Enūma eliš, the Babylonian epic of creation, was the most influential Mesopotamian religious text of the first millennium BCE. This article discusses how the epic was read, re-interpreted, and revised during the period from 900 BCE to AD 500, both within and outside Mesopotamia. The Assyrian version of the epic, and various Assyrian commentaries on the text, receive particular attention. The article argues that the Erra epic and parts of the Primeval History of the Bible represent counter-texts written in response to the ideological challenges posed by Enūma eliš, and that war and peace were factors that determined to a significant extent how the Babylonians and other people of the ancient world approached the epic.
It has been generally assumed that the numbers of the Israelite army in II Reg 13,7 are based on a certain archival source that the Deuteronomist employed for his composition. Scholars, supposing that these numbers are credible, have compared them with the numbers of Ahab’s army recorded in Shalmaneser III’s inscription. However, such a comparison is invalid because the numbers of Ahab’s army was probably exaggerated. The numbers in II Reg 13,7 are quite low, when compared with other numbers of the Israelite army in the Deuteronomistic History, where the context stresses the peak of Israel’s power. The Deuteronomistic History likewise increases the numbers of enemy armies in order to accentuate their power. These observations indicate that the Deuteronomist intentionally created small numbers in II Reg 13,7 compared to the size of the Israelite army in other parts of the Deuteronomistic History, in order to create the prominent contrast between the lowest ebb and the peak of Israel. II Reg 13,7 is not derived from any archival sources, but reflects the Deuteronomist’s intention to demonstrate the lowest point in the History by manipulating the numbers.
In this paper we deal with one births-omen text from Ugarit (RS 24.247+ [KTU2 1.103+1.145]) with respect to philology and socio-cultural history. From the protases of RS 24.247+, we can see that the absence of some body part is the major type of animal malformation in the Ugaritic births-omen text. The Mesopotamian auspicium and the Ugaritic Baal text might suggest that the right side is superior to the left side for divination in Ugarit. From the apodoses of RS 24.247+, we can see the matters of concern in the daily life of the Ugaritic people. The people of Ugarit perceived animal malformations as portending some critical event, whether for good or bad. Negative signs are in a majority among the malformed animal births listed. The Ugaritic people were deeply afraid of famine and war. It was an important duty for the Ugaritic kings to protect the city-state against enemies’ attacks. Ugaritic kings also had to keep control over their own guards or mercenaries who sometime might rebel. Long life and offspring for the king promoted the welfare of the people.
Lines 100-106 of Gilgamesh and Agga are usually interpreted as Gilgamesh speaking in retrospect. That is, Gilgamesh is recalling his indebtedness to Agga, and speaks of returning the old favor to him. However, I suggest that this section does not look back upon some past event, but expresses the real situation just after the battle, in which the victor Gilgamesh tells the defeated Agga to become his subject, thus allowing Gilgamesh to portray himself alone as having become the hero with no rival.
The prayers designated as Šuilla comprise those belonging to the arts of the exorcist (āšipu), and those belonging to that of the cult-singer (kalû). In the present article I draw upon the latter prayers which were written in the Emesal-dialect of the Sumerian language and recited in processions, especially those from/to the Akītu-house, to investigate the purpose of their recitations in rituals, and furthermore, to seek the possible mythological explanations of the recitations in Babylonian and Assyrian scholarship.
There have been a claim that miktāb in the superscription of “the prayer of Hezekiah” (Isa 38:9-20) should be altered to miktām. Miktām is a word consisting of the superscriptions of Pss. 16 and 56-60, although its meaning is yet to be clarified. These superscriptions of those “miktam psalms” relate the historical situations about David’s struggle. Since Isa 38:9 tells the historical situation concerning Hezekiah’s illness, miktāb there is also thought to be emended to miktām. W. W. Hallo, who suggests the connection between Sumerian and Akkadian genre of “letter-prayer” and biblical prayer of Hezekiah, also thinks that miktāb and miktām are somehow related.
