CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 004 (P346123)

Literary tablet excavated in Ur (mod. Tell Muqayyar), dated to the Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC) period and now kept in British Museum, London, UK

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Text / annotations

Text data


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Chemical Data

Seal Chemistry


Museum Collection(s)

British Museum, London, UK

Museum Number

BM —


Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC)


Ur (mod. Tell Muqayyar)

Artifact Type




Genre / Subgenre(s)

Literary (ETCSL 5.03.05 Debate between Bird and Fish (witness))






1. [...]-ta#? nam du10 tar-ra-a-ba
 en: In ancient time, in the (time that) good fate was decreed
2. [...]-bi#? an-ki gesz-hur-bi mu-un-gar-re-esz#
 en: An and Enlil established the plans of the universe
3. [...] mah# en gesztu2 dagal-la-ke4
 en: Enki, the supreme leader, the lord of broad wisdom
4. [... kur]-kur#-ra 3(disz@t)-kam-ma-bi na-nam
 en: The junior Enlil of the lands, he was the “3rd one”
5. [...]-bi#-[...] mu#-un-kikken2 dur2 ki ba-an-gar
 en: He sought(?) the me of both heaven and earth and founded a dwelling/sitting there(?)
6. [...]-gal2 numun# zi# u3-tu szu-sze3 im-ma-ab-la2
 en: The water(?) that engenders the true seed(?) was bound(?) to (his) hand
7. [{i7}]idigna# {i7}buranun-na za3-ga ba-al a kur-kur-ra mi-ni-ib-tum3
 en: The Tigris and Euphrates, (having been) excavated on the edge, brought water into the lands
8. [...]-tur#-ra szu-luh ba-an-ak sur-sur mi-ni-ib2-gar-gar
 en: He dredged the small canals, the ditches were established there
9. [... {d}]en-ki-ke4 turx(SZILAM)? amasz szu bi2-in-dagal sipa unux(|AB2.TUL2|) bi2-in-tuku
 en: ... Enki broadened the cattle pen and sheepfold, he made them acquire a shepherd and cow herder
10. iri{ki} a2-dam ki-a mi-ni-in-gar-gar sag-gig2 mu-ni-lu
 en: He established cities and outlying settlements on the earth, the blackheaded flourished there
11. lugal-e nam-sipa-bi-sze3 mu-un-tuku nam-nun-bi-sze3! mu-un-il2
 en: He made(?) the king acquire their shepherdship, he raised him to their princeship
12. lugal u4 zi-de3-esz kur-kur-ra mu-un-e3
 en: He brought out the king as faithful sunlight in the lands
13. {d#}en#-ki-ke4 ambar-ambar-ra zu2 bi2-kesz2 gi sumun gi henbur bi2-in-mu2
 en: Enki knotted the marshes together, he made the old reed growth and fresh reed stalks grow
14. [...] umah#? mah ku6 muszen mi-ni-in-lug
 en: He made fish and birds live in the great marshes, the ponds(?) and the supreme(?) marshes
15. [...]-zi-pa-an-pa-ag2-ne gu7 nag-bi mi-ni-in-szum2
 en: In the plain he gave the (means of?) eating and drinking (to!?) living creatures
16. [...] en dingir-re-e-ne-ke4 za3-ba am3-mi-ni-in-gub
 en: Enki the lord of abundance, the lord of the gods, stationed ... at its side (in charge)
17. [...] en gesztu2 dagal-la-ke4
 en: Nudimmud, the supreme prince, the lord of broad wisdom
18. [...] u3-mu-un-dim2-dim2
 en: After he created both the fish and the bird
19. [...] mi-ni-in-si
 en: He filled the marsh and reedbed (with them)
20. [...] im-mu-e-szi-in-pa3
 en: He chose their station on behalf of you(!?) ...
21. [...] igi-bi im-mi-in-pa3
 en: He made their eyes discover(?) their design
22. [...] nunuz ki ba-ni-in-tag
 en: At that time, the fish laid eggs in the deep water/marsh(?)
23. [...] gud3# im-ma-ni-ib-us2
 en: The bird founded a nest at the intake of the reed bed
24. [...]-bi!?-ta mi-ni-in-hu-luh
 en: The bird terrified the fish in the deep water/marsh by means of its scream
25. [...]-gub# gu3 mu-un-na-de2-e
 en: The fish stood, he was shouting to (the bird)
26. [...] ga-ba-al mi-ni-in-ak
 en: It was boasting, by means of a fight he (intiated) a quarrel
27. [...]-zi# u3-na-bi ba-an-DU
 en: It arose in the street in the manner of a quarrel, it stood there(?) wildly
28. [...] gu3#? mur?-ra-bi inim mu-un-na-ni-ib2-be2
 en: (At that time) the fish was speaking to the bird in the deep water/marsh with an outcry(?)
29. [...] IM LUM NIG2 nu-gar
 en: Bird, releasing (i.e. uninhibited?), shouting, ... was not present/placed(?)
30. [...] x bur2-re bulug5-ge26
 en: Croaker(?) of the deep water/marsh, screaming(?), “releasing and growing/boasting” the lips (perhaps an ideophone?)
31. [...] sza3# hul-bi sur-sur
 en: Spending time eating way too much, having horrible diarrhea
1. [...]-x KA# mu#-e#-da-ra-ah#? mi-x-ib2#?-sar-sar-re-ne
