Compendium CBS 6060

Category: Frameworks > Mesopotamian Polytheism > Mesopotamian Theology

1 Introduction

This curious Akkadian list, included in Alasdair Livingstone’s Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars (1986) and translated into German in Bern Janowski & Daniel Schwemer’s Texte zur Wissenskultur (2020), seems to be a compilation drawn from various texts interpreting specific rituals.

  • In almost each entry of the first section, some material (probably all used in ritual in one way or another) is interpreted as a deity; only 51 and 52 are simply Sumerian-Akkadian glosses, and in the last subsection the identifications are with body parts of a god, not gods themselves.
  • The second section names a number of gods (or “demons”, in modern terms) and their locations.
  • In the third section, twelve gods are listed: they are the weapons of Marduk, which he uses against the Storms (cf. line 54). Those whose names are not generally familiar are then given interpretations based on their cuneiform spelling.

For instance, juniper, popularly used for incense, is glossed as Adad. Does this mean that juniper literally is Adad? That it represents him in some way? That it is sacred to him? Although from a much later time, I refer the reader to Proclus’ theory of the priestly art: to him, the stones, plants and animals (etc.) assigned to the gods are “traces” of them, and in a sense are the gods’ presence on Earth, even though juniper is of course not, in any narrow sense, the god Adad.

The translation I give is largely based on Livingstone’s. Lines are numbered consecutively.

2 Translation of first section


(1) The basin [text lost] the gods [text lost] = Ningirimma, creatrix of the gods, her [one word lost]
(2) Container = Nammu, the belover of her brothers

(As Livingstone points out, both Ningirimma and Nammu are commonly associated with the basin.)


(3) Tamarisk = Anu
(4) Heart of the date palm : Dumuzi
(5) Soap plant = Ea
(6) A type of reed (“reed of the prisoner”) = Ninurta
(7) A type of plant (sikillu) = Nanše
(8) A type of plant (“plant of deliverance”) = Erra

(Erra is Nerigal.)


(9) Silver = Angal (‘Great Anu’)
(10) Gold = Enmešarra
(11) Copper = Ea
(12) Tin = Ninmaḫ
(13) Lead = Ninurta

(Livingstone mentions another tradition which identifies silver, gold, copper and tin with the gods Anu, Enlil, Ea and Ninazal, respectively.)


(14) Carnelian = Ninlil
(15) Lapis lazuli = Dilibat (=Venus)
(16) Black agate = Amaraḫaˀea of Eridu
(17) Red agate = Lugalasal
(18) Papardilû stone = Sakkut
(19) Papparminnu stone = Nusku
(20) Abašmû stone = Papsukkal
(21) Engiša stone = Sakkut
(22) Mār-bīti-of-Malak stone = Rammānu (=Adad)
(23) Lamassu stone = Ištar of Uruk
(24) Breccia = Ištar of Agade
(25) Conch = Ištar, Lady of Babylon
(26) Zibtu stone = Ninlil

<specific ritual elements>

(27) Bronze nails and their binding = Ninurta
(28) Binding of the yoke = Sibitti (the Pleiades)
(29) Seven small date palms = Seven sons of Enmešarra
(30) Three heaps of flour = Anu, Enlil, and Ea
(31) Circle of flour = Nisaba = Tašmētu (or ‘Nisaba and Tašmētu’)

(Some of these make little sense without knowing the specific rituals they are from; they seem to be partially related to something like the Ritual for Curing a Sick Man, where three heaps of flour and a circle of flour are explained similarly.)


(32) Cedar = Lady of Nippur (Ninnibru)
(33) Cypress = Kišar
(34) Šimgir plant = Idluguru (‘Ordeal River’)
(35) Boxwood = Lady (ᵈGAŠAN)
(36) Lemongrass = Nanaya
(37) Juniper = Adad
(38) Colored wool = Uttu, daughter of Anu = a spider’s web

(These were, it seems, all used in offerings of various kinds.)

<ritual elements>

(39) Ritual arrangement = Ninurta
(40) Censer = Uraš
(41) Torch = Gibil
(42) White fumigants = Lisi
(43) Purifier = Igisigsig, gardener of Enlil (Enlilla)
(44) Cymbals = Ninšar and Nerigal
(45) Drum = Indagar
Gypsum = Utulu
(47) Bitumen = Nāru
(48) Scapegoat (a kind of expiatory animal victim) = Kušu
(49) Live sheep = Šakkan
(50) Offering goat = Muḫra

(Many of these objects, such as censers, torches, purifiers – pine cones(?) dipped in liquid and used to sprinkle –, and so on, recur across various rituals, others may be more peculiar to specific ceremonies, some of which me may no longer know. For parallels, see again the Ritual for Curing a Sick Man, as well as the Ritual for Covering a Kettledrum. It is interesting that the entire ritual arrangement – originally, one assumes, of a specific ritual, but in the context of this list, ritual arrangement as such – is equated with a god.)

<Sumerian words glossed>

(51) šebirbirrida = milled barley
(52) šenumun = meal

<miscellaneous objects>

(53) Porringer(?) = Nunurra = Ea (or ‘Nunurra and Ea’)
(54) Mace weapon = seven storms (or ‘storm demons’) = the maces of Marduk
(55) Red gold = the Anunnaki
(56) Gold furnishing of a young goat = Maštabbagalgal (Gemini)
(57) Gazelle = Šarratnippuri
(58) Goose = Ninimma

<body parts of Anzû>

(69) Cedar resin = fat of Anzû
(60) Honey = pus of Anzû
(61) Rancid oil = his fat
(62) Sulphur = his gods
(63) Raisins = his eye-balls
(64) Dried figs = his breasts
(65) Pomegranate = his knees
(66) Apples = ankle bones
(67) Scone/cake = his flesh

(Anzû is a monstrous deity killed by Marduk.)

3 Translation of second section (the locations of demons)

(68) Kušu = above the shrine(?)
(69) Muḫra = before the main gate
(70) Sakkut = in the midst of the marsh
(71) Silakku = in the orchard
(72) Eku = within the thigh
(73) Abbagula = in the wall
(74) Šulak = in the ruins

(Apart from Sakkut and Šulak, these are Asakkū, a group of harmful “demons”. The locations may be where one catches them, as it were, but that is unclear.)

4 Translation of the third section (twelve “storm-trampling” weapons)

[WIP: Livingstone p. 55]

5 Translation of the colophon

The initiate may show it to the initiate, the uninitiated may not see it. The incantation priest (wāšipu) Ninurta-nāṣir, the son of Ninurtaiqīša, copied it according to its original. Property of Ešumeša temple.