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Nabopolassar's Restoration Work on the Wall Imgur-Enlil at Babylon

  • Farouk N. H. Al-Rawi


It is with great pleasure that I have the opportunity to dedicate this work to my friend and teacher Professor H. W. F. Saggs in recognition of his encouragement and many kindnesses.

Only six brick inscriptions and six cylinder inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian king Nabopolassar are known. The cylinder inscriptions are listed below in the hypothetical chronological order suggested by P. R. Berger, Die neubabylonischen Königsinschriften (AOAT 4/1, Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1973), and lettered A to F for convenience. Berger's numbering is given and also that of S. Langdon, Die neubabylonischen Königsinschriften (VAB 4, Leipzig, 1912).

A. Rebuilding of E-PA-DÙN-ti-la, temple of Ninurta, Babylon (Berger, no. I, 2; Langdon, no. 4).

B. Repairs to Imgur-Enlil, Babylon (Berger, no. I, 1; not in Langdon).

C. Building of Nēmetti-Enlil, Babylon (Berger, no. II, 3; not in Langdon).

D. Building of E-edina, Sippar (Berger, no. II, 2; Langdon, no. 3).

E. Building on Euphrates at Sippar (Berger, no. II, 1; Langdon, no. 2).

F. Rebuilding of E-temen-an-ki, Babylon (Berger, no. III, 1; Langdon, no. 1).

Mention is made by Berger of four copies (Bab. 29363, 36495 and 41860 and BM 26263) of B, the cylinder inscription concerning Nabopolassar's repairs to Imgur-Enlil, the inner wall of Babylon. The only publication of any of these so far is a translation in Koldewey/Delitzsch, Das wiedererstehende Babylon, 4th edn. (1925), 132 (details in Berger, p. 135).

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i i–ii 5 is identical with cylinder A (VAB 4, 66 ff. no. 4) i 1–21.

i 1-6. For the epithets of Nabopolassar see Berger pp. 72–3. Tiriṣ qāti Nabû u Tašmetum occurs elsewhere only in A (VAB 4, 66 no. 4) i 3. Otherwise the epithet is always tiriṣ qāti Nabû u Marduk.

10, 16. ka-a-a-nim, ka-a-a-ni. The adverbial forms so far attested are: kayān kayāna kayānam kayānamma kayāniš kayānu

16. CAD s.v. barû A v. l a) b′ emended VAB 4, 66 no. 4 i 9 to tallakat as if from tallaktu “the course, goings, activities of the people”. This confirmation of the spelling ta-ka-la-at leads us to posit a word takkaltu, pl. takkalālu, “clever, ingenious behaviour” of the same nominal form as tallaktu, i.e. taprast, but derived from nakālu.

18. The subject of uttû cannot be Marduk, as implied by AHw s.v. watû(m) D 3 c), since it does not give a satisfactory sense. It seems better to take it as a 3rd ps. sg. D stative referring back yâši, and that is how it has been translated.

21. ni-šu is probably an error for ni-ši-šu.

28. Aššurû ša ina zīrūt ilāni māt Akkadi ibēluma: here A has instead Aššurû ša ultu ūmī rūqūte kullat nišīm ibēluma (VAB 4, 68 no. 4: 17 ff.).

ii 5. ú-ša-ad-di-im. This slightly unusual ventive form with -m is paralleled by VAB 4, 60 no. 1 ii 4 ú-šá-áš-ši-im.

8 f. dūra rabâ … pulukka rēštâ. The words have gone into the accusative because of a syntactical non-sequitur. The reading of pulukku “boundary post” here is confirmed by Nabu-na'id's use of the word in the passage describing his own repair of Imgur-Enlil (PBS 15, no. 80 i 17 ff.).

10. dūr ūmī and similar phrases almost always refer to indefinite time in the future. Here labār dūr ūmī is “as old as time itself” (in the past).

11. qinna zaqru is echoed by Nabu-na'id, , PBS 15, 80 ii 2, kīma qinni erê “like an eagle's eyrie”. Ša šitnuni šamāmī is echoed in Nabopolassar F (VAB 4, 60 no. 1 i 38 f.), rēšiša šamāmī ana šitnuni (said of E-temen-an-ki).

