Kinyras: The Divine Lyre

  Franklin, John Curtis. 2016. Kinyras: The Divine Lyre. Hellenic Studies Series 70. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.


Wolfgang Heimpel

franklin fig@balang-gods

Introduction [1]

In his 1997 essay “The Holy Drum, the Spear, and the Harp: Towards an Understanding of the Problems of Deification in Third Millennium Mesopotamia,” Gebhard Selz found that the items in his title and other ‘cultic objects’ were deified by providing them with a name, animating them with the magic of the mouth-washing ritual, and assigning them a cult place and offerings, with the result that their divine nature was the same as those of the images of the gods.

I treat here only the “harp,” actually a type of harp that I call the Balang-harp. My initial interest in the topic were the names and functions of the Balang-harp servant-gods that are found in large numbers in the god-list An:Anum (the first line and the modern title of a seven-tablet bilingual list of gods) and my belief that the balang instrument was indeed a harp, and not a drum as widely claimed. Pursuing these two interests and becoming aware of the great variety of uses of the word balang, I attempt in the following to define them and see how they relate to each other. The problem of deification that interested Selz is treated in further detail.

References to entries of the Catalogue are underscored.

1 Balang Instruments

1a Neither drum nor lyre

Gabbay (PHG:98–102) has now treated the relationship between balang and lilis and found that the latter supplanted the former as an object of royal dedications to gods and as the central instrument in performing balang compositions. He also noted a case where the lilis kettledrum built and dedicated by an OB king is identified in writing as ‘kettledrum’ (li-li-sa-am) or ‘bronze balang’ (BALAĜ.ZABAR, 44). Indeed, a ‘bronze balang’ appears already in a text from the Ur III period (35) and may be a kettledrum. As argued below, the lute as a cultic instrument could also be called a balang. That may also be the case of the kettledrum called the ‘bronze balang’.

As regards the balang instrument that is no kettledrum, Gabbay found the first and so far single textual proof that it was indeed a chordophone, an unpublished OB text containing the phrase “to slice the strings of the adviser” (PHG:96 with n140). Balang-gods, a category of servant-gods discussed below, were called “adviser” of the god they served, so the strings of the adviser would be the strings of the instrument of the balang servant-god.

In the god-list An:Anum (53), the title of balang servant-gods was written with the logogram GUD.BALAĜ, where GUD is the logogram for the bull. ED pictorial representations and finds of the remains of lyres show that their resonator was formed to resemble a bull [e.g. Figure 4, Figure 47—JCF]. Bull lyres are depicted typically in scenes of feasting; in the words of Michalowski, they were “an iconic symbol of elite entertainment in banquet scenes, and in similar representations of status-affirming conviviality.” [4] Gabbay points to the picture of an OAkk. cylinder seal that shows the cult scene of a lyre-player before the seated image of the goddess Ishtar in her warlike aspect with weapons emerging from behind her shoulders. [5] Boehmer interprets the scene as a musical performance meant to soothe the warlike Ishtar. [6] Gabbay builds on this interpretation, describing the scene as a “musical performance” that “is … intended to soothe Inanna’s raging heart, which is the exact role of the performance of Emesal prayers in their musical context, and thus it is not unlikely that the scene may belong to the world of the gala [i.e. lamenter].” Boehmer’s interpretation is debatable. Several OAkk. representations of Ishtar with weapons emerging from behind her shoulders are the common offering scenes. The famous seal of Adda (Boehmer no. 377) shows Ishtar standing as morning-star over the mountainland and above the sun-god emerging from below the horizon. This leads me to interpret the representation on the seal Boehmer no. 385 as a musical performance before the morning-star Ishtar. That performance would belong to the world of the temple-singer who celebrates her appearance that announces the coming light of day. Gabbay (2010) adopts Boehmer’s interpretation and proposes to strengthen the connection of the scene with the world of the lamenter by associating the musician sitting behind the lyre-player with the image of a chief lamenter on a stone bowl from Assyrian Nimrud who stretches out two objects in his hands that Gabbay interprets as sistrum and drum. I see in the object the stem and flower of a lotus plant. Lotus flowers were a pictorial motif adopted from Egypt in Assyria at the time. They are held in the hands of persons elsewhere in Assyrian art (Bleibtreu 1980:116–120). The object in the other hand of the chief lamenter can hardly be the percussion instrument on the knees of the sistrum player. Only two forward tips clearly separated by empty space are preserved.

I believe that the musician with sistrum and percussion instrument on his knees is a singer (nar) because these two instruments are held by a jackal in the famous animal ensemble that decorated one of the bull lyres found in the ED royal tombs of Ur. The head of a jackal served as pictograph of the Sumerian word for the singer (nar), about which more is said below in Section 3a.

The remaining argument in favor of identifying the balang instrument with a lyre is an entry in an ED lexical text from Ebla in Syria where the sign BALAĜ is translated with kinnār, the Akkadian and West Semitic word for the lyre (4d). The translation must be evaluated in connection with document 4c, an unprovenanced, but surely Mesopotamian, ED IIIa vocabulary containing a section listing six musical instruments. Two instruments were written with the sign BALAĜ, one with a modified BALAĜ sign, another with the logogram sequence AL.HUB2, the fifth har-har, known also from later texts as a musical instrument, and the last ki2-na-ru12, the ED spelling of kinnār “lyre.” It appears that the sign BALAĜ wrote two words designating two instruments, the modified BALAĜ sign a third instrument, possibly tigi, modified differently in later periods as NAR.BALAĜ, BALAĜ.NAR, and E2.BALAĜ, and finally ki2-na-ru12, the lyre, as still another instrument.

1b Balang lute

1c ED harps in pictorial representations

1d The ED balang sign

Written sources of the ED period become more numerous and with wider geographical spread in period ED IIIa. The balang sign of this period is complex and differs radically from the earlier forms. The numerous variants of the sign are drawn by Deimel 1922:6 and quoted as LAK 41. [15] They are the prototypes of the later fully cuneiform balang sign. The sign LAK 41 takes the place of the archaic balang sign in the ED version of the list of persons Lu2 A (2 and 4a). Parallel lines in the center of the sign suggest strings, but their proper attachment is not shown, and the overall form and details of the sign are not matched by any Mesopotamian pictorial representations of harps of any period. That a harp is represented at all is confirmed by a scene of a plaque from Susa from the same time. [16] It forms a clear match with the sign LAK 41 (Heimpel 2014). At the time, Susa had close ties with Mesopotamia. Such plaques are well attested in the Diyala area where Elamite and Mesopotamian cultures meet. They were used to frame a peg protruding from the door jamb that served as anchor for a rope attached to the door that was slung around it to keep the door closed (Zettler 1987). The plaques show secular scenes, the principal figure probably being the master or mistress of an upscale house for which the plaque was made. Other objects found together with the plaque also demonstrate the cultural tie between Susa and Mesopotamia at the time (Marchesi and Marchetti 2011:82–83). Cuneiform was written there, too, including the ED version of the list Lu2 A. [17]

The Susa harp was a large instrument, its neck reaching from the bottom of the resonator to a point behind and slightly above the head of the seated player. At the bottom, the neck disappears inside the resonator. A foot is not visible, but can be expected for an instrument of that size. The high and fairly thick resonator was fastened to the lower neck. It was probably a cylinder, not a box, because hoops were part of the Balang-harp (52); this answers one argument against identifying the balang instrument with a harp (Cohen 1974). The neck emerges from the resonator and continues for a little less distance than the resonator’s height and bends to a point under the left armpit of the player to form the bow that frames the strings. On the right shoulder of the player, it recurves, forming a wide semicircle, and ends behind and slightly above the player’s pate. At the upper end, the neck of the instrument flares and forms a flat surface similar to the otherwise quite differently shaped OAkk. harp MgB 2/2 no. 44.

The general form of the ED IIIa balang sign is similar, though some details are not. The neck of the instrument of the sign gains in girth toward the bottom and forms the resonator. Close to the lower end is a horizontal line that may mark the upper end of a stand. The wide recurved bow at the upper end of the neck of the Susa harp is clearly marked in the sign, but much smaller and tighter. The two groups of parallel straight lines may be the strings, with the lower group not reaching the other end of the bow and the upper group being the upper ends of strings beyond the point of fastening.

The Susa harp was played by a seated man with the strings between neck and player. All other representations of harp playing from the early periods show that the neck was between player and strings.

1e Features of Balang-harps

The harp shown on the Susa plaque is a type that matches the balang instrument. Both were large. The Balang-harp was “set up” (gub) before being played (17e, 20c, 22, 47a), carried from place to place by harp carriers (balaĝ-il2), and “repositioned” from its place in its home temple to various locations on a procession route including other cities (10). Bull hide (36 and 41), black he-goat hide (41), kid hide (46), or just hide (48) was issued for Balang-harps, surely to cover their resonators.

The harp also had an ‘eye’, probably an opening in the resonator (23a3), and a mysterious tooth/teeth/nose/mouth (KA) of the left ‘wood piece’ (42b).

A single reference (35) attests a “bronze balang,” probably a kettledrum that was occasionally so called (see Section 1a).

1f Balang-harp

The lack of Mesopotamian pictorial representations of the type of harp that corresponds to the ED IIIa balang sign and the similar Susa harp was probably caused by the use of this instrument in mortuary cult (22). Depicting it would have raised the specter of death.

That was not the case in ED Susa where a similar kind of harp was used for elite entertainment, much like the bull lyre in contemporaneous Mesopotamia. While the general design of the large harp was identical in Susa and Mesopotamia, it clearly played different roles in Elamite and Mesopotamian cultures.

2 Balang names and balang-gods

There are numerous attestations of positioning Balang-harps at cult places in ED IIIb administrative documents (914). The word balang was written without divine determinative and names of the instruments are not recorded in administrative documents. I found one harp-god name in such documents of the OAkk. period (15). Many names are found in texts of the Ur III period. They were written without the divine determinative in the province of Lagash, and with the determinative in sources outside of that province.

2a Temple-servants, divine and human, in the Ur III period temple of Ningirsu in Girsu, the capital of the province of Lagash

The Babylonian temple mirrored an elite household. The divine master and mistress of a temple commanded a staff of servants who cared for their every need. An instructive source is the description of a temple renovation by Gudea, ruler of the province of Lagash of the third dynasty of Ur at the end of the third millennium BCE. It is written in Sumerian with the partly syllabic and logographic cuneiform writing of the time. Due to its length and good preservation, the text has been studied much and translated repeatedly. While problems of translation persist, it represents the best available textual source for the architecture and function of a city-god’s temple for this period.

The review of the temple-servants is described more as a fully actual review than a mythological process. Plough animals in the province of Lagash were also made to pass the reviewer in single file (Heimpel 1995:120). Most but not all names of the temple-servants are preceded in writing by the divine determinative. The divine determinative is found typically for the same gods whose image and house are attested in contemporaneous administrative documents. It is therefore significant that house and image are not attested for the servants whose names are written without the divine determinative. They are the second general, the butler of the bedroom suite, the deer-keeper, and the two balang servants. One might imagine that the two balang could have been a lute with a name and a Balang-harp with a name that were carried around; but this is hardly a solution for ‘Lord Deer’. Whether goatherd (as Jacobsen interprets the difficult passage describing him and his duties) or deer-keeper, he was not an object, and lacking the divine determinative in writing, and image or temple in administrative documents, he must have been the human temple-servant in charge of providing the dairy products for the meals of Ningirsu. The balang servants could thus have been the singer (nar) and lamenter (gala) of the temple who carried their instruments with them. The Balang-harp of the lamenter Fierce-faced King would actually have been carried by a harp carrier (4g, 10). The only case for a “house” of a harp-god is 23d3.

