Sacred Texts  Ancient Near East  Index  Previous 

p. 120


a. The date 2000 B. C. assigned to the clay tablets on which the Sumerian compositions are inscribed should be reduced by about 250 years as a result of recent studies which point to a date as low as about 1750 B. C. for Hammurabi, a key figure in Mesopotamian chronology.

b. The number of Sumerian literary tablets and fragments are now known to be approximately five thousand, rather than three thousand. Close to four thousand come from Nippur, if we include the tablets found in the recent joint University Museum-Oriental Institute Expedition (19481952). The Sumerian literary tablets in the Hilprecht Collection of the Friedrich-Schiller University (Jena) have been studied by me in the fall of 1955 and again in 1957; for full details see the study "Sumerische literarische Texte in der Hilprecht-Sammlung" (Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena, 1955/6, pages 753-763), and History Begins at Sumer (see following note) pages 226-236. A first volume of the Hilprecht Collection, consisting of fifty-seven of the more important tablets and fragments will be published in the near future by the Friedrich-Schiller University and the German Academy of Science. The tablets from Ur, as I learned during a stay in London, are over four hundred in number. Most of these have been copied over the years by C. J. Gadd, and will be published in the course of the next few years.

c. The publication of the Sumerian literary works has taken a different form than that projected at the time of the publication of Sumerian Mythology (1944). I have since realized that the definitive edition of each of the Sumerian myths, epic tales, hymns, lamentations, essays, and proverb collections, consisting of copies or photographs of the tablets together with transliterations, translations, and commentaries, could not possibly be produced by one man, no matter how concentrated his scholarly efforts, especially since the text of many of the compositions must be pieced together from dozens of individual tablets and fragments scattered throughout the museums the world over. As of today, I have published detailed studies of (1) "Enki and Ninhursag: a Sumerian 'Paradise' Myth"; (2) "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World"; (3) "Inanna and Bilulu" (coauthor Thorkild Jacobsen); (4) "Dumuzi and Enkimdu: The Wooing of Inanna"; (5) "Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta"; (6) "Gilgamesh and the Land of the Living"; (7) "Lamentation Over the Destruction of Ur"; (8) "Schooldays," as well as a number of smaller pieces; for full bibliographical details, see my "Sumerian Literature: A General Survey"

p. 121

in the Albright Festschrift now in press. Two important editions of Sumerian compositions to appear in the near future are "Enki and the World Order: The Organization of the Earth and Its Cultural Processes," and "Two Elegies in a Pushkin Museum Tablet," prepared as a result of a recent visit to the Soviet Union. I have also sketched the contents and cited translations from a number of the Sumerian literary compositions in my From the Tablets of Sumer (1956), of which a revised and enlarged edition has appeared under the title History Begins at Sumer (1959).

In recent years, moreover I have drawn in several younger scholars to prepare definitive editions of a number of Sumerian literary works with my guidance and help. Thus Father Bergmann of the Pontifical Biblical Institute at Rome has prepared for publication "The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta" (see pp. 79-83 of Sumerian Mythology); "The Return of Ninurta to Nippur"; and the large and important "Collection of Temple Hymns." G. Castellino, of the University of Rome, has prepared for publication two hymns of King Shulgi, and a "Hymn to (the sun-god) Utu." Dr. Edmund Gordon, former Research Associate in the University Museum, and now teaching at Harvard University, has prepared for publication a large part of the Sumerian proverbs. As a result of all this scholarly activity, I am planning the publication of a volume entitled "Sumerian Literature: A Representative Crossection," consisting of translations only, of the more important Sumerian literary works, which should prove of fundamental value to the humanist and student of literature and culture in general.

d. A number of important Sumerian inscriptional finds were made during the war-years and afterwards at Harma, Uqair, and Nippur; see my Iraqi Excavations During the War Years (University Museum Bulletin, vol. XIII, no. 2, pp. 1-29), and "Mercy, Wisdom, and Justice: Some New Documents from Nippur" (University Museum Bulletin, vol. XVI, no. 2, pp. 28-39).

e. For a fairly representative cross-section of the Sumerian hymnal material, see now Adam Falkenstein's contribution to Sumerische und Akkadische Hymnen und Gebete (1953); see also my review in Bibliotheca Orientalis (Leiden) vol. XI, pages 170-176.

f. For a detailed and illuminating sketch of Sumerian "wisdom" literature, see E. I. Gordon's study "A New Look at the Wisdom of Sumer and Akkad" to appear in the coming issue of Bibliotheca Orientalis (Leiden).

p. 122

g. In addition to the "catalogue" tablet discussed there are now six more "catalogues" available; see "Götter-Hymnen und Kult Gesänge der Sumerer auf zwei Keilschrift-'Katalogen' in der Hilprecht Sammlung" (Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena, 1956/7, pages 389-395) and the Introduction to Nos. 53-55 of the forthcoming volume of Sumerian literary texts from the "Hilprecht Sammlung" (see note b above).

h. The dates for the Third Dynasty of Ur and the classical Sumerian period should be lowered by about a century; see also note  a above.

i. For the probable influence of Sumerian literature on the Bible, see my "Sumerian Literature and the Bible" in Studia Biblica et Orientalia, vol. III (1959), pages 185-204.

j. For a modification of one of the episodes in this poem based upon tablets which were unknown at the time Sumerian Mythology was written, see my "Gilgamesh: Some New Sumerian Data" in the Proceedings of the Septième Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, now in press.

k. The "question and answer passage" can now be restored almost entirely; for details see note 16 of my "Death and the Nether World According to the Sumerian Literary Texts" in a forthcoming volume of Iraq, dedicated to Leonard Woolley.

l. The first seven lines of the poem which were omitted altogether in Sumerian Mythology because of their fragmentary condition will now be found transliterated and translated in the article mentioned in note  j.

m. From the Pushkin Museum tablet inscribed with two elegies (see note  c above), we learn for the first time that the Sumerian thinkers held to the view that the sun after setting, continues its journey through the Nether World at night, turning night into day, as it were; and that the moon, too, spends its "day of rest," that is the twenty-eighth day of each month, in the Nether World.

n. A modified interpretation of the first part of the myth will now be found in History Begins at Sumer, pages 84-86.

o. Thorkild Jacobsen offers a translation in volume 5 of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies which differs significantly from mine, and draws the conclusion that man, after "developing" below the surface of the earth, "shot forth" from the earth through a hole made by Enlil in the top

p. 123

crust of the earth. But his translation of the relevant lines is by no mean, certain, as I hope to show in a future study of the composition.

p. A full edition of the myth will now be found in Supplementary Study No. 1 of the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research; see also Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (James Pritchard, Editor) pages 37-40.

q. A definitive edition of this myth will appear in a forthcoming number of the Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena (see note  c above).

r. For a translation of this "hymnal" myth, see now, Adam Falkenstein in Sumerische und Akkadische Hymnen und Gebete, pp. 133-137.

s. Pages 68-75. For another version of the creation of man, suggested by Thorkild Jacobsen, see note  o above.

t. For a modified version of this myth see now History Begins at Sumer, pages 172-174.

u. For a revised edition of "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" see now Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. V, pp. 1-17; for a number of newly identified pieces see my "Death and the Nether World According to the Sumerian Literary Texts" in the forthcoming Woolley Festschrift (see note  k).

v. The "Flood" tablet published by Poebel still remains unduplicated.

w. The "'Marriage of Martu" tablet published by Chiera still remains unduplicated.

x. For a detailed study of this poem see Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. II, pp. 39-70; see also Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, pp. 41-42.