 en: You may be able to croak/chew(?) when you stand in the plain, but they will chase you(!?) away
2. [...]-na# dumu engar-ra-ke4-ne KA sa nam#?-mi-ri-ak
 en: In the furrow, the members of the ranks of farmers should not (cease?) ... a net(?) for you
3. [nu-{gesz}]kiri6-ke4 pu2-{gesz}kiri6-a sa na-mu-e-ri-gub
 en: The gardener should not (cease?) setting up a net in the irrigated orchard for you
4. [...]-lu#?-usz2#!?-ta DA-ni nu-ga2-ga2 dub3 nu-mu-x-szi-ib2-gurum-e
 en: His arm is not set apart (to rest) from(?) the sling, he does not bend his knee (to sit) because of you
5. sar#-sar-ra nig2 mu-ni-ib-hul-hul su nu-mu-un-da-du10-ga
 en: (You are) one who is destroying things/food in the garden, (you are) one who cannot sweeten the flesh (of the land?)
6. [a]-sza3 ki duru5 gal2-gal2-bi giri3-zu nu-zil2-zil2-le
 en: Your feet are not good (for) fields that have wet patches
7. muszen tesz2 nu-zu kisal-e szed6 su3-su3
 en: Bird, shameless one who sprinkle feces in the courtyard
8. kisal-luh tur e2-e sa# la2-e esz2 hul mi-ni-in-sar-re
 en: The young sweeper who is sweeping in the temple is braiding(?) a malevolent rope there (for you)
9. za-pa-ag2-zu-ta e2#-gal im-suh3-suh3 ka-ka-ta szub-bu-de3
 en: The palace is confused by your scream, it is to be abandoned(?) by the agency of your mouth(?)
10. e2 kuruszda-ka mu-ni-ib-ku4?-ku4?
 en: (They) bring one (of your kind) into the fattener's shed
11. gu4 udu-gin7 mi-ni-ib-mu7-e-ne
 en: They make one (of your kind) babble like livestock
12. a sed4 {dug?}epig-ga? ma-ra-de2-e-ne
 en: They pour cold water into the watering trough(?) for you
13. za-e sa2 du11-sze3 mu-e-da-gid2-de3
 en: You can then be accepted(?) as a regular offering
14. muszen-du3 a2 la2-ta mu-ni-ib-tum2-tum2-mu
 en: The fowler delivers one (of your kind) with bound wings
15. szu-ku6-de3 e2-gal-am3 mu-ni-ib-ku4-ku4
 en: The fisherman brings one (of your kind) into(?) the palace
16. pa-zu igi-zu i3-im-sul-sul-ne
 en: They(?) cripple(?) your wings/feathers(?) and face/eyes
17. gu3 de2-de2-zu ki-sze-er! nu-tuku dal-dal-zu a-na-am3
 en: Your shouting has no limit, what is your flying?
18. gu3 hul-zu-ta ge6 hu-luh-en u3 du10 nu-mu-un-ku-ku
 en: By means of your horrible cry you frighten the night, one does not sleep well
19. ASZ muszen-e sug#?-ta e3-ba-ra za-pa-ag2#-zu ugu-gu10-ta
 en: Bird, leave the marsh, (remove) your scream from above me
20. pu2-sag isz dub-ba-ka e3-ni-ib urx(SUR3)-ra me-te-zu
 en: Bring out a pit in the sand dunes(?), thus is (what is) appropriate for you
21. u4#-bi-a ku6-e muszen-ra in-sze3 mu-ni-in-dub2
 en: At that time the fish insulted the bird
22. muszen#? bar gun3#-gun3#!? igi gun3-gun3 sa6-ga-a-ni-sze3 mu-un-zu
 en: Because of its beauty, the bird knew about (its) multicolored back and multicolored face
23. [...] a#-na mu-ni-in-E-ba sza3-sze3! nu-mu-un-gid2-de3
 en: Whatever insults fish had assailed it with(!?), it did not ponder them
24. e-gi#-in#?-zu#? emeda{+da} u5-a-asz mu-ni-ib2-be2
 en: It was as if a nursemaid was singing a lullaby
25. inim-sze3 gu2-ni nu-mu-na-ab-szum2 zu2 hul-bi? bir9-bir9
 en: It was not heeding (these) words(?), laughing malevolently (instead)(?)
26. u4-bi-a muszen-e ku6-e mu-un-na-ni-ib-gi4-gi4
 en: At that time, the bird was replying to the fish
27. a-gin7 sza3-zu sza3 gur4-ra i-im-DU ni2-zu mu-e-sun5-sun5
 en: Thus your heart, produces exuberance(?), you have (actually) humilated yourself
28. ka-zu habrud!?(KI)-da-am3 zu2 ib2-ta-an-ni10-ni10 egir-zu igi nu-bar-re
 en: Your mouth is a hole(?) which ... surrounded with teeth(?), (you cannot) see your back
29. tuhulx(|AD4.NAGAR|) ku5 a2-szu-giri3 ku5 giri3-bi gu2 bala-bi-ib
 en: (Possessor of) blunted limbs and blunted appendages, “turn your neck by means of the fins"(!?)
30. [...] nu-du10-ga a-ha-an duh-duh ka ba giri17 urx(SUR3)-urx(SUR3)
 en: (Possessor) of a smell that is not good, inducing(?) vomiting, opening the mouth(?), and wrinkling of the nose(?)
31. gu7#-a-zu si sa2-bi gi |A.ENGUR| gu nu-mu-un-dab5!-be2
 en: No one holds/catches your eating (i.e., food?) properly with a caulked container(?) or a cord(!?)
32. [...] lah5#-a-zu szu-ni su2-ni-sze3! nu-ub!-tag-tag-ge
 en: Your plunderer does not touch his hand to his skin
33. 1(disz) szu-szi 3(disz)
 en: (Total) 63 (lines)
1. im-gid2#?-da#? dam#?-qi2#?-i3#-li2#-szu# {iti}ud2#?-duru5#? [n]
 en: "Long-tablet" of Damqi-ilišu, month of Udduru, day n.