12. tukšu dannu is also used by Nabu-na'id of Imgur-Enlil, PBS 15, 80 i 25. Ēdil pī māt ayābi is a literary image which may go back as far as the Sumerian poem Lugale, where the mound of stones made by Ninurta is described as bàd mah-gin7 kalam-ma igi-ba bí-in-tab-ba, in the Akkadian translation: kīma dūri rabî pan māti īdil (line 351).

14 f. kisallu palkû, mēlit šamāmī, simmilat ganzir. These phrases are reminiscent of the palkû kisallu of the underworld and its simmilat šamāmī in the myth of Nergal and Ereškigal (AnSt 10, no, 122, 124). The word mēlittu (mēlītu) was known before, but its meaning was uncertain. It is a noun of maprast form from elû, “place or means whereby one ascends”. Said of a chariot it must refer to some sort of step for climbing into the vehicle; said of a threshold, it will be the door-sill itself (BM 46627, cited by CAB s.v. mēlittu). Here it is the “the step up” to heaven. This appears to be the first recorded occurrence of ganzir in Akkadian outside lexicographical works.

18 f. maškan tilpānu, tarbāṣ karāšu. These expressions do not seem to have been attested before. The “place of the throw-stick” (or maybe in this context “the arrow”) is obviously the weapons exercise ground or maidan, while the tarbāṣ karāšu would be the parade ground within a military camp.

26-7. ina zunnim u rādī rabbûtu uttassû igārūšu. Nebuchadnezzar, describing the ziggurrat at Borsippa, says zunnim u rādū unassû libittašu (VAB 4, 98 no. 11 ii 1 f.).

31-2. These lines appear also in cylinder A (VAB 4, 68 no. 4 i 25 f.). Weissbach had already observed in MVDOG 4 (1904), 22 f. that this was a reference to the working populations of Nippur, Sippar and Babylon, ú-ša-áš is an error for ú-ša-áš-ši.

38. ina ašri rēštî. As parallel phrases show, ašru rēštû here means the “earlier or original site or emplacement” (cf. temenšu labīru in line 37). In cylinder F of Nabopolassar (VAB 4, 62 no. 1 ii 44 ff.) ina kigalle rēstîm ukīn temenšu has the same meaning (“I founded its platform on the original base”), not “on the primordial nether world”, as CAD s.v. kigallu 3 z). However, in lines 39 f. here, ina irat kigalle išidšu lu ušaršid, kigallu has its different meaning of “underworld” (“on the edge of the underworld”). For kigallu rēštû ša dūr ūmī “the original platform of great antiquity” in the present text, see iii 6. That this is the correct interpretation is made clear by the common phrase in Nebuchadnezzar's inscriptions in kigallam rēštîm in irat erṣetim (… ušaršid temenša), e.g. VAB 4, 94 no. 9 iii 32 f. “on the original platform (which lay) as deep as the underworld itself”. It is not necessary to posit a meaning “primordial, primeval” for rēštû since all the occurrences can be understood either as “earlier, oríginal” or, quite differently, as “of prime importance, pre-eminent.” ina irat kigalle išidšu lu ušaršid is echoed by Nebuchadnezzar in his description of his own work on Imgur-Enlil: išidšu ina irat kigallum ušaršid (PBS 15, 79 ii 10).

iii 5. See AHw s.v. watû(m) D 1.

6. See on ii 38 above.

14. AM GAL KUR. There does not seem to be any parallel to this epithet of Šamaš.

22–36. This passage is identical with the end of A (VAB 4, 68 no. 4: 3141), which, however, lacks lines 31–32 here.

31. Who was the king whose inscription Nabopolassar discovered in the foundation platform of Imgur-Enlil ? Note the year-names of Sumu-abum 1, Sumu-la-il 5 and Apil-Sin 2.

* Dr. Farouk N. H. Al-Rawi is a member of the College of Arts of the University of Baghdad.


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