Cuneiform Digital Library Notes
2015:7        «              »
The tablet of the Middle Assyrian ‘coronation’ ritual: the placement of VAT 10113
and the displacement of VAT 9978
*

Strahil V. Panayotov
BabMed Project, Berlin

Introduction

Müller’s ritual is generally considered an Assyrian ‘coronation’ ritual for the king (Sallaberger 2002: 88-90; Zgoll 2006: 61-64 ; Hecker 2008: 96; Sallaberger and Schmidt 2012: 578; see also Ambos 2013: 14, 83f., 118 and passim; Concerning a new edition of the ritual, Zgoll 2006: 62 footnote 223 points out that ‘Eine neue Bearbeitung durch E. Cancik-Kirschbaum ist in Vorbereitung’, Simo Parpola has also prepared a new edition.). The ritual was possibly performed during the New Year cultic celebrations, and in this respect it is conceivable that the coronation of the Assyrian king was not the central piece of the ritual but an important part of the performance (Frankena 1954: 133; Menzel 1981a: 41; Radner 2002: 18; Heeßel 2014: 66; differently in Kryszat 2008: 110-113, esp. 113 ‘Sind die stets als “Kronbinden” übersetzten kulūlū vielleicht die Insignien der königlichen šangûtu?’)

The Format of the Tablet

The fragments of the tablet were copied by Ebeling 1915-1923, as nos. KAR 135 (VAT 9936 (in Ebeling still VAT 10163), KAR 137 (VAT 9978), KAR 216 (VAT 9583) and KAR 217 (VAT 10113). Later on, Müller joined VAT 9583+9936+9978 (Müller 1937: 4, see also Hecker 2008: 96-98; CDLI no. P282609). Nevertheless, Müller recognized that VAT 10113 belongs closely to the other parts of the tablet and even said that the fragment (VAT 10113, CDLI no. P282616) fits the end of the fourth column of VAT 9583+; moreover, he argued that the same scribe wrote VAT 9583+ as well as VAT 10113, but a join was impossible (Müller 1937: 47). Furthermore, Menzel argued that the script of VAT 10113 was very close to VAT 9583+, thus she considered the fragment VAT 10113 to be another cultic text written by the same scribe as VAT 9583+ (Menzel 1981a: 42 and Menzel: 1981b, 37*). In addition, she believed that VAT 9583+ is simply a Schülertafel and excluded every possible practical function of the text (Menzel 1981a: 41 and Menzel: 1981b, 37*), which is rather misleading. Similarly, Kryszat also understands the tablet as Schultext, however he does not share Menzel’s opinion that the text had no practical function (Kryszat 2008: 110). But, in terms of the practical function of the artefact, the format is particularly telling: it is a tablet in the ‘amulet-shaped’ format, which was already noted by Müller (1937: 4) and Weidner (1941-44: 363), a fact left unmentioned by most people dealing with the text (especially by Kryszat who offers a discussion on ‘Die Tafel und ihr Verfasser’). Recently, Heeßel (2014: 66) has returned to the format of the artefact and elucidates the symbolic meaning of the ‘amulet-form’. Yet, another fact left unmentioned in previous publications is that the projection/handle of the artefact was intentionally left unpierced (according to the traces on VAT 9978, the projection was not more then 1,8 cm at its height), which is not uncommon for clay and even stone ‘amulet-shaped’ tablets, which were then displayed, possibly leaned on a wall, in similar way the stelae of the ‘Stelenreihen’ in Ashur were displayed (for stone “amulet shaped” tablets see Panayotov 2014: 85). Furthermore, we can tentatively suggest that this tablet was even displayed during the ritual itself (being a part of it). This is, however, a matter for another discussion.

Baked Tablet

Another feature that shows the importance of the tablet (VAT 9583+) is that it was already baked in antiquity (Pedersén 1986: N1, 23 (70)), which is visible from the colour of VAT 9583+, which exhibits a clear difference between the white slip of the outer surface and the reddish core from the inside (e.g., Lambert 1965: 283; Hecker 2008: 96). Note that the same features can be observed on VAT 10113.

Archaeological context

Although Middle Assyrian, the ritual was found in a Neo-Assyrian archaeological context of the Ashur Temple. Müller, followed by Menzel, states that VAT 9583+ was found in Ashur, quadrat hD3I near the oven (Müller 1937: 4; Menzel 1981b: T 7 no. 6). According to Müller, the excavator, Andrae provided him with this information (Müller 1937: 4 footnote 3). Slightly differently, Pedersén writes that VAT 9583+ was found in hD3V (Pedersén 1986: N1, 23 (70)). Moreover, VAT 10113 was also found in Assur in hD3V, in a ‘small room next to northwest front of temple, in oven’ (Pedersén 1986: N1, 24-25 (100)). As regards to VAT 9583+, there are, however, two slightly different indications concerning its archaeological context. I would like to follow Pedersén and assume that all pieces come from the same spot, which would also align nicely with the fact that all four pieces were intentionally baked in antiquity and found in the vicinity of the oven. Moreover, all pieces stem from a Neo-Assyrian archaeological context, which suggests that the tablet was in use for a extended period of time, perhaps as long as half millennium, since the tablet dates to the Middle Assyrian time, as convincingly argued by Müller.