The following table lists the servants and whether they are marked with (+) or without (-) the divine determinative. In the “occupation” column, the first identification is that of Jacobsen 1987, the second mine:

dd? Name Translation Occupation
+ Ig-alima Bisondoor High Constable
Chief Bailiff
+ Shul-shaga Youth of Heart Butler
+ Lugal-kurdub King Mountainland Drubber Marshal
(Kurshunaburu) Mountainland Bird in Hand Vice Marshal
Second General
+ Lugal-sisa Straight King Vice Regent
Shakkan-shengbar   Private Secretary
Butler of Bedroom Suite
+ Kindazi Good Barber Valet de Chambre
+ En-signun Lord? Equerry
En-lulim Lord Deer Goat Herd
Deer Keeper
Ushumgal-kalama Great Dragon of
the Homeland
Lugal-igi-hush Wroth-faced King [24]
Fierce-faced King
+ 7 twins of Baba Handmaidens
+ Gishbare The One Taking out the Plow
+ Lamma-enkud-e-
Angel Tax-Collector of
Steppe Bank
Fishery Supervisor
+ Dimgal Abzu Great Post of Groundwater Herald of Steppe Bank
+ Lugal King Guard of Holy City

2b No servant-gods in a comprehensive list of food and drink allocations to gods of a temple

The three balang-gods of Ninurta of Eshumesha that are listed in An:Anum (I 268–270) were not allocated food and drink. However, eleven human temple-servants receiving food and drink from the temple (Sigrist 1984a:173) do include a chief lamenter (gala mah) and chief singer (nar-gal). They would have performed the duties of the balang servant-gods.

2c Balang-harp servant-gods in god-lists

The OB forerunner of An:Anum TCL 15 10 lists the names of several servant-gods, without identifying their occupations. According to their listing in An:Anum, the forerunner lists butlers (lines 72, 164, 185, 394), caretakers (53–54, 141–144), attendants (167), doorkeepers (101–102), and two balang-gods—A-ru6 and Ur(sic)-a-ru6 (93–94), the balang-gods of Damgalnuna (wife of Enki) in An:Anum II 315–316.

Balang-harp servant-gods are by far the most numerous group of servant-gods in An:Anum. This remarkable feature could result from the bias of an author or redactor who was a lamenter, as indicated by document 54.

Balang-gods were given the title GUD.BALAĜ in An:Anum, a term translated as mumtalku ‘the one with whom one takes counsel, confidant’ in KAV 64 II 17. The same function was expressed in Sumerian with the title ad-gi4-gi4, literally ‘sound repeating’, in conventional translation ‘adviser’, or as we might say ‘sounding board’.

Gabbay (PHG:103–109) pointed out that the designation GUD.BALAĜ is restricted to An:Anum, not attested as Sumerian word, and probably a logogram of ad-gi4-gi4 ‘adviser’. He quotes in favor of his understanding An:Anum II 94–95: dad-gi4-gi4 = ŠU (‘same pronunciation’, that is, adgigi), dMIN (that is, dad-gi4-gi4) GUD.BALAĜ (written GUD.BALAĜ) ŠU (‘same pronunciation’). The gloss MIN indeed points to a pronunciation adgigi. Gabbay further provides an improved reading of An:Anum V 17–18 where the balang-gods of Ninsun and Lugalbanda are listed as divine ‘advisers’ (dad-gi4-gi4) rather than as GUD.BALAĜ.

Michalowski 2010a:221–222 notes that the sign BALAĜ actually writes two words, balaĝ and gud10, and interprets GUD.BALAĜ as gudgud10 (see 4g). It is indeed tempting to read the sign BALAĜ as balaĝ when the instrument is meant and gud10 when it is the balang servant-god. Yet Ningirsu’s temple-servant Fierce-faced King in Gudea Cylinders B is said to be ‘his balang’ (balaĝ-ĝa2-ni) where the spelling rules out a reading gud10. The use of the word balaĝ to designate the lamenter may go back to the archaic period (1 and 2).

The following table gives the numbers of balang-gods and other common types of servant-gods in An:Anum. With caretakers and attendants, the name of the temple rather than that of the master-god was preferred.

Master-god Balang-
gods #
Nanna 8 1   4    
An 7 3+1        
Ningirsu 7     5   Eninnu
Dingirmah 6 1 1 3 4 Emah
Ishkur 6 1        
Utu 6+5 [35] 5+1   1 2 Ebabbar
Baba 4   3      
Enki 4 0+2     8  
Ninurta 3 1 1 1   Eshumesha
Damgalnuna 2 2        
Enlil 2 0+1 9 2 2 Ekur
Gibil 2 1        
Gula 2 3 5 5 1 Egalmah
Inana 2     2    
Lugalmarad 2          
Manungal 2 1 2      
Marduk 2 5 2   2 Esagila
Ningal 2 1        
Ningublaga 2          
Ninshubura 2          
Nissaba 2          
Ashgi 1          
Damu 1          
Ishtaran 1 1        
Ninlil 1   1      
Ninkimar 1          
Ninsun 1          
Nusku 1   1      
Panigara 1 1        
Sadarnuna 1          
Tishpak 1 1        
Zarpanitum 1          
  85 33 25 23 19  

2d Gender of balang-gods

The names of balang-gods show that they were thought to be male or female. Balang-gods serving female master-gods have female names and balang-gods serving male master-gods have male names. Three exceptions are one female balang-god each of the male master-gods Enki, Utu, and Nanna.

Gender-revealing names are presented in the following tables:

Masculine Names Master-god and Gender Documentation
Fierce-faced King Ningirsu (m) 18
Ishbi-Erra Trustee of Enlil Enlil (m) 40
Bull Calf of Sin Nanna (m) 53 III 51
Grand Dragon Nanna Nanna (m) 53 III 52
Judge of Heaven and Earth Utu (m) 53 III 154
Just Judge Utu (m) 53 III 156
Youth of His Mighty Rising Shamash (m) 53 KAV 64 IV 14
Good Man Ningirsu (m) 53 V 105
The One from Before Ishtaran (m) 53 V 291

Feminine Names Master-god and Gender Documentation
Lady Conversing Grandly with An Baba (f) 19
Lady Occupying the Palace Gula (f) 24
Lady Aruru Dingirmah (f) 53 II 97
Lady Prayer of An Zarpanitum (f) 53 II 259
Festival Lady Enki (f) 53 II 310–311
Eagle Queen Nin-KI.MAR (f) 53 III 85
Cow of His Risen Heart Shamash (m) 53 IV 13
Lady Heaven’s Bolt Inana (f) 53 IV 74
Cow Wealth Praise Ninsun (f) 53 V 18
Great Lady Gula (f) 53 V 186
Lady of Plenty Gula (f) 53 V 187
Lady (ga-ša-an) Aru Damgalnuna (m) 53 V 315

The advising function of balang-gods agrees with their gender distribution and the main characters of oratorios. A woman rather than a man is typically the better confidant to console, soothe, and commiserate a goddess, and a male adviser can better deal with the rage of a god.

3 Human Functionaries Exercising the Duties of Balang-gods

Gudea’s list of non-divine and divine temple-servants includes a description of their duties vis-à-vis their master. The Balang-harp servants advised, pacified, and entertained their masters. Who were the human temple-servants that performed the duties of the Balang-harp temple-servants and Balang-harp servant-gods?

3a The Singer

3b Lamenters

In an archaic record of persons, the jackal-head pictograph, serving as sign of the word nar ‘singer’, is followed by the pictograph of a roundharp (1). The same sequence is found in the archaic version of the list of persons Lu2 (2). In the ED IIIa version of that list, the pictograph of the roundharp is no longer found, nor is the sign of the Balang-harp. The place after the singer is taken by two pictographs, UŠ and DUR2. The first designates maleness in its various aspects. The rather abstract pictograph appears to depict an ejaculating penis. The second pictograph writes the words for buttock, sitting, farting, excrement, and wet.

In his visit to the netherworld, the lamenter proved he could manipulate its queen. This would have enabled him to alleviate the destiny of the dead in the netherworld. “When a body was interred, the lamenter set up the balang, elicited tears” (22a). He would have elicited the tears of those present, commiserated with their sense of loss, and exercised his influence on the queen of the netherworld for a good treatment of the deceased in her realm.

Did the lamenter play the Balang-harp that he had set up? Document 22b shows that the lamenter and a harpist collaborated at a mourning rite. That was also the case of oratorios where the harp was played by the harpist, not the lamenter. The only statement that the lamenter played the Balang-harp is the Late period document 51 whose Sumerian text and Akkadian translation are not trustworthy. The lamenter was connected with the Balang-harp in oratorios and burial rites as master of ceremony.

3c Harpists

In ED pictorial representations, men played the portable roundharp (MgB 2/2 no. 32, 34, 35) and women the large roundharp with foot (MgB 2/2. no. 29 and Marcetteau 2010:69–70). An OAkk. seal (MgB 2/2 no. 44) shows a woman playing a portable roundharp with recurved neck before a god. The female harpists are accompanied by two female musicians with claves, and so is a donkey playing a portable roundharp (MgB 2/2 no. 30). The horizontally held angle-harp that arrived in the OB period was played by women and men.

3c1 Female harpists (balaĝ-di)

(1) Sherida, the wife of the sun-god, addresses her harpist (Wilcke 1973):

The northwind in my face, the cold days have arrived here. Oh harpist, the northwind in my face, the cold days have arrived here.

According to the first statement, the harpist can soften the heart of the personal god enraged about the deeds of his human client. In the second, she is compared to a nursemaid who can put a baby to sleep. Clearly the female harpist is seen as adviser of her divine mistress. She impersonates the Balang-harp servant-goddess in the role as adviser.

Franklin alerts me to the recent treatment by Arnaud 2010:164-174 of a long known, mostly Sumerian cuneiform inscription from Byblos with Ur III sign-forms. This curious document concerns the restoration of the cult in the temple of Ishtar of Byblos. Its lines are arranged vertically, as in monumental inscriptions of the Ur III period; but the signs are horizontally oriented, as in later periods. The section that Arnaud recognizes as a description of the temple’s former state mentions a female singer and female harp player (munus nar munus balag-di3), presumably belonging to the original temple staff.

3c2 Male harpists

As mentioned already, the only male balang-player appearing in an administrative record known to me is in document 6.

The Eblaite translation of balaĝ-di, na-ṭi3-lu-um, is also a masculine active participle. In the comment to document 4d, I translate the Eblaite word as Akkadian ‘observer’ and link it with the Sumerian ‘observer’ (igi-du8) who acts together with the Balang-harp to soften the impact of, and divert, an oncoming storm (29). His interactions with the storm-god are called ‘confrontations’ (gaba ri). According to the Sumerian equivalence ‘harpist’ for the ‘observer’, it was he who played the harp. He would have impersonated the harp-god as adviser. The use of the word ‘confrontation’ shows that his adviser role involved strength.

4 Ontology

4a Sumerian Ontology

Perhaps the most revealing passage for the many things a balang is said to be comes in the form of a string of designations with which Inana laments the loss of her Balang-harp Ninigizibara in the oratorio Uru’amma’irabi (23f). It entails the illogical element of Inana lamenting the loss of her Balang-harp while that very harp accompanies and responds to her lament. Otherwise, the designations provide a veritable ontology that sets apart and unifies Balang-harp, advising servant-god, and lamenter. The literary form frames the string of designations between the balang instrument and the Balang-harp servant-god, so we can expect that the whole string of designations was meant to itemize the aspects of one and the same thing or concept (“entity” in Selz’s terminology).

1. ‘The junior’, or ‘impetuous Balang-harp’.
          The meanings of Sumerian ban3-da include ‘young’ and ‘younger’ as age designations, and ‘junior’ as rank designation. The latter could contrast with Inana’s more important Balang-harp god Ninigizibara. That would be Ninme’urur who is Inana’s other adviser and Balang-harp mentioned next to Ninigizibara in the same text (23). Another meaning of ban3-da is ‘impetuous’, von Soden’s “ungestüm” in AHw s.v. ekdu. An incantation describes a breed bull mounting a cow as ekdu (BAM [Köcher 1963–1980] 3 248 III 19). If that meaning applies, it could hardly refer to the female Ninme’urur.

From bull to god was a small gap to jump in Mesopotamian culture: anthropomorphic gods carried horns on their headgear, betraying an original bovine nature. According to the ritual, it happened by way of the death of the bull. It was important that it was not a working animal, not touched by goad or stick in the ritual, even less touched by civilization in the OB version of the oratorio Uru’amma’irabi an undomesticated aurochs bull.

3. ‘The shining Balang-harp’.
          ‘Shining’ is the standard characterization of the sheen of silver and refers here to silver plating the neck of the Balang-harp (see note to 42a).

4. ‘My lapis lazuli’.
          Gold and silver for decorating Balang-harps is attested (23g, 34c, 42c); lapis lazuli is not. This stone was part of the inlays framing the sound box of ED lyres. The statement ‘my lapis lazuli’ must serve for the time being as sole indication that also the Balang-harp was decorated with lapis lazuli.

