The hidden structure of Erimḫuš

Kaira Boddy – Freie Universität, Berlin

In contrast to many other lexical lists, Erimḫuš seems to lack a coherent organization. The list consists of groups of entries that appear to follow one another at random. From the start, Erimḫuš is bilingual, containing a Sumerian and an Akkadian sub column. However, the relationship between the Sumerian and Akkadian entries is not very straightforward. This paper argues that there are, in fact, several ways in which Erimḫuš is structured. Which of these structures date back to the original composition is difficult to determine, because early sources for Erimḫuš are scarce and stem mainly from Ḫattuša. Almost all Babylonian and Assyrian manuscripts date to the first millennium BCE. The description of Erimḫuš offered in this paper considers both the earlier and the later sources. The list is outwardly organized into short sections that are separated by horizontal dividing lines. Using these sections as a point of departure, four questions are addressed: How are the entries within a section connected? Are these connections to be found in the Sumerian or in the Akkadian sub column, or in both? Is the order of the entries within a section meaningful? How are successive sections connected? This paper argues that Erimḫuš was originally structured by the Akkadian entries, the Sumerian entries representing translations of the Akkadian ones. Also in Ḫattuša the Akkadian sub column played a dominant role. Some of the manuscripts from Ḫattuša add a third sub column, listing Hittite entries. These are translations of the Akkadian entries, rather than of the Sumerian ones.