Cuneiform Digital Library Journal
2003:3
ISSN 1540-8779
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An Early Dynastic Tablet of ED Lu A
from Tell Brak (Nagar)

Piotr Michalowski < piotrm@umich.edu >
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Keywords
Sumerian, school text, lexical list, professions, Ebla


§1. The epigraphic finds of the 2001 excavation season at Tell Brak included a fragment of a large tablet containing an Early Dynastic scribal exercise. The preserved portion of the tablet contains lines 115-122 of ED Lu A, otherwise known as the “Standard Professions List.” The complete tablet must have contained a copy of the full one hundred and twenty-nine-line composition. This piece, TB 12381 (locus TCJ-1674), is published as no. 3 in the preliminary report that will appear in the journal Iraq. The present study is an expanded version of that report. Since this is the earliest school text from Nagar, it warrants expanded treatment. The author wishes to thank Joan and David Oates, as well as Geoffrey Emberling and Helen McDonald for entrusting these tablets to me for publication. This edition is based on photographs provided to me by Emberling.


§2. Miguel Civil (1969: 4), in his introduction to the edition of the composition, noted that this list “has a curious history of wide diffusion, longevity and textual stability.” The text is attested already in Uruk IV (Englund and Nissen 1993), and as such is one of the earliest documents of cuneiform education. The list was still copied in Old Babylonian times; it has been found on tablets of various periods from the Mesopotamian cities of Uruk, Ur, Shuruppak, Nippur, Lagash, Adab, Abu Salabikh, Kisurra, and perhaps Sippar, in Iranian Susa, as well as in Syria at Ebla, and now at Tell Brak. A new list based on ED Lu A, consisting of selected signs and signs extracted from composite signs, and provided with Semiticized sign readings, was compiled at some northern site, but is thus far attested only on two tablets from Ebla (Arcari 1983; Archi 1987, hereafter SLE). Civil and Rubio (1999: 265) aptly refer to this text as “a sort of card index that enabled the scribes to read ED Lu A.” As a result one can be fairly certain that ED Lu A was one of the basic, and most widely distributed scholastic texts in third millennium Syro-Mesopotamia. It continued to be disseminated for centuries, and although it was no longer part of the standard school repertoire, one or more texts that may be student copies from Nippur document its occasional instructional use. Civil’s edition has been supplemented by the study of Elena Arcari (1982) and more recently by the still unpublished work of Jon Taylor; photographs of all the Fara sources can now be found on the CDLI web site (<http://cdli.ucla.edu/digitlib.html>) and photos of the Ebla sources are available in MEE 3/A. Additional printed photos of one of the Ebla sources and of one Fara tablet have been published in Talon and van Lerberghe (1998: 216; 221).


§3. As is to be expected, there are no surprises and the new source only duplicates well attested entries. As is the case with so many entries in this ancient list, which was already anachronistic in ED III times, very few of the words in the section preserved on the Brak text can be identified from other cuneiform sources. It is difficult to generalize from an eight-line fragment, but the variants seem to cluster with Ebla and with the Yale tablet said to be from Nippur and the Old Babylonian exemplars from Ur, suggesting that it is later than the Fara and Abu Salabikh tablets and perhaps roughly contemporary with the Ebla archives.


§4. This is the first Early Dynastic IIIa lexical text from Syria found outside of Ebla. There is an Old Akkadian period exercise with ED Lu E from Urkesh that shows clearly how the school tradition had been imported anew from Mesopotamia as it is written in a beautiful Sargonic hand.[1]

 

Figure 1
  1' (=115) [GAL]: ˹SANGA˺:[GANA2]
  2' (=116) [GAL]: ˹PA:DUN3˺
  3' (=117) [GAL]. ˹TI˺
  4' (=118) ˹GAL:PA:SA6˺
  5' (=119) GAL: ˹LUHŠU(LAK442)˺
  6' (=120) ˹GAL:HUB2˺
  7' (=121) [GAL]: ˹MUŠ/MUŠ˺:KAK[2]
  8' (=122) [GAL.TAK4.]˹ALAN˺?

Figure 1: The Brak tablet TB 12381 (click on image to enlarge)


§5. Although this is but a fragment with less than 10% of the composition, it is instructive to compare it to other manuscripts of the list. This section only incorporates available sources and does not include some unpublished materials that have been identified but have not yet been made public.


§6.