5. ‘My husband’.
          There does not appear to be a reasonable linguistic way around understanding ‘my husband’ as describing the relationship of the Balang-harp god with his mistress Inana. This seems to confirm Gabbay’s proposal that Ninigizibara was male, yet the Emesal form gašan for standard Sumerian nin indicates a female (see Section 2d). The context of the lament of Inana is the start of the dry season when her other husband, Dumuzi, departs on his way to eventual death. According to the plot of the oratorio, he was abducted by the same enemy that took her harp. Not many lines after calling Ninigizibara her husband, Inana laments his loss, without calling him her husband, and then the loss of her husband Dumuzi, including in her words the longing for making love with him. The literary form of the lines makes it clear that the status of husband and the wish of making love with him is restricted to Dumuzi (see the comment to 23f). This leaves me doubting the textual tradition. One of the sources writes instead of the expected mu-ud-na-zu (‘your husband’) mu-ud-nu-bi, which is enigmatic and as lectio difficilior the more likely to be authentic.

8. ‘My adviser Ninigizibara’.
          The last designation identifies the harp servant-god whose name is preceded by the divine determinative.Different aspects that are separated here were explicitly merged elsewhere. The Balang-harp and the corresponding balang servant-god were merged by making a function of the harp-god that of the instrument: ‘his advising instrument’ (niĝ2 ad-gi4-gi4-ni, 17a). The balang servant-god is ‘fashioned’ (23a1). The (neck) of the harp-god is treated with fish-oil (23a2). The grapple-hook and eye of the harp-god is plated with silver (23a3). The harp-god Ninigizibara is ‘set up’ in 47a.

On the other hand, the instrument and the suru lamenter are recorded to have received drink separately (13).

4b Rationalization

To call this section ‘Rational ontology’ would be presumptuous for me. I will simply describe what I believe is the reality behind the identifications of instrument, instrument god, and human temple-servant. Two epistemological problems are the identification of instrument and person, and the deification of the person.

4b1 Identifications

The mutual dependency of musical instrument and player would have been the link of identity. Great Dragon of the Homeland was, so to speak, the ‘first lute’ in musical performances. Without its player, the lute could not ‘advise’ Ningirsu, and without his instrument, Great Dragon of the Homeland could not do so either.

Fierce-faced King presents us with a different situation. His particular duties identify his profession as lamenter. But instead of giving him that title, he is called Ningirsu’s “balang,” which may either be the instrument, or the designation of the lamenter as attested in archaic texts and the ED IIIa version of the list of person Lu2 A (1, 2, 4a). Lamenters do not appear to have played the Balang-harp themselves (see Section 3b), so their identification with the instrument rests on their mutual dependency at burial ceremonies and performance of oratorios. Lamenter and Balang-harp—albeit played by a harpist—each needed the other.

4b2 Deification

The word balang is at all periods written without the divine determinative. There are exceptions in Ur III administrative records (25, 26, 28). Still, the general lack of the determinative indicates that neither the instrument nor its named personification was deified in Old Akkadian (15) and the province of Lagash in the early Ur III period.

The deification of the personification outside of Lagash in the Ur III period could have resulted from introducing the magic of turning a bull, whose hide covered the resonator of the instrument, into a god in the Ur III period (see Section 4a §2). Alternatively, it emerged more indirectly from the intellectual climate that was also responsible for the widening importance of the cult of the deified king in the Ur III kingdom. Another motive could have been the expectation of increased prestige, and income, of the players and managers of balang instruments—the temple singers, lamenters, and harpists.


Archaic Uruk IV (before 3000)

          The sign ZATU 672 is attested only on Uruk IV tablets, the very similar sign NAR on Uruk III tablets and later. Both signs depict the head and neck of a canid with long, erected ears. The lower end of neck is treated differently. ZATU 672 in W 9311,f is followed by -a, which is likely Ka5-a ‘Fox’ or ‘Jackal’, a common Sumerian PN. If the sign NAR = nar = ‘singer’ and ZATU 672 = ka5 in ka5-a ‘jackal’, and if the singer and the jackal are two words written with one sign, then ZATU 672 and NAR are variants of one and the same sign.

Archaic Uruk III (ca. 3000)

2 Archaic Lu2 105–106 (Englund and Nissen 1993:16–17).
          Great singer (nar-gal), great balang (balaĝ-gal).

ED I/II (ca. 2700), Text from Ur

ED IIIa (ca. 2600)

4 Lexical texts.

4a ED Lu2 A 77–78 (MSL 12:11).
          Great singer (nar-gal), great balang (balaĝ-gal).

4f OB MS 2645 IV 33, Civil 2010:191–192.
          ‘Sound-of-balang’ (ad-balaĝ-ĝa2mušen) is a bird name.
          Civil suggests that this is one part of the decomposed name of document 4e.

4g OB Proto-Ea 202–203 (MSL 14:40).
          Pronunciations bu-lu-un and gu-ud/gu2-ud/gu-du of the sign BALAĜ. Selz 1997:195n153 suggested an onomatopoetic ‘blang’ as pronunciation of what is conventionally transliterated as balaĝ. Bu-lu-un may indeed have been pronounced ‘blong’ or similar. Michalowski 2010a:221–222 considers the word gu-ud/gu2-ud/gu-du = gud10 and suggests that the term GUD.BALAĜ could be understood as gudgud10, “possibly an archaizing late creation that has no equivalent in earlier phases of the Sumerian language, and has as such nothing to do with the balag.” I believe the word “bull” was written with the balang sign when it designates a balang-god.

          The position of the snake charmer belongs with the singers rather than the lamenters as shown by the Ur III text BM 014618 (Gelb 1975:57 and 60–61).

5 ED IIIa SF 70 = P010663 (MSL 12:13).
          List of professions.
          Registers 1–11: “bishop, carpenter, leather worker, jeweler, smith, lapidary, mat weaver, balang-player (balaĝ-di), ‘bull player’ (gu4-di), singer (nar), builder,” etc.; lamenter (gala) not included.

6 WF (Deimel 1924) 107 = P011065.
          List of recipients of bread, among them Dada, ‘the balang-player man’ (Da-da lu2 balaĝ-di).

Post ED IIIa, provenience unknown

ED IIIb (ca. 2500)

From records of the state archive of the kingdom of Lagash. The references for balaĝ from these records are summarized in Selz 1995:103–105.

12a Nik 1 148 Lugalanda 5 = P221917.
          Baranamtara (wife of Lugalanda, governor of Lagash), while staying at the Abzu of the river bank, offers two rams and a male lamb to Enki of Circle Side and a kid to the sanctuary Antasura on day one, two rams for Enki of Circle Side on day two, and “1 kid for the balang on day three” (1 maš ĝišbalaĝ u4 3-kam).

Old Akkadian period (ca. 2350)

16 Two of seven attestations of female harpists (balaĝ-di). Male harpists are not attested in this period.

16a RIME

Ur III period (ca. 2112–2004)

Ia Balangs with names:

17 Great Dragon of the Homeland (Ušumgal-kalam-ma).
          Ušumgal and its Akk. equivalent bašmu designates a monstrous venomous snake that is associated with Marduk and several other gods (Wiggermann 1992:166–169). On the other hand, ‘Great Dragon’ is also an entry of a type of person or profession in line 99 of the archaic list Lu2 A (Englund and Nissen 1993:17). It is a frequent element in Sumerian PNs throughout early Babylonia. A servant-god, the vizier of the Mungoose divinity Nin-kilim, is called ‘Great Dragon’ (An:Anum V 40).

17f Amherst (Pinches 1908) 17 = P100855.
          “This administrative record from Girsu, dating from the 25th regnal year of Shulgi, lists expenditures of beer, bread, and soup for households of servant-gods in the “new house of Ningirsu,” among them “the balang Great Dragon of the Homeland.”

20a SAT 1 256 no year, month III, Girsu = P131365.
          “Record of expenditure of flour and drink for the deity Cow of Plenty (dAb-he-nun), a courtyard where the instrument was presumably played, an unclear destination, and lamenters (gala-me).

20b BPOA 1 182 no date, Girsu = P206136.
          “Record of expenditure of drink for the temple of Nin-KI.MAR, flour and drink for Cow of Plenty (dAb-he-nun), the ‘house Plant of Life’ (e2 u2 nam-ti), and another unclear destination.

20c Nanshe Hymn 39–47 (Heimpel 1981).
          “The OB text of the hymn describes in much detail the working of the temple household of Nanshe in Nina during the time of Gudea when it was surely composed. [
99] It includes a description of the New Year festival in Nina. The musical arrangement of the occasion is described in unusual detail. The governor of Lagash in person placed the Balang-harp Cow of Plenty “on, at, among, next to,” or any other location with respect to one or more tigi instruments. The harp occupies here the same place as Great Dragon of the Homeland with respect to tigi (17e). Claves in the form of copper sickles accompany the ‘holy song’ (šir3-ku3) that praises the temple. [100] Line 45 is probably the song’s incipit, as first lines of praises often start with the verbal na-form. [101] The chief singer (nar gal) plays the ibex horn. Being the chief implies other singers and instrumentalists playing Cow of Plenty, silver balang, tigi instruments, and claves. (Cow of Plenty shares the second part of its name with the balang of Gula, Lady of Plenty: 40.)

20d Hymn to Hendursanga 19–20 (Attinger and Krebernik 2005:38).
          “Another function of the Cow of Plenty was to entertain Nanshe, or to relieve her anxiety, as she traveled by boat to visit the god Hendursanga. See also 34b.

Ib Balangs without names:

Ur III period (ca. 2112–2004)

II Ur III administrative records (dated according to reign year month day):

IIa Balangs with names:

Ninsigarana and Ninigizibara are listed as the two balang-gods of Inana in the Emesal Vocabulary (23i). The name Ninsigarana means ‘Lady Heaven’s Bolt’. Cavigneaux and Krebernik (RlA 9:488–489, *Nin-siĝar-ana) list the few attestations in Ur III records, the most informative document being 23b2. They propose that the form of the instrument is likened to the bolt of the name. I believe the name refers to the role of the harp servant-god to relieve the anxiety caused by the departure of Inana as planet Venus when the planet disappeared at the onset of conjunction. It was believed that a gate had to be opened and closed as the stars and planets passed the horizon.

In the OB list of gods SLT (Chiera 1929) 122 II 25–26, Ninigizibara is followed by an ‘adviser’ (dAd-gi4-gi4), the common epithet of balang-gods. This may refer to Ninsigarana or Ninme’urur.

23a Ninigizibara and Igizibara in Ur III.

23a2 MVAG 21, 22 FH 5 Umma, Amar-Sin 1 = P113033.
          “Expenditure of fish-oil for the preservation of divine images, statues, and (the neck of the harp) Igizibara, written with divine determinative.

23b1 SA (Jean 1923) 129 Amar-Sin 5 I = P128740, Tavolette (Boson 1936) 346 Amar-Sin 6 I = P132131, UTI 3 1885 Amar-Sin 8 I = P139904, UTI 4 2563 = P140582.
          “Food for Nin-Gipar ‘having gone out to the head-grass’, as well as for Nin-Ibgala and Igizibara going to Zabala.

23b2 MVN 1 42 Šu-Sin 5 I = P113075.
          “Expenditures of flour for the temple of the city-god Shara and his wife Ninura; the deity of Ibgal (diĝir Ib-gal), otherwise called ‘Lady of Ibgal’; Ninsigarana, the balang-god of Inana; and a deified musical instrument called ‘Harmony Wood’ (dGiš-ha-mun). While the date in the first month coincides with the time of the journey to Zabala of the previously listed records, the association with Ninsigarana and the absence of the journey to Zabalam indicate a different cultic context. Note also the difference of the name: Igizibara is paired with Nin-gipar in 23b1 and 23c, Ninigizibara with the deity of Ibgal here.

23c BPOA 6 1176 Umma Šu-Sin 3 = P292368.
          “King Shu-Sin offered in the temple of the city-god Shara small cattle to Shara, Manishtusu—a statue of the divinized former king of Akkad—and Igizibara. The reason for this offering is not given. Perhaps the balang Igizibara was played as part of the cult of the dead Old Akkadian king.

23d Records from the central royal distribution center Puzrish-Dagan (Drehem) of expenditures for Ninigizibara in Uruk in connection with the absence of the planet Venus venerated as Nanaya.
          “The fact that the expenditures fall in the same month of two consecutive years means that the two events are not linked with actual inferior and/or superior conjunctions of the planet with the sun. The ‘disappearance place’ would be the ecliptic at the western horizon.

