Medical Text Labels and Abbreviations

In: Mesopotamian Commentaries on the Diagnostic Handbook Sa-gig
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The Diagnostic Handbook Sa-gig is attested today in numerous tablets and fragments that need to be joined together and restored in composite cuneiform text editions. Base text manuscripts consulted by ancient commentators, in fact, not infrequently bear readings that differ from those in Sa-gig manuscripts preserved today. In some cases, these are readings we might not even anticipate in the Diagnostic Handbook were it not for quotations in ancient commentaries. Obviously then, when we refer to an entry in a commentator’s base text by means of its equivalent position in modern composite editions of Sa-gig, we do so only as convenient shorthand.

In my two volumes, individual entries of the Diagnostic Handbook are designated primarily by the prefix “Sa-gig,” followed by tablet and entry numbers in Heeßel (2000), (2001/2002), and (2010), Scurlock and Andersen (2005), and Scurlock (2014). Since entries edited by Scurlock (on Sa-gig 3–14, 36–37, and 40) are composite ones that do not reflect variations in orthography or vocabulary among different tablet copies, I often include together in parentheses the corresponding entry numbers in Labat’s editio princeps and tablet drawings (1951), particularly in footnotes and the notes of §II.1 where they would not clutter the main text. Along with lists of source manuscripts in Heeßel (2000: 139–146, etc.) and Scurlock (2014: 705–712), these will be helpful for scholars intending to consult readings from particular manuscripts, or from older and even recent publications that continue to cite pagination in Labat (1951). References to Labat’s publication Traité akkadien de diagnostics et pronostics médicaux (1951) typically appear as the acronym TDP, followed by the page number and the pertinent entry or line number found on that page. In my volumes, I employ the non-italicized prefix “TDPT”—which stands for “TDP Tablet”—followed by tablet and entry numbers as supposed by Labat. The list below displays how these labels deviate from those of the “Sa-gig” prefix, most significantly in the way Sa-gig 16, 36, and 37 were earlier mistaken as TDPT 15, 35, and 36 respectively.

Tablet 1 of the Diagnostic Handbook appeared in antiquity in two main versions with different ordering of entries. In accordance with George (1991: 138–139), I employ the label “Sa-gig S1” for the “standard version” from the Neo-Assyrian city of Dūr-Šarrukēn and from the Babylonian cities of Nippur, probably Babylon, and Uruk—including the base text for the Uruk commentary Sa-gig 1D that dates from Late Achaemenid to Early Hellenistic times. The label “Sa-gig U1” is used for the “variant version” from Uruk—including the base texts of Comm. Sa-gig 1B and 1C in the Late Achaemenid period, and likely also the base text of Comm. Sa-gig 1–3 from Neo-Assyrian Ḫuzirīna.

Often, I provide a string of references to medical texts in increasing order of tablet numbers, wherein colons separate tablet numbers from line numbers, commas separate different line numbers, and semicolons separate different tablet or column numbers. In a given string (read left to right), the prefix to any numbered label is the nearest prefix encountered when one traces the string backwards (right to left) from the point of interest. My adoption of a system (prefix “Sa-gig”) that coincides in numbering with those by other authors is primarily for the reader’s convenience, and does not necessarily indicate assent with these authors’ readings and reconstructions of the text.

For the majority of Sa-gig commentary tablets edited in §II.1 and quoted in Excerpts throughout the two volumes, I reset the numbering of lines at the top of obverse (labeled “obv.”) and reverse (labeled “rev.”) sides of the tablet. Where the top is damaged, numbering begins from the first (partially) preserved line, and line numbers are accompanied by the prime symbol (′). For some tablets, however, their popularly cited editiones principes or hand copies are based on line numbers that run continuously from obverse to reverse sides. In such cases, I retain the customary numbers to avoid confusion, indicating lines on the obverse with the label “obv.,” but those on the reverse with the label “line(s)” instead of “rev.” Lines of text preserved in the commentaries below are labeled as follows:

Comm. Sa-gig 1A

“obv. 1–27” on the obverse, and “lines 28–52” on the reverse

Comm. Sa-gig 1–3

“obv. 1–32” on the obverse, and “lines 33–55” on the reverse

Comm. Sa-gig 5

“obv. 1–21” on the obverse, and “lines 22–41” on the reverse

Comm. Sa-gig 10 & 11

“obv. 1–11” on the obverse, “rev. 1′–10′” on the reverse, and “rev. 11′” on the top edge

Comm. Sa-gig 13+

“obv. 1–9” on the obverse, “lines 10–12” on the bottom edge, and “lines 13–17” on the reverse

Comm. Sa-gig 19

“obv. 1–22” on the obverse, and “lines 23–37” on the reverse

Below are diagnostic tablets that may have served as precursors to the Diagnostic Handbook, or that exhibit different diagnostic traditions:

2 NB 336

Spurious label for 2N-T 336 (= IM 57947), corrected by unpublished catalog information from Richard Zettler in Rutz (2011: 295 n. 7).

