already known rather than genuine proper names. A peculiar difficulty arises in the case of the god of storms, who, written IM, was generally known in Babylonia as Ramman, “the thunderer,” whereas in Assyria he also had the designation Adad. In many cases, therefore, we may be in doubt how the sign IM is to be read, more particularly since this same god appears to have had other designations besides Ramman and Adad.
Besides the divine element, proper names as a rule in the Babylonian-Assyrian periods had a verbal form attached and a third element representing an object. Even when the sign indicative of the verb is clearly recognised there still remains to be determined the form of the verb intended. Thus in the case of the sign KUR, which is the equivalent of naṣāru, “protect,” there is the possibility of reading it as the active participle nāṣir, or as an imperative uṣṣur, or even the third person perfect iṣṣur. Similarly in the case of the sign MU, which, besides signifying “name” as above pointed out, is also the Sumerian word for “give,” and therefore may be read iddin, “he gave,” from nadānu, or may be read nādin, “giver”; and when, as actually happens, a name occurs in which the first element is the name of a deity followed by MU-MU, a new element of doubt is introduced through the uncertainty whether the first MU is to be taken as a form of the verb nadānu and the second as the noun shumu, “name,” or vice versa.
Fortunately, in the case of a large number of names occurring on business documents as the interested parties or as scribes or as witnesses—and it is through these documents that we obtain the majority of the Babylonian-Assyrian proper names—we have variant readings, the same name being written phonetically in whole or part in one instance and ideographically in another. Certain classes of names being explained in this way, legitimate and fairly reliable conclusions can be drawn for many others belonging to the same class or group. The proper names of the numerous business documents of the Khammurabi period, when phonetic writing was the fashion, have been of special value in resolving doubts as to the correct reading of names written ideographically. Thus names like Sin-na-di-in-shu-mi and Bel-na-di-in-shu-mi, i.e. “Sin is the giver of a name” (i.e. offspring), and “Bel is the giver of a name,” form the model for names with deities as the first element followed by MU-MU, even though the model may not be consistently followed in all cases. In historical texts also variant readings occur in considerable number. Thus, to take a classic example, the name of the famous king Nebuchadrezzar occurs written in the following different manners:—(a) Na-bi-um-ku-du-ur-ri-u-ṣu-ur, (b) AK-DU-u-ṣu-ur, (c) AK-ku-dur-ri-SHES, and (d) PA-GAR-DU-SHES, from which we are permitted to conclude that PA or AK (with the determinative for deity AN) = Na-bi-um or Nebo, that GAR-DU or DU alone = kudurri, and that SHES = uṣṣur. The second element signifies “boundary” or “territory”; the third element is the imperative of naṣāru, “protect”; so that the whole name signifies, “O, Nebo! protect my boundary” (or “my territory”).
It is not the purpose of this note to set forth the principles underlying the formation of proper names among the Babylonians and Assyrians, but it may not be out of place to indicate that by the side of such full names, containing three elements (or even more), we have already at an early period the reduction of these elements to two through the combination of the name of a deity with a verbal form merely, or through the omission of the name of the deity. From such names it is only a step to names of one element, a characteristic feature of which is the frequent addition of an ending -tum (feminine), ān, ā, um, atum, atija, sha, &c., most of these being “hypocoristic affixes,” corresponding in a measure to modern pet-names.
Lastly, a word about genuine or pseudo-Sumerian names. In the case of texts from the oldest historical periods we encounter hundreds of names that are genuinely Sumerian, and here in view of the multiplicity of the phonetic values attaching to the signs used it is frequently difficult definitely to determine the reading of the names. Our knowledge of the ancient Sumerian language is still quite imperfect, despite the considerable progress made, more particularly during recent years. It is therefore not surprising that scholars should differ considerably in the reading of Sumerian names, where we have not helps at our command as for Babylonian and Assyrian names. Changes in the manner of reading the Sumerian names are frequent. Thus the name of a king of Ur, generally read Ur-Bau until quite recently, is now read Ur-Engur; for Lugal-zaggisi, a king of Erech, some scholars still prefer to read Ungal-zaggisi; the name of a famous political and religious centre generally read Shir-pur-la is more probably to be read Shir-gul-la; and so forth. There is reason, however, to believe that the uncertainty in regard to many of these names will eventually be resolved into reasonable certainty. A doubt also still exists in regard to a number of names of the older period because of the uncertainty whether their bearers were Sumerians or Semites. If the former, then their names are surely to be read as Sumerian, while, if they were Semites, the signs with which the names are written are probably to be read according to their Semitic equivalents, though we may also expect to encounter Semites bearing genuine Sumerian names. At times too a doubt may exist in regard to a name whose bearer was a Semite, whether the signs composing his name represent a phonetic reading or an ideographic compound. Thus, e.g. when inscriptions of a Semitic ruler of Kish, whose name was written Uru-mu-ush, were first deciphered, there was a disposition to regard this as an ideographic form and to read phonetically Alu-usharshid (“he founded a city,” with the omission of the name of the deity), but scholarly opinion finally accepted Uru-mu-ush (Urumush) as the correct designation.
For further details regarding the formation of Sumerian and Babylonian-Assyrian proper names, as well as for an indication of the problems involved and the difficulties still existing, especially in the case of Sumerian names, see the three excellent works now at our disposal for the Sumerian, the old Babylonian, and the neo-Babylonian period respectively, by Huber, Die Personennamen in den Keilschrifturkunden aus der Zeit der Könige von Ur und Nisin (Leipzig, 1907); Ranke, Early Babylonian Proper Names (Philadelphia, 1905); and Tallqvist, Neu-Babylonisches Namenbuch (Helsingfors, 1905).
(M. Ja.) BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION. The development of the religion of Babylonia, so far as it can be traced with the material at hand, follows closely along the lines of the periods to be distinguished in the history of the Euphrates valley. Leaving aside the primitive phases of the religion as lying beyond the ken of historical investigation, we may note the sharp distinction to be made between the pre-Khammurabic age and the post-Khammurabic age. While the political movement represented by Khammurabi may have been proceeding for some time prior to the appearance of the great conqueror, the period of c. 2250 B.C., when the union of the Euphratean states was effected by Khammurabi, marks the beginning of a new epoch in the religion as well as in the political history of the Euphrates valley. Corresponding to the states into which we find the country divided before 2250 B.C., we have a various number of religious centres such as Nippur, Erech, Kutha (Cuthah), Ur, Sippara (Sippar), Shirgulla (Lagash), Eridu and Agade, in each of which some god was looked upon as the chief deity around whom there were gathered a number of minor deities and with whom there was invariably associated a female consort. The jurisdiction of this chief god was, however, limited to the political extent or control of the district in which the main seat of the cult of the deity in question lay. Mild attempts, to be sure, to group the chief deities associated with the most important religious and political centres into a regular pantheon were made—notably in Nippur and later in Ur—but such attempts lacked the enduring quality which attaches to Khammurabi's avowed policy to raise Marduk—the patron deity of the future capital, Babylon—to the head of the entire Babylonian pantheon, as
- Even in the case of the “Semitic” name of the famous Sargon I. (q.v.), whose full name is generally read Sharru-kēnu-sha-āli, and interpreted as the “legitimate king of the city,” the question has recently been raised whether we ought not to read “Sharru-kēnu-shar-ri” and interpret as “the legitimate king rules”—an illustration of the vacillation still prevailing in this difficult domain of research.