O Ashur, great lord! O Adad, great lord! The lot of Yahalu, the great masennu of Shalmaneser, King of Ashur; Governor of Kipshuni, Qumeni, Mehrani, Uqi, the cedar mountain; Minister of Trade. In his eponymate, his lot, may the crops of Assyria prosper and flourish! In front of Ashur and Adad may his lot fall!
Millard (1994: frontispiece, pp. 8–9) has recently published new photographs and an annotated edition of YBC 7058, a terracotta cube with an inscription relating to the eponymate of Yahalu under Shalmaneser III. Much ink has already been spilled on account of this cube, most usefully by Hallo (1983), but certain points require emphasis or clarification.
The object, pūru, is a “lot”, not a “die”. Nonetheless the shape of the object inevitably suggests the idea of a true six-sided die, and perhaps implies that selections of this kind were originally made using numbered dice, with one number for each of six candidates. If so, it is possible that individual lots were introduced when more than six candidates began to be eligible for the post of limmu. The use of the word pūru as a synonym for limmu in some texts, including this one, must indicate that eponyms were in some way regarded as having been chosen by lot.
Lots can of course be drawn in a multitude of ways. Published suggestions favour the proposal that lots were placed in a narrow-necked bottle and shaken out one by one, an idea that seems to have originated with W. von Soden (see Hallo 1983: 21). The new photograph shows clearly that the last line reads, not li-l[i]-a, as given by Millard, but li-d[a]-a, i.e. liddâ, “fall”, as proposed by Hallo.