23d1 BPOA 7 2870 Drehem Šulgi 35 I = P303662.
          “Small cattle for the Gipar, the sanctuary in the house of Nanaya in Uruk, ‘things of the disappearance place of Nanaya’ (niĝ2 ki-zah3 dNa-na-a), and for Ninigizibara.

23d2 Schneider 1932 58 Drehem Šulgi 36 I = P101353, Sallaberger 1993 1:221. Expenditures of lambs and kids by the governor of Uruk in Uruk:

1 lamb the sanctuary, 1 kid dMuš-a-igi-ĝal2, 1 kid Ninigizibara, 1 kid circumambulation lament of Gipar gate (er2 niĝin2-na ka gi6-par4-ra), 1 kid prayer of the day ‘Rise ye up!’ (siskur2 u4 zi-ga-ze-na-a), 1 lamb ‘disappearance thing’ (niĝ2-zah3) of Nanaya of the palace.

23d3 SET (Jones and Snyder 1961) 42 Drehem Šulgi 37 V = P129452.
          “Expenditures of large and small cattle, among them one kid for the ‘house’ of Ninigizibara in Uruk and two kids for the gerrānum-lament of the house of Belat-Suhnir (for gerrānum, see 45).

23e List of gods from OB Isin A II 11/ B II 14–A II 13/ B II 16 (Wilcke 1987:94).
          “dNin-igi-zi-bar-ra, dNin-me-ur4-ur4, dNin-he-nun-na. For Ninhenuna see 42. Here, balang-goddesses of Inana and Gula are grouped together.

23g1 For Ninigizibara in Mari rituals see 47.

23h Balang composition of Inana CT 36, 35 BM 96933 I 8 (A) and Kramer 1987, BM 96680, lines 342, 351, and 406 (B).
          “Inana is called ga-ša-an Igi-zi-bar-ra in A and ga-ša-an dIgi-zi-bar-ra in B. The reading of A is also found in the Late text MMA 186.11.3509 9a’: ga14-ša-an Igi-zi-bar-ra (Maul 2005:79). The reading in B indicates as meaning ‘lady of Igizibara’, which reflects her relationship as mistress of her servant balang-divinity.

25 (= 19) and 26 Greatly talking with An (dBalaĝ An-da-gal-di) and Divine Powers from Pure Heaven (dBalaĝ Me-an-ku3-ta).
          “SAT 1 198 Girsu Amar-Sin 1 III = P131307. Record of expenditure of fattened small cattle as offerings, including two fattened kids as offerings for the two balang-gods. An-da-gal-di of the text is short for Nin-an-da-gal-di, attested as balang-god of Baba (19). Variation of the name with and without initial Nin ‘lady’ is also found in case of the name Ninigizibara (23).

IIb Balangs without name but description of function:

27 Cedar-resin Balang of Baba (balaĝ šim ĝišeren dBa-u2).
          “TUT 112, fragment of a large tablet from Girsu, records in IV 11’ expenditure of beer for this balang, and MVN 22 121 of Šulgi 37 XI expenditure of wool. Brunke and Sallaberger 2010:49 give examples for the exceptional use of cedar wood for the manufacture of furniture, but it is unlikely that the long curved and recurved neck of the Balang-harp could have been made of soft cedar wood. The neck could have been treated with cedar-resin (see 23a2). The city-goddess of Gu’aba, another city in the province of Lagash, also had a cedar-resin Balang (30).

30 ITT 3 4977 Girsu no year XI = P111073.
          “The text records the expenditure of beer and flour for the goddess Nin-KI.MAR and ‘cedar-resin Balang, the balang of the storm in the house of Ninmar’ (balaĝ šim-eren balaĝ u4-da ša3 e2 dNin-marki). For another cedar-resin balang see 27.

See further Sallaberger 1993 1:297 and 2 Tab. 105; Heimpel 1998; Gabbay 2013:235–239.

32 ‘Balang of the storm, facade toward Uruk house’ (balaĝ u4-da igi e2 Unu{ki}-še3).
          “The location is the west gate of the Holy City of Girsu (Heimpel 1996:20). The balang appears to be directed against a storm approaching from the west, but not deemed a threat for the entire city. Sallaberger 1993:Tab. 105; Gabbay 2013:236n36 understands igi e2 Unu as a location outside Uruk.

33 ‘Balang of bathing’ (balaĝ a-tu5-a).
          “BPOA 7 1792, Umma, Amar-Sin 6 = P292088.
          “Record of expenditures of flour for the “Balang of bathing at the festivals, the three of them” (balaĝ a-tu5-a ezen 3-a-ba). These were the festivals of the fourth, eighth, and eleventh months. Sallaberger 1993:239 demonstrated that the bathing of Shara, the city-god of Umma, was the central cult act of these festivals and that it was associated with ‘heart cooling’ (ša3-te). The latter was effected by a balang, as this newly published text shows. The procedure of bathing a divinity is described by Sallaberger 1993:192: the image in its cella is disrobed, water is poured over it as part of the life-restoring ritual called ‘washing of the mouth’, and the image is then newly clothed. The manipulation of the image brought with it the danger of enraging the divinity, which was counteracted by the sound of the balang.

IIc Balangs without name but known master-god:

34a–35 Balang of Nanna and Ninsun. Sigrist 1999:132–138 Drehem Amar-Sin 2 XI = P200532.
          “Record of offerings for the ghost of king Shu-Sin, netherworld divinities, and ghosts, as well as offerings of kids for the balangs of the moon-god Nanna and Ninsun on day sixteen in Ur (rev. II 10–11), and for the balang of Ninsun again on day seventeen (rev. IV 22’–23’).

34b BPOA 7 2856 Drehem Amar-Sin 4 XII = P303644.
          “Record of royal offerings of small cattle at the occasion of the harvest festival for the moon-god Nanna, the boat on which Nanna had come from Ur to the festival house Akiti, and for a balang. The balang may have entertained the moon-god and relieved his anxiety on the boat trip. See also 20d.

34c UET 3 298 Ur = P136617.
          “A smith receives 1/3 pound 8 ½ shekels minus 15 grains (189.6g) gold for plating a balang of Nanna.

36 Balang of Ninura
          “TCL 5 5672 V 16 and VI 9 Umma = P131743.
          “The text registers two bull hides to be used for the balang of Ninura, the wife of the city-god of Umma.

38 Princeton 1 99 Drehem Šulgi 47 I 28 = P126788.
          “Record of offerings in Uruk, among them small cattle for the gate of the residence of the En priest (ka2 gi6-par3-ra) of Inana, a balang, and Aratta. Cavigneaux 1998 read aratta (LAM!xKUR.RU), which would mean that there existed in Uruk a physical presence of the city Aratta, the prehistoric anta­gonist of Uruk. He notes that Aratta is mentioned repeatedly in the oratorio Uru’amma’irabi.

OB and Late period sources

          “The balang that had been named and presumably commissioned by Ishbi-Erra was already ‘old’ (sumun) in the king’s lifetime. ‘Inana Ishbi-Erra’ does not belong to any name type; probably the real name was longer, and abbreviated in the administrative context. The harp would have belonged to the Inana cult in Isin.

42 Lady of Plenty (Nin-Henuna).
          “Nin-Henuna was the second balang of Gula, city-goddess of Isin, according to An:Anum V 187. She is listed in the OB god-list from Isin together with Nin-me-ur4-ur4 and Nin-igi-zi-bar-ra, the balang-gods of Inana (23e). See Cow of Plenty, Ab(2)-he-nun-na (20).

42a Nin-Isina’s Journey to Nippur lines 42–48.
          “A song for Gula under her name Lady of Isin (dNin-Isina) celebrates the rise of the city of Isin to first rank among the cities of Babylonia after the fall of the Ur III kingdom, recounting the city-goddess’s triumphant return from a visit with Enlil who had bestowed on her a good fate for her city. Her husband Pabilsang welcomed her back. The king was there, too, and the music struck up. The returning Lady of Isin was praised and the lamenters pacified the highest ranking gods, An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninmah, perhaps because they were feared to be upset about the move of rule over Babylonia to Isin.

47 Ishtar Rituals from OB Mari. Dossin 1938; FM 3 no. 2 and 3; FM 9:55–64, including a model of the arrangement of participants and furnishings, with the Balang-harp (Ziegler’s lyre) in central position.

At this point something is said about the behavior of an ecstatic. Lines 24’–25’ are read and restored by Durand and Guichard to mean “after they (the lamenters) have reached (the words) ĝa2-e u2-re-[men2], the overseers let the singers go. If (the ecstatic) gets [into trance, they sing] ĝa2-e u2-re-m[en2].” These are the words that follow the fifth section (ki-ru-gu2) of the OB version of the oratorio Uru’amma’irabi.

After four missing lines at the head of the third column, a foot race is mentioned and the lamenters are said to be singing i-gi-it-te-en di-ba-x(-x). As the race ends in the temple of Ishtar, they sing the song AN-nu-wa-še, the king gets up and one of the lamenters sings an ershema to Enlil to the accompaniment of the halhallatum drum ([i]-na ha-al-ha-la-tim er-se-[m]a-kam a-na dEn-lil2 i-za-mu-ur).

47b FM 3 no. 3 I 21’–22’.
          “[    dNin]-gi-zi-pa-ra
          “[            ] li-li-si-im
          “The two lines appear to confirm that the harp-god is not identical with the kettledrum.

The meaning of balang is clearly the lyrics of a song. The determinative indicates that the instrument identifies the song.

49 Examples from laments of temple-mistresses about loss of their home, including the venue of balang performances.

The image in line 7 could refer to gate sculptures, the bovidity of the balang, or the throng of the congregation at occasions when the balang strikes up.

52 Late lexical series HAR-RA hubullu V 105–107 (MSL 6, 60).

ĝiš gur2 a2-la2 MIN (= kip-pa-tum) a-le-e ring of alu drum
ĝiš gur2 balaĝ MIN (= kip-pa-tum) ba-la-an-gi hoop of Balang-harp
ĝiš gur2 dub2-di MIN (= kip-pa-tum) tim-bu-u2-ti ring of timbutu instrument.

In the OB version of the oratorio Elum Gusun, the gods are exhorted to go to the place called ‘Sitting Gods’, where the first fruits (nesaĝ) of the New Year were served (VS 2 11 II 12’–14’). Löhnert’s interpretation of Elum Gusun as being connected with the maintenance of irrigation works (Löhnert 2009:56) fits the timing, as the threat of downpours flooding fields during the barley harvest coincides with the Babylonian New Year. The term Sitting Gods is also found in Enuma Elish I 24, designating a location where the younger gods made merry, thus enraging the older ones and leading to war between the generations. The netherworld gods had their own occasion for Sitting Gods. In an incantation prayer to Enmeshara, the netherworld is called markas, ‘link, center’ of ‘Sitting Gods’ (Ambos 2004: 120.44).

I 76 dU3-tu-ud Creator An
I 77 dLu2-an-na Heaven’s/An’s Man An
I 78 dKa-tar-an-na Heaven’s/An’s Fame An
I 79 dMul-1-iku One-acre Star An

The One-acre constellation consists of alpha, beta, gamma of Pegasus, and alpha of Andromeda. The constellation leads the stars of the path of An as they rise at the beginning of the year (RlA5:45 [Hunger, *Ikû]). The four stars were matched with the lands of the four cardinal points expressed as the lands of Assyria, Akkad, Elam, and Amurru (RlA4:412–413 [Hunger, *Himmelsgeographie]). The One-acre Star oratorio would have been performed at night, the first half of the Babylonian twelve-hour day.

I 80 dAn-ta-sur-ra Dropped from Sky An

A sanctuary of this name was located in the territory of Lagash, probably at its northwestern border (Gabbay 2013:19–20). The name was translated “Vom Himmel herabgetropft (dripped down from sky)” by Falkenstein 1966: 164, “Twinkles from Heaven” by George 1993:68. Perhaps it was a shrine built over a meteorite.

I 81 dKi-gul-la Ruin An

The literal meaning is ‘destroyed place’. The term also designates a type of person. B. Landsberger contrasted it with ki-sikil ‘pure place’ = ‘(virgin) girl’ and understood it as the designation of a raped girl (ap. Jacobsen ap. Gordon 1959:477). The standard translation is ‘waif’. The literal meaning fits the present context.

