Gadal-iama, Part 2: The Cuneiform Text
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Gadal-iama, Part 2: The Cuneiform Text

Lutz UCP 9.3 p278

Digitalizing old cuneiform texts poses some special issues which digitalizing old Teubners and Loebs does not. Working with the Gadal-iama contract has been an excellent excuse to explore them. I hope that they will have some interest for my readers who don’t read Akkadian.

Copyright is the first issue. At present I do not have time to make my own transcription of the published drawings (this has changed since October 2014- ed.). The following edition is based on that published by Henry Frederick Lutz in 1928. On the basis of Cornell University’s handy guide, I believe it to be in the public domain.

Our understanding of cuneiform writing has changed since 1928. An example which leaps out is that Lutz read the signs AN.BAR as the god Ninurta rather than the adjective parzillu “iron.” I have corrected this and noted where Ebeling’s more recent reading of other signs differs.

Conventions for transliterating cuneiform have also changed. I have tried to move Lutz’ text towards the conventions of the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus as defined in their Akkadian Stylesheet. I have replaced the most obvious logograms with the corresponding Sumerian, but not tampered with Lutz’ sign numbers and vowel lengths where they are slightly different from the conventions today (this has changed since October 2014- ed.). All capitalized Sumerograms and all material in brackets except for the line numbers are my own.

This is neither a completely modernized edition (which would take more time than I have available) nor an exact transcription of Lutz’s edition (which would be hard for many Assyriologists to use). Serious scholars with access to a good library will want the second edition by Ebeling, but I hope that this will be worthwhile regardless. I would very much appreciate it if anyone who spots an error would email me. In the future I may make my own transcription to practice the script and understand which signs lie behind the logograms in the existing transcriptions.

(1) {m}Ga-da-al-ia-a-ma aplu(A) ša2 {m}Ra-hi-im-DINGIR{meš} ina hu-ud lib3-bi-šu2
(2) a-na {m}Ri-mut-Ninurta(AN.BAR) apli(A) ša2 {m}Mu-ra-šu2-u2 ki-a-am iq-bi um-ma
(3) zêru(ŠE.NUMUN) zaq-pu u pî(KA) šul-pu bīt sīsî (E2 ANŠE.KUR.RA) ša2 {m}Ra-hi-im-DINGIR{meš} ma-la
(4) zittu(HA.LA) ša2 {m}Ba-ri-ki-DINGIR{meš} ša2 a-na mār(DUMU)-u2-ut {m}Ra-hi-im-DINGIR{meš}
(5) a-na {m.d}Enlil-šum-iddina (EN-LIL2-MU-MU) ahi(ŠEŠ)-ka a-na lib3-bi il-qu-u2 u kul-la-ta
(6) išten (always written as 1+en) sīsû (ANŠE.KUR.RA) a-di hu-šu-ki-šu u pu-ut šad-da-tum (Cardascia same, Ebeling: u pu-gu(!)-da-tum)
išten DI{mašku}hat-tum (Cardascia same, Ebeling: 1-en {ṣubât(!)}su-hat-tum)
(7) išten ši-ir-iˀ-a-nu parzillu (AN.BAR)
išten kar-bal-la-tum ša2 ši-ir-iˀ-an-nu
(8) išten ku-u2-ra-pa-nu ša2 {kuš}hat-tum (Cardascia same, Ebeling: 1-en {ṣubât}u2-ra-pa-nu ša2 {ṣubat}su-hat-tum)
išten kar-bal-la-tum {kuš}hat-tum (Ebeling: su-hat-tum)
išten {kuš}šal-ṭu e-ru-u2
(9) 1 ME 20 ši-il-ta-ah šu-uš-ku-pu (Cardascia same, Ebeling: bu) u (Cardascia same, Ebeling: 10) ši-il-ta-ah gi-ir-ri
išten ri(?)-e-bu (Cardascia ri(?)-e-bu/pu, Ebeling: di(?)-e-pu) parzillu (AN.BAR)
(10) ša2 {kuš}šal-ṭu
2 {giš}az-ma-ru-u2 parzillu (AN.BAR) u3 1 ma-na kaspu (KU3.BABBAR)
(11) a-na ṣi-di-tum a-na ṣi-bu-tu ša2 šarri(LUGAL)
(12) a-na a-la-ku a-na Uruk(UNUG){ki} i-bi-in-nam-ma
(13) a-na muh-hi bīt sīsî(E2 ANŠE.KUR.RA) ma-la zittu(HA.LA)-ka lu ul-lik ar2-ku {m}Ri-mut-Ninurta(AN.BAR) iš-me-šu-ma
(14) išten sīsû(ANŠE.KUR.RA) u u2-nu-ut ta-ha-zu gab-bi a-ki-i ša2 ina la-li en-na ša2-ṭar
(15) u3 1 ma-na kaspu(KU3.BABBAR) a-na ṣi-di-tum a-na ṣi-bu-ut-tum ša2 šarri(LUGAL) a-na
Lower Edge
(16) a-na a-la-ku a-na Uruk(UNUG){ki} en-na eli (Cardascia: i(?)-na muhhi, Ebeling: u(!) a-na muhhi[UGU]) bīt sīsî(E2 ANŠE.KUR.RA)
(17) MU{meš} (Lutz: šanâti < šattu “year”, Cardascia: šuˀati < šuāti “these”, Ebeling: šumâti < šumu “name”) id-daš-šu2 pu-ut la ša2-ka-nu ša2 pi-qu2-ud (Landsbeger apud Stolper 2001: 120: me-KU-tu2 mēkûtu “lack, deficiency”) {m}Ga-da-al-ia-a-ma
(18) na-ši u2-ša2-az-za-az-ma {m}Ga-da-al-ia-ma it-ti
(19) {m}Za-bi-in {lu2}šak-nu ša2 {lu2}si-pi-ri{meš} ša2 {lu2}u2-qu a-na
(20) {m}Ri-mut-Ninurta(AN.BAR) apli(A) ša {m}Mu-ra-šu-u2 i-nam-din

