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Records of the Past, 2nd Series, Vol. IV , ed. by A.H. Sayce, [1890], at

p. 80


Translated by S. Arthur Strong

The following inscription is on a tablet of alabaster, which, with a duplicate copy, was found in a marble coffer by Mr. Rassam in the course of his excavations at Balawât in 1878, and is now in the British Museum. It begins with the genealogy of Assur-natsir-pal and a short account of his conquering advance from east to west, from beyond the Tigris to the Mediterranean, which is repeated almost word for word from his great inscription. (Col. ii. lines 123–131. See Records of the Past, new series, vol. ii. p. 161.) The king then records how he recaptured and brought once more within the sphere of his dominion a town or fortress, to which he gave the name Imgur-Bel or "Bel's Delight." The position of this place, which was not far east of the ancient Kalah, is now marked by the mound of Balawât. Here he built a temple to Makhir, whom we know only as the god of dreams, but who doubtless possessed other and more important attributes and functions. It was among the ruins of this temple

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that the coffer containing the tablets was discovered. The inscription closes with the usual appeal to the future king to respect the pious memory of his predecessor, and to restore the building and replace the tablet in the event of their removal or decay. To him who shall thus act the blessing of Assur is promised; while, on the other hand, the curse of Ishtar is invoked upon him who, with the tablet in view, should insult the memory of Assur-natsir-pal. This work of construction and restoration at Imgur-Bel, left unfinished by the great king at his death in 858 B.C., was taken up and completed by his son and successor, a ruler of kindred spirit, Shalmaneser II.

The tablets are in a state of good preservation, and the writing is regular and clear. They are remarkable for the use made throughout by the scribe of vertical lines of division between words or groups of words, thus:—

Assur-natsir-pal | sarru rab-u | sarru dan-nu |
sar kissati sar Assur |

Instances of such a use of dividing-lines are extremely rare in Assyrian inscriptions, whereas on the Persian cuneiform monuments the words are invariably separated, but by a wedge placed diagonally.

The lid of the coffer in which this text was found bears a somewhat defaced inscription of the same character, which, however, ends with the words of line 40 of the present translation.

p. 82

The text has been published (with an introduction, transliteration, and translation) by Mr. Budge in the seventh volume of the Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology, p. 59, and in the fifth volume of The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, plates 69 and 70.

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