CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 007 (P346125)

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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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))





Has fragments Witness

1. gu7#?-a#?-zu si! sa2-e gi gu esir nu-mu-un-dab5-be2
 en: No one holds/catches your eating (i.e., food?) properly with reed(?), a cord(?), or a caulked (container)(?)
2. lu2 lah5#-a-zu szu-ni su2-bi-sze3 nu-ub#?-tag-tag-ge
 en: Your plunderer does not touch his hand to his skin
3. ambar mah sug-ga dagal-la-ba ga2-e galla-zu-me-en
 en: In the great swamp, in the broad marsh, I am your ranger
4. u2 du10-ga nu-mu-e-szi-ib-gu7 gu3!-gu10 mu-un-ti-ti
 en: One cannot eat (its) good food because of me(?), my voice(?) approaches there(?)
5. i7-da nir gal2-la#!?-bi# nu-mu-un-DU#?-DU# ulu3?{+lu}-gu10 ba-dul-dul
 en: One cannot move(?) in the river/canal confidently(?), my “south wind"(?) covers completely
6. igi-gu10-ta gesz-gi gi-szu2-a mu-e-gir5-gir5-e-ne
 en: From before me they are diving into the reed-bed and marsh(?)
7. di4-di4-la2-zu-ta sa2 du11-sze3# ma-a-gar#?-gar sza3-gal-gu10#-sze3# u3#?-[...]
 en: From among your little ones, you (might as well) pile up for me as a regular offering, for my sustenance ...
8. gal-gal-zu ki {gesz}bun-na-ka ki#?-bur2#?-[...] na#-nam
 en: Your large ones are indeed the “solution"(?) of the site of a banquet
9. ga2-e muszen sa6-ga gal#-an-zu-me-en
 en: I am the beautiful and knowledgable bird
10. kin2#? sa6-ga ugunu? tag-ga-gu10-sze3!
 en: Beautiful work (occurred) on behalf of my adornment
11. lalx(TA)-hurx(BIR) ku3-zu kin2 la-ba-an-si-ga
 en: But there is no one who has prepared the working of your pure wax/mold(?)
12. e2-gal lugal-la#-ka DU-DU he2-du7-bi-me-en
 en: In the palace of the king, I am the ornament of movement
13. kisal#?-la2 mu7?-mu7?-gu10 me-te-am3 ASZ im-mi-in#-gar
 en: In the courtyard(?) my noise is a fitting thing, one established (it as such!?)/set it apart(!?)
14. akkil# gar-ra-gu10 nig2-ku7-ku7-da-kam#?
 en: My cry is “that of a sweet thing"(?)
15. su2-bar {d}szul-gi-re me-te-am3 ASZ im-mi-in-x
 en: On the body of Shulgi(?) it is a fitting thing, one established(?) (it as such!?)/set it apart(!?)
16. nig2-tuh-hum gurun pu2-{gesz}kiri6-pu2-{gesz}kiri6-a sa2 du11 gal-gal-gu10
 en: Fruits of the orchard (are for) my many regular offerings
17. ba-ba-za BU gu2-nida zi3! AN-NA nig2 ka du10-ge-gu10
 en: babaza porridge, malt(?), hulled grain(?), and emmer(?) flour(?) (are for) my things/food that sweetens the mouth
18. ur5-ta nam-mah-gu10 nu-zux(SU)? gu2 ki-sze3 la2#-a
 en: Thus(?) (you?) do not know my greatness! Bow (your) neck to the ground!
19. u4-bi-a muszen-e ku6-e in-sze3 mu-ni-in-dub2
 en: At that time, the bird insulted the fish
20. ku6 lipisz tuku a2 nam-ur-sag-ga2 engur-ra nir! gal2
 en: The fish, possessed of anger, trusting in the heroic might of the deep water(?)
21. muru9 dugud-gin7 ki nam-mi-in-us2 a-da-min3-e ba-a-gub
 en: Like a heavy rain cloud it touched the ground, it stood in an adamin contest
22. in muszen a-na-am3 mu-ni-in-dub2-ba sza3-sze3! nu-mu-un-na-gid2
 en: Whatever insults the bird had struck it with, it did not ponder
23. gu2 ki-sze3 ba-da-gar inim bur2!-bi im-me
 en: It was able to(?) set its neck on the ground (sarcastically?), it was speaking freely/humbly(?)
24. 2(disz@t)-kam-ma-sze3! ku6-e muszen-e mu-un-na-ni-ib#-gi4-gi4
 en: For the 2nd time the fish replied to the bird
