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Records of the Past, 2nd series, Vol. II, ed. by A. H. Sayce, [1888], at

Number 1

This text is a letter from Arad-Nanā, who seems to have been a physician, to the king of Assyria at the time, concerning a man, possibly an Assyrian prince and near relation of the king, who was ill. Indeed,

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so ill was he, that the writer did not expect that he would live more than seven or eight days longer (see the last sentence of the translation). One ray of comfort only does the writer hold out, and that is, that the sufferer might recover, if the king would only cause prayer to be made to his gods.

Judging from the text, it is hardly likely that the sickness from which the man was suffering was a natural one. He had doubtless received a wound or injury—perhaps several—and it was very probable that one of these, which he had received in his head, would prove mortal.

The number of the tablet is S 1064.


To the king my lord, thy servant Arad-Nanā. May there be peace for ever and ever to the king my lord. May the god Ninep 1 and the goddess Gula give soundness of heart and soundness of flesh to the king my lord. Peace for ever.

To reduce the general inflammation of his forehead, 2 I have tied a bandage upon it. His face is swollen. 3 Yesterday, as formerly, I opened the wound which had been received in the midst of it. As for the bandage which was over the swelling, matter was upon the bandage, the size of the tip of the little finger. Thy gods, if the whole of the flesh of his body they can restore unto him, cause thou to invoke, and his mouth will cry 4: "Peace for ever. May the heart of the king my lord be good."

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He will live seven or eight days. 1


The text of which the translation is given above forms one of a number published by the Rev. S. A. Smith in his book Die Keilschrifttexte Asurbanipals, Heft II (the 17th plate), to which publication I contributed a German rendering, with philological notes. 2 The translation here given differs slightly from that which I published in S. A. Smith's Keilschrifttexte. The alterations are two in number, the first being in the eleventh line of the original, where, instead of reading sa kuri êna-su, "which is around his eyes," I now read sa kutal êna-su, "of the wall of his eyes," most likely meaning his "brows," or "forehead;" 3 the other change is in the nineteenth and twentieth lines of the original text, where, instead of regarding ûtuli as a verb, with the meaning of "I raised," "took off" ("I took off the bandage which was around it"), I now take it to be a noun with the meaning of "swelling." Though the sense of the whole is pretty clear, the translation will probably be still further improved as time goes on.

Other tablets of this class exist, and one of them,

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[paragraph continues] K 519, is of great interest in connection with the text above translated. This other text is also from Arad-Nanā, and probably refers to the same sick man, who seems to have been the king's son. "Concerning the sick man," Arad-Nanā says, "from whose face blood flows, the Rab-mugi (Rab-mag?) 1 has said thus: 'Yesterday, as before, much (?) blood flowed.' He took off those bandages (lippi âmmute) with care. 2 Upon the wounds (?) of his face it was inflamed (?). The injuries are improving. Before the blood 3 flows, let him make the opening of the nostril 4—the breath 5 will come through, the blood will stop." A few more lines end the communication. This document, which is exceedingly interesting, is rather defaced here and there, thus greatly adding to the difficulties of a naturally difficult text. The important point about it is that, besides the interesting words that it contains, it gives the record of what may be called a surgical operation. Whether this communication preceded, in order of time, the text of which the full translation is given above, is doubtful; though, taking into consideration the hopeful tone of K 519, and the despairing tone of S 1064, the precedence of the former is exceedingly probable.

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In the introduction it will be noticed that Ninep and Gula are invoked. The former, as a star, was sometimes named Nin-azu, "the lord physician." His more usual title, however, is "the warrior," and he is also named "lord of the weapon" (bêl kakki), though the text which gives him this title invokes him to "remove the sickness." 1 The "warrior," able to cause wounds, was supposed to be able also to remove them. Gula, "the great lady," who is also called "the lady of Isin" or Karrag, was the consort of Ninep, especially under his name of Utu-gisgallu. Another of her names (like those already mentioned, Akkadian) is Nin-tin-badaga, "the lady giving life to the dead." Nebuchadnezzar speaks of her as the preserver and perfecter of his life (edhirat, gamilat nabistia). In another text, where she is named Nin-Karrag ("lady of Karrag"), she is spoken of as "the physician, high and great," and invoked to "take far away the grief of his (the sick man's) body." In this text her name occurs between Istar and Bau, who are apparently other forms of the same goddess. 2


180:1 [Or Uras.—Ed.]

180:2 Literally "of the wall of his eyes."

180:3 Literally "In his face it rises," or "there is a rising."

180:4 Literally "give."

181:1 I give here a transcription of the original text for the use of students: "Ana sarri belîa, arad-ka Arad-Nanā. Lusulmu addannis addannis ana sarri belîa; Ninep u Gula dhub libbi, dhub sêre, ana sarri belîa liddinu. Sulmu addannis. Ana lakû sigru khaniu sa kutal êna-su, tal’itam ina eli urtakis, ina appisu irtumu. Ina timali, kî badi, sirdhu sa ina libbi tsabituni aptadhar. Tallitam sa ina eli utuli, sarku ina eli tallite ibbassi, ammar qaqqadi ubanni tsikhirte. Ilani-ka, summa memeni sêre ida-su ina eli umedūni, sutamma pî-su ittidin: Sulmu addannis. Libbu sa sarri belîa lu-dhâba. Adu ume sibittu samantu ibaladh."

181:2 Afterwards published separately under the title Zwei assyrische Briefe überset-t and erklärt von Theo. G. Pinches (Pfeiffer, Leipzig, 1887).

181:3 [Kutalli is shown by Rm., 268.6, to signify "the brow."—Ed.]

182:1 [This is an important identification. For the Rab-mag see Jer. xxxix. 3.—Ed.]

182:2 Or "skill" (lamudanute, from the root ‏למד‎. Cf. Heb. ‏לִמּוּד‎, "expert").

182:3 It must here be remarked, that the word "blood" (dâmu) is always used, as in Hebrew, in the plural. The phrase in the original is "before the bloods have flowed" (ultu pani dâme utsûni).

182:4 Pî nakhiri liskunu, literally "the mouth of the nostril may he make."

182:5 Literally "wind," sâru, a word which seems to mean also "spirit."

183:1 Lizziz Nineb, bel kakki, linissi muttalliki, "may Ninep, lord of the weapon, remain, may he remove the sickness."

183:2 See Prof. A. H. Sayce's Lectures upon the Religion of the Ancient Babylonians (Hibbert Lectures for 1887), pp. 267, 268.

Next: Number 2