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Document number: 05992
Date: 13 Mar 1872
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: OPPERT Julius
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 1st September 2003

Paris, 19 rue Mazarine

the 13th of March 1872.

Dear Sir,

It is rather a very long time since our correspondences have ceased, but in perusing your valuable paper on the eclipses I remembered my old acquaintance with a gentleman like you. and I should be very happy, if by the scientific intercourse between colleagues, as we are now, we might exchange our mutual ideas.

I am quite sure that you are right, non obstant some opposition, in translating <cuneiform> by eclipse. It may be signify occultation of stars, which is possible, but when you have an mi alone with the name of a month without any other date, you are right to admit a solar eclipse. I pointed out myself the eclipse of Teumman (so I will call it) in a little paper read at the Athénée oriental, and if M. Smith had, in all things, even in assyriology, more solid Science than he has really, he would not have presented to his readers a nonsense he is the first <ill. del.> not to understand it; you read there: "In the <ninth?> Day, there was an eclipse of the master of the day, the king of light." <cuneiform>" is sadu <hebrew> very often employed as "master" and <cuneiform> is nur (See first page Vol. III, K. 44) it is sad urri bel nuri. The passage continues: "He rested (<time?> known for eclipses) in the time of sunset, and I myself, likewise, I rested three days before etc." There was really a solar eclipse, visible at Ninive, in the afternoon, the 27 of june 661 B.C. This date is very valuable, in order to fix the dates of Asurbanhabal.

It is possible that the eclipse of K. 154, which I mentioned in my public lectures at the Collége de France, and which M. Lenormant also translated in his Bérose, is the same, as the eclipse of Teumman. As we have the photographed text I dare say, that the statements of Smith as some what erroneous. There is not illillik, which is an impossible form; assabbat which you quote is a very regular assyrian Iphtaal, with the assimilation of the secondary ח to the emphatic sibilant צ. I should read altakrib; the first sign is clearly al, and the second tak; the third is rather somewhat obscur in my copy. There is simply, I think murran (not kharran) ultu sarri beli ana Misir altakrib: I made a travel despatched from the king to Egypt. Then: "There was a solar eclipse in the month of Duz". After this statement there is another error of M. Smith; the text has not bal malatusu but balatu, life. Yanu is no body, hebrew <hebrew>, known from the Bisutun inscription. samat is salat, what you know well. The sense seems to me to be sabeya ana balatu salat Assur? milites mei ad praesowandam ritam domini Assyriae ina libbisunu yānu ana sumeli imri <u?> sumeli

in iis nemo ad dextram et sinistram

so: assit, (perhaps forgotten)

"None of my soldiers, in order to preserve the life of the ruler of Assyria, fled either to the right or to the left hand.

Then follows the word alhappar, very often met with in this text with the signification of "I obeyed," and ádu, the participle of הנה, to be straight on; the sense is: "I obeyed directly." After this expression I translate:

marut sípri atatisunu

homines librorum interpretationes ecrum

sarru lis'al usipti

rex petat explicationem

sa atate sa Duz

eclipsis Thammuz

The following is a separate exposition of facts, Commencing by the word Ki assa. When I lifted.

I dare say the text is not one of the easiest less obscure; it may be that the signe l.5 is not at all kas but up <cuneiform> which seems even very much more probable. But the general sens is:

‘To the King of the nations, my lord, the humble servant ‘Kudur<m?>e; Asur, samas and Marduk may be propsterus to the King, my Lord. I brought a dispatch from the king, my Lord to Egypt. In the month of Thammuz an eclipse happened. My soldiers, to preserve save the king (or the realm) of Assyrian (saw no) one of them fly to the right or to the left. I obeyed (to the king), following the men of the books in their explanations. The king may ask (them) for the signification of the eclipse of Thammuz."

That seems to be the very explanation. You have also translated an old Song in accadian and assyrian, where you see the lot of the king. But the <cas?>dean as well as the assyrian forms are quite clear: luknlow and luskum can possibly only be first persons; the third are likal and diskun. The sens is:

The fruit of death, may I eat it;

The fruit of life, my I make of it. (change the Death into life)

It is an incantation, the sense is given by the two languages. The signification is beyond all doubt.

I would not publish any thing that might be not be accepted by you, as gentlemen and colleagues ought to do always: I therefore have the honour to lay my ideas before you before, and am

your most respectfully

Dr. Julius Oppert Prof.