25. muszen-e nam-mah-gu10 nu-zu egir-ga2 nu-zukumx(|ZI&ZI.MIN|)-zukumx(|ZI&ZI.MIN|) bar-ga2 en3# li-bi2-[...]
 en: Bird, (you) do not know my greatness, (you) did not tread behind me, (you are one who) has not inquired after me
26. x-ga kal-ga-gu10 nu-e-da-an#-zu inim u3-bu#-[...]
 en: You cannot know (either) my weakness(?) or my strength, (you) have spoken an inflammatory(?) word
27. [...]-ur2# x x x x KA#? x sag? x [...]
 en: (Possessor of) trimmed limbs, crippled(?) feet, a ... mouth/beak, and a thinned out/flattened(?) tongue
28. nam-nu-zu-a KA mu-x-[...]-x IM ni2-zu ad#? i#-[...]-in-gi4#?-[...]
 en: By means of ignorance you have been able to sneer/shout/chew(?), (but) you have not advised yourself
29. ga2#-e ku6-e he2-gal2 AB# sikil-la tesz2-bi gar#-ra [...]
 en: I, the fish, am the one who piles up(?) the abundance of the pure shrine/sea(?) together
30. nindaba# gal-gal e2-kur-ra#-ke4# sag il2-la DU-me#-[...]
 en: I am the one who brings/goes/stands among(?) the great nindaba offerings of the Ekur proudly
1. {d}asznan-ma-gin7 sza3-gar kalam-ma-sze3! ba-gal2-me-en a2-tah-[...]
 en: Like (the grain goddess) Ezina (I) am here for the sustenance of the land, I am her helper
2. buru14? ezem-gin7 mu-un-da-hul2-le# en3 tar-gu10 i3-gal2
 en: The harvest(?) rejoices with me as if (it was) a festival, my inquirer is there(?)
3. muszen nig2-gal-gal# a-na mu-un-dim2#-ma#?-zu nam-gur4-zu ga-ri-ib#-[...]
 en: Bird, what is your great thing that (you) accomplished? I will make you known your (over) exuberance
4. sun7-na inim# lul#-la# bala-e-x x umusz-zu-a ga-ri-ib-gi4-[...]
 en: I want to return (back into) your mind(?) your arrogance and mendacious speech
5. u4-bi-a ku6-e muszen-ra sa2#? im-ke3-ke3-de3#
 en: At that time the fish was to make plans against the bird
6. si-ga# lul-ba a2-ba mu-un-DU-DU
 en: Silently and deceptively(?) it went on its “arms”
7. u4 muszen gud3-ba zi-ga amar-bi-sze3#!? nig2-gu7 tum3-u3-de3
 en: When the bird got up from its nest in order to bring (back) food for its chick
8. ku6-e ki si-ga-a-asz mu-un-kin2
 en: The fish sought the place silently
9. gud3 gar-ra u2 si-si-ga-ni esz3 lil2-la2 mu-un-sag3
 en: It struck (the bird's) established nest, its prepared plants, (making it?) a windswept shrine
10. e2 du3-du3-a-ni mu-un-gul-gul erim3#?-ma-ni mu-un-x-re
 en: It destroyed its built house, it tore out(?) its storeroom
11. nunuz-bi gud3#-bi a bi2-in-gaz-gaz ab-ba im-mi-in-szu2
 en: It killed its eggs and its nest with water(?), it covered them in the sea
12. 2(disz@t)-kam-ma#-sze3! ku6-e muszen-e in-sze3! mu-ni-in-dub2
 en: For a 2nd time the fish insulted the bird
13. u4-bi-a muszen igi pirig-ga2 umbin hu-ri2#-in#{muszen}-na
 en: At that time the bird, with the face of a pirig creature and the claws of a hurin bird
14. gud3-bi-sze3 a2 x i3#?-ke3#-e dal-bi sag im#?-gi4#
 en: It was beating(!?) its wings towards its nest, (but) its flight (path) was blocked(?)
15. ka-bi nu#-x-gig-gin7 an-sza3-ga gu3 mu-un-dub2-dub2-be2
 en: (With) its mouth(?) it was screaming in the midst of heaven like the nugig midwife (of heaven, i.e., Inanna)
16. u4#-bi#-a muszen gud3#-bi-sze3! igi tab#?-ba a2-ur2 ba-bur2-bur2
 en: At that time the bird, which was looking (carefully), (its) limbs were spread out(?)
17. {tu15}mar-rux(TE) an-sza3-ga-sze3! x-de3 an-na#? mu-un!?-ni10-ni10
 en: (Like) a stormwind that is to shake(?) to the midst of heaven, it roamed(?) in heaven
18. muszen#-e# ku6 engur#-ra mi-ni-in-ni10#!?-ni10# sug mi-ni-in-kikken2
