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The Seven Tablets of Creation

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Author Topic: The Seven Tablets of Creation  (Read 1447 times)
Parisa Wade
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Posts: 3151

« on: January 23, 2009, 01:18:46 pm »

The most important class of commentary takes the form of a bilingual list, and, as has been pointed out elsewhere, 2 presupposes the existence of a Sumerian version of part of the text of the Seventh Tablet of the Creation Series. The text of the commentary is inscribed in a series of double columns; in the left half of each column it gives a list of the Sumerian words, or ideograms, and, in the right half, opposite each word is added its Assyrian equivalent. It is noteworthy that the list is generally arranged in the order in which the words occur in the Assyrian text of the Seventh Tablet. The columns of the commentary are divided into a number of compartments, or sections, by horizontal lines impressed upon the clay, and the words within each compartment refer either to separate couplets, or to separate lines, of the Seventh Tablet. Of this class of commentary we possess six fragments of two large tablets which were inscribed with five or six double columns of writing on each side; the two tablets are duplicates of one another, having been inscribed with the same


version of the commentary. The following is a description of the six separate fragments, the two large tablets, to which they belong, being headed respectively A and B:--

A. (1) S. II + S. 980+ S. 1,416. For the text, see Vol. II, pls. li-liii and lv; cf. also App. I, pp. 158 ff., 167f.

The fragment is the top left hand portion of the tablet; it measures 4 in. by 7 in. The text of S. II + S. 980 was published in V R., pl. 21, No. 4. The fragment S. 1,416, which I have joined to the other two, has not been previously published.

(2) K. 4,406. For the text, see Vol. II, pls. liv-lv; cf. also App. I, pp. 163 ff.

The fragment is the top right hand portion of the tablet; it measures 4 1/4 in. by 4 7/8 in. The text has been previously published in II R., pl. 31, No. 2.

(3) 82-3-23, 151. For the text, see Vol. II, pl. liv; cf. also App. I, p. 162.

The fragment measures 1 3/8 in. by 2 1/8 in.; it has not been previously published.

B. (1) R. 366+80-7-19, 288t-293. For the text, see Vol. II, pls. lvi-lviii; cf. also App. I, pp. 160, 168 f.

The fragment is from the left side of the tablet; it measures 2 1/8 in. by 5 1/8 in. The fragment R. 366 was published in V R., pl. 21, No. 3; 80-7-19, 293, was joined to it by Bezold, Catalogue, p. 1,608. The third fragment, 80-7-19, 288, was identified by Zimmern and published in the Zeits. für Assyr., xii, p. 401 f.



(2) K. 2,053. For the text, see Vol. II, pls. lix-lx; cf. also App. I, pp. 161, 167 f.

This fragment measures 2 3/8 in. by 2½ in.; it has long been known to be a duplicate of S. I I + S. 980 (see Bezold, Catalogue, p. 396), but its text has not been previously published.

(3) E(. 8,299. For the text, see Vol. II, pl. lx; cf. also App. I, p. 162 f.

This fragment measures 3 in. by 1½ in.; it has not been previously published.

In addition to the above commentary in the form of a bilingual list, we possess single specimens of a second and a third class of explanatory text. The second class contains a running commentary to passages selected from other Tablets of the Creation Series in addition to the Seventh, and is represented by the tablet S. 747. 1 The third class, represented by the obverse of the tablet K. 2,1.07 + K. 6,086, 2 gives explanations of a number of titles of Marduk, several of which occur in the recovered portions of the text of the Seventh Tablet. Each of these two commentaries furnishes information on various points with regard to

p. CXX

the interpretation of the Seventh Tablet, but, as may be supposed, they do not approach in interest the six fragments of the commentary of the first class.

The transliteration of the text of the Creation Series, which is given in the following pages, has been made up from the tablets, fragments, and extracts enumerated on pp. xcvii ff.; while several passages in the Seventh Tablet have been conjecturally restored from the Assyrian Commentaries just described. In the reconstruction of the text preference has usually been given to the readings found upon the Assyrian tablets, and the variant readings of all duplicates, both Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian, are given in the notes at the foot of the page. The lines upon each tablet of the Series have been numbered, and, where the numbering of a line is conjectural, it is placed within parentheses. Great assistance in the numbering of the lines of detached fragments of the text has been afforded by the fact that upon many of the, Neo-Babylonian copies every tenth line is marked with a figure "10" in the left-hand margin; in but few instances can the position of a detached fragment be accurately ascertained by its shape. The lines upon the Second and Fifth Tablets have been conjecturally numbered up to one hundred and forty. Upon the Sixth Tablet the total number of lines was one hundred and thirty-six or one hundred and forty-six; and, in view of the fact that the scribe of No. 92,629 has continued the text to the bottom of


the reverse of the tablet, the larger number is the more probable of the two. The following is a list of the total number of lines inscribed upon each of the Seven Tablets of the Series:--

 I, 142
 II, (140)
 III, 138
 IV, 146
 V, (140)
 VI, 146
 VII, 142


Although it is now possible to accurately estimate the number of lines contained by the Creation Series, there are still considerable gaps in the text of several of the Tablets. The only Tablets in which the whole or portions of every line are preserved are the Third and Fourth of the Series. Gaps, where the text is completely wanting, occur in Tablet I, ll. 68-82, and in Tablet II, ll. 59-(68). 1 The greater part of the text of Tablet V is wanting, but by roughly estimating the position of the fragment K. 3,449a, which occurs about in the centre of the text, we obtain two gaps, between ll. 26 and (66) and between ll. (87) and (128). Of Tablet VI we possess only the opening and closing lines, the rest of the text, from l. 22 to l. 137, being wanting. Finally, the gap in the text of


[paragraph continues] Tablet VII, between ll. 47 and 105, is partly filled up by the fragments KK. 12,830, 13,761, 8,519, 13,337, which together give portions of thirty-nine lines.

Upon some of the Babylonian copies the metre is indicated in writing by the division of the halves of each verse, 1 and, wherever this occurs upon any tablet or duplicate, the division has, as far as possible, been retained in the transliteration of the text. In accordance with the rules of Babylonian poetry, the text generally falls into couplets, the second verse frequently echoing or supplementing the first; each of the two verses of a couplet is divided into halves, and each half-verse may be further subdivided by an accented syllable. 2 This four-fold division of each


verse will be apparent from the following connected The metre of transliteration of the first half-dozen lines of the poem, in which the subdivisions of the verses are marked in accordance with the system of the Babylonian scribes as found upon the tablet Sp. ii, 265a  1:--

1. f. enuma
 | elish
 || lâ nabû
 | shamamu
 | ammatum
 || shuma
 | lâ zakrat
3. f. Apsûma
 | rîshtû
 || zaru-
 | Tiamat
 || muallidat
 | gimrishun
5. f. mê-
 || ishtenish
 | ihîkûma
 | lâ kissura
 || susâ
 | lâ she'i


It will be seen that the second verse of each couplet balances the first, and the caesura, or division, in the centre of each verse is well marked. The second half of verse 3 and the first half of verse 5, each of which contains only one word, may appear rather short for scansion, but the rhythm is retained by dwelling on the first part of the word and treating the suffix almost as an independent word. It is unnecessary to transliterate more of the text of the poem in this manner, as the simple metre, or rather rhythm, can be detected without difficulty from the syllabic transliteration which is given in the following pages.

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