The Lamaštu amulet BM 120388

CDLN 2016:4

Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (ISSN: 1546-6566)

Published on 2018-01-01

© Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

On CDLI can be found the photos of a small stone amulet (BM 120388) with inscription on the one side and scuffed image of the demon Lamaštu on the other side. The provenance and date of the object was not defined on CDLI, but the inscription was written with Neo-Assyrian script. Its Sumerian inscription corresponds to an abbreviated version of the 10th inscription of the canonical Lamaštu series (Farber 2014: 49). The amulet was not mentioned by Farber in his recent book or in the earlier literature, but Panayotov listed it between other further unpublished house-amulets housed in the British Museum (Panayotov 2015; for the house-amulets see Reiner 1960 and Heeßel 2014: 59–62).

Fig. 1

The object seems to be shaped like an amulet but its handle is very small. The amulet was pierced after the preparation of its inscription and iconography. In this process the sign DIM3 in the first line and the image on the other side were damaged. This damage of text and image seems unusual to me. I therefore suggest that the hole originates from the secondary use of the object when it was worn around the patient's neck as a personal amulet. The text of the amulet is as follows:

1 ddim3-me Lamaštu,
2 dumu an-na daughter of Anu
3 mu 1 pa3-da who was named (her) first name
4 dingir-e-ne by the gods.

I do not know any parallels of this text, since all known Lamaštu amulets inscribed with the abbreviated version of the 10th incantation are longer and contain at least six lines (The following amulets belong to this group: mss. Ak, Al, Am, An, Ao in Farber 2014 (= no. 18, no. 70F, no. 67, unpub., and no. 80) and nos. 9, 24, 44, 55, 86, 94 and 95 (Panayotov 2015: 600).) The image of Lamaštu on the other side is scuffed but the main iconographical element of the demon can be detected. The head of the figure was damaged by the hole but her back can be identified so we can suppose that the demon face looks towards the right. The upper body with two arms, belly and two breasts are clearly recognizable but the demon's legs are missing. The missing legs can be explain that the original amulet was probably cut during the secondary use which can give an explanation to the unusual three line incantation (the abbreviated version of the 10th inscription contains usually six lines). Two of the typical objects belonging to the demon are clearly visible: the spindle on string on the left and the comb on the right side (For a similar type of spindle see no. 9 [Farber 1987: 93], no. 22 [Wiggermann 2000: 221] and no. 44 [Wiggermann 2000: 235]). The demon holds the object in her hands but her hand is visible in the carving. We can state that the amulet belongs to the type which shows the standing demon holding a spindle on strings and a comb in her hands, the closest parallel to the object seems to me the amulet KAR 86 (This type of the amulet corresponds to Wiggermann Group B and Götting 2011: “Typ II: Kamm und Spindel haltende Lamaštu” [Farber 2014: 4]). The object has supposedly in a secondary use when the amulet was cut and probably pierced.



Farber, Walter
  2014 Lamaštu. An Edition of Canonical Series of Lamaštu incantations and Rituals and Related Texts from the Second and First Millennia B.C. , MC 17. Winona Lake.
Götting, Eva
  2011 “Exportschlager Dämon? Zur Verbreitung altorientalischer Amulette”. In: J. G&oum;lbel & T. Zech (ed.) Exportschlager: Kultureller Austausch, wirtschaftliche Beziehungen und transnationale Entwicklungen in der antiken Welt (Berlin):437-456.
Heeßel, Nils P.
  2014 “Amulette und “Amulettform”: Zum Zusammenhang von Form, Funktion und Text von Amuletten im Alten Mesopotamien”. In: J. F. Quack & D. Chr. Luft (ed.) Erscheinungsformen und Handhabungen heiliger Schriften (Materielle Textkulturen 5; De Gruyter: Berlin, München, Boston):53-77.
Panayotov, Strahil
  2015a “Review to Farber 2014”. BSOAS 78:599-600.
Reiner, Erica
  1960 “Plague Amulets and House Blessing”. JNES 19:148-155.
Wiggermann, Frans A. M.
  2000 “Lamaštu, Daughter of Anu. A Profile”. In: M. Stol (ed.) Birth in Babylonia (CM 14; Winona Lake):217-249.