ED Lu A Sources for lines 115-122
  AbS1 = OIP 99, 1 (3 & 4) vii 13-iv 3
  Fara1 = VAT 9130 (SF 75) obv. v 10-18
  Fara2 = VAT 12652 (SF 33) rev. i 12'-15'
  Fara3 = VAT 12675 (SF 35) obv. v' 9'-10'
  Ebla1 = TM.75.G.1312 (MEE 3 1, photo MEE 3/A pl. i) r. v 1-8
  Ebla2 = TM.G.1398 (MEE 3 2 + 5, photo MEE 3/A pl. ii) o. vii 1-8
  Brak1 = TB 12381
Later Sources
  Nip1 = CBS 7845 (SLT 113) i 1'-6'
  Unkn1 = YOS 1 12 col. “i” 6-13
  Unkn2 = Cohen JCS 55 (2003) vii 1'-2'
OB Sources
  Kisurra1 = FAOS 2/1, pl. 92 (F20 Š 71)
  Ur1 = UET 7 86 ii' 6'-12'
  Ur2 = U 30497 (Civil, OrAnt 22 [1983] 1 n. 2) ii 1-7

The related entries from the Ebla Sign List line 48-52 are labeled as SLE.


§7. The Yale prism YOS 1, 12, was said to be from Nippur according to the dealer who sold it, but that is highly unlikely, even though that claim was taken for granted in MSL 12. It is not clear to me if this is an ED exemplar, or another example of a later archaizing copy. Benjamin Foster, who was kind enough to examine the prism for me, suggests that it is later than ED, perhaps even Ur III in date. Another prism containing Lu A that may be Ur III or OB but with older looking signs will be published shortly by Mark Cohen in JCS 55; only the ends of two of our lines are preserved on that exemplar. The Nippur tablet SLT 113 is another fragment of a prism and, according to Steve Tinney, might be OB.[3] In view of the uncertainties concerning their dating, I have listed these two as “later sources.” It is obvious that a full reinvestigation of the dating of the various manuscripts of Lu A and the fascinating matter of archaizing copies, most of them on prisms, lies outside the scope of the present short note. The paleographic details of such texts are of great interest and require further study; for a list of known OB copies of Ed Lu A and other ED lexical lists, see Veldhuis 1997/8: 123.


§8. Textual Matrix of Lines 115-122 of ED Lu A

  ("+"=preserved, "."=damaged, "o"=missing)
115.   GAL: GANA2: SANGA
  AbS1 + + +
  Fara1 + + +
  Fara2 . o o
  Fara3 . . +
  Unkn1 + SANGA GANA2
  Ebla1 + + +
  Ebla2 + + +
  Brak1 o SANGA [GANA2]
  Kisurra1 + SANGA GANA2
  Ur1 [GAL.SANGA …]an-da-ga-naGANA2
  Ur2 [GAL.SANGA … an]-˹da˺-ga-na˹GANA2˺
  SLE GANA2 = ga-na-um

116.  
GAL:
PA:
DUN3
  AbS1
+
+
+
  Fara1
+
+
+
  Fara2
.
o
o
  Fara3
.
˹DUN3˺:
PA
  Unkn1
+
+
o
  Ebla1
+
+
+
  Ebla2
+
+
+
  Brak1
o
.
.
  Ur1 [GAL:PA]˹hu˺-ur-sa-ag2-galDUN3
  Ur2 [GAL]:˹PAhu˺-ur-sag-galDUN3
  SLE DUN3 = lu-ma-’a3-šu-um

117.  
GAL.
TI
  AbS1
+
+
  Fara1
+
+
  Fara2
.
o
  Unkn1
.
+
  Ebla1
+
+
  Ebla2
+
+
  Brak1
o
.
  Nip2
.
o
  Brak1
o
.
  Ur1 [GAL…]˹ti˺-di-im-galDIM
  Ur2 [GAL…]˹ti˺-ti-im-galDIM

118.  
GAL:
PA:
SA6
  AbS1
+
SA6
PA
  Fara1
+
SA6
PA
  Fara2
.
o
o
  Unkn1
+
+
+
  Ebla1
+
+
+
  Ebla2
+
+
+
  Nip 1
.
o
o
  Brak1
.
.
.
  Ur1 [GAL:PA]x-˹ti˺-di-˹im-gal˺SA6
  Ur2 [GAL]:PA[x]-ti-di-im-galSA6

119.   GAL: LUHŠU(LAK442)
  AbS1
+
+
 
  Fara1
+
+
 
  Unkn1
+
+
 
  Ebla1
+
+
 
  Ebla2
+
+
 
  Nip 1
+
o
 
  Brak1
o
.
 
