Another Early Dynastic Incantation

CDLB 2006:2

Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)

Published on 2006-04-23

© Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

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Niek Veldhuis

University of California, Berkeley

ED IIIa, Fara, Abu Salabikh, magic, medicine

§1. Among the tablets recently made available in photograph in CDLI is a perfectly preserved ED tablet, now kept in the Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels, Belgium (O.1920), that contains two incantations. The photograph does not allow a secure identification of every individual sign, but due to some measure of redundancy and the rules of the genre almost every line may be read with some degree of confidence. The present note is meant to draw attention to this tablet, which adds another exemplar to a rather rare genre in early Sumerian literature (see Krebernik 1984; 1996; and Cunningham 1997, chapter 2). A fuller study of the text will require collation of the original.

§2 Date and provenance of the tablet must be determined on internal grounds. The sign IM (or tum9) is written with the two final verticals (NI2). While NI2 and IM are two separate signs in Fara, this distinction was already largely abandoned in Abu Salabikh (Krebernik 1998, 277). On the other hand, Utu is written without determinative, which points to an early dating (see Krebernik 1998, 284). In general, the sign order appears to follow the reading order of the signs. Based on these grounds, one may perhaps date the text to the ED IIIa period, probably a little later than the Fara corpus. To my knowledge, there is no internal evidence to suggest a provenience. The gods named are all widely known and revered; some of the motifs used in the incantation are known from Fara, but the Fara/Ebla duplicates demonstrate that such motifs could have a wide distribution.

§3 MRAH O.1920


i 1. en2-e2-nu-ru  
  2. an-na IM mu-zi In heaven a wind arose,
  3. ki sahar mu-zi on earth dust swirled;
  4. imu5 mu-zi south wind rose,
  5. immir mu-zi north wind rose;
  6. I.IGI.MAŠ gale
ii 1. dal-ha-mun and dust storm
  2. mu-zi arose;
  3. su-bar lu2 the body of a man
  3. mu-zi arose.
  4. utu lu2 he2-DU May Utu come to? the man.
  5. dnanna lu2 he2-DU May Nanna come to? the man.
  6. eme-gal2 inim May the eloquent, of brilliant
    mulx(AN.AN) speech,
  7. den-ki Enki,
iii 1. lugal dingir abzu king, god of the Abzu,
  2. lu2 he2-DU come to? the man.
  3. imu5 He (they?) saw south wind,
  4. immir north wind,
  5. I.IGI.MAŠ gale,
  6. dal-ha-mun dust storm,
  7. su-bar lu2 and the body of the man.
  8. igi-na mu-bar  
  9. dMA-gu10 My MA-god,
  10. a-zu5 the physician,
iv 1. e-tax(TAgunû)-e3 came out.
  2. UD.KA du11-ga Incantation
  3. dnin-girimx(BU.KU6.DU) of Ningirim.
    empty space  
i 1. dinanna ku3 Holy Inanna
  2. u2? den-lil2 and? Enlil
  3. an-gal2-x were present
  4. kur bad3 and saw in the high mountains
  5. imu5 south wind,
  6. immir north wind,
  7. I.IGI.MAŠ gale,
  8. dal-ha-mun dust storm,
  9. mušen-gin7 –like fishes and birds–
ii 1. lu2 and the body of the man.
  2. igi-na mu-bar  
  3. dMA-na His MA god,
  4. a-zu5 the physician,
  5. e-tax(TAgunû)-e3 came out.
  6. UD.KA du11-ga Incantation
  7. dnin-girimx(BU.KU6.DU) of Ningirim.

§4 Commentary
§4.1 The text shares phraseology with the incantations number 4 and 5 in Krebernik 1984, which both deal with north wind, south wind, and the body (su-bar) of a man. The Fara incantations are both attested in two collective tablets (SF 54 = Krebernik 1984, 382-383 and TSŠ 170). The Fara texts use the verb ru (to blow), the new text has zi(g) (to rise). An Ur III incantation that includes some of the same phraseology was recently published by van Dijk and Geller 2003, no. 9.

§4.2 Obverse

i 6 The sign combination I.IGI.MAŠ (also obv. iii 5 and rev. i 7) is apparently another kind of wind, paired with dal-ha-mun. The translation “gale” is just a guess; the reading remains entirely unclear to me.
ii 1 For the sign MUN (DIMgunû) see Civil 1984, 162-163.
ii 4 The absence of case markers makes it hard to propose an interpretation for DU. Reading gub, one may translate “May god so-and-so assist the man,” assuming a comitative case for lu2.
ii 6 I do not know of other attestations of eme-gal2 or inim mul. The expression eme-gal2 is patterned after inim-gal2, etc.; see Black 2000.
iii 8 In this text -na represents the third person possessive; see also dMA-na (reverse 2, 3) which parallels dMA-gu10 (obv. iii 9). In the present line (and in reverse 2, 2) -na may indicate third person possessive plural, if we are to take all the gods mentioned as the plural subject of the verb.
iii 9 The identity of dMA is unknown to me; apparently dMA is the personal god or a guardian angel (also rev. ii 3).
iv 1 The use of TAgunû (better visible in rev. ii 5) for -ta is usually restricted to UD.GAL.NUN texts (Krebernik 1998, 302). The verb may also be taken in a transitive sense: “(...) the physician took it out.” One may compare here Krebernik 1984 text 18c.
iv 3 GIRIM is probably written A.BU.HA.DU here (not every sign is clearly visible); the sign A is absent in rev. ii 7, adding still another possible spelling to the list in Krebernik 1984, 233ff.

§4.3 Reverse

i 2 Reading of this line is very uncertain.
i 3 At this place a god name would fit better; dig-alim, however, is excluded by the visible sign elements.
i 9 Reading and function of this line are unclear to me.




Black, J.
  2000 “Some Sumerian Adjectives,” ASJ 22, 3-27 [appeared 2005].
Civil, M.
  1984 “Studies in Early Dynastic Lexicography II.3: Word List D 50-57 (ARET 5 no.23),” ZA 74, 161-63.
Cunningham, G.
  1997 Deliver Me from Evil: Mesopotamian Incantations 2500-1500 BC (=StPohl SM 17. Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1997.
Krebernik, M.
  1984 Die Beschwörungen aus Fara und Ebla. Untersuchungen zur ältesten keilschriftlichen Beschwörungsliteratur (=TSO 2). Hildesheim: Olms Verlag.
  1996 “Neue Beschwörungen aus Ebla,” ViOr 10, 7-28.
  1998 “Die Texte aus Fara und Tell Abu Salabih,” in Bauer, Josef, Robert K. Englund, and Manfred Krebernik. Mesopotamien: Späturuk-Zeit und Frühdynastische Zeit (=OBO 160/1). Freiburg, Switzerland: Universitätsverlag, 237-427.
van Dijk, J. J. A., and M. J. Geller
  2003 Ur III Incantations from the Frau Hilprecht-Collection, Jena (=TMH 6). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Version: 23 April 2006

Cite this Article
Veldhuis, Niek. 2006. “Another Early Dynastic Incantation.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2006 (2).
Veldhuis, N. (2006). Another Early Dynastic Incantation. Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2006(2).
Veldhuis, N. (2006) “Another Early Dynastic Incantation,” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2006(2). Available at: (Accessed: June 25, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-06-25]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Veldhuis, Niek},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin},
	issn = {1540-8760},
	number = {2},
	year = {2006},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {Another {Early} {Dynastic} {Incantation}},
	url = {},
	volume = {2006},

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