot be regarded as proof of the king’s schooling and must relate to idiosyncratic habits of a few courtly scholars. Several of the glosses in CT 37 pl. 24f. are simplistic readings of common signs and represent knowledge Kiṣir-Aššur must have known as mašmaššu.88 Furthermore, similar glosses are also preserved in other Lú lexical lists from contemporary Nineveh (Civil 1969: 115ff.).89 As a result, it may be that Kiṣir-Aššur used CT 37 pl. 24f. for scholarly activities during his mašmaššu-phase.90

6.6 Summary

According to the available evidence, Kiṣir-Aššur did not copy any medical prescriptions during his šamallû and šamallû mašmaššu ṣeḫru-phase. However, his mašmaššu texts attest to treatments of a variety of areas connected to the lower body. The medical texts are directed towards the treatment of “Anus illness”, maškadu-illness, and the “strings” and muscles of the legs and feet. These texts are discussed further in Section 9.1.

Although the mašmaššu title indicates that the holder of the title was an exorcist, Kiṣir-Aššur does not seem to have been an independent and fully trained practitioner when he gained this title. This chapter has argued that Kiṣir-Aššur did not make house calls on his own until he had copied and acquired a special ritual for going to the patient’s house (KAR 230). The purpose of this ritual was to remove the cause of illness, possibly at the beginning of any treatment at a patient’s house. The text was labelled as secret and, although it cannot be determined what this meant, it is not impossible that the phrase illustrated the Bāba-šuma-ibni family’s view that this text was special to them. Kiṣir-Aššur’s father, Nabû-bēssunu, also copied a related text, KAR 31, designed to protect the exorcist when approaching a patient. These texts combined therefore attest to a professional environment in relation to making house calls.

Kiṣir-Aššur’s KAR 298 from his mašmaššu-phase was designed for prophylactically protecting a person’s home via figures of magical beings. The text was likely aimed at practical adaption, and could have served as an aide mémoire for such rituals. The text was associated with bīt mēseri and other rituals for demarcating spaces and protecting them either for apotropaic or treatment purposes. Kiṣir-Nabû’s associated texts related to the tummu bītu incantation attest to an environment dealing with demarcating rituals. These rituals therefore were adaptable and likely point to another side of Kiṣir-Aššur’s practice, namely providing ritual quarantine for patients when healing them.

This chapter also evaluates Kiṣir-Aššur’s production of namburbi-rituals, which appear to have begun around his mašmaššu-phase. As a result, these texts seem to be linked to the ritual performance. Kiṣir-Aššur was perhaps not a ceremonial supervisor before he copied KAR 230, and by extension, he did not copy namburbi-rituals previously. In addition, this chapter argues that the namburbi-rituals copied by the Bāba-šuma-ibni family in general may have been used to treat certain omens, such as those preserved in the 1st subseries of Sa-gig. Whether or not such rituals could be used in connection to such omens remains hypothetical, but, if they were indeed used, they would have been part of the appeasement of the divine cause behind an illness. However, further evidence is needed to corroborate this suggestion.

The final section discusses Kiṣir-Aššur’s sole lexical text CT 37 pl. 24., which may have played a role in relation to his scholarly work at the time or for strengthening his professional identity.


The maškadu-illness treated in BAM 81 is compared to modern vertebral arthritis and muscle strains (see Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 257–58, 488, 505, 720 with further references), but can also affect the qablu, groin/thigh area, maybe the renal and rectal functions, and the “strings” of the lower body producing stiffness (see Arbøll 2018a; Wasserman 2012; Geller 2005: 3).


It is uncertain if Kiṣir-Aššur intended to produce a phonetic writing of tigilû/tegilû in BAM 81 and BAM 122, or if the Sumerogram was written in a peculiar manner. I follow the CAD (T: 397) in my transliteration. BAM 257 rev.? 15 may have held an illness name, e.g., SA.[GAL(?)].


See Pedersén 1985: 20. CT 37 pl. 24f. is edited alongside a number of other tablets generally labelled with the title “Miscellaneous LU-lists” 6.212 ms B (Civil 1969: 225ff.).


Possibilities include imgiddû (CAD I-J: 115), giṭṭu (CAD G: 112), liginnu (CAD L: 183), uʾiltu (ibid.: 184), and nibzu (CAD G: 113; cf. CAD N/2: 206). See also Stevens 2013: 220 note 52; Frahm 2011a: 29 and note 96; Beaulieu 1992: 103 and note 16.


For possible uses of IM.GÍD.DA tablets in NB and LB second phase school tablets, see Gesche 2001: 49–50. In NA royal letters, the IM.GÍD.DA tablet perhaps designates a text recited for educational purposes (see Zamazalová 2011: 324; Livingstone 2007: 104–5; SAA 10 no. 39 rev. 8–9 SAA 16 no. 28 obv. 3–4). The term was used in the advanced pedagogical tablets from the later phases of education in the LB Urukean libraries (Stevens 2013: 219–20). Note that “extraneous” (aḫû) scholarly knowledge is occasionally written on IM.GÍD.DA tablets (e.g., Fincke 2001: 23–25).