 en: The bird was searching the fish in the deep water, it sought it in the marshes
19. muszen#-e# ku6#-ra# engur-ra# igi im#-ma#-an#-duh# gesztux(|GISZ.TUG2|)# ba-szi-in-gub
 en: The bird saw the fish in the deep water and planned against it
20. i-ni#-in-dab5 a-e ba-da-kar umbin mu-ni-in-la2
 en: It seized it, (it tried to) flee in the water (but) (the bird) held it with its claws
21. agargarax(NUN) tur#-tur#-bi tesz2-bi bi2-in-gar zar#!-re-esz mu#-un#-du8-du8
 en: It heaped up its little spawn(?) together, it heaped them in the manner of sheaves
22. muszen-e szu gar-bi im-mi-in-gi4 sza3-bi nu#-[...]
 en: The bird took out revenge, (but) its heart was not cooling
23. 2(disz@t)-kam-ma-sze3 muszen-e# ku6-e mu-na-ni-gi4#?-[...]
 en: For a 2nd time the bird was replying to the fish
24. galam?-ma? hu-ru# u2-hub2 galga suh3 ku6 nam-ta-e3#?
 en: "Clever” one(?), inferior one, deaf one, with muddled plans, fish, (you) should not come out(?)
25. x ni10-ni10 ka-ka-bi nu-gu7 sza3-gal u4 szu2-szu2
 en: Roaming the harbor(!?), its mouth(?) not eating, “a storm blowing away(?)” fodder
26. szah2# is-hab2 szed6 ni2-bi gu7-gu7 sag szu bi2-in-du11-ga
 en: Pig, rogue, eating its own excrement, ...
27. {lu2}en-nu-ug3-ga2!? e2 kesz2-da ti-la ni2-bi-ta sur-ra
 en: Guard who dwells in a bound-up house, slithering by itself
28. ku6# ga2-ra izi-gin7 mu-un-bar7 ki SZAKIR3 mu-un#-[...]
 en: The fish burned ... for me like fire, it sought the place silently(!?)
29. nam-nu-zu-ta sag ba-an-gid2 szu usz2-a i-ni-in#?-x
 en: Out of ignorance it got angry, it spattered(?) (its) hands in blood(?)
30. sza3 gur4-ra ni2-bi ak-a-ba ni2-bi mu-un-gul-gul
 en: In making itself feel wonderful it has destroyed itself
column 1
1. ge26-e <<re>> an-na dal-dal-e-me-en ki#?-a DU-DU-me#-en#
 en: I am the one who flies in heaven, I am the one who goes about on earth
2. DU-DU-gu10-sze3! mu sze21-a-ba a#-la# mu-un-szi-gal2-le-me-en
 en: (Wherever) I am going, whatever is its name, I am the happiness that is present on behalf of ...(?)
column 2
1. itix(UD)-za3-gar u4 x-[...]
 en: Month of baragzaggar, day ...
column 3
1. 1(disz) szu-szi# 2(disz)#?
 en: (Total) 62 lines

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:
  • This artifact is composed of fragments.
  • 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, 40 + 627

    [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 05641
  • 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
2019-06-12 at 09:02:02 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:

P346125 leadP346125 lead

Cite this Artifact
“CDLI Literary 000764, Ex. 007 Artifact Entry.” (2006) 2023. Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI). June 15, 2023.
CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 007 artifact entry (No. P346125). (2023, June 15). Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI). (Original work published 2006)
CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 007 artifact entry (2023) Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI). Available at: (Accessed: June 15, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-06-15]},
	year = {2023},
	month = {jun 15},
	title = {CDLI {Literary} 000764, ex. 007 artifact entry},
	url = {},
	howpublished = {},

DA  - 2023/6/15/
PY  - 2023
ID  - P346125
LB  - CDLI:P346125
M1  - 2024/6/15/
TI  - CDLI Literary 000764, ex. 007 artifact entry
UR  -
ER  - 
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