2N-T 336

Incorrectly labeled as “2 NB 336” and edited by Labat (1956: 119–130).

BM 47687+48517

“Poor Man’s TDP” in Finkel (1988: 153, 158–159, Fig. II).

CBS 3424(A)

Heeßel (2000: 99–100).

CBS 3831

Rutz (2011: 305–307).

CBS 12580

Rutz (2011: 301–305).


Otten (1954).

KBo VII, 13

Fincke (2011b: 475–476).


Güterbock (1963).


Wilhelm (1991).


Köcher (1953).

LB 2126

TLB II/21 (= van Dijk 1957); edited by Geller (2001–2002: 73–74).

MS 2670

No. 15 in George (2013: 85–89)

Msk 74122a

No. 694 in Emar VI/1 (= Arnaud 1985: 301); Emar VI/4 (= Arnaud 1987: 315–316).

Msk 74127a

No. 695 in Emar VI/1 (= Arnaud 1985: 321); Emar VI/4 (= Arnaud 1987: 317).

Ni. 470

Kraus (1987: 194–206).


Wilhelm (1994).

STT 89

Gurney and Finkelstein (1957: vol. 1, no. 89); edited by Abusch (1987: 63, lines 38–42); Stol (1993: 91–98, lines 103–214).

VAT 10235

Heeßel (2010: 171–177, 179); earlier published as KAR 211.

VAT 10748

Heeßel (2010: 178–181); partial duplicate of VAT 10235.

VAT 10886

Heeßel (2010: 184–186).

VAT 11122

Heeßel (2010: 181–184).

VAT 12385

Heeßel (2010: 186–187).

Therapeutic texts are attested from too great a variety of sources to be all enumerated here, but a majority are readily accessible as cuneiform copies in Campbell Thompson’s Assyrian Medical Texts from the Originals in the British Museum (AMT) and the publication series Die babylonisch-assyrische Medizin in Texten und Untersuchungen (BAM). For ease of consultation, I prefer to use AMT and BAM prefixes for these tablets, instead of their museum sigla and numbers.


Campbell Thompson (1923).


Hand copies of tablet manuscripts are numbered consecutively across Volumes IVI of Köcher (1963–1980), and so only the manuscript number and not the volume number is cited here.


Geller (2005). Note the exception of BAM VII/49, whose contents belong to the Diagnostic Handbook rather than to the therapeutic genre.


Geller and Panayotov (2019).


Johnson (2020).

Bibliographical, archaeological, and museum abbreviations mostly follow those listed in Volume 20 (U and W) of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD) vii–xxxii. Below are some of the more common abbreviations in this volume or ones that differ from CAD abbreviations.


The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, Vol. V by Rawlinson (1884)


Lexical series á A = nâqu in MSL XIV


Akkadisches Handwörterbuch by von Soden (1959–1981)


Tablets in the collections of the Musée du Louvre


Tablets in the collections of the British Museum


The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1956–2011


Catalogue of the Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum


Cuneiform Commentaries Project (2013–2018):


A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian by Black, George, and Postgate (2000, 2nd corrected printing)


Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative:


Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum. London


Tablets in the collections of the British Museum


Astronomical omen series Enūma Anu Enlil


Grundriss der Akkadischen Grammatik by von Soden (1995, 3rd ed.)


Goucher College Cuneiform Inscriptions, by Dougherty (1923–1933)


Geography of Knowledge in Assyria and Babylonia Project (2007–2012):


The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Koehler, Baumgartner, Stamm, et al. (1994–2000)


Lexical commentary ḪAR-gud or, more precisely, Mur-gud


Lexical series ḪAR-ra = ḫubullu or, more precisely, Ur5-ra = ḫubullu


Handbuch der Keilschriftliteratur (1967–1975)


Literarische Keilschrifttexte aus Uruk by Falkenstein (1931)


Die lexikalischen Tafelserien der Babylonier und Assyrer in den Berliner Museen, by Matous (1933) and von Soden (1933)


Materialien zum sumerischen Lexikon


Mesopotamisches Zeichenlexikon (2nd revised ed., 2010)


Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire


Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania, 1984–


Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie


Rare Manuscript Collections at Cornell University Museum, USA


Spätbabylonische Texte aus Uruk


The Sultantepe Tablets, by Gurney, Finkelstein, and Hulin (1957/1964)

Other abbreviations adopted in this volume include:



Comm. Sa-gig X

Commentary or Commentaries on the Diagnostic Handbook Tablet(s) X


edited (by), editor(s), or edition






Middle Assyrian






Old Babylonian










sub verbo (“under the word,” i.e., under the dictionary entry)




siglum to chapters/parts and sub-divisions of these two volumes: CM 49/1 (= §I) and CM 49/2 (= §II) of the Cuneiform Monographs (CM) series

Mesopotamian Commentaries on the Diagnostic Handbook Sa-gig

Edition and Notes on Medical Lexicography, Cuneiform Monographs vol. 49/2