Appendix 2 Edition of RA 15 pl. 76

In: Medicine in Ancient Assur
Open Access


A = RA 15 pl. 76

Copy : Scheil 1918 pl. 76.

Edition: Scheil 1918.

Comments: George 2016: 165; Böck 2011: 697; Stol 2011: 400–402.

Content: Mainly one-lined prescriptions against snakebites (obv. 1’–13’) and scorpion stings (obv. 14’–25’), plus two fragmentary prescriptions for treating a horse (rev. 0’–4’ and 5’–8’).

B = BAM 42

Copy: Köcher 1963a no. 42.

Edition: Transliteration on the BabMed website; Geller 2014: 18–19 note 26; Heeßel 2010c: 153–54 edited the last part of the text.

Comments: Scurlock 2014: 469–71; Finkel 1999: 213 and note 3.

Content: Prescriptions for illnesses of the airways (obv. 1–12, 13–23, 24–35, 36–41, rev. 42–49, 50–56, 57–60, 61–62) and snakebite (rev. 63–68). Only the relevant prescriptions against snakebite are edited below.

C = AMT 92,7

Copy: Thompson 1923 pl. 92 no. 7.

Edition: Transliteration on the BabMed website.

Content: Small fragment containing the remains of three prescriptions, two of which are against snakebite (obv. 6’–7’, 8’; cf. obv. 1’–5’).


Obverse A

Reverse A


General Observations

Ms A was copied by Kiṣir-Aššur and is not duplicated exactly in either of the other mss. As such, it serves as the main manuscript for this edition. It was copied, transliterated, and translated in Scheil 1918. However, Scheil’s copy is problematic in several places (see the commentary below). Unfortunately, Scheil provided no inventory number, collection name, or other indications as to the location of the tablet. Consequently, it is currently considered lost and Scheil’s copy is the basis for my emendations of what I assume must be incorrectly copied signs. As the majority of the incorrect signs appear to have either too many or too few strokes, it is possible that Scheil copied the tablet according to a picture without further collation. Furthermore, it is difficult to interpret whether the right edge on the obverse and reverse was the slightly damaged edge of the tablet or if ms A broke off from a multi-columned tablet. I assume that the manuscript was single-columned. For further discussion of this text, see Section 3.5 and Chapter 4.

The obverse of ms A contains prescriptions related to applying or anointing various substances onto bites and stings or drinking and eating certain potions or substances. Although several plants remain unidentified, it is possible that the effect of applying these various plants could in some instances induce diffusion so that the venom would be (partially) extracted from the bite/sting. Note that some of the same plants used in individual prescriptions in ms A-C against snakebite are also used in the single potion (mašqītu) consisting of 13 plants that are drunk in wine against snakebite in BAM 176 (see Geller 2014: 18 note 26).

The translation of prescriptions ending in (verbal form)-ma TI/ina-eš are translated as “he (drinks/eats/etc.) …, and he will live”, although it should be noted that Scurlock has argued that these constructions designate “a subordinate ‘if’ clause” (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: xvi with further references). I have left this possible distinction out of the translations, as it would make the content too confusing.

Ms A has dividing lines after obv. 11’ and 13’, which separate the entry in obv. 12’–13’. This entry is the only prescription on the obverse that is longer than a single line. Ms A breaks off after obv. 25’. The beginning of the reverse of ms A is broken. Dividing lines occur after rev. 4’ and rev. 8’. The colophon in obv. 9’–15’ breaks off after rev. 15’, although it remains uncertain if more lines once existed.

Two plant lists, CT 14 pl. 23 (K. 9283) and STT 92, which list ingredients, maladies, and methods for administering the drugs, partially duplicate individual lines of ms A. Both plant lists are unedited, although see Böck 2014a: 156 for STT 92. CT 14 pl. 23 generally contains Babylonian sign forms. Of note, both lists provide the lines on ms A obv. 7’–11’ in roughly the same order with infinitive verbal forms (see below). It therefore seems that the lines in ms A originally originated from a plant list.



1’ Ms A is difficult to reconstruct, as there are few readable signs. It is possible that the line duplicated ms B rev. 63, which is taken as the basis for comparison. Geller (2014: 18 note 26) reads SUḪUŠ instead of ⸢ú?⸣. Heeßel (2010c: 154) only reads urbatu, which is followed here. Furthermore, in ms C the root (SUḪUŠ) of the urbatu-plant is peeled (qalāpu), see CAD (Q: 58–59).

The verb našāku ordinarily has the thematic vowels a/u and it is rarely attested with i/i (CAD N/2: 53–54; CDA: 244; AHw: 758). Ms C has /i/ as the thematic vowel, which indicates the verb had undergone a change (see Kouwenberg 2010: 77–78; von Soden 1995: 141 §87d). The passage from ms C is one of the only instances quoted in the CAD.

For the urbatu-plant, see obv. 9’.

1’–6’ Ms B ends the prescriptions with the stative né-eš rather than ms A’s more common ina-eš from nêšu “to live, stay alive, recover” (CAD N/2: 197–98). BAM 42 was excavated in the N4 collection and copied by a certain Aššur-šākin-šumi without a title and with a broken tablet designation. For Aššur-šākin-šumi, see Fadhil 2018; Maul and Strauß 2011: 34–35, 104–108, 120–122; Maul 2010a: 216 note 101. There does not appear to be a copying statement in the colophon. According to Finkel (1999: 213 note 3), the snake treatments were added in a smaller hand, perhaps as an “afterthought”. For the overlap between these two tablets, see Section 3.5.1.