A. 3739a+b (Geers 1926) obv. 1: DIŠ e-nu-ma ana É GIG KA.PIRIG GIN-ku (Labat 1951: 2). For the reading KA.PIRIG as mašmaššu/āšipu, see Geller 2010: 45–50; Geller 2007c: 5–6; Jean 2006: 26–31; Heeßel 2001–02: 28. Note KAR 26 obv. 25 in a prayer to Marduk that mentions that the exorcist does not walk along the streets without Marduk (Mayer 1999: 150, 157; see Schwemer 2007b: 57–58; Jean 2006: 184). Whether or not the N4 exorcists practiced healing in their own home remains uncertain (cf. Robson 2019: 130, 259; May 2014: 64, 78).


The bed is also mentioned in several symptom descriptions. For examples concerning a bed, see Farber 2014: 171, 187, 193; CMAwR 1: 35, 91–92, 119, 144, 240, 329, 343–44, 359, 397–98, 440; Schramm 2001: 8–9; Stol 1993: 25, 38–41, 49–50, 72; Wiggermann 1992: 108–110, 116, 121. See also Kiṣir-Aššur’s reference to the patient’s bed in BAM 129 (Farber 2004: 127 note 54).


Nils Heeßel is currently preparing new copies and editions of KAR 230 and KAR 31. For the latter text, see below. I would like to thank him for discussing KAR 230 and sharing his personal notes with me.


KAR 230 obv. 15: KA.INIM.MA MAŠ.MAŠ ana É GIG DU-ma.


See Heeßel 2000: 70 note 7. Obv. 1–2: ÉN man-nu im-qut UGU-šú-ma ú-šá-an-ni ṭè-en-šú 2 eq-ba-šú?⌉ [MÚ?.MÚ?-ma i-tál]-lu-ku ul i-le-ʾi. For the provisional readings of line two, see similar examples in CAD E: 248; BAM 122 rev. 2’–3’, 11’–12’ (Nils Heeßel, personal communication). Obv. 1 literally opens “who fell on his ‘top’ (muḫḫu)”, and in combination with the reference to “heel” (eqbu) in obv. 2, it is possible the text intended to hint at the head-to-toe arrangement found in, e.g., Sa-gig, Ugu, and the AMC.


Perhaps this is why imḫur-ešrā, “it cures twenty (maladies)”, was also considered good against ši-ni-it ṭè-me (Stadhouders 2012: 16; Stadhouders 2011: 35 line 53’). Note also an OB letter stating: “… I was almost insane for three days. I did not touch food or even water” (Oppenheim 1967: 87).


SAA 10 no. 196 rev. 16–18: la a-[ka]-lu la šá-tu-u 17 ṭè-e-mu ú-šá-šá 18 mur-ṣu ú-rad.


Sa-gig tablet 19/20 line 13’: [DIŠ …] DAB-su KÚR.KÚR-ir : UMUŠ-šú KÚR.KÚR-ir ŠU d30 […] (Scurlock 2014: 177, 179; Wee 2015: 273; Heeßel 2000: 227; cf. Wee 2012: 608, 679). The reference may refer to changes in behaviour in connection to either physical or psychological symptoms.


Although it is unclear if a delirium could be included in this state.


E.g., obv. 8 … ana ka-me ZÚ.KU[D? …], “in order to bind the bit[e]”.


It is unclear how to interpret the signs after NU. I have chosen to read rud-u for D-stem ruddû “to add” (CAD R: 239–243), although the writing is ackward. In at least one NA letter, a verbal form of ruddû and balāṭu are used in hendiadys to designate “to feel better” (ibid.: 243). Alternatively, the sign rud could be emended to TUK!-u for rašû “”to acquire, obtain”, although the writing seems to be unattested (cf. CAD R: 193ff.). An unlikely alternative would be ŠÌTA-u for rāṭu “sustenance tube”, though it would be unclear why it should have a long –u. For rāṭu in general, see CAD R: 220c; van der Toorn 1996: 60–61; Tsukimoto 1985: 23–26. Another solution is to interpret the reading as corrupt.


Ebeling writes “rasur” on the copy KAR 230 in relation to the ki in obv. 13, although this is not entirely clear on the original. This requires further collation. The use of paqādu “to entrust” is also used of patients in relation to protective deities or sections of the royal palace in which case it may indicate confinement or protection (see Parpola 1983a: 109–10). See also the negative use of paqādu in relation to pregnancy and children (Steinert 2018d: 269).


Obv. 9 likely contains the verbal form a-ṭa-rad-ka “I will send you away”.


