- Museum number
- Object: The Sun God Tablet
Limestone tablet: the scene sculptured in relief at the head of the tablet represents Nabu-aplu-iddina being led by the priest Nabu-nadin-shum and the goddess Aa into the presence of the Sun-god, who is seated within Ebabbara. Before the god is the solar disc, resting upon an altar which is supported by ropes held by attendant deities, whose bodies spring from the roof of the shrine. In the field above the Sun-god, and within the shrine, are a lunar disc, a solar disc and an eight-pointed star, the symbols of Sin, Shamash and Ishtar. The god wears a horned headdress and carries the ringed rod in his right hand. The shrine is represented as resting on the heavenly ocean. The engraved text contains a record of Nabu-apla-iddina's re-endowment of the Sun-Temple at Sippar. The inscription is engraved in six columns, three upon the obverse and three upon the reverse; and the upper part of the obverse is occupied by a scene sculptured in low relief; the edges of the tablet are bevelled.
- Production date
Height: 29.21 centimetres
Width: 17.78 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The text of Nabu-aplu-iddina's tablet, may be summarized under the following nine sections:
(i) Col. I, l. 1-Col. II, l. 17a: Sketch of the varying fortunes of Ebabbara (after its destruction by the Sutu), during the reigns of Simmash-Shipak, Kashshu-nadin-akhi, and Eulmash-shakin-shum.
(ii) Col. II, l. 17b-Col. Ill, l. 10: The mission of Nabu-aplu-iddina and his defeat of the Sutu.
(iii) Col. III, l. 11-Col. IV, l. 11 : The finding of a clay model 4 of the Sun-god's image on the western bank of the Euphrates.
(iv) Col. IV, ll. 12-21 : The fashioning of a new image of the Sun-god, after the clay model, by the priest Nabu-nadin-shum, at Nabu-aplu-iddina's command.
(v) Col. IV, ll. 22-34 : The installation of Nabu-nadin-shum.
(vi) Col. IV, l. 35-Col. VI, l. 16 : Nabu-aplu-iddina's ordinances for the re-endowment of Ebabbara, (a) with regard to the maintenance of priests and officials (Col. IV, l. 47-Col. V, l. 38), and (b) in respect of festal garments (Col. V, l. 39-Col. VI, l. 13).
(vii) Col. VI, ll. 17-29 : List of witnesses to the king's deed of gift, and date.
(viii) Col. VI, ll. 30-31 : Description of the foregoing text in Sections vi and vii.
(ix) Imprecatory clauses intended to prevent the violation of the deed or the destruction of the record.
See now Woods, JCS 56 (2004) pp23-104. Original by Nabu-apla-iddina, reburied by Nabonidus.
The tablet was found in an earthenware box or coffer (1881,0428.34.b (BM. 91004)). In the coffer with the tablet were two clay impressions of the sculptured relief (1881,0701.3422 (BM. 91001) and 1881,0428.33 (BM. 91002)), on the back of one of which, 1881,0428.33 (BM. 91002) is an inscription of Nabopolassar. On the sides of the coffer is an inscription in Neo-Babylonian characters, which reads 'ṣal-lam (ilu)Šamaš bêl Sippar(KI) a-šib-bi E-babbar-ra', "Image of Shamash, the lord of Sippar, who dwells in Ebabbara." It is clear that the coffer was made by Nabopolassar as a receptacle for the tablet. It has been assumed that the clay impressions of the sculptured scene were intended to protect the latter from injury. But it appears far more probable that Nabopolassar placed them in the coffer to enable some future ruler, in case the tablet should be broken, to restore the scene; in doing so he would have been influenced by the fact that Nabu-aplu-iddina was enabled to restore the Sun-god's missing statue from a clay model found on the bank of the Euphrates, as related on the tablet.
In set with 1881,0428.33 (BM.91002).
Moulded and cast; cast priced at 14 shillings by D. Brucciani (1910) and catalogued as "tablet sculptured in relief with a scene representing the worship of the Sun-god in the temple at Sippar, and inscribed with a record of the restoration of the temple, and particulars of the services to be held". The cast is listed as available in the British Museum Facsimile Service 'Catalogue of Replicas from British Museum collections' (n.d.), in the series "Boundary Stones and Memorial Tablets".
- On display (G55/dc2)
- Exhibition history
2011 28 March-26 June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, 'Splendours of Mesopotamia'
2009 Oct 25-2010 Jan 24, Germany, Oldenburg, Landesmuseum fur Natur und Mensch, 'Ex Oriente Lux?'
2009 March 12-August 30, Italy, Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 'Galileo: Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope'
2008 26 Jun-5 Oct, Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum-Pergamonmuseum, 'Babylon, Myth and Truth'
2008 14 Mar-2 Jun, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Babylon'
1999 1 Dec-2000 24 Sep, London, The Queen’s House, The Story of Time
Babylonian Room, table-case C
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 12137 (old big no)