Consult previous versions and their differences
Consult sign list of Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC)
Consult word list of Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC)

  • Artifact type: Tablet
  • Material: Clay
  • Measurements (mm):
  • Weight:
  • Artifact Preservation:
  • Condition Description:
  • Join Information:
  • Seal no.:
  • Seal information:
  • Artifact comments:

  • Genre(s): Literary (ETCSL 5.03.05 Debate between Bird and Fish (witness))
  • Language(s): Sumerian

  • history: UET 6, 0038

    [Gadd1963] Gadd, Cyril J., and Aaron Shaffer. 1963, 1966.

  • Composite No.:
  • Museum No.: BM —
  • Accession No.:

  • Provenience: Ur (mod. Tell Muqayyar)
  • Elevation:
  • Stratigraphic Level:
  • Excavation No: U —
  • Findspot Square:
  • Findspot Comments:

Created Creator Type Authors Project Reviewer Status Action
2023-06-15 at 20:34:30 Rattenborg, Rune Artifact Rattenborg, Rune Geomapping Landscapes of Writing Rattenborg, Rune approved View
2019-06-11 at 22:00:28 Englund, Robert K. Atf Englund, Robert K. CDLI approved View
2019-06-01 at 14:34:09 Englund, Robert K. Atf Peterson, Jeremiah CDLI approved View
2019-05-29 at 21:01:58 Englund, Robert K. Atf Englund, Robert K. CDLI approved View
2006-11-02 at 00:00:00 CDLI Artifact Foxvog, Daniel A.; Guerra, Dylan; Peterson, Jeremiah; Veldhuis, Niek; Wolfe, Jared N. CDLI approved View

This artifact is a witness to the following composite(s):

Composite Score
CDLI Literary 000764 (Debate between Bird and Fish) composite (P478958) View the score

General Notes: -
CDLI Notes: -
Cite this Artifact
“CDLI Literary 000764, Ex. 004 Artifact Entry.” (2006) 2023. Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI). June 15, 2023.
CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 004 artifact entry (No. P346123). (2023, June 15). Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI). (Original work published 2006)
CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 004 artifact entry (2023) Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI). Available at: (Accessed: June 18, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-06-18]},
	year = {2023},
	month = {jun 15},
	title = {CDLI {Literary} 000764, ex. 004 artifact entry},
	url = {},
	howpublished = {},

DA  - 2023/6/15/
PY  - 2023
ID  - P346123
LB  - CDLI:P346123
M1  - 2024/6/18/
TI  - CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 004 artifact entry
UR  -
ER  - 
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