Women who played the role of interceder: Part 2

Women who played the role of interceder: Part 2

Eiko Matsushima

REFEMA 3rd workshop (September 4, 2013, Carqueiranne)

1.     Introduction

In my recent paper, read during the REFEMA Second Workshop on the 24th of June 2013 at Chuo University, Tokyo, I talked about women who played the role of interceder between her husband and other people. The main source of my idea was a number of references to the goddess, who was seen to ask her husband for the benevolence for the king (and/or his family) during the “Divine Marriage Ceremony” in first century Babylonia and Assyria.

It seems significant that the spouse of a divine couple sometimes gave important suggestions to her husband and that the people expected her to be an interceder on their behalf. As well, in the Gilgamesh Epic, the standard version tablet VII shows Uta-Napishti’s wife (marhītu) giving advice to her husband that made him change his mind and enabled Gilgamesh to find the plant of life. Thus, in the religious or mythic sphere, women sometimes played a significant role as adviser to their husbands as well as interceders.

Though this feature is found exclusively in religious and mythic texts, we may perhaps infer some actual roles of women in human societies in Mesopotamia, especially in high society. Looking at some famous royal women in the first millennium Assyrian court, we discover a few queens whose deeds or memories are recorded in written materials. While the documents give no information as to a complete picture of their activities, the following was observed:

In Assyria, from the ninth to the seventh century BCE, eleven names of principal wives (MÍ.É.GAL/ MÍ/KUR=sēgallu) appear in the available records.[1] The women are indicated at times using the title ummi šarri (MÍ.AMA.MAN or AMA.LUGAL), “Queen Mother,” which is always accompanied by the name of the woman’s son, i.e. the actual king, as well as kallātu, which is always accompanied by the name of the father of her husband. For example, Sammuramat, wife of Šamši-Adad V (823-811 BCE) and mother of Adad-nerari III (810-783), is called kallāt Šulmanu-šarru (Shalmaneser: 858-824 BCE), Naquia/Zakutu, wife of Sennacherib (704-681 BCE) and mother of Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE) used the titles sēgallu, ummi šarri and kallātu (MÍ.É.GI4.A) Šarru-ukin. In both cases, the women obtained and maintained power as mother of the king.

We know only a few queens depicted with their husband. In the well-known garden scene on the bas-reliefs from the North Palace of Nineveh, Libbali-šarrat, the principal wife of Ashurbanipal can be found sitting in front of the king as his partner. It is worthy of note that she behaves here as spouse, not as mother. A letter written by a sister of Ashurbanipal, Libbali-šarrat also describes her: “You are a daughter-in-law (kallātu), the lady of the house of Assurbanipal, the crown prince of Esarhaddon.”[2]

Given the available evidence, I observed in my last paper that the system of the household has much to do with women’s status in first millennium Mesopotamia. One keyword was kallātu, which is used not only by Neo-Assyrian queens but also by some goddesses as one of their important epithets. Goddesses use also hīrtu as their title. It seems that a woman’s efficiency to her husband depends on her position as hīrtu as well as kallātu. In the present paper, I try to collect references to both hīrtu and kallātu and build on the earlier research.

2.     Observations

Looking at the two of the main titles of the goddesses, rtu and kallātu, it is important to first define their meaning. These Akkadian words are explained in the Chicago Assyrian Dictionaries as follows:

rtu : wife of equal status with the husband […] In speaking of the wives of gods, hīrtu is preferred to aššatu/altu (CAD H: 200a-201b).

kallātu: daughter-in-law, wife of a son living in his father’s household, bride, sister-in-law […] The word denotes a young woman who was acquired by the master of a household as a wife for his son living in this household (CAD K: 79a-82b).

Let us list these titles with the names of the goddesses. I am going to underline some key words by color pens as rtu, kallātu, etc.

Aja

1)     As rtu

Aja hīrtu narāmta-ka
“Aja, your beloved first wife”  BMS 10:23 and duplis., see Ebeling Handerhebung 50:126 (N/I 343a)

ana Aja hīrtu narāmti-šú   BBR No.1-20:104 and 107

[              hī]rtum ina bīt majjāli liqbi-ka
“May [Aja your spo]use say to you in the bedchamber, [“Be appeased”]
Lambert, BWL 138:200 (last line of a long hymn to Šamaš: a manuscript has an Ashurbanipal colophone.

