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A new inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II commemorating the restoration of Emaḫ in Babylon

  • Paul-Alain Beaulieu


The inscription presented here is the property of Mr and Mrs Tom White of Joplin, Missouri, USA. It was brought to the Yale Babylonian Collection by their son Mr Bracken John White for examination in October 1995, and is now on loan to the Collection. The object was bought by Bracken John White's grandfather in Baghdad around 1950. Given its importance the owners have agreed to grant me publication rights, for which I thankfully acknowledge them.

The text of the inscription is laid out in three columns on a barrel-cylinder pierced at one end only to about one third of its total length. The measurements of the cylinder are 143 × 73 mm. It is well preserved, save for some abrasion which has partly obliterated the inital signs of several lines in the third column. The cylinder consists of a previously unknown inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II recording the restoration of Emaḫ, the temple of the goddess Ninmah in Babylon.

The restoration of Emaḫ is commemorated in two other building inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar which have long been known: one preserved on bricks, and one on cylinders. The texts of these two inscriptions are almost identical and rather short, seventeen and nineteen lines respectively. The new inscription published here is significantly longer, reaching a total of 89 lines, which lines are however shorter than those on the two previously known inscriptions. The restoration of Emaḫ is also briefly mentioned in other inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar. Emaḫ was identified by Koldewey as the temple lying alongside the processional way Ay-ibūr-šabû on the inner side of the Gate of Ištar, across the road from the royal palace. The identification was ensured by the find in situ of building inscriptions of Assurbanipal and Nebuchadnezzar II. Emaḫ is mentioned in the topographical series TIN.TIRki = Babilu, Tablet IV, 18: é.maḫ É d be-let-DINGIR lib-bá ká.dingir. raki “Emaḫ (is) the temple of Bēlet-ilī in Kadingirra”. As pointed out by George, the toponym Kadingirra does not refer in this context to the entire city of Babylon, but to a smaller district including the royal palace and its immediate surroundings. This information agrees with the archaeological evidence perfectly.



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1 For references see Berger, P.-R., Die neubabylonische Königsinschriften (AOAT 4/1, Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1973) 218 , Nebukadnezar Backstein B I, 12. Edition by Langdon, S., Die neubabylonische Königsinschriften (VAB IV; Leipzig, 1912) 204 No. 43. Those preserved in the British Museum are listed in Walker, C. B. F., Cuneiform Brick Inscriptions (British Museum; London, 1981) 86–9 No. 106, with transliteration of the master text.

2 See Berger, , AOAT 4/1, pp. 228–35, Nebukadnezar Zylinder II, 1. Edition in Langdon, VAB IV, p. 84, Nebukadnezar No. 6.

3 Koldewey, R., Die Tempel von Babylon und Borsippa (WVDOG 15; Leipzig, 1911) 417 .

4 George, A. R., Babylonian Topographical Texts (OLA 40; Leuven, 1992) 313 , and p. 24 for a map.

5 Quoted according to Litke, R., “A Reconstruction of the Assyro-Babylonian God-Lists, AN: dA-nu-um and AN: Anu šá amēli” (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1958) 86 . The three manuscripts preserving these lines are YBC 2401, K. 4349 (CT 24, 20 ff.) and K. 4332 (CT 24, 12–17).

6 See George, A. R., House Most High: The Temples of Ancient Mesopotamia (Mesopotamian Civilizations 5; Winona Lake, Indiana, 1993) Nos. 713-30.

7 Edition in Streck, M., Assurbanipal und die letzten Assyrischen Könige bis zum Untergange Niniveh's (VAB 7; Leipzig, 1916) 238–40.

A new inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II commemorating the restoration of Emaḫ in Babylon

  • Paul-Alain Beaulieu


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