This seems to resemble the purpose of the Ištar-Dumuzi rituals published by Farber (1977), wherein the generic evil mimma lemnu is also mentioned several times (ibid.: 9). Note that Kiṣir-Aššur’s only dated text, KAR 267, contained a ritual associated with these Ištar-Dumuzi rituals (see Section 7.5). However, Kiṣir-Aššur is not supplied with a title in the text’s colophon.


These gatekeepers are referenced in the myth of Nergal and Ereškigal, see Ponchia and Luukko 2013: 13, 23. Only one gatekeeper (Ì.DU₈) is specified in Ištar’s Descent, see Lapinkivi 2010: 9, 29.


Another possible example of a universal ritual against many different maladies and various portends is KAR 26 (= N2 no. 8), see Schwemer 2007b: 57–58; Mayer 1999; Pedersén 1986: 32.


KAR 230 obv. 16: NU dAMAR.UTU u dMAŠ ša GAB.LÀL DÙ-; the end of obv. 17: … MAŠ.MAŠ KA.LUḪ.U.DA DÙ-, written onto the edge, contains a third person description of what occurs in relation to the presumed second person in obv. 18; obv. 18–19: KA-šú-nu LUḪ-si GI.DU₈.MEŠ 19 ina IGI.MEŠ-šú-nu KÉŠ-as; offerings in obv. 20–23; obv. 24: ÉN 3-šú ina IGI.MEŠ-šú-nu ŠID-nu, “you recite the incantation 3 times in front of them”.


KAR 230 rev. 1–2: [ÉN] 3-šú ina UGU GIG ŠID-nu x?⌉ 2 EGIR-šú tak-pir-tu DÙ-


KAR 230 rev. 3–5: NU dAMAR.UTU ina SAG GIŠ.NÁ NU dMAŠ ina še-pit [GIŠ.NÁ] 4 ina UD.1.KAM? ÉN an-ni-tú 3-šú ana IGI-šú-nu ŠID-nu 5 (on side)GIM ka-a-a-an NÍG.NA šimLI GAR-an x (x?). Both the ina (rev. 4) and GIM (rev. 5) are written on the left side, almost as a note, although not in smaller handwriting. This is not entirely clear on Ebeling’s copy, but has been collated. The OB adverbial expression kīma kayyantim(ma) “as normal, customary” is the only example with these two words (CAD K: 41; CDA 154). Perhaps the GIM was a note to designate to Kiṣir-Aššur that “when(ever you recite the incantation), constantly you …”? The term kayyān(u) was also used from the 7th century BCE onwards to designate the literal or regular sense of a word in a context in commentaries (Gabbay 2016: 182–194). Although KAR 230 likely stems from an older tradition, the GIM is placed conspicuously on the left side of the tablet, which could indicate there was something to notice here for the copyist/reader of the text. However, any interpretative function kayyān could possible have in KAR 230 is uncertain at this point. For the understanding of supplying a brazier with juniper, see Mayer 1994: 114; Mayer and van Soldt 1991: 112. It is unclear if the sign SAR in the colophon (rev. 12) could indicate an unexpected Š-stem, and therefore designate that the tablet was copied on Kiṣir-Aššur’s behalf by someone else (cf. Ch. 3 note 134).


I have interpreted a corrupt reading of the phrase ša ana qāti šūṣû, although only šá ana and È (barû, waṣû) are visible. As such, it is possible that the line referred to “checking” the effect(?) of the ritual procedure. However, if my restoration is correct, the understanding of ša ana qāti šūṣû is a problem. Meanings range between “what is at hand, available” or “which is suitable for use(?)” (for references, see CMAwR 2: 416; CMAwR 1: 64, 121). Abusch and Schwemer (CMAwR 1: 235) in one instance cautiously propose: “that is well proven” as an alternative translation. The end of the line remains uncertain and needs further collation. However, it seems reasonable to assume the final ḫa relates to a verbal form of nasāḫu. Perhaps the ending read ZI!?⌉-ḫa, although this reading does not account for the remaining signs. Another possible suggestion could be: [ḫa-a]n-ṭiš as!-su!?⌉-ḫa (Nils Heeßel, personal communication).


Such tested ritual procedures are also mentioned in, e.g., BAM 322 rev. 89, see Ch. 9 note 147; Steinert 2015: 129 and note 84. See also AMT 105,1 col. iv 21’–24’: [na]p-šá-la-tú tak-ṣi-ra-nu lat-ku-tuba-ru-ti šá ana [Š]U? šu-ṣú-ú 22’ šá KA NUN.ME.MEŠ-e la-bi-ru-ti šá la-am A.MÀ.URÙ, “Tested (and) proven salves (and) strings of amulet stones, suitable for use, from the mouth of ancient sages from before the flood” (Geller 2010: 17 and notes 15–16; Rochberg 2004: 215; Elman 1975: 31; Hunger 1968: 142 no. 533; Reiner 1961: 10 and note 1; Lambert 1957: 8).