2)     As kallātu

Gilgameš Epic, tabl.III
[š]ī ai idūr-ka dAja kallāt lihassis-ka[3]
“May she not fear you, may Aya the Bride remind you”  (III 56)
šī ai id[ūr-ka dAja kallāt lihassis-ka]
“May she not fear[ you, may Aya the Bride remind you”]  (III 74)
šī ai <i>dūr-ka dAja kallāt lihassis-ka]
“May she not fear you, may Aya the Bride remind you”]  (III 86)

(In the texts from Sippar or mentioning Sippar, we find the followings)
PN ana DN kallātim ana kisalluhhi iddin
“She dedicated (the girl) PN to Aja, the wife, to serve as court sweeper  VAS 8 55:12 (OB)
Šamaš u Aja ka-al-la-tum … liballiţuka  CT 6 27a :4,  wr. É.GI4.A  YOS 2 64 :4(both OB letters)
ana … Aja kallātimltija  CT 32 xi 12 and 32 (NB, Cruc. Mon. Maništušu)
Aja kallātim rabītum narāmmat Šamaš  VAB 4 232 ii 13 (Nbn),

(in other inscris.)
Aja kallātumltum rabītum    Syria 32 17 iv 25 (Jahdunlim)
dAja kallāt ina sissikti(TÚG.SÍG)meš -šú ebbeti pāni(IGI)-ka likpur
mūšab Šamaš bēlu rabû u Aja kallātim narāmti-šu   CT 34 28 i 58
Aja kallātu rabîti ašibat bīt majjāli kajjanāmma panû-ka lišnamir ūmišam damiqta-a liqbi-ku
“Aja, the great bride (=daughter in law) who stays in the bedroom and constantly brighten your face, may she say you favorite (words) for me!”
VAB 4, 258 ii 19-20 (Nabonidus)
[dAja lip]šur É.GI4.A GAL-tum  Iraq 31 176:13 (lipšur-lit)

As for Aja, she is always called only as kallātu, and has no attribution to this title: not kallātu of someone or some temple, but simple kallātu or kallātum rabītum. I wonder if the English translation of this term “daughter-in-law” is convenient or not.

Taštu

1)     As hīrtu

 [dTaš]tu bēltu rabîtu hīrtu narāmta-ka şabitat abbūti ina mahri-ka ina majjāl taknê ūmišam naparkâ literriš-ka balāţi
“Tašmētu the great Lady, your beloved spouse, who intercedes (for me) [daily] before you in the sweet bed, who never ceases asking you to protect my life.”
H. Hunger, Babylonische und assyrische Kolophone (AOAT 2, Neukirchen-Vlyn, 1968) No. 338

Tašmetum hiīrat Nabium ina pān Nabium hā‘iri-šá lemutta-šú littasqir
“May Tašmētu, the spouse of Nabû, speak unfavourably of him in the presence of her husband Nabû”
SAA XII no.97 (=NARGE 37:ND 6207) 11’-r.1,
also SAA XII no.96 (=Iraq 19 135:ND 5550), r 4-5.

(Tašmētum) [ša]nukkat É.ŠÁR.RA t kiššūti AN [x x x m]alli-tu hīrat Nabû narāmti d[  ]
“Princesse of Ešarra, temple of the universe … she who beseeches, wige of Nabû, the beloved of …”  SAA III no.6 5-6 (=KAR 122)
hiīrti-i narāmte atti …
“You are my beloved wife … ”   ibid. 15

2)     As kallātu

Taštu kallāt Marduk   Biggs Šaziga 76:21 (SB inc.)

