A Rant About A Tablet And It’s Text

Please note these three designations.
VAT 8242
KAR 184
BAM 323
These letter number combinations all designate the same Akkadian tablet. Well, VAT 8242 designates the physical tablet; KAR 184 designates an early publication of the tablet; BAM 323 designates Köcher’s more recent transcription of the tablet. The tablet contains the text of several rituals.
To understand my rant completely, a little background information is in order. The first and longest of these rituals has an extended supplicant’s prayer. In addition to VAT 8242/KAR 184/BAM323, two other tablets witness this prayer. I won’t bore you with various individual designations for these two tablets. The more recent studies and translations of all or part of this ritual depend on critical texts developed from all three tablets or at least two of them. Older studies rely on VAT 8242/KAR 184/BAM323 alone. VAT 8242/KAR 184/BAM323 or as I call it “the most complete tablet” is the most important contributor to any such composite texts. In fact, one of the minority witnesses has only eight readable signs spread over four lines and contributes next to nothing to any critical text. A couple of those signs are abnormally interesting for other reasons but that’s beyond the scope of this rant.
In his Tod und Leben nach den Vorstellungen der Babylonier, Ebeling designated the first ritual on the most complete tablet, but without the supplicant’s pray, text 21 but in Quellen zur Kenntnis der babylonischen Religion he called the prayer text f. Seux called his translation of the prayer À Shamash. von Soden called his translation of the prayer 56 and Foster designated it “To Shamash” “(e) Against Ghosts.” And not to be outdone, Mayer designated the prayer 73.
And then there is Scurlock who transliterated, translated, and provided notes for the complete text of the ritual including the prayer. In fact, she did it twice. In her University of Chicago dissertation Magical means of dealing with ghosts in ancient Mesopotamia, she called it “Prescription 56.” In her book, Magico-medical means of treating ghost-induced illnesses in ancient Mesopotamia, she designated exactly the same text 226.
Don’t get me wrong. All those who provide transliterations, translations, or commentary on this text reference VAT 8242 or KAR 184 or BAM 323 or some combination of the three. But internally, they refer to and, in a couple of cases, index their own preferred designation. In each case, there is an understandable reason for how and why they designate the text and/or tablet as they do. But taken all together, this is a Shamash awful pain. And to make matters worse, it’s a pain that I’m in the process of increasing.
I can hardly wait to see what Heeßel calls this text. I’ll know soon enough, I just requested his book, Babylonisch-assyrische Diagnostik, through interlibrary loan.
End of rant! And I thank you!
If you’re wondering, the three letter designations are either museum numbers or common abbreviations for publications.
VAT = Tablets in the several collections of the Staatliche Museum, Berlin
KAR = Erich Eveling, Keilschrifttexte aus Assur religiösen Inhalts
BAM = Markham J Geller, Die babylonisch-assyrische Medizin in Texten und Untersuchungen

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