Marduk and Ninurta were associated with war metaphors, which were regularly invoked by the exorcist, see Böck 2014a: 183–85.


Rev. 9–11: ni-ṣir-te MAS.MAŠ.MEŠ ZU-a ZU-a IGI.LÁ NU [ZU]-a NU IGI.LÁ 10 ana DUMU-ka šá ta-ram!⌉-mu MU dAsal-lú-ḫi 11 ù ⌈dMAŠ? šu-úz-kir-šú-ma kul-lim-šú. See also Rochberg 2004: 212–13. The writing MAŠ.MAŠ.MEŠ may stand for āšipūtu, as it does not have a determinative. MEŠ can also be found in writings such as LÚ.MEŠ for amēlūtu (see CMAwR 1: 310 line 105”, 431 line 9).


These statements also focus on secrecy, but they are part of the actual colophons.


For the most recent overviews, see Stevens 2013: 211 note 3 and Lenzi 2008a: 2–15 with further references.


Rochberg (2004: 213) agrees with Neugebauer and takes the term “esoteric” as a reference to exclusivity and therefore not incomprehensibility.


These phrases, occurring in colophons, are intended to protect the knowledge, and they include the so-called “Geheimwissen colophons” and statements such as: “Whoever reveres Anu, Ellil and Ea shall not take it (i.e., the tablet) away by theft” (Stevens 2013: 213–14; cf. Lenzi 2008a: 204).


The fact that the statement in KAR 230 occurs in a separated section could indicate that it was originally part of the text copied. It is therefore not strictly speaking a colophon. Several of the examples listed by Lenzi (2008a: 171–86, 216–19) are from Kiṣir-Aššur and Kiṣir-Nabû’s texts, as well as texts excavated within N4. Among Kiṣir-Nabû’s texts focusing on secrecy in statements or colophons include BAM 199 and N4 no. 80.


BAM 9, BAM 131, RA 15 pl. 76, RA 40 pl. 116, KAL 10 no. 4, LKA 77, N4 no. 175. Several of these also contain statements prohibiting the erasure of the copyist’s name. See also Beckman and Foster 1988 no. 21, which contains a broken colophon with a prohibition against erasing the copyist’s name.


Including BAM 9, which lacks a title but is placed in this category due to text-internal features. See Section 5.4.


Lenzi’s comment that the content of KAR 230 is “nothing special” has been disproven by the analysis above (cf. Lenzi 2008a: 167).


KAR 230 rev. 12–13: GABA.RI KA.DINGIR.RAki SAR È 13 ú-ìl-ti


KAR 31 rev. 19–20: KA.INIM.MA GAL₅.LÁ MÁŠKIM dlugal-ùr-ra SAG.ḪUL.ḪA.ZA A.LÁ ḪUL 20 AN.TA.ŠUB.BA mim-ma šum-šú ana MAŠ.MAŠ NU TE-e, “Incantation: that the Gallû-demon, Rābiṣu-demon, Lugal-urra (epilepsy demon), Sagḫulḫaza-demon, evil Alû-demon, Antašubba-epilepsy, and whatever else should not approach the exorcist” (see Maul 2018: 186, 188; Geller 2016: 39–40). HKL (vol. II: 55) lists the Nineveh parallels K. 9836+K. 10338+K. 20638, and K. 10565.


KAR 31 rev. 21–23: DÙ.DÙ.BI ŠIM.dMAŠ NITA u MUNUS SÚD ina LÀL u Ì.NUN.NA ḪE.ḪE 22 e-nu-ma ana GIG te-ṭè-eḫ-ḫu-ú ra-man-ka 1-niš ŠÉŠ-ma 23 ana GIG TE-ḫe mim-ma lem-nu NU TE-ka (see the pictures in Maul 2018: 178–79).


In an OB medical text edited by Wasserman (1996) concerning carbuncles (kurāru), the final passage may encourage the healer(?) to protect himself as follows: “[As] soon as he finishes you should rub (lit.: anoint) your face so that [the illness will not] return to you”; ibid.: 4–5. Israel Museum 87.56.847 rev. 20–22: [ki]-ma i-ga-am-ma-ru 21 [i/a]-na pa-ni-ka ta-pa-aš-ša-/aš-ma 22 [GIG? ul?] i-tu-ur-ra-ku-ma. See also Gurney’s original restoration and interpretation of lines 117–122 in the Poor Man of Nippur (Gurney 1956: 156–57; cf. Stol 1997: 410; Foster 1996: 934).