… list of witnesses which I may transcribe later …

(27) {lu2}ṭupšarru(DUB.SAR very abbreviated sign forms) {m}Ninurta-ab-uṣur(AN.BAR.AD.PAP(?)) aplu(A) ša2 {m} Enlil-šum-iddina(EN.LIL2.MU.MU) Nippur(EN.LIL2){ki} {iti}Ṭebētu(AB) ūmu(UD) 18-KAM2 šattu(MU) 2-KAM2
Upper Edge
(28) {m}Da-ri-ia-a-muš šar mātātē (LUGAL KUR.KUR)

Further Reading:

  • Guillaume Cardascia, Les Archives des Murašû (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1951) pp. 69-72, 179-182 {transcription, French translation, and brief commentary}
  • Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, Object P247869 {photo of tablet and catalogue information only}
  • E. Ebeling, “Die Rüstung eines babylonischen Panzerreiters nach einem Vertrage aus der Zeit Darius II,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie (Berlin), N.F. 16, 1952 pp. 204-13 (transcription, translation, very clear and detailed commentary)
  • Henry Frederick Lutz, “An Agreement Between a Babylonian Feudal Lord and his Retainer in the Reign of Darius II,” University of California Publications in Semitic Philology, Vol. 9/3 (1928) pp. 269-277 {UCP 9/3: the editio princeps with an English translation}
  • Matthew W. Stolper, “Fifth-Century Nippur: Texts of the Murašûs and From Their Surroundings.“ Journal of Cuneiform Studies 53 (2001) pp. 119-127 {commentary on some of the most difficult words and phrases on the basis of a similar text and on a re-examination of the original tablet; for the serious student of Babylonian} (link)
  • Geo Widengren, “Recherches sur le féodalisme iranien,” Orientalia Suecanica V (1956) pp. 79-182 especially 149-152 {some more comments on and etymological speculations about the unique words}

