Bowl of Utu

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The Bowl of Utu also known as the Bowl of Udu, Uhub, Utug, U-tug, Utuk or Utu(k) is an ancient Sumerian bowl from the early 3rd millennium BC. Fragments of the bowl contain eight lines of an inscription. Controversy has surrounded its translation since the 1920s but it is agreed by scholars the fragments contain the earliest mention of Hamazi.

The Bowl[edit]

Only two fragments of the bowl are known to exist and were unearthed in Nippur (Ianna Temple) by the archaeologist Hermann Volrath Hilprecht in 1889. The two fragments are only small in size, but contain an extant Sumerian inscription of eight lines. Hilprecht glued the fragments together (the total size being 12 x 14. 5 x 1. 7 cm) and first translated part of the inscription in his Old Babylonian Inscriptions (1893).[1] A full translation was undertaken by the French Assyriologist François Thureau-Dangin, the chief curator at the Louvre in 1905.[2]

The inscription of eight lines reads in full as follows:[3]
1.[Ash] Za [ga-ga] (or Sa)
2. ... U-dug (or Udu)
3. Pat[esi]
4. Ki[sh] (Kish)
5. Enu-zu-zu
6. Gin-Zi
7. Kha-ma-zi-ki (or Khamazi)
8. Sag-gaba-du
The English translation reads:[4]
1.[King] Za (Sa)
2.U-dug (or Udu)
3.Priest (or sage)
4.Kish [city]
5.(Son of) Enuzuzu
6.(Son of) Gin-Zi
7.Hamazi (city)
8.Choice broken has deposited

The bowl fragments were dated by Hilprecht (1893) to the beginning of the Early Dynastic III (ED IIIa) Period (or Nippur III) c. 2600 BC.[5] Other scholars however have proposed a slightly earlier date, such as the Early Dynastic II (c. 2750 BC).[6] In the early 20th century, Laurence Waddell excavated the ancient temple site at Nippur where the fragments were found and claimed he could date them to c. 3245 BC.[7] Most Assyriologists however have rejected this date.

The bowl fragments later came into the possession of Waddell who in 1929 published his own alternative translation (see below).

Meaning of Inscription[edit]

Hilprecht and Dangin who translated the fragments considered the inscription to refer to a "cult at Kish", referring to the reference of a Pat[esi] (priest) in line three, placed in line four at the city Ki[sh] (Kish). They also acknowledged that it contained the earliest reference to Hamazi. The reference to King Za (or Sa) they could not identify. The archaeologist C. J. Gadd in 1940 proposed that King Za had conquered Hamazi, but made no attempt to identify him.[8] The bowl also appears mentioned in the literature of Theophilus Pinches, who in 1921 wrote a personal letter to Waddell thanking him of bringing the bowl fragments to his attention.[9] Despite this, Pinches never personally attempted to crack the meaning of the inscription.

The origin and meaning of the inscription remains unresolved.

Waddell's Translation[edit]

Waddell[10] in his Makers of Civilization (1929) published an alternative translation of the fragments:

To King (or Lord) Sagg (or Zagg, Sakh, Dar, In-Dara or Dur, Udu, Gurusha, or Adar)
Udu, the priest-king of Kish City
the son of Enuzuzu (or Inzuzu)
the son of Gin, the established son (of King Sagg)
the Khamazi City
choice broken (Bowl) has deposited.

His translation and work has never been taken serious by Assyriologists.[11] Waddell also identified Hamazi (fragment line 7) with Carchemish in Syria, but this location is improbable.

References and Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania". Series A: Cuneiform texts (1893), Vol. 1 pt. 2. Hilprecht, H.V. "Old Babylonian Inscriptions chiefly from Nippur", plate 46, p. 49 (Trans Am. Phil. Soc.' N.S XIIII. 8). More information on the bowl is found in Laurence Waddell's "Makers of Civilization in Race and History" (1929, p. 94 ff).
  2. ^ "Les inscript Sumer er d' Akkad", F. Paris 1905, p. 229.
  3. ^ Tr. Dangin and Hilprecht (Waddell, 1929).
  4. ^ Tr. Dangin and Hilprecht (Waddell, 1929).
  5. ^ "Old Babylonian Inscriptions chiefly from Nippur", plate 46, p. 49.
  6. ^ Early Dynastic Dedication Inscriptions from Nippur, Albrecht Goetze, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 23, No. 2 , 1970, p. 39-56.
  7. ^ Waddell, 1929, pp. 88-101.
  8. ^ "Fragments of an Early Sumerian Inscribed Bowl", C. J. Gadd, The British Museum Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 2, Jun., 1940, pp. 32-33.
  9. ^ In a typed letter dated 24 February 1921 with the address 'Sipapra, 10 Oxford Road, Kilburn, London'.
  10. ^ Waddell, L. (1929). Makers of Civilization in Race & History. London: Luzac. p. 95.
  11. ^ The Later Works of Lieutenant-Colonel Professor Laurence Austine Waddell