Geller 2016: 40–41; Heeßel 2001–02: 37, 40; Labat 1951: 18–19 and note 27: DIŠ ana GIG ina TE-ka EN ÉN ana NÍ-ka ŠUB-ú ana GIG NU TE-ḫi. Note the warning to cast an incantation onto a patient with particular symptoms before approaching him (Wee 2012: 71 note 114; Tsukimoto 1999: 193 lines 41–42).


KAR 44 obv. 20: GÌR ḪUL-tim ina É LÚ KUD-is di-ḫu : šib-ṭa NAM.ÚŠ.MEŠ šu-tu-qí u SÍSKUR GABA.RI. Wiggermann (1992: 90, 92–93, 219) translates šibṭu as “stroke, blow” and relates it to an epidemical illness. Comparatively, CAD (Š/2: 387) translates “plague, epidemic” and AHw (1228) “Schlag, stoß” from šabāṭu “to strike, hit, blow, sweep”. KAR 298 opens in obv. 1: ana d⌉A[LAD? NU TE-]i ù GÌRII x ḪUL ina É NA KUD-si “to [keep] a š[ēdu-deity(?) from approachi]ng and to block (the entry of) ‘evil …? feet’ into a man’s house” (cf. Wiggermann 1992: 42).


KAR 298 rev. 47: […] pKi-ṣir-Aš-šur MAŠ.MAŠ za-mar [(ZI-x?)]. Wiggermann (1992: 41) follows Hunger (1968: 70 = BAK 201 ms I line 1) in reconstructing [ana ṣabāt epēši] before Kiṣir-Aššur’s name. Although this is possible, as something was likely broken before Kiṣir-Aššur’s name, it is more plausible that the text contained a copying statement. However, the copy does not show clearly how many signs were broken.


The ritual was also performed for Esarhaddon’s sister Šadditu in SAA 10 no. 273 (cf. Parpola 1983a: 206–7; Maul 1994: 36). Here, the performer Šumaya was deemed “not able” (rev. 16: la!-a le-ʾe-e) by the writer Nabû-nadin-šumi, who states that instead of protecting her he “[has exp]osed her” (rev. 13: [ú-se]-ṣi-a-ši).


The instructions describe a “creaking gate” to express that witchcraft was approaching (KAR 298 rev. 43: DIŠ NA KÁ É-šú <ḫu>-ub-bu-ub kiš-pi ana É NA.B[I] {ina} NU TE-e …). Kiṣir-Aššur likely forgot a /ḫu/ and wrote an /ina/ too much in KAR 298 rev. 41. This may be compared to the episode described in Exodus 12.7 regarding marking one’s house with sacrificial blood so that the angel of death will pass by one’s house.


KAR 298 rev. 40: … GIG di-ḫu di-lip-tú u ÚŠ.MEŠ ana NA u É-šú MU.1.KAM NU TE-šú.


See Klengel-Brandt 1968. For protective figures in the Aššur temple, see Huxley 2000.


The ritual appears as “to confine the patient”, marṣa ana esēri in the “almanac of the exorcist” (Wiggermann 1992: 105–6 with references to texts). Udug-ḫul tablet 12 was largely duplicated in bīt mēseri (Geller 2016: 16; Wiggermann 1992: 113–14; Gurney 1935: 76ff.). Geller (2016: 16) also notes a relationship between Udug-ḫul tablet 12 and KAR 298.


The tablet is N4 no. 254, which remains unpublished. Reportedly, the colophon is broken. The first incantations(?) from the four tablets of bīt mēseri may be listed in an incantation catalogue from N4 no. 291 (= VAT 13723+) published as text A in Geller 2000, see fragment A₂ lines 4’–6’ (ibid.: 232; cf. Meier 1941–44: 139).


Sections of the ritual have been published in various locations: Wiggermann 1992: 105–17 collected a majority of references; see also Lenzi 2008b; Borger 1994; Borger 1974; Reiner 1961; Meier 1941–44: 139ff. See also SpTU II no. 8 and SpTU III no. 69.


Wiggermann 1992: 108–9; Borger 1974: 186; Reiner 1961: 6; see also Lenzi 2008b: 145; Borger 1994; Parpola 1993: XVIIXXI. Furthermore, Udug-ḫul tablet 12 was largely duplicated in bīt mēseri (Geller 2016: 16; Wiggermann 1992: 113–14; Gurney 1935: 76ff.). Both KAR 298 and bīt mēseri use figurines of Lulal (LÚ.LÀL, “Honey man”) and Lātarāk, which were both related to Dumuzi in an apotropaic function (Wiggermann 2010: 344–345; Wiggermann 1992: 52, 64, 100, 111). Kiṣir-Aššur copied a ritual related to the Ištar-Dumuzi rituals (Farber 1977) as mašmaš bīt Aššur (Section 8.5).


The initial focus in bīt mēseri was the bedroom from which the ritual radiates out (Seidl and Sallaberger 2005–06: 67).