Tašmētu kalātum rabītu   Šurpu II 156

Tašmētum kalāt É. SAG.ÍLA   Streck Asb. 286 r. 14

3)     As hīrtu and kallātu

Tašmētum kallāt[u rabī] ina pān Nabû hā’i[ri-šá] amat-su lū tu[lammin] šimtu la ţābtú lu [tašim-šú] lā ţūb libbi ţūb [šīri lutaqbi]
“May Tašmētum, [great] daughter-in-law, vi[lify] him before Nabû, her spouse, may [she decree] an unpleasant fate for him and [grant] him neither peace of mind nor [body].
SAA XII no.95 (= Iraq 19 133:ND 5463) r.2-5.(NAleg.)

Tašmētum hīrat]šarhi Mu’ati apil Tutu kalāt [É. S]AG.ÍLA
“chosen wife of proud Mu’ati (i.e., Nabû), the first-born son of Tutu (Marduk), the daughter-in-law of Esagila  BMS 33:7, see Ebeling Handerhebung 124, cf. Craig ABRT 1 31 r.16)

Tašmētum kalāt É. [SAG.ÍL] hīratr bēl ilī  KAR 362:1 (hymn to Tašmētu)

We find in CTN IV (=D.J. Wiseman and J. Black, Literary Texts from the Temple of Nabû, Oxford 1996) no. 168 the following phrases.

(Taštu) kallāt É.SAG.ÍL É tašilati narāmti É.ZI.DA hīrat Nabû paqíd kiššati bēl gimri  (ii 42-43)
Taštum (iii 25 ……. ) ana Nabû hā’iri-kiru reštî šá É.SAG.GÍL abbūti şab-ti lišme siqria (iii 28-29)
Taštum bēlet hi-[     (iv 19)   ]…. ana Nabû hame‘ri-ki bēlu ašarēdu reš šá É.SAG.GÍL abbūti şab-ti qi-bi ba-ni-tí? liš-me (iv 22-24)
(Nanaja) ana Nabû hā’ir-ki abbūti şabti  (iv 49)

also Nanâja

ana Nanaja….. hīrat DN ….. narāmti (var. narāmat) rubûti-šu
“For Nanaja, …. the spouse of DN, beloved by DN’s royal majesty”  Borger, Esarh. 77 § 49:3

ana Nanaja…..hiīrat dMuzibsâ…narāmti rubûti-šu
“For Nanaja, …. the eminent spouse of the god Muzibsâ ….beloved of his majesty ….
RIMB 2, B.6.31.17, 3

dNanaja …..jâti mAN.ŠÁR-ŠEŠ.SUM.NA…. ina mahar dAG hā’iri-ki tizqar banīti balāţ ū rūti šebē littūtu ţūbi šīri u hu-ud lìb-bi ši-i-mi ši-ma-ti
“Nanaja ….. I am Esarhaddon, the prince who reveres you….. before the god Nabû, your husband, speak well of me, determine as my fate a long life, fullness of old age, good health and happiness’  …  ibid., 16-18

kallat É. SAG.ÍL … hirāt’ati narāmti Bēl AD!-[šú]
“The daughter-in-law of Esagil …[…], the spouse of Mūati, the beloved of Bēl [his] father
SAA III no.4 (= ABRT 1 54) ii 2’-3’ (hymn to Nanâ), cf.  also SBH p. 129 No.84:14f.

[é.g]i4.a dumu.sag.dUraš.a [gašan.z]i.da gašan.ka.téš,a,sì.ga.kex [gašan.g]u.la gašan.mu dNa.na.a: kal-lat mārtu rēštītu ša Ni[nurta] rubāt rēštītu Tašmētu x [x] rubāt rabītu bēltu dMIN (=Nanâ)
SBH p.65 r.13 and dupl.

Zarpanītu

 1)    As hīrtu

(Zarpanītu) hīrtu narāmti Marduk  KAR 58 r.25, also ibid. 32,

2)     As kallātu

[dPap.nu]n.an.ki é.gi4.a engur.ra:[ Zarpanīt]u kallāt apsî Weissbach Misc. No. 13:39 f. cf. SBH p. 129 No. 84:6f.

kallāt dEN.AN.KI … hīrat bēl ilī  A.419:1 (unpubl. Asuur text in Istanbul)  (CAD K.82a)

zi nidlam.a.ni nin Nibruki.kex  é.gi4.a.gal  en.dNu.nam.nir. kex : nīšrtika šarrat Nippuri kallātu rabītu ša bēli Nunamnir
“By the life of your wife, queen of Nippur, great daughter-in-law of the lord Enlil   LKA 77 iv 16 (inc.)