2’ Obv. 2’ in ms A may have combined the two individual prescriptions found in ms B rev. 64. Ms A contains the instructions NAG?-ma and GAR-an, which match the individual instructions in the two prescriptions found in ms B rev. 64. If this interpretation is correct, ms A should also contain the phrase ina UGU before niš-ki-šú. However, the remaining wedges do not entirely support this, and I therefore transliterate <ina> UGU?⸣.

The plant used in ms B-C is úIGI-lim called imḫur-līm “it cures a thousand (illnesses)” and is associated with the errû-colocynth(?) (CAD I-J: 118–19; see CMAwR 2: 511; CMAwR 1: 470). Imḫur-līm is described in Šammu šikinšu as having the tendrils of the qiššû-gourd, the seed of the ḫurātu-plant, a bitter as well as soft root, and red-golden offshoots (see Stadhouders 2012: 4 §23–24, 8 §14; Stadhouders 2011: 10 §23–24, 19 §14). It can be used against every kind of sore and “‘the Furious One’, a deputy (šanû) of Adad” (ibid.; see also BAM 379 col. ii 55’ in Stadhouders 2012: 16; Stadhouders 2011: 35). The plant is listed in the “Dreckapotheke” section of Uruanna as “dust from the tracks of a wolf”, line 23: … [SAḪA]R ki-bi-is UR.BAR.RA (Rumor 2017: 7, 26 line 23). Imhur-līm also appears in BAM 1 col. i 58 col. ii 50 (Attia and Buisson 2012: 27–28; CAD T: 62).

The plant list STT 92 col. i 5 probably had a similar entry: Ú IGI-lim : Ú ZÚ [MUŠ : x x x x x x x(?)], “The plant imḫur-līm : a plant (for) [snake] bite […]”.

3’ Ms A is very fragmentary, but may duplicate the second prescription in ms B rev. 65–66a. Both prescriptions in ms B rev. 65–66a are quoted for reference. The addition in ms B rev. 65 of <né-eš> follows Heeßel (2010c: 154).

The reconstruction [gišŠE].NÁ.A in ms B seems to fit the line, and is also followed by Heeßel (2010c: 154) and Geller (2014: 18 note 26). The šunû-plant was likely a shrub or perhaps a “chaste tree” (CAD Š/3: 309–10; see also Freedman 2017: 137 line 51’, 138 line 74’; CMAwR 2: 514; CMAwR 1: 236, 473 with further references). In Uruanna’s “Dreckapotheke” section, uḫūlu qarnānû is equated with the names šunû and baltu (Rumor 2017: 20, 31 line 115; see also CMAwR 1: 473; Geller 2005: 3). In the pharmacological-therapeutic compendium BAM 1, the šunû-plant can be crushed in oil and anointed onto the affected area to treat an illness ([DA]B šá-da-ni, possibly a type of fever, see Bácskay 2018: 146ff.), and the root can be crushed into oil and drunk in good beer against suālu-cough or ḫaḫḫu-phlegm (Attia and Buisson 2012: 26 col. i 40, 27 col. ii 31, 28 col. ii 44, 30 col. iv 14).

The ṣaṣumtu-plant in ms B rev. 65 is connected to the healing goddess Gula and is stated in Uruanna to be her plant (Böck 2014a: 158–59; see also CAD Ṣ: 116; AHw: 1987; CMAwR 2: 514). The plant is unidentified, but according to BAM 1 it is effective against ḫimiṭ ṣēti if drunk in good beer and anointed onto the affected area, against ašû-illness if drunk in good beer, and it can be crushed into hot ghee and anointed onto the affected area (Attia and Buisson 2012: 26 col. i 49, 27 col. ii 3 and col. ii 19; see also CMAwR 1: 234, 472). In Uruanna’s “Dreckapotheke” section, the plant is referred to as “the head of a black raven” and “wool of a virgin ewe” (Rumor 2017: 19, 22, 30 line 103, 31 line 123). Another pharmacological text describes the plant as a drug “for keeping vermin out of a man’s house. You put it in water and sprinkle the house with it” (Stadhouders 2012: 17 col. iv 20–21; Stadhouders 2011: 37 col. iv 20–21). It was believed to be effective to deter wild animals (Böck 2014a: 162–163, 168). The ṣuṣumtu-plant’s name may refer to something going out (waṣû), perhaps indicating some excreta (see Böck 2014a: 159). These excreta could be from the plant itself or perhaps the wound once the plant was applied.

The kamkadu-plant in ms B rev. 65 is unidentified (see CAD K: 123–24; CMAwR 2: 511; Geller 2014: 84; CMAwR 1: 470; Kinnier-Wilson 2005: 47). In sufficient quantities, the plant was considered a bad omen and the 59th tablet of Šumma ālu line 35 states: “If kamkadu-plant becomes thick, that field will be abandoned” (see also the 55th tablet line 5; Freedman 2017: 99, 103, 126). The “Dreckapotheke” section of Uruanna refers to the plant as “an išqippu-earthworm” or perhaps išqippu-bird (Rumor 2017: 5, 25 line 8; see CAD I–J: 261). The second interpretation is perhaps more plausible as in BAM 1 the plant is placed on a wound against the problem “spur(?) of the bird” (ḫi-dar MUŠEN, CAD Ḫ: 194; see Attia and Buisson 2012: 28 col. ii 54).