Bīt mēseri ended with the removal of figurines and drawings, and throwing the figurines in the river (Seidl and Sallaberger 2005–06: 67 and note 38).


See Wiggermann 1992: 102–3, 116.


Wiggermann 1992: 111–12; AMT 34,2 obv. 1 and 5: [… MÁŠ] ina SAG GIG KÉŠ … 5 […] ŠID-nu DA?⌉ ÉN tu-mu É ŠID-ú. Cf. Udug-ḫul tablet 12 line 159–60: ana mi-iḫ-ri-it er-ši-šú ú-ri-ṣa ina re-eš mar-ṣu ir-ku-us 160 giÙRI.GAL ina re-ši-šú ú-zaq-qip, “he tied a goat to the patient’s head at the front of his bed, he set up an urigallu-standard at the (patient’s) head” (Geller 2016: 430). Such urigallu-standards were also featured individually or in groups in bīt rimki, mīs pî, šēp lemutti ina bīt amēli parāsu and bīt mēseri (Seidl and Sallaberger 2005–06: 61–71). For a relationship between bīt mēseri and mīs pî, see Walker and Dick 2001: 9, 15. The Assyrian sacred tree possibly was also named urigallu (Selz 2014: 662 with references; Seidl and Sallaberger 2005–06: 54–61.


LKA 79 obv. 1: ana pu-u-ḫia-na dEreš-k[i-gal …]. For some examples of rituals employing scapegoats, see Geller 2016: 430; Maul 2013: 28; Maul 1994: 98.


AfO 12 pl. 13–14, N4 no. 220. See Frahm 2011a: 121–23.


See for example Frahm 2018b and Frahm et al. 2013a; Wiggermann 1992: 117. For this incantation, see Farber 2014: 257; CMAwR 1: 397; Schramm 2008: 22–23; Böck 2003: 6; Schramm 2001: 8–9; Wiggermann 1992: 111–12; Finkel 1991: 102 no. 30; Borger 1969: 10–12 and Borger 1970a: 172; Abusch 1974: 254 note 10.


Cf. Schramm 2001: 8, 12. In muššuʾu, tummu bītu is recited at the end of the ritual alongside the Sag-ba sag-ba incantation, see Böck 2003: 6–8, rev. 38–42: “The incantation ‘Oath, oath’ (Sag-ba sag-ba) – you draw a circle of flour [around the sickbed]. 39 The incantation ‘Be conjured, house’ (tummu bītu) – you pile up roasted flour and 40 you draw a circle of flour around the gate. You close the gate, but your hand does not have to touch the door!”. The incantation is also used in a ritual intended to secure “brisk trade” of the innkeeper where various types of dust and fluids are smeared onto a man’s door (Panayotov 2013; Caplice 1974: 23–24).


“Has been prepared” is written šu-ta-as-suq and must stem from the verbal root nasāqu and therefore not esēqu as stated in the text itself (Frahm 2018b: note 1).


See Frahm 2018b with commentary; Meier 1937–39: 241–43. AfO 12 pl. 13–14 obv. 1–4, 11–12: ÉN tùm-me É qaq-qa-ru šu-ta-as-suq⌉ 2 GIŠ.ḪUR: e-se-qu : e-se-qu : iṣ-ṣur-tú 3 [ina] ap-ti ṣe-li la te-rab-šú 4 ap-tu šá É ra-ma-ki11 ina GISSU pu-uz-ri KI.MIN 12 ina pi-i-ši-ri …; the obverse of the commentary N4 no. 220 seems to comment on the same lines. Cf. the related text Wiggermann 1992: 117 and fig. 8.


Geller (2010: 144) points to the LB commentary SpTU I no. 27 and the omen: “If a pig enters into the bedroom, a female captive will enter [into] her master’s house”, obv. 14’: [ŠÀ-bu-u] DIŠ ŠÁḪ ana qé-reb ur-ši KU₄-ub e-si-ir-ti [ana] É EN-šú KU₄⌉-ub (see also George 1991: 155). Here, the “female captive” suggests “the sick man’s confinement”, obv. 15’: … a-si-ir-ti šá E-ú e-sér GIG (Wee 2012: 515, 518).


E.g., Udug-ḫul, wherein bitumen and gypsum are smeared on the threshold of a house (Geller 2016: 314 and note for line 75’). Livingstone (1986: 172–73) edited a commentary in which these substances were identified as Ninurta (gypsum) and the Asakku-demon (bitumen) pursuing each other. SAA 10 no. 238 obv. 12–13 mentions an exorcist combatting an alû lemnu or Antašubba by hanging “a mouse and a shoot of a thornbush on the vault of the (patient’s) door”, PÉŠ.QA.GAZ! NUNUZ gišDÌḪ 13 ina šib-še-ti šaeʾ-i-la (Parpola 1993: 189). Smearing substances on the doorposts is also attested in bīt rimki (Seidl and Sallaberger 2005–06: 62). Furthermore, drawing figurines on the outer gate in bīt mēseri would be a visual marker of problems inside the house (Wiggermann 1992: 116).