I 264 dBalaĝ-dEn-lil2 Enlil Balang [Enlil]
I 265 dNin-lil2-da gal-di Greatly Speaking with Ninlil [Enlil]
I 267 dGu3-du10-ga Good Voice [Ninlil]
I 268 dUr-dZa-ba4-ba4 Divine Urzababa Ninurta

Ur-Zababa was the last king of Kish at the turn from the ED III to the OAkk. periods. FM 9:53, an OB letter from Mari of a music instructor of Yasmah-Adad, king of Mari, mentions musical instruments and singles out MA2.TUR ur-za-ba-bi-tum [Sa-a]m-si-Ya-as2-ma-ahd Adad. The editor N. Ziegler suggests that MA2.TUR designates the soundbox of the named instrument. The name means ‘My-sun-Yasmah-Addu’. The association with Ninurta and the use of the instrument by the singer (nar) is attested in lexical texts (CAD s.v. urzababītum).

I 269 dU3-ma-ni-sa2-di Achieving his Triumph Ninurta

The name appears to refer to a victory celebration as told in the ‘long song’ (šir3 gid2-da) of Ninurta (see 18).

I 270 dU4-gu3-nun-di … -voiced-Storm Ninurta

The adjective nun is conventionally translated ‘princely’ according to the substantive nun, ‘prince’; but, as here, the actual meaning of the adjective must be different.

I 272 dBalaĝ-e-diri Excellent through Balang Nusku
I 273 dAd-he-nun Sound of Plenty Sadarnuna
I 302 dUn-ga-ša6-ga Good among the People Nissaba
I 303 dHa-mun-an-na Heaven’s Harmony Nissaba
II 92 dSaĝ šu-ta-šub-šub-ba Heads-fallen-from-Hands Dingirmah
II 93 dKiri3-zal … Splendor Dingirmah
II 94 dAd-gi4-gi4 Adviser Dingirmah
II 95 d minGU4.BALAĜ ditto: Balang Bull Dingirmah
II 96 dE2-kur-eš3-diri Excellent Sanctuary Ekur Dingirmah
II 97 dNin-A-ru-ru Lady Aruru Dingirmah
II 99 dŠa3-tur3-nun-ta-e3 Sprung from Princely Womb Ashgi
II 100 dAš-pa4-huš Fierce … Panigara
II 256 dĜanun-he2-du7 Ornament ganun (room) Marduk
II 257 dEn-nun-daĝal-la Wide Watch Marduk
II 259 dGašan-šud3-an-na Lady Heaven’s Prayer Zarpanitu
II 310 dNin-ezen Festival Lady Enki
II 311 dNin-ezen-balaĝ Balang Festival Lady Enki
II 312 dEš(4xAŠ)-ĝa2/ga/qa ? Enki
II 315 dA-ru6 Sister-in-law Damgalnuna

A-ru6 is mentioned in connection with Damgalnuna as ‘lady of the Abzu’ (ga-ša-an Ab-zu) in lamentations, for example in the OB version of the Oratorio Elum Gusun (Nies 1315 I 26 [Langdon 1919:208]).

II 316 dUr2-a-ru6 Sister-in-law Lap Damgalnuna
II 343 dNig2-na Censer Gibil
II 344 dGi-izi-la2 Torch Gibil

Censer and torch are examples of controlled fire and thus apt names for balang that control the fire god Gibil.

III 49 An-šar2-a2-mu/   ?Nanna
III 50 dUri2ki-kiri3-zal Splendor (City of) Ur Nanna
III 51 dAmar-dSin Bull Calf of Sin Nanna

SbTU 3 (von Weiher 1988) 107 has dAmar-ZA.MUŠ2 = dAmar-šuba, ‘Jasper Calf’, instead of dAmar-dSin. Krebernik (RlA 8:365, *Mondgott §3.3), suggests that this is the name of the third king of Ur. It would be an example of an instrument named after a king in addition to Urzababitum. Yet the harp Calf of Sin is likely in direct reference to the moon-god. Another divinity dAmar-dSin is one of two calves of the weather-god (An:Anum III 254).

III 52 dNanna-ušum-mah Grand Dragon Nanna Nanna
III 53 dU4-men-an-na Heaven’s Crown Day Nanna
III 54 dU4-kiri3-zal-an-na Heaven’s Splendor Day Nanna
III 55 dU4-e2-zi-an-na Heaven’s good House Day Nanna

Wiggermann 1992:169–172 treats the concept of personified days, the ‘ud-beings’, especially the demonic personifications of bad days, among them a group of seven that attack Nanna, the moon. The three balang-gods may well have been active on bad days, lamenting them and hoping for the return of the good days the balang-gods represent. Another balang-god named after a day serves Adad (III 261).

III 56 dAn-na-hi-li-bi/ba Heaven’s Endearment Nanna
III 59 dNin-da-gal-zu [151] Knowing well the Lady Ningal
III 60 dNin-da-mah-di Grandly speaking with the Lady Ningal
III 62 dMiṭṭu Club Ningublaga
III 63 dA2-mah-tuku Strong-armed Ninugblaga
III 85 dEreš-an-zu Eagle Queen Nin-MAR.KI
III 153 dDu11-ga-na-ga-ti Let me live by his Word Utu
III 154 dDi-ku5-an-ki Judge of Sky and Earth Utu
III 155 dEš-bar-an-ki Decision of Sky and Earth Utu
III 156 dDi-ku5-si-sa2 Just Judge Utu
III 157 dKalam ša3-kuš2-u3 Homeland Consultant Utu
III 158 dŠa3-kuš2-u3-
Consultant of the Homeland Utu

KAV 64. 5 secondary balangs of Utu (5 balaĝ us2 dUtu-ke4 5 re-du-u2 dŠa2-maš).

IV 12 dA-ša3-ila2-na Water on his risen heart
IV 13 dAb2 ša3-ila2-na Cow of his risen heart
IV 14 dŠul-zi-mah-na Youth of his mighty raising
IV 15 dAd-pa-zi-mah-na … sound of his mighty raising

The pacification of the ‘risen heart’ was the main task of a balang-god. The semantic difference between il2 in IV 12–13 and zi(g) in IV 14 and 15 is unclear to me and so is the sense of the names in IV 14 and 15.

IV 16 dHa-mun-an-na Heaven’s Harmony

The names Harmony (dHa-mun in III 166) and Adviser (dAd-gi4-gi4 in III 167) of servant-gods in the temple Ebabbar are typical balang-god names and could be secondary balang-gods, yet only divine caretakers (udug) and attendants (gub-ba) are identified by temple name in An:Anum.

A deified instrument dGiš-ha-mun is mentioned in 23b2.

III 260 dSur9-gal Great Suru [152] Adad
III 261 dU4-sur9-ra Day of the Suru Adad
III 262 dUg/piriĝ3-gu3-du10-ga Panther of Good Voice Adad
III 263 dUr5-ša4-ni [x] X his Thunder Adad
III 264 dŠeg10 mu-un-gi4-gi4 He Roars Adad
III 265 dKiri3-zal-kalam-ma Splendor of Homeland Adad
IV 73 [153] dNin-igi-zi-[bar-ra] Well regarded Lady Inana
IV 74 [dNin-si-ĝar-an-na] [Lady Heaven’s Bolt] Inana
V 17 dKur-gul-gul Mountainland Destroyer Lugalbanda
V 18 [154] dAb2-ar2-he2-en-ĝal2 Cow Wealth Praise Ninsun
V 30 dU6-nir-si-sa2 Just Temple Tower Lugal-Marada
V 31 dŠu-ni-dugud Heavy his Hand Lugal-Marada
V 100 dUšum-ur-saĝ-kur-
Hero Dragon passing
through the Mountainland
V 100 dUšum-ur-saĝ-kur-
Hero Dragon passing
through the Mountainland
V 101 dGaba-huš-gu2-
Zubi abzu
Fierce Breast Groundwater
Ocean Zubi (River) Bank
V 102 dU2-šum-bar/ba-ra
ge-eš-pu e2-ninnu
Dragon of the Outback
Grapple-hook of Eninnu
V 103 dKur-ra-huš-a-ni-
Unrelenting his Terror in
the Mountainland
V 104 dDu11-ga-lugal-a-
Spoken Words heart-
soothing for his King
V 105 dNita-zi Good Man Ningirsu
V 106 dKa-ga-ni zi Good his Mouth Ningirsu
V 107 dSaĝ šu nu-ba ? Baba
V 108 dNin-gal-([x])-KU ? Baba
V 109 dNin-[x x)]-na ? Baba
V 110 dU4-men-x-šu-ĝal ? Baba
V 168 dMA2-x-ba ? Damu
V 186 dNin-gal Great Lady Gula
V 187 dNin-he-nun-na Lady of Plenty Gula
V 199 dUp-lum Louse (Akk.) Manungal
V 200 dMIN-Eh the same: Louse (Sum.) Manungal
V 279 dUšum-ur-saĝ Hero Dragon Tishpak
V 291 dQa-ad-ma The One from Before Ishtaran

The entry dQa-ad-ma is preceded by names of the master-god Ishtaran and his vizier Qudma. Qudma and Qadma are also listed as ‘bull gods’ (diĝir gu4) in An:Anum VI 208–209. Little is known of their master-god Ishtaran. His word guided the Early Dynastic ruler En-Metena of Lagash at the erection of a boundary marker (RIME 1 9.5.1 I 10), and Ningirsu, the city-god of Girsu, refers to him as model administrator of city law (Gudea Cylinders A 10.24–26). He was the city-god of Der and ranked with Anu (see Lambert in RlA 5:211 [*Ishtaran]). The hinterland of Der at the foot of the Pusht-i-Kuh could well have been a habitat of aurochsen.

The scribe used Emesal Sumerian, the language used in oratorios, and produced an interesting verbal form. For the precative he used the Emesal form with /t/ instead of /ḫ/. The verbal preformative tu is phonetically good Emesal, albeit in unusual orthography for normal tu15. The reduplication of the base probably expresses continued success of his wish. The ending -a was perhaps meant to mark end of statement.

The designation “person sitting by(?) a balang (instrument?)” has a surprising, probably accidental, parallel from an Ur III record of a roll call of craftsmen of the royal workshops in the kingdom of Ur III (UET 3 1476), where two silversmiths (ku3-dim2) are titled with the occupation ‘sitting balang’ (ĝišbalaĝ-tuš-a see n129 above and 34c).

55 An:Anum II 304–307

II 304 dDu-un-ga NAR | diĝir nar-a-ke4 | ilu ša2 na-a-ri
II 305 dDu-un-ga SAĜ | MIN | MIN
II 306 dGu3-du10-ga-lal3-bi | dam-bi-sal
II 307 dLum-ha BALAĜ | diĝir gala-ke4

These entries mean that ‘Dunga’ is the pronunciation of the signs NAR and SAĜ when writing the name of the god of the singer. That-Honey-good-Voice (dGu3-du10-ga-lal3-bi) is the name of his wife, and Lumha is the pronunciation of the sign BALAĜ when designating the name of the god of the lamenter.


[ back ] 1. I could not have done much without the bibliographical help of John Carnahan and copies of searchable scans of needed books from Jay Chrisostomo. I thank them both for it. I also thank Uri Gabbay for letting me use his Pacifying the Hearts of the Gods (PHG) years before it was published. He also made numerous observations on an earlier version of this study. Antoine Cavigneaux and Farouk ar-Rawi have graciously allowed me to quote from their unpublished transliteration of an OB text of Uru’amma-irabi.

[ back ] 2. Archaic 2 and ED 4a. Cooper 2006:41n6.

[ back ] 3. Cohen 1974:31.

[ back ] 4. Michalowski 2010a:219.

[ back ] 5. Gabbay 2010:25 and fig. 2 = MgB 2/2:64–65 fig. 42.

[ back ] 6. Boehmer 1965 no. 385.

[ back ] 7. Selz 1997:170; Gabbay 2010:25.

[ back ] 8. Cf. Franklin, p65–67.

[ back ] 9. The lute is discussed from various angles in the papers of ICONEA 2011 [see also Appendix D—JCF]; Krispijn 2011, for instance, believes that the instrument “giš-gu3-di must have had a wider meaning before (the second millennium), since the translation ‘lute’ does not fit the context” of the Gudea passage (17a). “It must have been a prestigious cultic instrument and not the foreign and increasingly popular folk music type lute.” Compare the representation of a lute on an archaic seal in the Uruk style, which is the topic of the article of R. Dumbrill in the same publication. Gabbay rightly objects to Kilmer’s connection with the Arabic word for the lute as argument for the identification of the instrument. In my view, the association of the singer Urur with a lute on the OAkk. seal Boehmer 1965 no. 497 is an argument in favor of the identification, considering that the balang servant-god Great Dragon of the Homeland was a temple-singer.