4’ The andaḫšu was perhaps “a bulbous spring vegetable” (CAD A/2: 112–13) or an “alliaceous plant or variety of crocus” (CMAwR 1: 468; see CMAwR 2: 508 with references). In comparison, OB texts mention the plant in relation to aromatics (Middeke-Conlin 2014: 26, 39). The plant is used in a prescription against chest pains (Maul and Strauß 2011: 101–102 col. ii’ 5’), as well as a phylactery against ummu-fever (Bácskay 2017: 51). The andaḫšu-plant occurs in BAM 1, which states it could be drunk against suālu-cough or šīqu-illness (Attia and Buisson 2012: 27 col. ii 33 and col. ii 40). An omen in the 55th tablet of Šumma ālu refers to someone growing the plant in a field: “If ditto ((someone) grows) andaḫšu-plant ditto (in a field), an enemy will carry off his equipment; ill health will be in store for him” (Freedman 2017: 101 line 62’).

The writing GIG refers to simmu “skin eruption, lesion” (CAD S: 276–78; Böck 2014a: 22–24). This is the only prescription in ms A and C referring to the bite as a simmu.

For the final verbal form, see also CAD K: 239–240.

5’ The tarmuš-plant is possibly a species of lupine (see CAD T: 238–39; CMAwR 2: 515; CMAwR 1: 473 with references). The plant is also used in BAM 1 col. ii 52 (Attia and Buisson 2012: 28). The “Dreckapotheke” section of Uruanna lists the plant as “fat of a male pig mottled with red”, “fat from the kidneys of a white pig mottled with red”, and “dust from the footstep of a ḫannu(?)-man” (Rumor 2017: 11, 28 line 51).

Ms B rev. 67’ comprises two entries. The second half of the line does not appear in ms A. Geller (2014: 18–19 note 26) reads ms B rev. 67’b as follows: DIŠ MIN gišmi-URU₄--gišMÁ-ra! ina Ù-šú GAR.GAR-ma né-eš, “If ditto, you keep applying mirišmara during his sleep, and he will get better” (see Heeßel 2010c: 154).

6’ The pillû-plant is often interpreted as “mandrake”, although this remains uncertain. Recently, Kinnier Wilson has suggested the plant may have been a species of mistletoe (see discussion with further references in CAD P: 376–77; CMAwR 2: 513; CMAwR 1: 471; Kinnier Wilson 2011: 5–10). The plant is regularly attested in a “male” variant that is also the one used in mss A and B. However, only ms A prescribes using the root of the plant. The pillû-plant is among a few select plants that demand certain attention when pulled out of the ground (see Böck 2014a: 158 and note 84 with further references). The ambivalent nature of the plant can be read in an entry in the 59th tablet of Šumma ālu line 26: “If pillû-tree(?) grows(?), the people’s health will not be good” (Freedman 2017: 126). In Uruanna’s “Dreckapotheke” section, the pillû-plant is referred to as “black (spot/hair?) from the (upper) leg of a donkey” or the “nail of a black dog” (Rumor 2017: 10, 27 lines 44–45; see also ibid.: 18, 30 line 94). The plant has a wide range of uses (e.g., Scurlock 2014: 400, 436, 478, 494, 519, 526–27, 541, 547; cf. Attia and Buisson 2012: 26 col. i 1, 30 col. iv 2).

The reading ḪÁD?.DU?⸣ remains tentative. Heeßel (2010c: 154) interpreted this as an instruction to the reader similar to SÚD (see also Geller 2014: 18–19 note 26). I read this as an adjective, which is also a possibility with this Sumerogram, as the process of drying would have taken too long in relation to the presumed immediate use of such a prescription.

The plant list CT 14 pl. 23 obv. 9 may also prescribe the root of the pillû-plant, to be placed around the neck of the patient: [Ú SUḪU]Š?? NAM.TAR.RA : Ú ZÚ MUŠ : ina GÚ-šú GAR-an, “[…] pillû-plant : a plant (for) snakebite : you place (it) around his neck”.

7’ The plant barraqītu seems to be attested exclusively in connection to snakebites and there are therefore relatively few references to it (see CAD B: 113). An alternative name listed in Uruanna for this plant is zarraštu, which is only attested lexically (CAD Z: 69).

In this and the following lines in ms A and the partial duplicate CT 14 pl. 23 (see below), the sign ZÚ is written for “bite” nišku. This word is normally written ZÚ.KUD for našāku literally “to split the teeth” (Borger 2004: 256; see CAD N/2: 281–82).

7’–11’ The lines in ms A are partly duplicated in the traditional plant list format in CT 14 pl. 23 and STT 92. The plant lists contain the same elements and method of administering the drugs as ms A. Interestingly, ms A obv. 6’–13’ do not contain the statement that the patient will recover, nor do such statements occur in the plant lists. This information supports that the entries in ms A were originally partly derived from a plant list. The row of entries is almost the same in all three manuscripts:

The plant urbatu : a plant (for) snakebite : bind (it in) a ḫimû-wad over the bite.

[… “Dog]’s tongue” : a plant for the bite of snake and dog : make the man consume and drink (it).

It is possible that STT 92 col. i 11 should be restored according to CT 14 pl. 23 obv. 11, see Böck 2014a: 156.

For the translation of the infinitives, see below.

8’–10’ The verbal forms in these lines in ms A are marked as infinitives, but translated as imperatives or precatives, e.g., NAG-ú “drink, he shall drink”, LÁ-du “bandage, he shall bandage”. This form of the infinitive is referred to as the “heischenden Infinitiv” by von Soden (1995: 252 §150*), and occurs instead of the “Heischendes Präsens” in some briefer recipes or pharmacological works (ibid.: 127, 252; see Aro 1961: 28–29 and note 1). As stated above, such forms in prescriptions seem to be rare, thereby stessing the relationship between the plant lists CT 14 pl. 23 as well as STT 92 and ms A.