3)     As hīrtu and kallātu

kabtat šarrat dannat hamma[t h]īrat ilat bēlat … narāmti dTU.TU
“She(=Zarpanītu) is noble, queen, bride, mistress, (ruing) first wife, goddess and lady
ZA 4 248:13 (=Craig, ABRT 1 31:16) = SAA III no. 2 r.16-17

Zarpanītu… bēltum rabītum(GAL)tumrat dEN.BI.LU.LU kallāt dNU.D [ÍM.MUD]
“The great lady, the spouse of Enbilulu, the daughter-in-law of Nudimmud”
Craig, ABRT I 31 r.22= SAA III no. 2 r.22
cf. (Zarpanītu)… bēltum rabītum(GAL)tunarāmti dAMAR.UD …] ibid. r. 25

Also

Zarpanītu ina urši bīt hammūti lemutta-šu litasqar
“May Zarpanītu pronounce evil (words) against him in the bedroom where (Marduk lives) as master (of the family)!”
K. 2411=J. A. Craig, ABRT I 76-79, col. I 28’)

Mulissu

1)    As hīrtu

 “Mulissu šarrat Ešarra hīrat Aššur banīt ilāni rabûti ša n-ahhê-eriba šar Aššur ūmišam amāt damiqti-šu ina muhhi Aššur liššakin šaptu-ša
Mulissu, the queen of Ešarra, spouse of Aššur, creatress of great gods, who daily pronounce favorite words on the behalf of Sennacherib before Aššur.”
K. 2411=J. A. Craig, ABRT I 76-79, col. II 10-12)

dNIN.LÍL hī-ti nammadi dAššur   cf. hīrtu narāmta-šú  Wiseman, Treaties 417
“Mulissu, the beloved spouse of Ashur”
AKA 62 iv 35, Tigl. I

mahar Ninlil … hīrtu narāmti Aššur
“Before Ninlil, the beloved wife of Assur”
Streck Asb 82 x 27

Ninlil šarrat hīrtu narāmti dEN.LÍL  BE 8 150:5 (NB leg.)

We never find, for now, an example of title kallātu used by Mulissu/Ninlil. 

Gula

1) As hīrtu

rat rašbat (said of Gula)  LKA 18:12 and 5

2)     As kallātu

Ninurta … Gula kallāt É.ŠÁR.RA  BBSt. No. 6 ii 39 (Nbk. I) cf. MDP 2 p. 113 ii 13

[nin.É,šu].me.[ša4] kù.mah.kex é.gi4.a dEn.líl.lá.kex ág,gá dU.ux(GIŠGAL).lu.kex : bēl[et É].ŠU.ME.[ŠA4 el]let şīrtu kallāt Enlil narāmtu Ninurta
“Pure ladyof the Ešumeša, exalted daughter-in-law of Enlil, beloves (wife) of Ninurta  KAR 73 r.5f and dups

cf. dNun.gal.la … é.gi4.a.ni  Nungal, his (Enlil’s) daughter-in-law  PBS 1/2 104:12

mušītu kallā kuttumtu //kallā kuttumtu Gula
Gula the night, the veiled daughter-in-law (is) Gula (because no one may look upon her even from afar)  KAR 94:6 and dulp.(comm. to Maqlu I 2), see AfO 12 240 no. 26,
cf.  mušītu kallāt Anim   KAR 38:13 and r. 23 (inc.).

 (Nininsina/Gula) é.gi4.a  en.dNu.nam.nir.ra : kallātli Nunamnir  BA 5 644 No. 11:5f.