[ back ] 10. These instruments are often called ‘clappers’. Rashid calls them “Klangstäbe,” that is claves, and identified them with sickle-shaped copper-blades from ED Kish (MgB 2/2:48 and no. 16). I believe that the ‘small sickles’ in document 20c represent a smaller variety of the rather long ED claves.

[ back ] 11. Marcetteau 2010:67, with a drawing of the editor Beyer. See also the contribution of Collon in the same publication on pages 50–51.

[ back ] 12. According to Braun-Holzinger not Ninurta/Ningirsu (RlA 9:522, *Ninurta/Ningiru B §2); perhaps Pap-ule-gara. See the last line of a hymn to this god (Foster 1993 1:73).

[ back ] 13. W6776, c; W6882, f; W5696, ao. Stauder pointed out a harp with four strings and seven plugs at their upper ends (see Hartmann 1960:22n1).

[ back ] 14. The strings are intersected at a right angle by a central line, perhaps the lower arm of the player.

[ back ] 15. Some examples are shown in photographs in Krispijn 2010.

[ back ] 16. Pelzel 1977 with earlier literature.

[ back ] 17. MSL 11:9.

[ back ] 18. The Akkadian equivalent of the Sumerian word ĝešba is umāšu. The meaning ‘grapple-hook’ was proposed by AHw, s.v. The plating of a gešba shows that ‘wrestling (match)’ cannot be the only meaning of the word (as claimed by Rollinger, RlA 13:6–16, *Sport und Spiel).

[ back ] 19. The adjective ku3 is translated in Akkadian as ellu ‘shining’ (42a, line 44), which is standard qualification of silver. Selz uses the conventional translation of ku3 as ‘holy’.

[ back ] 20. I owe this interpretation to U. Gabbay.

[ back ] 21. The pictograph also writes the word ‘god’ (diĝir in Sumerian and il3 in Akkadian), and the syllable /an/. It is sometimes not clear which value applies. A salient example comes from an ED list of knives that includes sections where pairs with and without the single star appear. There is a ‘copper bread knife’ and a ‘copper bread knife’ preceded by the single star and so on. Selz 1997:170–171, following an idea of A. Westenholz, understands the single star as divine determinative. Englund and Nissen 1993:34 found in the archaic metal list also entries with the single star. They suggested that the utilitarian objects in the list were made of copper and the addition of the single star is short for an-na ‘tin’. In my opinion, that is certainly also the case in the ED list quoted by Selz. The document would then gain importance for the early development of bronze in the time from archaic Uruk III to ED, and lose relevance for the topic of deification of ‘cultic objects’.

[ back ] 22. Accidents while moving images of gods happened and were considered ominous. One example: “when Marduk in exiting or entering Esagila falls down and comes to rest on the ground, the dead will rise, end of rule” (Sallaberger 2000:232).

[ back ] 23. See p28.

[ back ] 24. Jacobsen 1987:434n36: “The ‘wroth-faced king’ suggests that it would come into play when Ningirsu’s face was glowering, the god still full of the wrath of battle.”

[ back ] 25. Sigrist 1984a:140.

[ back ] 26. George 1993 no. 524. The weapon ‘Fifty-headed Stick’ was stationed in Igishugalama and Ninurta determined destinies there (Heimpel 1996:21–22 with fig. 3). The corresponding place in Gudea’s ground plan of the Eninnu of Ningirsu was the most protruding of the three gates of the east side of the temple. George’s proposal to identify it with the cella of Ninurta in his Nippur temple means that the gate led straight to the cella at the west side with the rising sun greeted by Ningirsu/Ninurta looking at the mountain land to check whether it was necessary to move out on a military expedition (one of his principal functions).

[ back ] 27. In both names, IGI.A is interpreted as equivalent to A.IGI er2 ‘tear’. IGI.A is logogram for uhhur2 ‘foam,’ but ‘Lady Foam’ and ‘… foam Cow’ seem unlikely. See Krebernik 1986:191 and 198.

[ back ] 28. See Veldhuis 2000:79–80 and Lambert in RlA 3:475 (*Götterlisten).

[ back ] 29. Löhnert 2009:55–58.

[ back ] 30. The operatic nature of the performance is described by Ziegler (FM 9:55–64) on the basis of an OB ritual of the performance of Uru’amma’irabi from Mari.

[ back ] 31. See also Franklin, p41.

[ back ] 32. See Franklin, p40–41.

[ back ] 33. ‘Chief butler’ (sukkal-mah) after +.

[ back ] 34. For the translation ‘caretaker’ see Heimpel 2009:138–139.

[ back ] 35. KAV 64, lines 12–18 of the last two columns of the reverse, lists five names of ‘secondary balang’ (balaĝ us2, translated as BALAĜ re-du-u2) of Utu.

[ back ] 36. CUSAS 23 5 (probably Umma ED IIIb), DP 624 I 5–6 (Girsu ED IIIb) and HLC 32 I 11 (Girsu Ur III).

[ back ] 37. MSL 14:468–469 (lines 118–137) and Civil 2010:12–13 (lines 241–253).

[ back ] 38. Gabbay 2010 and Collon in RlA 14:142 (*Trommel und Pauke) translate ‘jackal’. AHw, CAD, and CDA only ‘fox’. The jackal, who likes to live close to human settlement and would have been a more common presence—not the fox (who prefers uninhabited areas)—engages in melodious howling. The Arabic cognate also designates both canids (Lane 1980:338, “ṯa’lab: the fox, canis vulpes of Linn., but in the dialect of Egypt the jackal, canis aureus”).

[ back ] 39. The best source is the administrative record from the province of Lagash published by Gelb 1975, which lists the singers and lamenters of the divine households of the province. Even the households of the servant-gods in Ningirsu’s temple, Igalima and Shulshagana, had a singer.

[ back ] 40. See Franklin, p28. In the temple of Nanshe in Nina, a city in the territory of Lagash, the chief singer played a horn (20c).

[ back ] 41. The Mesopotamian attitude to male homosexuality was “positive appreciation” (Wiggermann, RlA 12:418, *Sexualität A). Apart from homosexuality, anal intercourse with a woman was practiced in order to prevent pregnancy (CAD s.v. nâku 3, cited by Wiggermann). For recent discussions of the sexuality and anatomy of the ‘third gender’ of the lamenter, see Gabbay 2008; Shehata 2009:82–83; Gabbay PHG:67–68.

[ back ] 42. Michalowski 2006, limiting himself to Ur III administrative documents, finds the very same dichotomy in the nature of the lamenter, which he expresses as “love” and “death,” “marriage option” and “military option.” The connection with death was the temporal induction of a soldier to serve as lamenter in battle deaths, the connection with marriage might have been the lamenter’s instruction of the couple about matters of sexuality.

[ back ] 43. The sign sur9, the word by itself, and as part of the name of the instrument alĝarsura is treated in Veldhuis 1997–1998.

[ back ] 44. RIME; Molina 1991:142–145 = P101667; MAD 1 (Gelb 1952) 232; 303; 336; OIP 104 (Gelb et al. 1989–1991), 43. + MAD 1 54 and 55 rev. IV 7; OIP 104, 44 rev. II’ 4’–6’.

[ back ] 45. Schmidt-Colinet in RlA 12:505 (*Sänger, Sängerin B) with a precise drawing by C. Wolff.

[ back ] 46. im kur-ra igi-ĝa2 u4 še18-bi ma-te balaĝ-di im kur-ra igi-ĝa2 u4 še18-bi ma-te nin uru2-ba ga-ša-an-mu su2-ra2-aĝ2 munus ša6-ga a ga-ša-an-mu nin gu-la ga-ša-an e2-bar6-bar6-ra … im hur-saĝ-e mu-un-ši-ĝar-re.

[ back ] 47. a-gim i3-gul a-gim i3-gul-gul ni2-zu a-gim mu-un-pe-el, nin ama5-zu a-gim i3-gul-la ni2-zu .

[ back ] 48. nin-mu balaĝ-di lu2 ad du10 na-nam niĝ2-ak šu-hul du11-ga-mu er2-ra ha-ra-ni-ib-be2.

[ back ] 49. e2-e ab2 amar-bi ku5-ra2-gim ni2-bi-še3 ur5 gig-ga im-ša4 SIG7.SIG7 i3-ĝa2-ĝa2 balaĝ-di lu2 ad du10-ga-ke4-ne ummeda u5-a di-gim mu-bi er2-ra mi-ni-ib-bal-bal-e-ne.

[ back ] 50. sarāru ‘to be false’, ṣarāru ‘to flash, drip, twinkle’; zarāru does not seem to exist.

[ back ] 51. Gabbay (PHG:124–128).

[ back ] 52. See Section 2c and Franklin p30–33.

[ back ] 53. See Section 3b.

[ back ] 54. Cf. Franklin, p25.

[ back ] 55. See p590.

[ back ] 56. Many singers are attested in Girsu in Ur III records. There is one Lu-Nanshe, chief singer (nar-gal), who appears as father of a witness in two court cases (Falkenstein 1956 no. 113 and 161). The first case is about prebends in the temple of Ningirsu, so the witnesses were likely clerics, as Falkenstein states. The case was decided in the fortieth year of Shulgi, which means that the chief singer could have been appointed by Gudea. So it is possible that Lu-Nanshe impersonated the Great Dragon of the Homeland.

[ back ] 57. P000000 is the text number in

[ back ] 58. [2? +] 3N1 NUNa UŠa, 2N1 ERIN UŠa, 1N1 EZENc ZATU 632b KURa, 5N1 DARA3b, 3N1 ZATU 672, 4N1 BALAĜ, 2N34 [     ] ENa [     ]. (ZATU: Green and Nissen 1987).

[ back ] 59. 2 maš2 ama-UR5a?:ERIMb2:DU:UD, 2 (maš2) balaĝ-SI:DI (= balaĝ si-sa2 or balaĝ-di SI?).

[ back ] 60. emarah balaĝ, balaĝ, balaĝ dilmun, balaĝ Ma-ri2ki, gi-di, gi-tag, BUR2-balaĝ.

[ back ] 61. balaĝ, BALAĜxGAN2-tenû, AL:HUB2, BALAĜ, har-har, ki2-na-ru12.

[ back ] 62. balaĝ-di na-ṭi3-lu-um, BALAĜ ki2-na-ru12-um. Cf. Franklin, p66–67.

[ back ] 63. See Tonietti 2010:83.

[ back ] 64. A vivid description is found in Brehm 1911–1920 1:163–164.

[ back ] 65. nar, nar-gal, nar balaĝ, nar sa, … muš-lah4, muš-lah4-gal, gala, gala-mah, gala-tur, gala-mah lugal, gala lugal, gala lugal-ra-us2-sa, gala ma-da-ab-us2, [am]a er2-ra, balaĝ, b[al]aĝ-ĝa2, [ba]laĝ-il2.

[ back ] 66. lu2-nar, lu2-ezen/šir3, lu2 BUR2-balaĝ.

[ back ] 67. Lugal-an-za3-še3 gala, Gala-x, Ur-e2-tur, Me-na-ŠE3, [U]r-dEn-ki, [l]u2 še gu7, ([x])balaĝ ha-la.

[ back ] 68. ub5-ku3, [g]al:balaĝ, ĝišimmar urudu, na-ru2-a, alan Ur-dNanše, alan e2 ša3-ga 8-ba-kam, balaĝ 7-ba-kam. TSA 1 IX 1–14 Lugalanda 2 = P221362; DP 53 IX 7–17 Lugalanda 3 = P220703; Nik 1 23 rev. II 1’–9’ Lugalanda 6 = P221730 (minor differences not indicated). Selz 1995:103 and 189–198; Marchesi and Marchetti 2011:232–234.

[ back ] 69. balaĝ-il2 na-aš2 ba-lam-gi (MAOG 13/2 [Meissner 1940]: 44–48, pl. 4 II 28’) and balaĝ-il2-il2 (OrNS 70 [Taylor 2001], 210–211 II 33’).