8’ The ingredient elpetu was likely a reed and is translated “rush, reed” (CAD E: 108–109) or “cattail rush” (Scurlock 2018: 528). It is also listed in Malku as nīmu (Hrůša 2010: 62, 186), which is likely also a “rush” (CAD N/2: 235). The elpetu-reed could possibly be used to weave baskets, which fits the context of a “wad” (see CAD E: 109). Medically, the plant is not well attested. The plant seems to have caught fire easily and to have grown in places, which could be flooded (Scurlock 2018: 530, 532, 535). It is described in Uruanna as the “bed of Ištar” and having a red top (ibid.: 351 and note 19, 534 and notes 29 and 31). Furthermore, it is possible that the plant was believed to dry up excess fluid (ibid.: 533).

This prescription and the following two (ms A obv. 8’–10’) make use of a so-called ḫimû that is interpreted as a “wad made of reeds, used against snake bite” (CAD Ḫ: 193–94). The majority of references therefore seem to originate from ms A and the plant list CT 14 pl. 23. According to the CAD (Ḫ: 194), it is possible that the word refers to “a specific form or arrangement in which certain sedge-like plants were used” (see Thompson 1949: 10 note 3). According to this interpretation, the plant used must have been bound to form the “wad”, which is the favoured translation in CAD (U-W: 212b): “to be bound in a wad over the bite”.

9’ The urbatu is translated as a “rush, reed”, CAD (U-W: 211–212). A related term may also refer to an illness or a certain urbatu-worm (see Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 82–83). Several plants are listed against this worm in Šammu šikinšu (Stadhouders 2012: 8 §6, 10 § 27’; Stadhouders 2011: 17 §6, 22 §27’). The urbatu-reed has the “Dreckapotheke” name “papyrus” in Uruanna (Rumor 2017: 24, 32 line 138). An incantation continuously referring to the “red urbatu” and “red river/water” may have been used for draining an abscess and afterwards bandaging a wound (Scurlock 2014: 441–443). In the case of a venomous snakebite, it is important to attempt to remove as much venom as possible. Therefore, references to an ingredient used in relation to draining unwanted fluids fits the context. The urbatu-worm is also listed in a series of maladies in a Gula healing incantation (Böck 2014a: 108–109, 179 and note 78). Note that an urbatu-worm, possibly a tapeworm, is listed as a diagnosis in several prescriptions in the N4 manuscript BAM 159 col. ii 25–48 (see ibid.: 109; Scurlock 2014: 495–98). It is also in this manuscript that we later find the two prescriptions for horses in BAM 159 col. v 33–47 (see below), which mirrors the situation in ms A, in which horse prescriptions are found on the reverse.

10’ The reading of PA-PA-a-nu appears to be the otherwise unknown arariānu-plant (CAD A/2: 232–33). In Uruanna’s “Dreckapotheke” section, the plant is referred to as “dog saliva” (Rumor 2017: 23, 31 line 133). This name may explain why this plant was listed immediately before the “dog’s tongue”-plant in the following entry.

The bed and the bedroom were places of privacy in which the patient was frequently located (e.g., Stol 1997: 408; van der Toorn 1996: 60–61). Therefore, the plant may have been used here to surround the bed in order to ensure that further evil could not befall the patient, but at the same time to treat the area in which the patient was located. Although the plant could be used medically, the CAD (A/2: 233) cites a use “for conciliating one’s god”, which may partially explain the effect of the plant, namely to ensure a benign relationship with the divine power who possibly sent the snake that bit the patient.

It is unclear how a ḫimû-wad could be used to surround a bed. The other possible solution is to translate “to wrap (up)” (CAD L: 73), although this does not solve the problem.

11’ The plant lišān kalbi “dog’s tongue” may be another name for the buʾšānu-plant derived from baʾāšu “to smell bad, stink” (Böck 2014a: 157–58, 166–68, 173). In Uruanna’s “Dreckapotheke” section, the lišān kalbi-plant is called “bat’s head”, and it is also the name for the armēdu-plant and in some instances the nikiptu-plant (Rumor 2017: 5, 9–10, 25 line 9, 27 line 38 and 42). Šammu šikinšu describes the plant as having leaves “wide open” and “red” (Böck 2014a: 157; Stadhouders 2012: 10 §28’; Stadhouders 2011: 22 §28’). Perhaps it can be identified with the modern “hound’s tongue” Cynoglossum (CMAwR 2: 512; CMAwR 1: 471 with references). The plant was considered “Gula’s/Ninigizibara’s dog” and therefore directly connected to the healing goddess (Böck 2014a: 167). It was widely applicable against many varied symptoms and illnesses (ibid.: 140–56, 174–75). The plant is listed in Uruanna as a plant against snakebite (ibid.: 156). In BAM 1, lišān kalbi is listed numerous times and various parts of the plant are used. These parts can be used in a potion against, e.g., suālu-cough, ḫaḫḫu-phlegm or amurriqānu-jaundice (Attia and Buisson 2012: 27 col. ii 35, 28 col. ii 45+ col. ii 60+ col. iii 20, 29 col. iii 42).

12’–13’ This is the only prescription that covers more than one line on the obverse of ms A. It includes plants used individually in several of the preceding lines in ms A obv. 12’–13’, except for one plant that does not seem to occur in the previous prescriptions, namely the partially reconstructed šakirû-plant. The sign was copied by Scheil (1918: 75–76) as KA. The ŠAKIR sign is close to KA, and this plant is listed in Uruanna as a plant against snakebite (ni-šik MUŠ). Therefore, the reconstruction is plausible (see CAD Š/1: 168).

