The Queries and the tamītu Texts

We have noted above that the Sargonid queries have much of their formulary, from the opening line to the ezibs, in common with another divinatory text genre, likewise consisting of oracular queries, known as tamītus. The available evidence shows that the latter are Old Babylonian in origin,[[58]] and thus much earlier in time than the queries. The formulary of the latter accordingly must have evolved from that of the former. The available evidence is limited at present to a few published tamītus[[59]]. The tamītus differ from the queries in that private persons too could avail themselves of the services of this oracular practice.[[60]]

1. The opening line. The major difference between the opening line of the queries and that of the tamītus is that the latter are addressed, as are the ikribus, to Šamaš and Adad, co-patrons of divination,[[61]] whereas the queries are addressed to Šamaš alone. It should be noted, however, that the opening formula of the queries, Šamaš bēlu rabû ša ašallūka, etc., is also attested in the tamītus, e.g., K 8139:10 (cited Klauber PRT, p. xxv).

2. The stipulated term. The queries also share with the tamītus a stipulated term, e.g. "from Nisan (I) at the beginning of the year to Addaru (XII) at the end of the year," IM 67692:237 (cited CAD Q 284a s.v. qītu).

3. The term nēpešti bārûti "extispicy" too is attested in the tamītus.[[62]] Although the relationship of the tamītus to extispicy is never made explicit in the texts themselves, the presence of this term, more than any other, implies a dependence of the tamītus on extispicy in spite of the lack of extispicy reports in them.

4. Many of the key formulas and phrases of the queries are paralleled in the tamītus, e.g., "whom your great divinities know," "in accordance with the command of your great divinities," "is it decreed and confirmed in the command of your great divinities, Šamaš and Adad?," "may they be taken out and put aside," and "go to kill, loot and plunder."[[63]]

5. Ezibs. Aside from Craig ABRT 81 r.1 cited above, p. XIX, note also AfO 11 361:19, e-zib šá d30 EN GAL-u ana AN.MI dUTU it-tum ú-kal-la-mu "Disregard that Sin, the great lord, (may) show a sign for a solar eclipse," and cf. ibid., 18 and 20.

58 See Lambert CRRAI 14 (1966), p. 120.

59 Craig ABRT 4 and 81; Weidner AfO 11 360ff.

60 See Lambert, op. cit. p. 122f.

61 Šamaš bēl dīnim Adad bēl bīri "Šamaš, lord of the (oracular) verdict, Adad, patron of extispicy," etc. On the epithets of Šamaš and Adad, see Starr Rituals, p. 44.

62 It is written syllabically, né-píš-ti ba-ru-ti, in 79-7-8,84 ii 7 (cited Klauber PRT, p. xiii).

63 K 2608+ (Craig ABRT 81):3, 25, r.10 and 11. See also Klauber PRT, pp. xxv-xxvi.

Ivan Starr

Ivan Starr, 'The Queries and the tamītu Texts', 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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