[ back ] 70. Ša6-ša6 dam Uru-ka-gi-na lugal Lagaški-ka-ke4 Siraraki-na balaĝ e-ta-ru-a.

[ back ] 71. Puzur4-ma-ma agrig Ša6-ša6 dam Uru-ka-gi-na lugal Lagaški-ka-ke4 Siraraki-na balaĝ-il2 e-ta-ru-a-kam 3.

[ back ] 72. En-ig-gal dub-sar-re2 ensi2-ke4 balaĝ-il2 e-ta-ru-a mu-de6 4.

[ back ] 73. The reading of the name of the goddess is not assured. For it and the goddess generally see RlA 9:463–468 (Sallaberger, *Nin-MAR.KI).

[ back ] 74. Selz 1995:121–124.

[ back ] 75. Of presumably the tenth month: Selz 1995:236.

[ back ] 76. For the lamenter Suru, see 23f.

[ back ] 77. sur9-de3 e-naĝ, balaĝ ru-a ša3-uru-ka-ke4 e-naĝ, balaĝ ru-a a-huš-ke4 e-naĝ.

[ back ] 78. 1 ĝišu3-suh gal-gal sig7-igi ka2 balaĝ-ka-še3.

[ back ] 79. la2-i3 7 1/3 sila3 i3 ĝišbalaĝ Nin-PA Nam-ha-ni.

[ back ] 80. As suggested by Cavigneaux and Krebernik, RlA 9:480 (*NIN-PA).

[ back ] 81. DUMU dNa-ra-am-dSu’en da-nim Na-bi2-ul3-maš ENSI2 Tu-tuki Li-pu-uš-ia3-a-um BALAG.DI dSu’en DUMU.MUNUS-su2.

[ back ] 82. [           PN MUNUS B]ALAĜ.DI in E2 MUNUS BALAĜ.DI ta2-ku8-un.

[ back ] 83. For the date of Gudea in the Ur III period, specifically the reign of the second Ur III king Shulgi, see Wilcke 2011.

[ back ] 84. BALAĜ ki-aĝa2-ni Ušumgal-kalam-ma ĝiš gu3-di mu tuku niĝ2 ad-gi4-gi4-ni.

[ back ] 85. See also Franklin, p27.

[ back ] 86. mu balaĝ Ušumgal-kalam-ma ba-dim2-ma.

[ back ] 87. Michalowski 1989:64.

[ back ] 88. Jacobsen 1987:434 translates the verb si sa2 ad hoc as ‘correctly tune’, Klein 1981:194, line 54, as ‘sweetly play,’ Krispijn 1990:3 as ‘korrekt spielen’.

[ back ] 89. The repetition of the dative suffix is unusual, and so is ĝeštug as genitive of a personal designation. Jacobsen 1987 translates “for the warrior with ear (for music),” Edzard (RIME 3/1) “to the listening.”

[ back ] 90. ti-gi4 niĝ2-du10-ge si sa2-a-da kisal e2-ninnu hul2-a sig9-a-da al-ĝar mi-ri2-tum niĝ2 e2-du10-ga ur-saĝ ĝeštug(PI.TUG2)-a-ra dNin-ĝir2-su-ra e2-ninnu du10-bi ĝa2-ĝa2-da nar ki-aĝ2-a-ni Ušumgal-kalam-ma en dNin-ĝir2-su-ra me-ni-da mu-na-da-dib2-be2.

[ back ] 91. kisal e2!-ninnu-[k]e4 hul2-a sig9-a-da si-im<> a2-la2 balaĝ nam-nar šu-du7-a balaĝ ki-aĝa2-ni Ušum-gal-kalam-ma saĝ-ba ĝin-na-da ensi2 e2-ninnu mu-du3-a Gu3-de2-a en dNin-ĝir2-su-ra mu-na-da-an-ku4-ku4. For attempts to make sense of <> see PHG:143n578. si-im a2-la2 is found in Gudea Cylinders A 18:18 and Shulgi D 366. The reading si-im-da balaĝ in Shulgi E 101 is in error. The source Ni 4519 II’ 8 has clearly si-im balaĝ, the source TCL 15 14 III 17 si-im ba[laĝ], where the first part of the sign balaĝ is copied as if it were -da.

[ back ] 92. ušumgal-kalam-ma ti-gi4-a mu-gub a2-la2 u4-dam šeg12 mu-na-ab-gi4. The phrase ti-gi4-a mu-DU has been translated differently—Falkenstein and von Soden 1953:180: “Den Drachen des Landes Sumer, die Pauke, brachte er (mu-tum2);” Jacobsen 1987:441: “Ushumgalkalamma took its stand among the tigi-harps;” RIME 3/1:98 (Edzard): “The (harp) Dragon-of-the-Land he joined with the kettledrum(?) (mu-gub).” The parallel passage of 20c writes mu-ni-DU, where -ni- corresponds to the locative –a of tigi. This favors gub ‘to stand’ rather than tum2 ‘to bring’. Gabbay (PHG:110) translates “Ušumgalkalama was placed as (literally on) the tigi,” basing his translation on the assumption that tigi is the balaĝ of the singer (nar): “The tigi and the balaĝ were the same type of instrument (at least originally), the difference between them being their cultic context: the balaĝ was associated with the repertoire of the gala, and the tigi (written with the signs BALAĜ and NAR) with the repertoire of the nar. Thus, some of the instruments referred to as balaĝ in texts are probably to be identified with what literary and lexical texts usually regard as tigi. For example, Great Dragon of the Homeland is not the balaĝ instrument that is usually associated with the gala, but rather the balaĝ instrument that is usually associated with the nar and is often referred to as tigi(2) (written NAR.BALAĜ or BALAĜ.NAR) [PHG:103].” I believe the translation ‘as’ for ‘literally on’ does not agree with the functions of the Sum. locative and that NAR.BALAĜ or BALAĜ.NAR need not be interpreted on the semantic level as ‘balaĝ of the nar’. The tigi instrument has been understood as percussion or string instrument. Krispijn 1990:3 argues for identification with a lyre. If the phrase tigi-a gub means ‘to place among the tigi’ it implies plurality of tigi instruments.

[ back ] 93. Also translated as ‘Red-eyed King’, which would be a good description of a lamenter (the name was, however, quite common in Ur III sources and not limited to lamenters).

[ back ] 94. Bauer 1967:229 proposes that sig stands for sig7 on the basis of the entry er2 sig7-me in the context of burial rites in an ED IIIb text.

[ back ] 95. ša3 huĝ-ĝa2-da bar huĝ-ĝa2-da er2 igi pa3-da er2 sig-da ša3 a-nir-ta a-nir ba-da en-na ša3 ab-gim zi-ga-ni i7 buranuna-gim luh-ha-ni a-ma-ru-gim sa-ga-ka-ni kur gu2-erim2-ĝal2 dEn-lil2-la2-ka a-gim u3-mi-ĝar-ĝar [x x (x)] gu2-be2 gi4-a-ni a x su3-da balaĝ-ĝa2-ni Lugal-igi-huš-am3 en dNin-ĝir2-su-ra me-ni-da mu-na-da-dib-be2.

[ back ] 96. The term gal-di, literally ‘to speak great’, has positive and negative connotations (Attinger 1993:511–512). The ED IIIb Girsu names A-da-gal-di, Ses-da-gal-di, En-da-gal-di, and dInanana-da-gal-di, where the collocutors of the named person are father, brother, ruler, and a goddess, suggest an intimate relationship. The semantic relation with the Akk. translation of gal-di, tizqaru ‘exalted,’ is unclear. Foxvog 2011:76–77 translates “Excels with (thanks to) the father/brother.” See also PHG:104. For the short name An-da-gal-di, see 25.

[ back ] 97. balaĝ Nin-an-da-gal-di mu-na-dim2 e2-mah-na mu-na-ni-gub.

[ back ] 98. The reading of the sign hi as hi, transliterated elsewhere as du10 or šar2, is confirmed by the Akk. loan word i-he2-nun-na-ku from Sum. i3-he-nun, designation of the top quality cow fat. See RlA 8:196 (M. Stol, *Milch(produkte) A).

[ back ] 99. This is confirmed by the fact that the name of the balang-goddess is written without the divine determinative as attested for other balang-gods in the inscriptions of Gudea.

[ back ] 100. Civil 1987b proposed to read urudukin-tur, understanding it as a musical instrument made of copper and called ‘frog’ kin-turku6, but claves in form of sickles are attested (MgB 2/2:48 with fig. 15–16; see also Section 1c above).

[ back ] 101. The form is commonly understood as affirmative. I understand it as a negative rhetorical question prompting an affirmative answer of the audience.

[ back ] 102. gu3-de2-a ensi2 Lagaški-a-ke4 ab2-he-nun tigi-a mu-ni-gub balaĝ ku3 da-bi-a mu-ni-gub šir3-ku3 šir3 ha-mun-na mu-un-na-du12-a urudu-gur10-tur-re e2 im-mi-i-i a2 dara3 nar-gal-e šu mu-na-ab-tag-ge e2 abzu-ta me nam-ta-ba e2 Siraraki-ka šir3-ku3-ba me-nun-ba mu-un-du12 ensi-ke4 ne-saĝ-ĝa2 mu-na-an-tum2.

[ back ] 103. in-nin9 ama dNanše ma2-gur8 ku3 ša-mu-ra-ab-diri-ga ša3(?)-ba(?) Ab2-he-nun mu-na-du12-am3.

[ back ] 104. The porch of the balang could have been the ‘porch of Baba’ (a-ga dBa-ba6), which is described as ‘heart-soothing place’ (ki ša3 kuš2) in Gudea Cylinder A 26.12. Gabbay 2013:228n10, quotes the Late Babylonian text SBH 50a:18, in which parts of a temple are lamented in anticipation of their destruction, among them ma balaĝ-ĝa2 gu4 gu3-di:nun x-[-mu] with the explanation ĝa2 ba-la-aĝ2-ĝa2 al-pu [     ] du10-x- [x]. ga2 is the standard Sumerian equivalent of Emesal Sumerian ma. The OB version (CT 36 BM 096691 rev. III 7) writes ka2 balaĝ-ĝa2 am-gim du7-du7-mu, “my gate of the balang butting like a wild bull.” If all readings are genuine, the Balang-harp was stationed in a porch (a-ga) by a gate (ka2). A balang-gate is mentioned in 14. Porches and gates are repeatedly mentioned together in the description of the temple of Ningirsu (Heimpel 1996:18–20). The existence of a ‘balang-house,’ for which see PHG:93, does not seem to be assured. e2-balag-e in TUT 287 is the name of a gala priest, É.BALAG-gi4 in PDT 1 545 according to Sallaberger 1993 1:142n668, perhaps writing for tigi.

[ back ] 105. The standard translation of the substantive nun is ‘prince’. The adjective denotes a positive, but not yet clearly defined, quality.

[ back ] 106. a-ga balaĝ-a-bi gu4 gu3-nun di kisal-bi šud3-ku3 si-im a2-la2.

[ back ] 107. ki-mah uru-ka al nu-ĝar adda ki nu-tum2 gala-e balaĝ nu-gub er2 nu-ta-e3.

[ back ] 108. gala balaĝ-di-ne šu ba-ab-ti … balaĝ i3-dim-ma gub-ba u4 10 la2 1-kam ki-hul lugal.

[ back ] 109. For more detail on Ninigizibara see Sallaberger 1993; RlA 9:382–384 (Heimpel, *Ninigizibara); Volk 2006; PHG:106n224, 112–113.

[ back ] 110. gala e2-a gašan me ur4-ur4 muš3-me kur-še3 i-bí ma-al-la-mu. Volk 2006:105 translates “mein Abbild, dessen Aufmerksamkeit beständig auf das Fremdland gerichtet ist.”

[ back ] 111. mu Ibbi-Sin … dNin-igi-zi-bar-ra balaĝ dInana-ra mu-na-dim2.

[ back ] 112. 10 gin2 la2 igi 4 gal2 ku3 ŠU.DIM4ba igi dIgi-zi-bar-ra ĝa2-ĝa2-de3.

[ back ] 113. The term u2-sag was first understood to designate early grass. Sallaberger 1993 1:233–234, noting that this does not fit the season, suggested a translation ‘high grass’.

[ back ] 114. balaĝ ban3-da am mur-sa4-a-mu balaĝ ku3 mu-ud-na-mu za-gin3-na-mu ad-gi4-gi4-mu Sur-DU-e gal-mu ad-gi4-gi4 dNin-igi-zi-bar-ra-mu.