The šakirû-plant is unidentified, but may be related to “henbane” (CMAwR 2: 514; see CMAwR 1: 472; CAD Š/1: 167–68). The name was also part of a plant called úŠAKIR dŠá-maš that is equated with another unknown plant called pīru-plant in Uruanna (CAD P: 420), and provided with the “Dreckapotheke” name “tongue of a tiqqû-ox” (Rumor 2017: 13, 20 line 62). Perhaps accidentally, bull saliva was used against a scorpion sting in ms A obv. 17’ (see below). Note also that the Sumerogram ŠAKIR is listed as part of plant names in Uruanna, read as PA-PA-a-nu, which was used in ms A in obv. 10’ (see STT 391 obv. 16–17). Various plants resembling the šakirû-plant were listed as useful against horse colic (kīs libbi), bennu-epilepsy, and maškadu-illness (i.e., abdominal pains and motoric problems) in Šammu šikinšu (Stadhouders 2012: 3 §15’–17’, 4 §25’; Stadhouders 2011: 8–9 §15’–17’, 11 §25’). A possible variant of horse colic was treated in ms A on the reverse (see below).

The kurkānû-plant is unidentified (see CMAwR 2: 512; CMAwR 1: 471 with references). The plant could be used against, e.g., aḫḫāzu- and amurriqānu-jaundice (Böck 2014a: 125 note 106), renal and rectal problems, and possibly also against maškadu-illness (Geller 2005: 42–43, 46–47, 88–89, 162–63, 190–91, 202–207, 236–37, 258–59). Uruanna’s “Dreckapotheke” section provides kurkānû with the name “dust of the latrine” (Rumor 2017: 20, 30 line 108).

The writing u ina in ms A is peculiar and cannot be explained. It may be due to a mistake by Kiṣir-Aššur, or the copy may be incorrect. I have chosen to emend the line and remove the {u}.

It is unclear if EŠ.MEŠ in these lines and ms A obv. 14’ and 18’ denotes a variant of a G-stem or a Gtn- or D-stem of pašāšu (see CAD P: 247–49). It is translated as a G-stem throughout this edition (ibid.: 247).

14’ From this line in ms A until the text breaks, the focus shifts from snakebites to scorpion stings. There is an accompanying change in the preserved ingredients, among which the blood of certain reptiles and the saliva of a bull are used (see below).

The ṣurāru (EME.DIR and EME.ŠID) is an unspecified lizard (CAD Ṣ: 254–56; see George 2016: 165; Freedman 2006a: 166 and note for line 1, 204 and note for line 1). Although lizards are attested in medicinal prescriptions, they are not frequently used (see George 2016: 167; Scurlock 2014: 407–8, 410–12, 415–16, 452, 464, 525–26, 534, 546, 675, 677; Geller 2005: 40–41, 100–101; CAD Ṣ: 255). They were considered ominous and appear in the 32nd tablet of Šumma ālu (CAD Ṣ: 254–55; see Freedman 2006: 164–189). The 33rd tablet of Šumma ālu contains omens concerning the pizallūru-gecko (MUŠ.GIM.GURUN.NA) (Freedman 2006a: 202–213). Such ominous entries appearing consecutively as ṣurāru and pizallūru are also observed in the first subseries of Sa-gig (Heeßel 2001–02: 32–33). The blood of the pizallūru-gecko is also used in ms A obv. 18’, and the appearance of these ingredients together may have been influenced by the order expressed in the omen series.

The reason for applying the blood of lizards and, later in ms A obv. 18’, of geckos to a scorpion sting may result from the gecko’s, and perhaps also the lizard’s, ability to kill certain scorpions and even tolerate their venom (Zlotkin et al. 2003). If this is true of the various species used in these prescriptions, it may have been believed that the blood of an animal that was capable of overcoming the venom and defeating the powerful and venomous scorpion provided the user with the same effect. An omen in Šumma ālu refers to the ominous event of a gecko killing a snake in a man’s house (Freedman 2006a: 208–209 line 75’).

For “the surface of the sting” (pan ziqti), see CAD Z: 132; CAD P: 89–90.

15’ The application of flour may relate to the application of dough onto scorpion stings elsewhere (see George 2016: 165 with further references). However, the reasoning behind applying flour may not have been exactly the same, as it is possible that flour was supposed to absorb fluid or blood from the wound and thereby symbolize the extraction of the venom.

The imperative ki-sir!-ma likely stems from kesēru “to block, dam a river, make a pavement” (CAD K: 313–314), although the only medical example quoted in the CAD relates to tampons in the nose. Similar use of the imperative in prescriptions is observed in, e.g., OB medical texts, see George 2016: 166. Another possibility would be to read ke-sir!-ma as a stative where the plural ZÌ.MEŠ is treated as a collective singular (“flour blocks …”). It is difficult to account for another verb, such as kaṣāru.

16’ The kamūnu (GAMUN) is possibly a type of cumin (CAD K: 131–32 with references). It was considered to be a benign plant, and an entry in the 55th tablet of Šumma ālu states: “If ditto ((someone) grows) kamūnu ditto (in a field), he will prevail over his adversary; he will be happy” (Freedman 2017: 101 line 63’, 106). The ingredient is called “bat wing” in Uruanna’s “Dreckapotheke” section (Rumor 2017: 16, 29 line 84). A variant called “kamūnu of tamarisk” is named “gabû-stone” (ibid.: 12, 28 line 53). Note that another term kamūnu refers to a fungus, although it is referred to with a different Sumerogram (UZU.DIR; CAD K: 133; see SAA 13 no. 71). The entries in Uruanna spell the word phonetically or use the Sumerogram úGAMUN(sar). In the latter examples, the entries must refer to the plant.

