Middle Assyrian Literary Catalog
Artifact: Clay tablet
Period: Middle Assyrian period (ca. 1400-1000 BC)
Current location: Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin
Text genre, language: ; Akkadian
Description: The German excavations at Assur yielded a huge amount of scholarly texts ranging from copies of literary compositions and other religious literature to lexical compendia and scientific texts. A particularly interesting tablet contains a large inventory of songs. Its author, who is unfortunately unknown due to the destroyed colophon, collected the initial words (or incipits) of about 400 songs, of which 275 are still preserved. The large tablet still preserves eight columns of text. After each group of incipits the scribe introduces a summary. These summaries are written from the point of view of the scribe himself, so for instance:
"Firstborn son of Anu, I will extol your strength"
"I will extol Erra, his strength I will praise"
"O Lord, I will sing a song of your divinity"
"Šarrabu went forth, lord of disputes"
"The guard of Erra, the guardian"
(rule and blank space) Four series, 21 songs in Akkadian fashion I counted. Ea may assure you life!
While the incipits of songs quoted here are Akkadian, the inventory also contains a high amount of Sumerian ones.
All in all, it is clear that the compiler of this catalogue must have had access to at least one collection of manuscripts, be it a temple library or private manuscript collection. It is even rather likely that he produced an inventory of several of such collections. This catalogue also shows that amid the fact that so many scholarly texts dating to the Middle Assyrian period were found at Assur, it offers only a small glimpse of what used to be part of the scribal lore of the period. (Klaus Wagensonner, Freie Universität Berlin)
Lineart: KAR 158
Edition(s): Ebeling, E. 1919-1923. Ein Hymnenkatalog aus Assur (= Berliner Beiträge zur Keilschriftforschung I/III). Berlin.