The modern translations into English (both of which try to make a difficult text read ‘fluidly’) are:

  • Paul-Allain Beaulieu, “The Murashu Family,” in Jack Sasson ed., Civilizations of the Ancient Near East (four volumes, 1995) p. 1481 {English translation based on an earlier French translation}
  • Amélie Kuhrt, The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period document 14/28 p. 722 {English translation and commentary with bibliography}

Completists will want to add:

  • Pierre Briant, From Cyrus to Alexander (2002) p. 598 {reprints Beaulieu’s translation and has a brief commentary with suggested links to other texts; I have not checked the earlier French edition}
  • Robin Lane Fox, Alexander the Great, The Dial Press n.p. 1974 ch. 11 p. 159 {a ‘creative retelling’ of the contract in English based on French and German translations)
  • Tamás Dezsö, The Assyrian Army. I. The Structure of the Neo-Assyrian Army. (Budapest: Eötvös University Press, 2012). Vol. 1 p. 25 {partial English translation}
  • A.L. Oppenheim, review of H.L. Figgula, Business Documents of the New-Babylonian Period, Journal of Cuneiform Studies 4.3 (1950) pp. 188-195 {commentary on some of the vocabulary}

(edit 2014/11/18: added link to CDLI entry)
(edit 2015/02/04: added more logogramms on the basis of Lutz’ sketches and corrected my reading of EDURU to A in the first few lines)
(edit 2015/02/12: added more logograms in lines 1-11 on the basis of Lutz’ sketches and added subscript after the sign /ša2/ which Lutz transliterated as /ša/)
(edit 2015/10/23: added some more logograms and sign numbers in the first few lines and in lines 12-17 and 28, modernized the vowel lengths in bīt sīsî because even if the two types of long vowel are just a modern convention, I am fussy enough to get the convention right)
(edit 2015/10/26: finished making my own transcription of lines 18-20 and 27 and 28, Sumericized the determinatives on line 10)
(edit 2015/20/27: added sign numbers to two-wedge and four-wedge ša2 on line 14)
(edit 2015/10/28: added subscripts to one more ša2 on line 4, added footnote to Stolper’s commentary)
(edit 2015/10/29: discovered that Cardascia also published a transcription and began to add information from it, corrected DINGIR to DI in line 6)
(edit 2016/02/17: added references for completists from my bibliography)
(edit 2016/07/05: added earlier English translations from my bibliography)
(edit 2016/09/09: made some trivial changes to the transcription eg. superscripts)
(edit 2016/09/20: added Landsburger’s reading of line 17)
(edit 2016/09/29: added Widengren 1956 to the bibliography)
(edit 2020/08/06: checked the text against Ebeling and made some changes:

  • line 8: ša e-ru-u2 -> e-ru-u2
  • line 9: aš -> az
  • line 13: šu2 -> šu
  • line 18: u2-ša -> u2-ša2
  • line 19: šak-nu ša -> šak-nu ša2)
Lutz' transcription of most of the tablet
Lutz’ transcription of most of the tablet
A drawing of cuneiform signs and seal impressions
Lutz’ sketch of obverse of tablet
A drawing of cuneiform signs and seal impressions
Lutz’ sketch of reverse of tablet
A drawing of cuneiform signs and seal impressions
Lutz’ sketch of upper and lower edges of tablet
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2 thoughts on “Gadal-iama, Part 2: The Cuneiform Text

  1. Gadal-iama, Part 3: Grammars Pile High, Head Bows Low | Book and Sword says:

    […] slowly making sense of the Gadal-iama contract and updating my transcription and further reading in an earlier post. Perhaps “making sense” is not the right expression. Because while historians happily […]

  2. Gadal-iama, Part 4: English Translation | Book and Sword says:

    […] Reading: For a list of earlier translations and commentaries, see part 2 of this series. For an explanation of the un-translated and uncertain words, see my conference poster which cites […]

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