For this line, see also George 2016: 165.

17’ Saliva (rupuštu) appears to be frequently attested in connection to bulls/oxen (alpu) in various treatments (CAD R: 415; see also George 2016: 165). Although bull saliva may have had certain therapeutic qualities, a connection between thick bull saliva, semen and potency motifs in scorpion incantations (araḫḫi-incantations; see Cooper 1996) likely provide a conceptual overlap that explain the possible magical abilities of this substance. Furthermore, at least in humans, scorpion venom may cause excessive salivation (see Section 4.1.2). For bull saliva in connection to potency, see also Scurlock 2014: 548, 550. See also the OB manuscript BAM 393 obv. 19–20, which contains a related entry utilizing bull saliva against a scorpion sting.

18’ The line does not appear to begin with KI.MIN, and probably should be restored as: [MUŠ.DÍ]M.GURUN.NA for a pizallūru- or pizallurtu-gecko (George 2016: 165; see Freedman 2006a: 204 note for line 1 with further references). It remains uncertain if this term refers to a coded plant (Böck 2011: 697). It should be noted that šammu šikinšu lists the lišān kalbi “Dog’s tongue”-plant, which is mentioned in other prescriptions in this text as a plant upon which the pizallūru-gecko lies (CAD L: 209 with references; see also notes for line 11’ above). For the possible reasoning behind applying the blood of a gecko, see the commentary to ms A obv. 14’ above.

The ingredient billatu (DIDA) seems to be a dry substance used in relation to the preparation of (instant) beer and it can be crushed and eaten in medical texts (CAD B: 228; see CMAwR 2: 509 and CMAwR 1: 54, 469 with references). As there is no mention of a fluid into which the billatu can be mixed, the final sign should be read GU₇!. This differs slightly from the translation by Böck (2011: 697) of this line: “If a scorpion has stung a man, cut the head of a pizallurtu-gecko and smear the blood on the wound, (the patient) should drink instant beer”.

The line ends somewhat abruptly without the expected ina-eš.

19’ The signs in Scheil’s copy can be grouped and read in numerous ways. There does not appear to be enough room to reconstruct [DIŠ KI.MIN]. The line is difficult to make sense of, regardless how the signs are read. A reading IM.ŠÚ could designate imšukku “a clay cover” (CAD I-J: 138–39). In at least one instance, a LB ritual for a dog bite rubs the wound with clay and fashions a dog from the clay afterwards (Finkel 1999: 219–221). The statement 7-šú likely indicates an action repeated seven times. The sign after 7-šú appears to be NU, BE, or PAB, although the interpretation remains uncertain. Presumably, the final signs spell out a verbal form that cannot be properly reconstructed. This verbal form may have been a precative (li-…).

20’ The initial ingredient that is sieved (šaḫālu) cannot be properly read, but could be ⸢ú!⸣LAL! for ašqulālu (see CAD A/2: 452–53).

The transliteration becomes highly uncertain after GEŠTIN. The next signs look like lu x?⸣ lal and thereafter GAR-an ina-eš. It is difficult to make sense of these signs in their current state, but it is possible the LU actually comprised ZÌ and a broken MEŠ. The reading NÍG.LÁ GAR-an in ms A obv. 20’ was established in the CAD (N/2: 49). The sentence was likely abbreviated, but one would expect a preposition and another verbal form, such as balālu. Finally, we should expect GAR-an-ma ina-eš.

21’ George (2016: 165) notes this line among the entries in the text that administer the potion by mouth alone.

22’–24’ The final prescriptions on the obverse of ms A, alongside ms A obv. 16’ and 18’, are the only prescriptions on the obverse that employ more than one method of application (see George 2016: 165).

22’ The final instruction after the patient is anointed (ŠÉŠ-ma) cannot be properly read. The first sign may be GÚ for “neck” (kišādu). If this is correct, one would expect a pronominal suffix referring to the patient. However, this does not seem to be the case.

23’ The first readable sign is MAR for eqû “to smear, anoint” or zakû “to winnow, scatter”. However, as the line later continues ŠÉŠ-su “you anoint him”, it is questionable if the initial sign is MAR. I have emended the sign to a SÚD to accommodate a crushed ingredient drunk in beer and placed in oil for anointing the patient.


4’ This line is quoted in the CAD (N/1: 137b’) as: ana na-ḫir šumēlišu tašappak, “you pour it into his left nostril”. A similar method of application with a specified vessel is listed in ms A rev. 7’. The only parallels that use the specific “left nostril”, beside ms A rev. 7’ below, are from BAM 159 col. v 36: ina na-ḫir GÙB-šú DUB-ak-ma TI (see Parys 2014: 34; Scurlock 2014: 498–99) and various plant lists (see Stol 2011: 400). As a result, the “irrational” left nostril was only used in prescriptions in relation to horses (387–99, 391–93, 400–402). Combined with the discussion by Stol (2011: 400–402) of the following prescription for an ill horse in ms A, the prescription in ms A rev. 0’–4’ most likely also relates to a horse. As a result, the third person pronominal suffix has been translated “it” to reflect the horse. See Sections 3.5.2 and 4.4.3 for discussions of these lines.

5’–8’ Treated in Stol 2011: 40–402. He translates the passage as: “Du wirst […], Wurzel der Pflanze […] pulverisieren, in Bier order Wein feinstoßen(?), (…) mit einer …-Röhre in sein linkes Nasenloch gießen. [F]ür ein Pferd, (…) (ša BU ḪI LU SU), ist es gut.”

