The Formulary and Terminology of the Queries

The Opening Line

The Sargonid queries invariably begin with the line Šamaš bēlu rabû ša ašallūka anna kīna apalanni, "Šamaš, great lord, answer me with a firm 'yes' to what I ask you," a formula they have in common with the tamītu texts (see below).[[7]]

As a haruspical terminus technicus, the expression anna apālu, "to answer with a 'yes'" is already attested in the Old Babylonian period; cf., e.g., "the enemy had extispicies (têrētim) made ... to which the god will not give him a positive answer (annam la ippalūšu): he will go to his destruction, (but) it is favorable (for us)" (RA 33 172:37ff, a letter to Zimri-Lim, king of Mari); "I had extispicies made; my extispicies were favorable, and the god answered me with a firm 'yes' (ilum annam īpulanni)" (ARM 3 84:24f, see also ARM 3 42:8ff). The opposite term ulla apālu, "to answer with 'no'," is attested in an unpublished omen: "If the 'path' descends on the right, and is split on the right, he who gave you a negative answer (ša ulla īpulū[ka]), will give you a positive answer" (BM 122657:1f).[[8]]

Occasionally, if the suggested restorations are correct,[[9]] the latter part of the opening line may also appear in the repetition of the query, see no. 52:4, 53:4, and 235 r.4.

7 Cf. TCL 3 64:416, "by the firm 'yes' (anni kēni) of Šamaš", referring to extispicies, and "by the precious 'yes' (anni šūquri) of Šamaš", ibid. line 319; see also Klauber PRT, p. xiif and CAD A/2 135, s.v. annu.

8 So, evidently, is to be restored K 9851:3 (cited Bezold Cat., p. 1043), [BE GÍR ana 15] ma-qit 15 DU8 ša ul-la i-pu-lu-ka an-[na ip-pal-ka]. For other duplicates, see KAR 423 i 63 and STT 308 i 33f, 309:33f.

9 See Klauber PRT, p. xii and p. 6.

Ivan Starr

Ivan Starr, 'The Formulary and Terminology of the Queries', Queries to the Sungod: Divination and Politics in Sargonid Assyria, SAA 4. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1990; online contents: SAAo/SAA04 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 []

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