Rituals in the Akitu House and in the Temples of Ištar (15-23)

These nine texts record the performance of several rites in the Akitu House and other temples of Ištar: even though they share the same settings, they were performed on the occasion of different circumstances and were linked to the cultic calendar or specific events. From their content, it is clear that they were conceived for a larger public than the documents previously discussed: not only the phrase LUGAL in-na-mar "the king appears (to the public)" recurs very often in these texts, but in one case the presence of people assisting the ceremonies is explicitly mentioned, no. 19 ii 10: UN.MEŠ ú-pa-s[u-ku], "the people are remo[ved]" and r. ii 15': UN.MEŠ ú-pa-su-ku GIŠ.IG.MEŠ ú-ta-ru-ni, "the people are removed, the doors closed."

Text no. 15 provides us with an interesting insight into the akitu festival. The text, in fact, focuses on the 7th and 8th days of the first month of the year. It seems that this text justifies the absence of the Assyrian ruler during the celebration of the akitu in the religious capital: it contemplates, in fact, the possibility that the king might be "in Niniveh, or in Calah, or in an enemy country" (lu-ú ina URU.NINA [lu-ú ina] URU.kal-hi lu-ú ina KUR na-ki-ri: 15 i 55'-56'). Even in this case, apparently the rites would have been normally performed; moreover, the text presents a deep connection to mythic material, further described in Pongratz-Leisten's contribution to this volume.

The reverse of this same tablet presents a different scenario: verbs shift from the third to the second singular person. We do not know if it refers to the same month of Nisan, and the ritual is called "the provision of the Temple of Nineveh" (a-pal É–DINGIR ša URU.ni-nu-a, see ll. r. i 16' and ii 37-38). It includes offerings and invocations that recall the ones performed during the tākultu rituals, and also the description of a rite to observe in the event that a dispatch comes to Aššur from a campaign (ll. iii 1-9) or the Inner City (ll. iii 10-14).

Text no. 16 records a ritual in the Equ House which noted the involvement of one individual, namely the sīru, whose features are otherwise unknown. This hapax is, in fact, a verbal adjective from the verb sêru "to plaster" for which Menzel suggested the translation "Geschminkten",[[12]] that appears only in this text out of the entire corpus and denotes someone possibly belonging to the temple personnel who seems to have a particular connection to Ištar (see ll. 14-26). Other "special" performers are mentioned in the Victory Ritual, no. 18, namely, the kurgarrû and the assinnu, two cultual performers (dancers or actors) connected to the cult of Ištar; the "knight of the gods" (LÚ.A–SIG₅ ša DINGIR.MEŠ); the "man of the left-house" (LÚ.šá–É–KAB, a kind of priest?) of Nergal and of Adad; the "ear-man" (LÚ.šá-PI.2).

12 Menzel 1981, T96.

Stefania Ermidoro

Stefania Ermidoro, 'Rituals in the Akitu House and in the Temples of Ištar (15-23)', Assyrian Royal Rituals and Cultic Texts, SAA 20. Original publication: Winona Laka, IN, Eisenbrauns, 2017; online contents: SAAo/SAA20 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.org/saao/saa20/natureandcontent/nos1523/]

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