Maul 1999b; Maul 1994: 12–13 and note 100; Caplice 1974: 7–13. See also the discussion of other uses of such rituals in Koch 2010: 45–47, 53.


Witchcraft could involve the witch sending unfavourable signs (CMAwR 1: 3, 199; Abusch 2008; Schwemer 2007a: 63, 100–101).


Kiṣir-Aššur’s KAL 4 no. 19, written as šamallû ṣeḫru, was perhaps not a namburbi-ritual, despite its classification by Maul (cf. Maul and Strauß 2011: 13, 48–49). Only very little remains on the obverse and it likely included a passage mentioning “[…] for a man […]” (obv. 1) and something recited before Šamaš (obv. 5). The reverse mentions a vessel (rev. 3’) and later a figurine thrown into a river (rev. 4’) (see ibid.: 49). It may have been another type of ritual, such as KAL 4 no. 41 written by Kiṣir-Aššur as šamallû ṣeḫru. See also Sections 3.7 and 7.4.1.


Maul 1994: 13, 159, 169. KAR 44 obv. 14: ḪUL ka-la, “All evil” (perhaps related to the namburbi genre, Jean 2006: 66, 69; Geller 2000: 257; Bottéro 1985: 71–72) and rev. 29: NÍG.AK.A.MEŠ NAM.BÚR.BI Á.MEŠ AN u KI-tim ma-la ba-šá-a, “the rites, namburbi-ritual(s) (for) the signs of heaven and earth, as many as there are”.


Maul 1994: 13. One amulet with a namburbi-ritual is published in Panayotov 2013; see also Panayotov 2018a. For amulets, see Heeßel 2014.


Maul 1994: 159 and note 13, 176. The lack of amulets in N4 is likely because they were produced for and kept by the client, unlike the texts kept by the performer.


In relation to the EM, this depends on whether or not the second section is analysed as representative of advanced knowledge. See Section 9.4.


Some examples include sightings of (wild) cats (Freedman 2017: 41ff.) where the namburbi-ritual LKA 112 could be used, or sightings of frogs (Freedman 2017: 156ff.) where the namburbi-ritual LKA 118 could be used.


Heeßel (2000: 81–86; see also Heeßel 2007b: 127–28 and notes 28–29) suggested that šuʾilla-prayers, DINGIR.ŠÀ.DIB.BAs and other such prayers and rituals could be used to appease an angry god causing the illness (see Maul 1988: 25–32; van der Toorn 1985: 123; Lambert 1974). However, as noted by Koch (unpublished: 11 and note 63) Heeßel does not list namburbi-rituals, and he has actually argued against their use in relation to appeasing divine anger and reconciling a patient with a god (cf. Heeßel 2007b: 127). Maul (1994: 12–13) mentions namburbi-rituals against, e.g., human illness, but states they are not against physiognomic omens. Koch (unpublished: 11 note 63) suggests the universal namburbis, such as Nabû-bēssunu’s LKA 109, could perhaps be used in relation to illness (see Avalos 1995: 136; Caplice 1974: 9 note 4; cf. Maul 1994: 465–506). Stol (1991–92: 53–54 and notes 68–69) provided a reference to a namburbi-like ritual, which was used to avoid a prognosis stating that the patient will die. See also Lenzi 2011: 24–46.


Reiner 1995: 82–85. There were, for example, no apotropaic rituals for Alamdimmû, see Koch 2015: 289; Koch 2010: 45–47; cf. Böck 2002: 244; Maul 1994: 12 and note 100; Caplice 1974: 7–9. However, Koch (2015: 274–75) has stressed that divination such as extispicy can be used in relation to both past and future. Guinan regarded divination and magic as having an inverse relationship in the sense that magic can dissolve what divination reveals (Guinan 2002: 18). For some of the various uses of namburbi-rituals in connection to divination, see Koch 2011: 465.


However, Sa-gig, and especially Sa-gig’s 1st subseries, is largely unattested in Assur (Heeßel 2010a: 158; Heeßel 2001–02: 27–28; Labat 1951: 2 note 1; see Section 3.6.1).


Heeßel 2001–02: 32, 38–39. The following quotes consist of a collective reading of the best preserved parts of the various manuscripts in order to provide an overview of the content rather than aim at exact citation:

Line 37: DIŠ ina É GIG lu SA.A lu PÉ[Š] qaq-qa-r[a umallû GI]G.BI BA.ÚŠ.

Line 38: DIŠ ina É GIG lu SA.A lu P[ÉŠ] qaq-qa-ra ú-ma-a[l-lu]-ú GIG.BI AL.TI.

