Answers from the Sungod

Krzysztof Kalek, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan

When an Assyrian king used to order divination about some important issues for Empire, his diviners were writing texts known as oracle queries. As historical sources they are of limited value since they often contain only description of entrails without any information about absolute (positive or negative) result of divination. There are approximately 250 marks attested in Neo-Assyrian queries. In my speech I would like to present three methods, which allowed me to determine the value of those signs.

Probably all of the possible marks, were set together in the extispicy compendium known as bār.tu. Every verse of it consists of two parts: a protasis (description of the sign) and apodosis, which describe the future consequence of the sign’s occurrence. It seems apparent, that if the apodosis is positive (or negative) then value of the mark is also positive (or negative). Therefore, comparing the protases from queries and apodoses from bār.tu allows to discover the meaning of the mark. I call the second method a symbolical analysis. In the introduction to her publications of three bār.tu chapters, U. Koch-Westenholz, describes the values of some mark’s attributes such as kind, place or color. Comparison of those information with the signs from the queries, gives the final value of the mark.

The third, “combinatory”, method bases on the late form of queries. It contains the summaries of the number of positive and negative sign in every inspection. With some knowledge about part of the signs it is possible to determine the values of those that are unknown. To conclude, I would like to compare the effects of my research with some queries and try to determine the answer of the question to Shamash.