3)    As hīrtu and kallātu

mārāku kallāku hīrāku u abrakkāku   Or. NS 36 120:65 (Gula hymn)

Šarrat-Nippuri

rtultu na-ram-tu (var. na-ra-am-tum) dNIN.ZÍL.LÁ kallāt dNIN.UGU.BÀN.DA be-let Eridu “(Ištar), first wife and lady, beloved of DN, daughter-in-law of Ea, lady of Eridu
AfK I 26 r.i 32 (hymn to Šarrat-Nippuri);

Other goddesses

ana hīrti-šu elletim
“to his (Ea’s) pure spouse”   VAS 1 32 i.9

??

rtum šinnatka
“the spouse, your (Anu’s) equal ”  TCL 6 51:20) (cf. above??)

Ishtar

šūsumat hīr[tu] rabītu šitruhtu Ištar
the proud Ishtar, the first wife, is beautiful   BBR No. 61:7 (incipit of a hymn)

Nikkal

dNIN.GAL hīrtú nāramta-ka epšēt[i!-ia x x x x x x x x ]
“May Nikkal, your beloved spouse, [ look upon] my deeds [ with favour].
SAA XII no.90 (=Bauer Asb pl.21) r.4 (Asb recovers a stolen village for Sin).

MUL.MAR.GÍD.DA mārat Anim rabītu kallāt É.KUR
“Ursa major, great daughter of Anu, daughter –in-law of the Ekur  STT 73:77

Bau

dBa’u kallātum  ZA 45 204 iii 5 (Bogh. rit.)l

Ereškigal

hīrti narāmti  SAA III np.32 r.18

said of humans : CAD H 200 : (only OB and lit.)

However:

Anti’kus LUGAL.KUR.KUR …Astarkanikku hīrat-su šarrat
“ Antiochus, the emperor…Statonike, his consort, the queen”   5R 66 No. 2 ii 27.

míTašmētum-šarrat MÍ.É.GAL hīrtu narāmti-ia
« Tašmētu-šarrat, the queen, my beloved wife” ARRIM 4 32:15 (inscription on a lion from the doorway of Room LXV of the South-West palace of Kuyunjik (by Sennacherib):

3.     Instead of a conclusion

Instead of a conclusion, I will offer up some observations.

1)      The title kallātu is generally used with an attribution: either the name of the father of a woman’s husband, or the shrine name of her “father-in-law.” However, as in the case of Aja where we always find kallātu, and not kallātu of someone or some temple. This seems to put into question whether the English translation of the term “daughter-in-law” is in fact accurate.

2)      A lot of goddesses use hīrtu as one of their main titles. The term is understood as “the first wife who has equal status with the husband,” and is sometimes followed by narāmtu as hīrtu narāmtu “beloved wife.” With this qualification, the woman is able to give significant suggestions to her husband or intercede with him on behalf of her devotees.

Given the information available, it seems that the status of women in Mesopotamia depended mainly on the system of the household. Once she got and kept a position as “the first wife” and “kallātu” by marriage, she could make use of her efficiencies in her family. In the religious sphere, we can see this wherein the goddesses, who had the title of hīrtu and/or kallātu were effective in swaying their husband’s opinions, and playing their role of interceder. Perhaps, then, in the human world, a parallel phenomenon could be seen. Unfortunately, no references have been uncovered to substantiate the supposition.

However, in our REFEMA project, a lot of studies about the economic roles and activities of women have been presented, and will be presented during the next two workshops. One day in the very near future, then, we may be able to complete each other’s studies and gain a new view about the status of women in ancient Mesopotamia.


[1] S. L. Macgregor, Beyond Hearth and Home: Women in the public Sphere in Neo -Assyrian Society, SAAS XXI, Helsinki 2012, pp. 71-13.

[2] SAA XVI 28 (=ABL 308). As for diverse interpretations about this letter, see my previous paper (part one of the same title), note 11, as well as the references included in that note.

[3] George,2003: Ninsun, Gilgamesh’a mother, begins her long monologue by blaming on Šamaš her son’s desire for adventure and hopes that Aya will intercede with him on Gilgamesh’s behalf (45-57). Ninsun repeats her plea that Aya remind Šamaš to command her son to the care of the night (74-9). Further,she asks for Šamaš about the Gilgamesh’s journey, seeking Aya’s wifely intercession a third time (80-6)


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