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Library of Ashurbanipal

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (series)

    • Library of Ashurbanipal
  • Description

    Clay tablet, mythological, descent of Ishtar into the Nether World, on both sides some pieces are broken out. Neo-Assyrian.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 7thC BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 16.82 centimetres
    • Width: 8.57 centimetres
    • Thickness: 2.85 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Comment

        80 lines in an extremely clear Assyrian hand.
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Comment

        59 lines in an extremely clear Assyrian hand, the last line of reverse containing the " official note."
  • Curator's comments

    Clay tablet inscribed with the Legend of the descent of Ishtar into the Underworld. Finding the gate shut, the goddess threatened to break it down, and to set free the dead to devour the living. The porter hastened to announce her arrival to Allatu, the Queen of the Underworld, who gave him orders to admit her after shehad performed the customary ceremonies. The porter, therefore, brought her through the seven gates of the Underworld, at each of which some portion of her apparel was taken from her, until finally she entered naked into the presence of Allatu, who mocked her and ordered the plague demon to torment her. Meanwhile the earth suffered from the absence of Ishtar, the goddess of Love, and the course of nature in man and beast was changed. Finally, however, by the agency of the great gods, Ishtar was released from the plague demon, who poured the water of life over her, and led her back to earth through the seven gates, where her ornaments and apparel were restored to her.

    Transliterations and translations have been published by Talbot, I.c., and in the ‘Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature’ VIII, 1865, p. 244; by Lenormant, F., 1872. ‘Essai de commentaire des fragments cosmogoniques de Bérose d'après les textes cunéiformes et les monuments de l'art asiatique’. Paris : Maisonneuve, p. 458 ff. (cf. ibidem, p. 557) ; by G. Smith, 'Daily Telegraph' of August 19th, 1873; by Schrader, E., 1974. ‘Die Höllenfahrt der Istar, ein altbabylonisches Epos: Nebst Proben assyrischer Lyrik’. Giessen : J. Ricker; by Lenormant, F., 1874. ‘Les prèmieres civilisations, études d’histoire et d’archéologie’ Vol. 2. Paris : Maisonneuve, p. 81 ff.; by Oppert, J., 'L'immortalité de l'âme chez les Chaldéens' (extr. du tome VIII des 'Annales de philos. chrét.'), 1874; by Martin Haug, 'Die Unsterblichheit der Seele bei den Chaldäern' ('Beilage' of the Augsburg 'Allgemeine Zeitung', 1875, Nos. 70 and 71); by Menant, J., 1875. ‘Babylone et la Chaldée’. Paris : Maisonneuve, p. 235 ff.; by Smith, G., 1876. ‘Chaldäische Genesis. Nebst Erläuterungen und fortgesetzten Forschungen von Fridr. Delitzsch.’ Leipzig, pp. 198 ff., 313 ff.; by Sayce, A.H. 1875. ‘Babylonian Literature’. London : Samuel Bagster, p. 37 ff.; and lately by Oppert, J., 1882. ‘Fragments mythologiques.’ Reprinted from from the ‘Revue des Etudes juives’, p. 8 ff.; by Jeremias, A., 1887. ‘Die Babylonisch-Assyrischen Vorstellungen vom Leben nach dem Tode’. Leipzig : J.C. Hinrichs, p. 10 ff., where some further emendations to the text are given ; and by Sayce, A.H. 1887. Lectures on the origin and growth of religion as illustrated by the religion of the ancient Babylonians. ‘Hibbert Lectures’. London : Williams and Norgate, p. 221 ff. Cf. also Talbot, ‘Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology’, Ill, pp. 118 ff., 357 ff.; Boscawen, ibidem, IV, 289 f.; Norris, E., 1866. 'The journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland', p. 248, reprinted in his 'Assyrian Dictionary', I, p. 14; Schrader, E., 'Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament' umgearbeitete und sehr vermehrte Auflage' 2nd ed. Geissen : J. Ricker, p. 455 f. ; Halévy, J., 1883. ‘Journal asiatique, ou Recueil de mémoires, d’extraits et de notices relatifs à l’histoire, à la philosophie, aux sciences, à la littérature et aux langues des peuples orientaux, publié par la Société asiatique’, p. 451; and 'Guide to the Kouyunjik Gallery' (1885), p. 147 f., No. 24. On two fragmentary duplicates of the text, see below, sub K. 7600 and K. 7601.


  • Bibliography

    • Rawlinson & Pinches 1891a 31 bibliographic details
    • Lenormant F 1875 no.30, p.100 ff bibliographic details
    • Delitzsch 1885 p.100 bibliographic details
    • Birch 1875 p.141 ff bibliographic details
    • Guide 1922 p.218 bibliographic details
    • Menant 1880 p.364 ff bibliographic details
    • Bezold 1889a p.42-43 bibliographic details
    • CDLI P345482 ( bibliographic details
    • Pritchard 1950a pp.106-109 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2008 26 Jun-5 Oct, Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum-Pergamonmuseum, 'Babylon, Myth and Truth'
    2008 14 Mar-2 Jun, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Babylon'
    Room of Writing, case 5 (until Mar 1992)

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


Clay tablet, mythological, descent of Ishtar into the Nether World, Neo-Assyrian.

Clay tablet, mythological, descent of Ishtar into the Nether World, Neo-Assyrian.

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