Line 43: DIŠ na4KIŠIB TU.RA iḫ-liq GIG.BI BA.Ú[Š].


Note that the 45th tablet of Šumma ālu was devoted to omens concerning šurānu- and muraššû-cats (Freedman 2017: 41ff.; Maul 1994: 329 and note 1–3). Maul (1994: 329, 494ff.) only quotes Ass. 13988 (= N4 no. 561) as an example of a namburbi mentioning a šurānu-cat, although the ritual is directed against all sorts of bad omens and is a so-called “universal namburbi-ritual”.


LKA 118 obv. 1: [… NAM.BÚR.B]I ḪUL BIL.ZA.ZA […]; cf. Maul 1994: 55 note 129. The text is listed in BAK as no. 217, although Hunger simply transliterated pKi-ṣir-dingir.[x], even though the text copied by Ebeling shows dA[G]. Furthermore, the text in rev. 5’ reads: […] dUTU-DÙ, and the name must have been Kiṣir-Nabû.


LKA 110, see Maul 1994: 202f.; LKA 112, see Maul 1994: 332f. text A and Caplice 1967: 14–17 no. 15A; N4 no. 404 (VAT 13682), see Butler 1998: 46–47; Maul 1994: 379ff., 546–47 (copy). The catch-line of LKA 112 refers to a namburbi-ritual against an izbu born in a man’s house, such as the one preserved on LKA 114 (= N4 no. 507) with a broken colophon (Maul 1994: 334–337). The tablet could therefore have been written by a member of the Bāba-šuma-ibni family for a specific purpose (ana ṣabāt epēši; Maul 1994: 341). Furthermore, the catch-line of LKA 111 (= N4 no. 511; Maul 1994: 330ff.), a modified universal namburbi-ritual against muraššû-cat omens, is the first line of LKA 112, and LKA 111 could therefore have been written by, e.g., Kiṣir-Nabû. For rituals against enuresis, see also Verderame 2018.


KAL 4 no. 6, see also Maul 1994: 409ff.; LKA 109, see Maul 1994: 465ff.


See also Meier 1937–39: 246 note 38. For NA lexical lists, see Veldhuis 2014: 354ff.


Gesche 2001: 63, 124–29, 183. See the two lexical exercises KADP 46 and KADP 47 excavated in N4 (Veldhuis 2014: 369–70). Note also that some of the exercises copied on the Graeco-Babylonica tablets were derived from Ur₅-ra (Westenholz 2007: 276–77).


Gesche (2001: 63) listed CT 37 pl. 24f. as an example of a Lú list from Assur in connection to a discussion of school texts.


The content of texts such as CT 37 pl. 24f. may have become a separate list in the NB period called UM.ME.A = ummânu (Robson 2011a: 564; Gesche 2001: 125–32).


The title AZU (A-ZU) is listed as bārû in this and other lists. See MSL 12: 119 lines 14’–15’, 227 lines 5’–6’. See also Landsberger’s comment on this manuscript: it “gives the impression of a late secondary compilation of rather low quality” (MSL 12: 230).


Col. iii 13’: AMA-A-TUe-me-du : i-lit-ti bi-i-t[i], col. iv 9’: [T]IBIRAte-bi-ru : <MIN>, col. iv 25’: [l]úMURUB₄.DUBURmu-ru-ub-du-bur : mu-ḫar-ri-[šu] (Civil 1969: 228–29). For glosses in general, see Krecher 1957–71.


KAR 44 obv. 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, 19, 21, rev. 32(?). What is noted on Geller’s copy and is confirmed via collations is that the initial note to obv. 9 is written on obv. 8, and the final note for obv. 12 is written on obv. 11 (Geller 2000: 245). This cannot presently be explained by problems related to space on the tablet.


Veldhuis 2014: 382–84; Zamazalová 2011: 319; Villard 1997: 145 note 72, 147–48. Concerning some of the scholars at court who wrote such glosses and notes, see Verderame 2014: 725–27.


For glosses in a text copied by a šamallû agašgû, see Geller 2010: 130–32; see also Geller 2015.


Glosses reading the names of signs in lexical lists appear to be regularly attested in the first millennium (see Krecher 1957–71: 438; see Frahm 2011a: 16–17). At least one gloss listed in a Lú list from Nineveh is also preserved in KAR 44:

KAR 44 obv. 10: gu-ru-ušGURUŠ.LÍL.LÁ.MEŠ …

K. 2051+: gu-ru-ušGURUŠ : eṭ-lum (MSL 12: 126 line 79; Langdon 1917: 86 col. iii 13’).


Whether or not such glosses were used explanatory remains uncertain, although Geller (2015: 37) has suggested this was the case for the N4 manuscript KADP 4. This text also listed certain Sumerograms apparently intended to be pronounced in Sumerian (ibid.: 35). The use of notes and glosses in relation to copyists’ competence levels requires further investigation.