[ back ] 115. balaĝ ban3-da am mu-ru-um-šu-a-zu / balaĝ ku3 mu-ud-nu-bi za-gin3-zu / ad-gi4-gi4-zu sur-ru-ga-zu / [a]d-gi-gi dIgi-zi-bar-ra-zu. sur-ru-ga-zu stands for sur9-gal-zu. Syllabary B II 285 (MSL 3:147) sur-ru = SUR9 = surrû.

[ back ] 116. kur2-re balaĝ-ku3-mu tu15-mu-ub-gi4-gi4 e2 ĝa2-a tu15(-mu-ub-gi4-gi4) balaĝ-ku3 dNin-igi-zi-bar-ra-mu tu15-mu-ub-gi4-gi4 kur2-re mu-ud-na-mu tu15-mu-ub-gi4-gi4 ur2-ku3-ĝa2tu15-nu2 ĝa2-e ( . . . ) mu-ud-na-mu dAma-ušumgal-an-na tu15-mu-ub-gi4-gi4 ur2-ku3-ĝa2 tu15-nu2.

[ back ] 117. aš-šum 4 ma-na ku3-babbar u3 5 gin2 ku3-GI ša a-na ši-pi2-ir dNin-igi-zi-bar-ra a-na Tu-ut-tu-ulki šu-bu-lim.

[ back ] 118. [d]gašan-si-mar-an-n[a] dNin-si-ĝar-an-na [dgaša]n-i!-b[i2-zi-bar-ra] dNin-igi-zi-bar-ra 2 GU4.BALAĜ dInana-ke4.

[ back ] 119. Cf. the opinion of Selz 1997:202n222 that the verb describes “aptness of the subject to be fit for his/her duty.”

[ back ] 120. II 57: i-na kušbalaĝ šim-ĝišeren a-na ki-nu-nim [     ] | III 3–4: šu-ti-a gala-meš i-na kušbalaĝ [     ] a2 u4-te-na [u4 17-kam] | IV 25–29: 4 sila3 i3-giš a-na ša-ra-pi-im 3 sila3 [zi3]-gu ½ sila3 šim-hi-a i-na kuš[balaĝ] šim ĝišeren a-na ki-nu-nim … dabin … zi3-gu [… ] šu-ti-a gala-meš i-na kušbalaĝ šim-ĝišeren 1 sila3 i3-ĝiš i3-šeš4 (EREN) ni-ri-im | VII 19–22: šu-ti-a gala-[meš] i-na kušbalaĝ [     ] a2 u4-te-na u4 20-kam.

[ back ] 121. Cf. the opinion of Selz 1997:178 that the day of invisibility “alludes to a mourning-ritual in which the harp played a part.”

[ back ] 122. Sallaberger 1993 1:266 and 2:163.

[ back ] 123. See Section 3c2.

[ back ] 124. See Section 1a above.

[ back ] 125. 1 udu-niga gu4-e us2-sa balaĝ imin dNin-[     ].

[ back ] 126. 2 kuš u2-hab2 1/3 ma-na sze-gin2 balaĝ lukur-gal si-ga.

[ back ] 127. balaĝ-mah ša3 tu-x-da mu-na-an-dim2 nam-ti-la-[ni-še3] a mu-na-ru balaĝ-ba dIš-bi-er3-ra dEn-lil2-da nir-ĝal2 mu-bi-im. Civil 1987a on the sign -x-: “Neither the meaning nor the traces favor -ud-. Perhaps it is to be read tu-[u]h for du8.”

[ back ] 128. [1] ĝišbalaĝ-sumun dInana dIš-bi-Er3-ra kuš gu4-u2-hab2-bi 1/3 (gin2) ba-a-si kuš maš2-gal gi6-ga 1/2 (gin2) še-gin2-bi 5 gin2 ĝiri3 Lu2-IGI.KU gala-mah.

[ back ] 129. ellu ‘light, shining’ describes the sheen of silver and here probably the sheen of silver plating of the instrument. The same translation is found repeatedly (CAD s. v. balaggu). UET 3 1476 lists among silver smiths two persons titled gišbalaĝ-tuš-a (see PHG:84).

[ back ] 130. The intransitive form nuhhu indicates that the mentioned gods are the subject. Gabbay (PHG:18) points out that gods were routinely solicited to help pacify the heart of a fellow god and translates accordingly.

[ back ] 131. 42. Sum.: balaĝ-ku3 ki-aĝ2-ĝa2-ni dNin-he-nun A[N     ] Akk.: ba-lam-ga el-la ša i-ra-am-mu dNin-he-nun A[N     ] / 43. Sum.: šir3-ku3 za3-mi2 la-la ĝa2-la-ni gu3 nun mi-ni-[ib-be2] Akk.: za-ma-ri KU3.MEŠ ta-ni-ta ša la-la-a ma-la-a-at i-x-x-x / 44. Sum.: kušub-ku3 balaĝ-ku3-ge šu mu-un-tag-[tag] Akk.: i-na up-pi eb-bi ba-lam-gi el-li u2-la-pa-tu-ši / 45. Sum.: gala ri-a mu-un-na-zi-zi e-ne-ra dNin-in-si-na Akk.: GALA.MEŠ i-na tak-rib-ti šu-a-ti ša dNin-kar-ra-a[k] / 46. Sum.: An dEn-lil2 dEn-ki dNin-mah-e mu-un-huĝ-ĝa2-e-da Akk.: dA-nu dEn-lil2 dE-a u3 dNIN.DIGIR.MEŠ nu-uh-h[u] … ) / 47. Sum.: nin-mah-e e2-gal-mah-ne-a ki-tuš mi-ni-ib-du10-ga-ta Akk.: iš-tu ru-ba-tu ṣir-ti i-na e2-gal-mah šub-ta uš-ṭib-bu / 48. Sum.: lugal-e gu4 mu-un-na-ab-gaz-e udu mu-un-na-ab-šar2-re Akk.: šar-ru GU4meš u2-pa-laq-ši UDU mešu2-da-aš2-ša-ši). For takribtu rather than taqribtu in 45, see Gabbay 2011:71–73.

[ back ] 132. 5 gin2 kuš gu4 u2-hab2 zu2 kak ĝiš ga-bu dNin-he-nun-na.

[ back ] 133. Limet 1960:223, ‘gold strips’. Possibly granulation: RlA 3:530 (Boese/Rüss, *Gold).

[ back ] 134. niĝ2-su3-a ku3-sig17 dNin-he-nun-na ba-ra-[x].

[ back ] 135. Cooper 1983:59 translates “as if they stood at heaven’s base;” PHG:16n9: “The image here refers to the performance of the balag instrument during dawn,” translating (178n210) “for seven days and seven nights, (the lamenters) placed seven balaĝ instruments on earth like (i.e., at the time of) the standing horizon.”

[ back ] 136. u4 7 ĝi6 7-še3 balaĝ 7-e an ur2 gub-ba-gim ki mu-un-ši-ib-us2 ub3 me-ze2 li-li-is3 šem3 dIškur-gim ša3-ba mu-na-an-du12 um-ma a uru2-mu nu-ĝa2-ĝa2 ab-ba a lu2-bi nu-ĝa2-ĝa2 gala-e a e2-kur nu-ĝa2-ĝa2.

[ back ] 137. nam-ti-mu-še3 u3 nam-ti Ku-du-ur-ma-uk a-a ugu x x balaĝ [l]i-li-is3 zabar mu-na-dim2. Gabbay understands balaĝ as a determinative.

[ back ] 138. See 23d3.

[ back ] 139. ninda-a-ni a-ka-lu-um-ma kaš-a-ni ši-ka-ru-um-ma kašbir-a-ni ma-zu2-um-ma balaĝ-a-ni gi4-er2-ra-an-um-ma ga-ša-an-ĝa2 kušub3-a-ni balaĝ li-li-is3-am3.

[ back ] 140. 1 kuš maš2 balaĝ.

[ back ] 141. [ bi]bil libbi šarrim [ina ma]yyal Ištar ittêl [ina k]aṣātišu eli ša k[a]yyantim ušahrapūma niĝ2-gub Ištar iššakkan bīt Ištar uštanazzakūma dNin-gi-zi-ip-pa-ra ina mehret Ištar ušzazūma ka-l[u-u2 ina š]umēl dNin-gi-zi-ip-pa-ra [ ] u3 šitru [ ina i]mitti …

[ back ] 142. ka-lu-u2 u2-ru-am-ma-da-ru-bi re-eš wa-ar-hi i-z[a-a]m-mu-r[u].

[ back ] 143. [a] il-la-L[UM] a il-la-LUM [1 kuš]balaĝ dSuen u3-mu-un x-x-ti u3-mu-un-na kur-ra-na 1 šir3 nam-šu-ub d[Suen] 1 kušbalaĝ 1 šir3 n[am-šu-ub d]Suen.

[ back ] 144. a+45 uru2 saĝ-ĝa2 ma balaĝ saĝ-ĝa2-mu | a+46 e2 er2-gig e2 er2-ra pel-la2-mu | a+47 a-ra-li gu4 bur nun-na-mu | a+48 ma balaĝ-ĝa2 ma balaĝ nun-na-mu.

[ back ] 145. The same and grammatically uncorrupted version is found in the description of the harp porch in the temple of Ningirsu in Girsu (21).

[ back ] 146. 5 ka2 ku3 e2 na-aĝ2-ga-ša-an-na-mu | 6 kisal bar-ra ki di ku5-ru-mu | 7 ka2 balaĝ-ĝa2 am-gim du7-du7-mu | 8 abul-mah dmu-ul-lil2-la2-mu | 9 abul ganzir i-bi2 kur-ra-mu.

[ back ] 147. 16 ti-lim-da ku3-ga a nu-de2-a-mu | 17 kušub ku3-ga nu-mu-un-ĝar-ra-mu | 18 balaĝ ku3-ga nu-mu-un-du24-a-mu | 19 šem3 ku3-ga ad nu-ša4-ša4-mu | 20 me-ze2 ku3-ga nu-ze2-ze2-ba-mu.

[ back ] 148. a+36 Sum.: e2-e dim3-me-er balaĝ er2-ra u4-de3 [     ] Akk.: ana E2 i-lu ina ba-lag-gu tak-r[ib-tu2/tes-li-tu2 ] | a+37 Sum.: gala-e šir3-ra mu-un-na-an-du12-a Akk.: ka-lu-u2 za-ma-ri i-za-am-mu-ru | a+38 Sum.: gala-e šir3-ra nam-en-na mu-un-na-an-du12-a Akk.: ka-lu-u2 za-mar be-lu-ti | a+39 Sum.: [gala]-e šir3-ra balaĝ-ĝa2 mu-un- Akk.: ka-lu-u za-mar ba-la-ag-gi | a+40 Sum.: kušub3-ku3 li-li-is3-ku3 mu-un- Akk. ina up-pi el-lim ina li-li-is el-li | a+41 Sum.: šem3 me-ze2 balaĝ ku3-ga mu-un- Akk.: [     h]al-hal-la-ti u ma-an-zi-i ba-la-ag2-ga el-li.

[ back ] 149. See also Gabbay’s (PHG:103–109) analysis of names indicating the adviser role of GU4.BALAĜ; cf. Franklin, p30_33.

[ back ] 150. The plural verb in the phrase ki AN dur2-ru-na in the OB version of the oratorio Elum Gusun (VS 2 11 II 13’) indicates that the sign AN does not write the DN An. The Late version nevertheless translates: “place where Anum [dwells]” (SBH 21 rev. 34). This understanding was accepted by Horowitz 1998:225. Krecher 1966:99n268 translates “wo die Götter sitzen” (diĝir dur2-ru-na).

[ back ] 151. Nindagalzu is entered after the balang Ninigizibara in the Mari god-list (Lambert 1985:183, lines 94–95).

[ back ] 152. The suru was a type of lamenter (see Section 3b).

[ back ] 153. IV 73 and 74 are restored from Emesal Vocabulary I 87–88 (MSL 4:9).

[ back ] 154. For the reading of the balang-gods of Lugalbanda and Ninsun see PHG:111n281.

[ back ] 155. dDa-da gu-la lu2 balag-ga tuš-a nam-mah diĝir-e- tu-mu-un-du12-du12-a.

[ back ] 156. Michalowski 2006:49–50.