The placement of the pieces

I argue that VAT 10113 was clearly a part of VAT 9583+, but pace Müller 1937: 47, who states that ‘Text VAT 10113 = KAR 217 Zz. (1'-3' sind Duplikat zu Text I (i.e., VAT 9583+) III 15f.)’, I would place the fragment after line 17 on the third column of VAT 9583+; in this respect note that VAT 10113: 2’ is also indented just as line 18 on VAT 9583+ col. iii was (compared to the layout of the obverse). Additionally, the dividing lines have the same proportions and orientations and with their help the fragments can be correctly placed (see the illustration). Moreover, the texts of the different pieces add to and complement one another. Thus, if the fragment is placed as I suggest, it fits well on the surface of the tablet, neither too high, nor too low. Although it does not ‘click’, perfectly, the height of the pieces is the same. During new collations in March 2015, I saw that somebody has written + VAT 10113 in the box of VAT 9583+, which I also see in my photos from 2011: VAT 9936+VAT 9583+9978+10113. In other words, somebody else had arrived at a similar conclusion before 2011. Finally, it is conceivable that VAT 9978 is not a direct joint (the contact is not convincing), otherwise the tablet would be almost square in format (which is not otherwise attested on ‘amulet shaped’ tablets). Therefore, there are multiple lines missing between the pieces. In other words, the tablet should be designated accordingly as: VAT 9583+9936(+)9978+10113.

Fig. 1: Tentative reconstruction of the tablet format


col. iii VAT 9583 : VAT 9936 (+) VAT 10113 is underlined

17. 1 NA4 ALAN ša ABUL Aš-šur 1 NA4 dIš-ha-ra 1 dGa-aš-ra-nu

18. [1 NA4 dU]-tu 1 d+EN-LIBIR.RA 1 dLa-ba-an 1 dGu-ba-ba

19. [1 NA4] dI-šum 1 dMa-li-ki 1 An-nun-na-i-tu

20. [1 NA4] dU2-la-a 1 dm[ulI-s]i-nu-tu 1 dN[i]n-E2>.GAL-lim

21. [1 NA4 d]Iš-tar2 -tu-ja-at 1 [d]Sa-bi-ʾi-lu-lu-tu

22. [ x NA4.MEŠ] d+EN-MAN dMa-nu-gal dGu-za-lu-u2 1 dA-nu

23. [1 NA4] DINGIRmeš-ni GALmeš 1 dŠa-lim-[tu] 1 dŠu-ni-bu-ru

24. 11 [NA4.MEŠ] dKu-be ša E2 dA-ni 1 d[In]-gu-ri-sa

25. 1 NA4 dŠa-la 1 dTa-ra-mu-ja [x x x x (x)]

26. 1 NA4 dGIBIL6 2 dE-be-[eh x x x x (x)]

27. 6 NA4[meš x]x x ša? [x x x x x x x (x)]

________________________________________


The column breaks here and continues on VAT 9978, which bears the projection. Yet, there is certainly much more space between the fragments than in Müller’s edition, with many lines missing.


col. iv VAT 9583 (+) VAT 10113

1. 1 GU4 6 UDUmeš 1 NA4 dAMAR.UTU 1 UDU 1 NA4 dZar-pa-[ni-tum]

2. 1 UDU 1 NA4 dTaš-me-tum 1 UDU 1 NA4 dAh-bu-[tum]

3. 1 UDU 1 NA4 dX-[x-x] 1 UDU 1 NA4 dE2-a

4. 1? UDU? [. . . . . . . . . . 1 UDU 1 NA4 d]Nin-urta ša2 ku-ti-e

5. [1 UDU? . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 UDU 1 NA4] dA-nu-ni-tu2 ša URIki

6. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .]x-su

________________________________________

7. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x x[x (x)]

8. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]

9. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]

10. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]

11. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]

12. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]


Begin of VAT 10113


13. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x? [ x x x (x)]

14. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1] UDU 2 NA4 [x x x]

15. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 UDU 1 NA4] dEN-MAN [1(?) NA4(?)]

16. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . dDa-ag-la-nu?] 1 NA4 dSi-u2-sa

________________________________________

17. [. . . . . . . . . . . . LUGAL e-mar] 1 me-se-ra KU3.SI22 i-ra-kas

18. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . .] LUGAL e-mar 1 me-se-ra KU3.SI22 i-ra-kas

19. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x LUGAL e-mar 1 TUG2ha2 u2-še-la

20. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . d]NUSKA LUGAL e-mar 1 tug2IB2.LA2 u2-še-la

21. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . d]MAŠ LUGAL e-mar 1 NA4 u2-še-el-la

22. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x-tum LUGAL e-mar 1 NA4 u2-še-la

________________________________________

23. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i]-ṣa-li-u2-ni-ni 1 UDU DU3-2

24. [ . . . . . . . . . . . Ištar-MU]Lmeš IGI-mar UDU.SISKURmeš

25. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x LUGAL DU3-2

26. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . dMa-nu]-gal LUGAL IGI-mar

27. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x-la2 IGI-mar 1 UDU e-pa-aš2

28. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .] u2-še-el-la

________________________________________

29. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x ša LUGAL

30. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]⌈x⌉ ŠE BE MEŠ

31. [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x MAN i-x[x x (x)]

________________________________________

32. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x]x [. . . ]

Comments

(Col. iii 17) Erich Ebeling reads 1 NIG2 in his copy (KAR 217) instead.

(Col. iii 19) For this variant for Annunītu see Deimel 1914: 54, no. 91, and Meinhold 2009: 176-179.

(Col. iii 21) The form of the sign DAR in the spelling of [d]Iš-tar2 reminds me of the Old Babylonian form, see provisionally Borger 2010: nos. 182 and 183.

(Col. iv 13) This line could be also line 14.



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* My gratitude goes to J. Cale Johnson for reading the draft, and to Mikko Luukko and Simo Parpola for communications.
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