The Liver and its Parts

The 'Station' (naplastu/manzāzu)

This important marking on the liver is well-attested from early in the OB period (Mari) to the late Seleucid texts.[[97]] In the OB omen texts and extispicy reports it is written both syllabically (naplastu, mazzāzu, in Mari naplasu)[[98]] and logographically (IGI.BAR and KI.GUB, rarely IGI.TAB).[[99]] In the MB reports, as well as in those from Boghazköi, KI.GUB is the common writing.[[100]] In the Sargonid reports and queries, and in the omen texts of the first millennium in general, the standard spelling is NA.[[101]]

For the location of the 'station' one must turn to the liver models. It is clearly discernible on those from Boghazköi (e.g. KUB 4 71-73 and 37 223), where it appears as a marking on the ventral lobe of the liver perpendicular to the 'path,' as well as on the "orientation" liver published by Nougayrol, RA 62 3lff. This part of the liver should perhaps be identified with the reticular impression on the liver.[[102]]

Some of the irregular configurations of the 'station' attested in the omen literature are also relevant. According to YOS 10 17:47f, a naplastu could resemble the Old Babylonian signs PAB and KASKAL (consisting of two or more intersecting wedges).[[103]] In YOS 10 14:5f and 14, it is said to be shaped like the Old Babylonian BE sign, i.e. a horizontal wedge terminating in a Winkelhaken. In other texts, it is compared to the gamlu-staff, the lunar crescent (uskāru), a bow (tilpānu) and a kind of shell.[[104]]

In YOS 10 11 i 23, the liver is said to have four 'stations.'[[105]] In other OB omen texts there are said to be two 'stations,' of which one is located normally, the other elsewhere on the liver.[[106]] The 'station' could also deviate from its normal configuration by being long[[107]] or pointed.[[108]] In the Sargonid reports and queries a common protasis concerning the 'station' is "the middle of the 'station' is effaced."[[109]]

97 E.g., TCL 6 6.

98 E.g., RA 44 23ff and YOS I O 11 ii 1-23 (naplastu); JCS 21 227 M:10, 21, N:7, and passim in these extispicy reports (naplasu); CT 4 34b:1, an extispicy report (mazzāzu).

99 E.g., YOS 10 13-18, passim; 9:1ff; 19:1f (IGI.BAR). Note the equation [IG]I.BAR (=) nap-la-su in AfO 7 273:27. The unusual logographic writing IGI.TAB is attested in CT 6 1, an OB liver model of unusual orthography, apparently of northern provenance; see Nougayrol, RA 38 (1941) 78; Goetze, YOS 10 p. 6, n. 38.

100 For the temporal distribution of all these terms, see Goetze, YOS 10 p. 5; see also Nougayrol, RA 38 (1941) 75 and JCS 21 (1969) 219 n. 6.

101 This may have been an acrophonic writing derived from naplastu; see Nougayrol, JCS 21 (1969) 219 n. 6. The spelling IGI.BAR appears occasionally as a variant of NA in the late texts, e.g. Rm 2,103 ii 65 and 96; iv 74; K 10436:6. The syllabic spelling ma-za-zu in KAR 448:6 is exceptional.

102 See Biggs, RA 63 (1969) 165 and the discussion in Starr Rituals p. 77f.

103 "The 'station' is like the PAB sign (kīma pa-ap-pi-im)," YOS 10 17:47; "the 'station' is like the KASKAL sign" (kīma ka-as-ka-as), ibid. 48, see Lieberman, EANE (1977), p. 148.

104 Cf. "the 'station' is (curved) to the right like a gamlu-staff (GIM gam-lim)," Rm 2,103 iii 41 (cf. ibid. 47 and TIM 9 83:5); "the 'station' is (shaped) like a crescent (UD.SAR)," TIM 9 83:1ff; "the 'station' is (shaped) like a bow (til-pa-ni)," ibid. 6; "the 'station' is like a dadu-shell (ÁB.KU6)," Rm 2,103 ii 66 (duplicate TCL 6 1 r.11). Note also YOS 10 14:16, "the 'station' is like a trough (? b[u]-gi5-ni-im)," and ibid. 11 ii 7, "the 'station' is like a ring (? un-gi-im)."

105 "There are four naplastus at the same time in the liver"; cf. ibid. ii 1ff; Rm 2,103 iii 27.

106 E.g. YOS 10 13 r.l, "A normal (kaiāntum) ['station'] is (located) normally (kaiāntumma), a second one is located in the 'doorjamb' on the left of the 'gate of the palace' and its top is overturned and faces the gall bladder." In later texts the formulation is: BE NA SAG.UŠ GAR-ma MÍN-ú ... "the 'station' is placed normally (or: a normal 'station' is there), and a second one ...," e.g. Rm 2,103 iii 16ff, and passim in extispicy texts.

107 "If the 'station' is long, the days of the prince will be long," KAR 423 i 39, CT 30 34,1, Rm 2,103 ii 69. On the paronomastic principle in the extispicy reports, see Starr Rituals, p. 9f.

108 E.g,. Boissier DA 95:14ff; Rm 2,103 iii 54; KAR 423 i 40, and passim in MB reports, see JCS 37 168.

109 E.g., no. 295:1ff (with apodosis); KAR 423 i 48, and passim in 1st millennium texts. For an OB version of this omen, see YOS 10 7:65, šumma IGI.BAR qá-ab-la-ša pa-aš-ṭa.

Ivan Starr

Ivan Starr, 'The Liver and its Parts', 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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