Stol (2011: 387–92) also treated a comparable prescription found on BAM 159 col. v 33–36 (see Parys 2014: 23, 34–35, 60–61; Scurlock 2014: 498–99) that is quoted here for comparison: úzi-im-KÙ.BABBAR úzi-im-KÙ.GI úár-zal-lá 34 úSAR-A.ŠÀ úel-lat-A.ŠÀ ú⸢ka-su-u 35 úTUR.A.NI SUḪUŠ úTUR.A.NI 8 Ú ki-is ŠÀ-bi 36 šá ANŠE.KUR.RA i-na GEŠTIN SUR ina na-ḫir GÙB-šú DUB-ak-ma TI, “(list of ingredients), 8 plants for horse kīs libbi (colic). You pour it into its left nostril in pressed wine and it will recover”. See also STT 93 obv. 35’–37’; BAM 309 col. i’ 1’–4’.

6’ The majority of horse treatments use GEŠTIN SUR “pressed” or “drawn wine” (CAD Ṣ: 63–64; e.g., BAM 159 col. v 36; CT 14 pl. 41 Rm. 362 lines 1’–5’; Stol 2011: 388, 393; Scurlock 2014: 498–99), but this does not appear to be the case in this prescription.

The description that the ingredients are first “pounded, crushed” sâku (SÚD) and thereafter “crushed in” a fluid ḫašālu (GAZ) are also found in the second horse prescription in BAM 159 col. v 37–47 (Stol 2011: 394; see Parys 2014: 23, 34–35, 60–61; Scurlock 2014 498–99). Stol (2011: 394) translates these verbal forms as: “… wirst du pulverisieren (und) zusammen mit … wirst du (es) zerstoßen(?)”, and Scurlock (2014: 499) translates: “you grind … you crush (everything) with …”.

7’ The medicament is administered through a DUG ziriqi, possibly to be translated as a “stomach tube” (Stol 2011: 401–2 and notes 257–58 with references). CAD (Z: 134) interprets it as a sort of pipette, von Soden as “Ton-pipette” (AHw: 1532), and Stol (Stol 2011: 401–2 and notes 257–58) translates it as “…-Röhre”. The DUG designates it as a clay object comparable to various fluid containers (ibid.: 401 and note 256). Stol stresses the uniqueness of the instrument, as this is the only example (cf. BAM 159 discussed in Parys 2014: 23 and Böck 2009a: 117 and notes 56–57). This method for treating horse colic is also attested in the Ugaritic hippiatric texts (Cohen and Sivan 1983: 9–10, 16–17 with references) and the method is still applied today (e.g., Lopes et al. 2004: 696, 702). See the discussion in Sections 3.5.2 and 4.4.3.

Similarly to the method of application in ms A rev. 4’, this mixture is administrated into the “left nostril” of the horse (see above).

8’ This line is problematic and the copy is probably wrong. Scheil’s copy and translation read: [i]-na GEŠTIN KUR.RA ṭa-bu ḫi-ṭu-su SIG₅-iq, “avec du bon vin de montagne, - son point se calmera” (Scheil 1918: 77, 79). The GEŠTIN KUR.RA is quoted in the CAD (K: 205) as “mountain wine”, a type of wine exclusively attested in this text. As a result, Stol (2011: 400–401 and note 251) argued convincingly via the parallel prescription in BAM 159 col. v 33–36 (see above) that this line was incorrectly copied and should read: ANŠE!.KUR.RA ša …, with the remaining sentence relating to the horse’s illness being cured (SIG₅-iq) with the prescription.

Stol proposed that the doubtful signs after ša, which read BU ḪI LU SU, could describe the illness afflicting the horse. The end of the sentence can therefore be read: ša … DAB-su SIG₅-iq, i.e., “to make well that which has seized it (i.e., the horse)”. Stol (2011: 401 and note 254) suggested reading the signs bu-ḫi as qíd-ḫi for a relatively unknown illness qidḫu “Entzündung”(?) that is perhaps read saḫḫu(?) (AHw: 921; CAD Q: 251; CDA: 289). Another reading suggested by Stol (2011: 401 note 254) is sír-ḫi for ṣir-ḫi spelling the poorly attested illness ṣirḫu “Fieberglut” from the verb ṣarāḫu “to heat, scorch” (CAD Ṣ: 98; AHw: 1083; see ṣiriḫtu “inflammation”, in CAD Ṣ: 207; AHw: 1104–5). This illness, however, is attested as an animal illness in a namburbi-ritual edited by Caplice (1970: 120 line 64; see also Stol 2011: 383), who translated ṣirḫu as “dirge”, a well-attested similar word (CAD Ṣ: 205–6) derived from another similar verb ṣarāḫu “to sing a lamentation” (see CAD Ṣ: 99–100). Both meanings could fit the presumed colic-like state of the horse that this prescription aimed to cure. Some illnesses affecting the libbi “stomach, abdomen, heart”, and possibly also the illness kīs libbi, were connected to depressed emotional states (Cadelli 2000: 363–65, 372–73; see Parys 2014: 4–5; Chalendar 2013: 14–17; Steinert 2012: 232–33; Böck 2010a: 69; cf. note 205). Furthermore, kīs libbi could potentially turn into māmītu (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 508) and, by extension, the illness could produce fever. If the spelling here was supposed to designate ṣirḫu, both verbs ṣarāḫu “to heat” and “to sing a lamentation” could fit the symptoms of this presumably colic-like illness.