While most of the “miktam psalms” are classified into the lament genre, the prayer of Hezekiah is traditionally understood to be a thanksgiving song of an individual in which gratitude to and reliance on god play a central role. The author of this paper thinks it preferable to retain miktāb in Isa 38:9, by regarding the meaning of miktāb as “what was written,” rather than to emend miktāb to miktām, the word in a strong connection with an individual lament genre. There are some examples of showing that a thanksgiving song may have been “written.” Ps. 40 contains the verses that are considered to be a “written” prayer. Further, “the prayer of Nabonidus” from Qumran has a description of “having written” a thanksgiving prayer. Several Old Aramaic inscriptions have a dedicatory character as a means to proclaim the God’s good will. These examples make it possible to regard miktāb as the writing for a dedicated thanksgiving song. As long as the clearer ground to emend miktāb in Isa 38:9 to miktām, is not presented, the understanding I present in this article should be one of the possibility that keeps miktāb in the superscription of the prayer of Hezekiah.
New references to ki.sì.ga-kispu(m) “care of the dead” are increasing constantly. Examining them respectively, we come to know some aspects of the Mesopotamian practice of caring of the dead including isin abim “an ancestral festival.”
The Akkadian legal documents from Late Bronze Emar in Syria reveal that under Hittite control, there were two official authorities in its society, i.e., the royal palace and the urban community. That the latter had its own authority is shown by the fact that it used its own seal (i.e., the dNIN.URTA seal) and its own eponymous years, as well as by a judicial decision of the king of Carchemish, the effective overlord of Emar, in which he treated the two authorities as equally important. However, unfortunately we have little information on how they interrelated. In this respect, a description of the zukru festival (Emar VI 373), celebrated only every seventh year by the people of Emar, is noteworthy. The king of Emar did not actually play any ritual part in it, but backed it as its main sponsor, providing offerings for the gods, as well as food and drink for the feast of the citizens. We can see here an endeavor of the king to strengthen a cooperative relationship with the city.
An illustrated manuscript of Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aaaār’s mystical poem, Manṭiq al-Ṭayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (63.210) is one of the most important illustrated manuscripts from Timurid Persia (1370-1507). It was transcribed in 1487 and several illustrations were attached; however, the manuscript was for some reason not completed. Over a century later, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, it entered into the possession of Shāh ‘Abbās (r. 1587-1629). His artists remounted the folios, added a frontispiece and four contemporary illustrations. Shāh ‘Abbās presented the manuscript to the Ardabīl shrine in 1608/9 (AH 1017).
This manuscript has the following distinctive features: First, it was initiated under the Timurid court atelier and completed in the Safavid court atelier. Second, this manuscript contains illustrations which are often attributed to the celebrated painter Bihzād, who served the Timurid monarch Ḥusayn Bāyqarā (r.1469-1506) and a nobleman ‘Alīshīr Navā’ī (1441-1501). Third, it is one of the few illustrated manuscripts of Manṭiq al-Ṭayr.
In spite of its significance, the following issues are yet to be investigated. First, the manuscript has not been fully treated as a composite manuscript initially undertaken by the Timurid court atelier and later completed in the Safavid period. Second, the text-image relation of all the illustrations of this manuscript has not been fully considered.
In this paper, the original structure of the manuscript will be reconstructed through a close investigation of all sixty-six folios. Then, each of the eight illustrations will be carefully analyzed in relation to the accompanying text. The goal of this research is to define the characteristics of this manuscript based on a reconstruction of the manuscript and an analysis of the text-image relation. This study will demonstrate the close connections between painting, poetry and Sufism at the end of the fifteenth century in Herāt.
This short article offers a revised translation and interpretation of an Ur III tablet first published by Walther Sallaberger in 1993/94. The tablet records how Iddin-Erra, in all likelihood a fuller working in the city of Ur, is receiving takkīrum garments. The text specifies that the garments were requested from all the (surrounding) textile stacks and that they should be brought to the center of Ur. This suggests that textiles were stored temporarily outside the city, or in the outskirts of the city, before they were ordered to be transported into the city proper. The article argues that this handling of the textiles within the administration of the Ur is comparable to how different food products and agricultural produce were kept in temporary storage facilities outside the city before they were brought to the central facilities of the city.
Two of the Rhodian amphora handles uncovered by the Japanese Expedition at Tel Zeror in 1964-1966 are now located in the Tenri University Sankokan Museum, Tenri, Japan. They were both excavated on the northern mound of Tel Zeror, which was inhabited during the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. They can be dated to the early and mid- second century BCE on the basis of the readings of the eponym/fabricant names on the stamps. The dates are paralleled with one of the three chronologically successive buildings uncovered on the northern mound. The date of the amphorae and the location of the site support the view that Tel Zeror functioned as one of the main stations between the Mediterranean and Samaria in the mid-second century BCE.