  Ur1 [GAL…lu-uš]-˹hu˺-um!-ni-irLUHŠU
  Ur2 [GAL lu]-uš-hu-um-ni-irLUHŠU
  SLE LUHŠU = la-ha-šu-um

120.
GAL:
HUB2
  AbS1
+
+
  Fara1
+
+
  Unkn1
+
.
  Ebla1
+
+
  Ebla2
+
+
  Brak1
.
.
  Nip 1
+
o
  Ur1
o
+
  Ur2
o
[ ]-x+

121.
GAL:
MUŠ/MUŠ:
KAK
  AbS1
+
MUŠ/KAK/MUŠ
  Fara1
+
MUŠ/KAK/MUŠ
  Unkn1
+
MUŠ/˹KAK˺/MUŠ
  Unkn2
o
˹MUŠ×MUŠ˺:
˹KAK˺
  Ebla1
+
˹MUŠ/MUŠ˺:
KAK
  Ebla2
+
MUŠ/KAK/MUŠ
  Brak1
o
MUŠ/MUŠ:
KAK
  Nip 1
+
o
  Ur2
o
x-kuMUŠ×MUŠ

>Unkn1 after 122 (reading based on collation by B. Foster); Ur1 has only the end of the final sign of 122 making it look as if it also had 122 before 121.


122.
GAL:
TAK4.
ALAN
  AbS1
+
+
+
  Fara1
+
+
+
  Unkn1
+
ALAN×GANA2-tenû
  Unkn2
o
o
+
  Ebla1
+
+
+
  Ebla2
+
+
+
  Brak1
o
o
.
  Nip 1
+
+
o
  Ur1
o
o
.
  SLE (see commentary)

Philological Notes
§9. It is difficult to generalize on the basis of this kind of distribution of variants, but the general tendency seems to be for more agreement between Brak and Ebla than between Brak and the ED Mesopotamian sources. There is also a large degree of agreement between Brak and the OB Ur pieces and the YOS 1 text (see figure 2).

 

 
Fara
AbS
Ebla
Unknown
Brak
OB Ur
115
-
-
-
+
+
+
116
+/-
+
+
+
+
+
117
+
+
+
+
+
-
118
-
-
+
+
+
+
119
+
+
+
+
+
+
120
+
+
+
+
+
+
121
-
-
+/-
-
+
?
122
+
+
+
-
+
+

Figure 2. Comparison of sources by provenience


§10. l. 117: For an OB reference, see, perhaps, gal-ti = gal-di = ti-iz-qa2-ru-um/ra-ah-bu-um, MSL 14, 134 ii 18-19, a unique Ea type text from Sippar. The confusions that ED Lu A posed for scribes are obvious from the OB versions from Ur that have DIM instead of TI.


§11. l. 119: On the various forms of this and related signs and on the reading luhšu/a see G. Selz, RA 83 (1989) 7-12, with earlier literature.


§12. l. 121: The only other occurrence of this term known to me is in ED Word List E (SF 59, MEE 3, 50 + unpublished duplicates) 45 (written MUŠ/KAK/MUŠ in both ED sources).


§13. l. 122: Of all the words in this passage, TAK4.ALAN, albeit without the fronted GAL, is the best attested outside of ED Lu A. The component sign generally transliterated TAK4 requires further study; for the present see Veldhuis 1995: 436-437. As he notes, this is essentially a ŠU sign that has been rotated by 90°. One could argue that this anticipates, in a sense, the later technique of creating signs by slanting them at an angle, what was referred to by Mesopotamian scribes as tenû. We may have an earlier example of the philological convention for this type of practice, perhaps an ad hoc one, in one of the two copies of the ED Lu A-derived SLE text. In one manuscript line 51 repeats the Lu entry TAK4.ALAN, while the following line provides only the first component TAK4. A duplicate (TM.75.G.1907+12690; both from Archi 1987 95) provides sign names with a twist:

  TAK4 šu-wu-um, followed by “AŠ (obliq.),” that is by an angled wedge.
  TAK4.ALAN la-’a3-num2

It seems more than likely that the first entry is to be understood as “TAK4 is an angled šuwum, i.e. ŠU-sign.” The second one simply provides a name for the ALAN sign and is not a translation of the whole entry.[4]


§14. The professional name TAK4.ALAN is already attested in the archaic texts from Uruk, in a lexical list (W 20266,4, ATU 3, pl. 21), as well as in administrative accounts (W  24224, BagM 22 [1991] 156; W  20274,16 ATU 2, 22, etc.). It occurs again in ED Lu C 50 (Taylor 2003), and ED Lu E 20 (MSL 12, 17). It was still used in administrative texts from Fara, Ebla, ED II Girsu, and Old Akkadian Nippur; see Bauer (1972: 344 “Bildhauer”) as well as Pomponio and Visicato (1994: 474), but to my knowledge it is not known from any later documents. Outside of Girsu it may be attested in a votive inscription edited by Steible (1982: 342), which most probably originated in Adab. The text is inscribed on a broken ED period statue of a man and reads:

  1. d[nin]-˹šubur?˺
  2. […]
  3. x x …
  4. ME.DUR2.KISAL x x
  5. TAK4!.ALAN-ni
  6. nam-ti-la-ni-da
  7. he2-na-da-kux(DU)

§15. Steible translated the text: “[(Für) Ninšubu]r(?) [….] (=PN) … seine Statue möge für sein Leben für ihn/sie dastehen” and his interpretation is accepted by Pomponio and Visicato (1994: 374). I would suggest that rather than render line 5 as “his statue” we interpret this as the profession of the person represented by the sculpture, whose name is undoubtedly contained in line 4. Without collation I would not venture much further, but will only note that KISAL is probably to be interpreted as giparx (Steinkeller 1999: 109) and that the broken signs at the end may include si.


§16. The later history of this word in lexical texts is somewhat murky. The entries in OB Proto-Lu 675 (MSL 12, 57) and in a related list (MSL 12, 67 iii 7') may have been simply carried over from ED professional name list tradition. The same tradition is reflected in OB Diri, which offers an Akkadian translation for the first time : TAK4.ALAN = gu-ur-gu-ru-um (OB Nippur Diri VI B 164).


§17. In later times this sign combination became (URUDU).SIG7.TAK4.ALAN as in ze2-er-mu-ku = URUDU.SIG7.TAK4.ALAN = MIN in Diri VI E 86 and [lu2]-˹tibira˺ = SIG7.TAK4.ALANsi-ir-MUŠ?-lam! = gur-gur-ru in “Hh XXV” B iv 8' (MSL 12, 229), a “late secondary compilation of rather low quality” (MSL 12, 230). For other late lexical and literary references see CAD G, pp. 138-139. The Akkadian has been interpreted as gurgurru (qurqurru), “craftsman working in wood and metal” (CAD).



BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arcari, E.
  1982 La lista di professioni “Early Dynastic LU A”, Supplemento 32 ad AION 42.
  1983 “Sillabario di Ebla e ED LU A: rapporti intercorrenti tra le due liste,” OrAnt 22, pp. 167-178.
Archi, A.
  1987 “The ‘Sign-list’ from Ebla,” in C. H. Gordon, et al, eds., Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, vol. I. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, pp. 91-113.
Bauer, J.
  1972 Altsumerische Wirschaftstexte aus Lagasch. Studia Pohl 9. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Biggs, R. D.
  1981 “Ebla and Abu Salabikh: The Linguistic and Literary Aspects,” pp. 121-133 in L. Cagni ed., La lingua di Ebla, Napoli.
Buccellati, G.
  2003 “A Lu E School Tablet from the Service Quarter of the Royal Palace AP at Urkesh,” JCS 55 (in press).
Buccellati, G. and M. Kelly-Buccellati
  1997 “Urkesh. The First Hurrian Capital,” Biblical Archaeologist 60, pp. 77-96.
Civil, M. and G. Rubio
  1999 “An Ebla Incantation Against Insomnia and the Semitization of Sumerian: Notes on ARET 5 8b and 9,” OrNS 68, pp. 254-266.
Civil, M., et al.
  1969 The Series lú = ša and Related Texts. MSL XII, Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Englund, R. K. and H. J. Nissen
  1993 Die lexikalischen Listen der Archaischen Texte aus Uruk. ATU 3. Berlin: Gebr. Mann.
Pomponio, F. and G. Visicato
  1997 Early Dynastic Administrative Tablets of Šuruppak. Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli.
Steible, H.
  1982 Die altsumerischen Bau- und Weihinschriften, fasc. II. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner.
Steinkeller, P.
  1999 “On Rulers, Priests and Sacred Marriage: Tracing the Evolution of Early Sumerian Kingship,” in K. Watanabe, ed., Priests and Officials in the Ancient Near East: Papers of the Second Colloquium on the Ancient Near East - The City and Its Life Held at the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan (Mitaka, Tokyo), March 22-24, 1996. Heidelberg: C. Winter, pp. 103-138.
Talon, P. and K. van Lerberghe
  1998 En Syrie: Aux origines de l’écriture. Leuven: Brepols.
Taylor, J.
  2003 “Collations to ED Lu C and D,” CDLB 2003/3 (<http://cdli.ucla.edu/pubs/cdlb/2003/cdlb2003_003.html).
Veldhuis, N.
  1995 Review of R. Englund and H. Nissen, Die lexikalischen Listen der Archaischen Texte aus Uruk, in BiOr 52, pp. 433-440.
  1997/8 “The Sur9-Priest, the Instrument gišAl-gar-sur9, and the Forms and Uses of a Rare Sign,” AfO 44/45, pp. 115-128.

Version: 5 March 2003