9’ The catch-line is difficult to read. Scheil (1918: 77, 79–80) read it as follows with modified readings of Sumerograms: DIŠ NA₄ (alt.: TAK, for NA(?)) ŠÀ-šú È ù RAT RAT ŠÀ-ba-šú È a-rik(?), “Si quelqu’un son intérieur se soulève et que la douleur soulève son cœur …”. The copy shows NA₄ instead of NA (cf. Scheil 1918: 77, 80). As a result, it is possible that several signs in this line were incorrectly copied. Similar copying mistakes occur throughout Scheil’s copy, e.g., in rev. 11’ and several emendations are suggested here.

The ù over u for a conjunction seems unusual in this context, and syntactically we would expect E₁₁-ma instead of u. It is not impossible that ù marked an alternative to the first verbal form (von Soden 1995: 212 §117c) or maybe a disjunctive statement, although this would ordinarily be spelled ū lū (ibid.: 258). This cannot be properly explained, and the sign cannot be emended to fit the context better at present. I translate ù as “and”, but the spelling may have had a different function.

Scheil recognized that the catch-line was connected to the inners (ŠÀ) rising (E₁₁) (Scheil 1918: 77, 79). As the word “stomach” libbu (ŠÀ) and the sign for “to go up/go down” elû/warādu (E₁₁) are mentioned twice in the catch-line, it is likely that it quotes a symptom description concerned with nausea. However, such diagnoses often use a verb related to vomiting, such as arû (Scurlock and Andersen 2005: 126–28; Cadelli 2000: 337; see, e.g., CAD A/2: 316; CAD E: 121; CAD P: 208–9). No mention of vomit is made in this catch-line. A number of signs in the line cannot be properly read without emendation. Scheil read RAT RAT over the emended ú!-rad, and a-rik(?) as the final two signs. The first of the final signs is a, but the last sign is unclear. I have emended it to lam?⸣. By emending RAT RAT to ú!-rad and a-rik(?) to a-lam? it is possible to provide each instance of È with its opposite meaning, i.e. “if a man’s! stomach rises (to vomit) and settles!, (and) his stomach (after having) settled rises(?) (again)”. This would provide a description of continuing states of nausea. However, this interpretation is not without problems. Verbal forms of elû with initial a- are only attested as imperatives and second person singular forms, and these mainly stem from OB examples (see CAD E: 116). As a result, the spelling cannot be explained here, but I fail to see other interpretations.

The catch-line remains without duplicates or parallels.

10’ According to Scheil’s copy, the number reads 32?⸣. However, the two wedges after 30 are written horizontally instead of vertically. Although this writing is attested, it does not occur on the few other examples of numbered nisḫus from Kiṣir-Aššur (see Section 9.2.3).

11’ Kiṣir-Aššur’s name and a number of signs after the name cannot be read properly on Scheil’s copy. Scheil also failed to make proper sense of the line and transliterated pKi-ṣir (dingir) rab-gan-me DUMU ša dPA ba-laṭ-su. Hunger (1968: 70) transliterated the name as pKi-ṣir-dDÌM.ME.TUR and emended the ending correctly as ša dPA tuk-lat-su (BAK 200 ms E). The best transcription of the Sumerogram in the name appears to be Lamaštu, although this reading makes little sense and the copy does not support Hunger’s transliteration. I suggest emending most of the signs and reading: pKi-ṣir-AN.ŠÁR! lúŠÁMAN!.LÁ! TUR ša dPA tuk!-lat-su. This produces a regular spelling of Kiṣir-Aššur’s name, and furthermore provides him with a title that most likely existed on the original tablet, although this cannot be checked.

14’ The final phrase, NÍG.GIG dŠE.NAGA, is only attested in this Kiṣir-Aššur colophon. However, colophons with NÍG.GIG DN are attested (see Hunger 1968: 163 with references), albeit rarely with Nisaba. Ms A is quoted in CAD (I–J: 56) as: “do not efface [the tablet], it is a sin against Nisaba”. Nisaba was originally a goddess of grain and writing, but lost importance after the OB period, although she continued to be connected to Nabû and to be referenced in the scribal arts (Michalowski 1998–2001: 575, 578–79; see CAD N/2: 273). Due to Nisaba’s role as a goddess of writing and her association with Nabû, she was presumably a learned substitute for Nabû. She was occasionally addressed in NA sources, e.g., in a compendium of šuʾilla-prayers from the Nabû temple in Kalḫu (CTN 4 no. 168), a Sumerian mythical tale (Civil and Lambert 1983), and the Akkadian disputation-like poem known as “Nisaba and wheat” attested at Ḫuzirina and perhaps Assur (Jiménez 2017: 65–68; Lambert 1996: 168–75).

15’ Hunger (1968: 70) suggested reconstructing: [ša itabbalu DN] IGIII-šú li-[it-bal] based on comparative examples from other copyists (see Hunger 1968: 177–78 with examples). In the remaining signs copied by Scheil we should therefore expect a divine name, but at present this cannot be reconstructed. Alternatively, the line could be reconstructed as: [šá IM UR₅]- TÙM d?NAGA!?⸣ aš(?) IGIII-šú li-it-b[al], “[the one who] removes [th]is [tablet], let Nisaba [x] take aw[ay] his eyes” (see the N4 manuscript BAM 1 in Attia and Buisson 2012: 30 col. iv 31; Hunger 1968: 79 no. 234 line 6). This would, however, ruin the current reading ni-ṭil, which is most likely correct. None of the comparable examples listed by Hunger contain a preposition such as ina, and the alternative interpretation must be considered unlikely.