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I am an enthusiast with no background in Assyriology. I hope you would be willing to answer a small question for me.

A few years ago, I had the joy of stumbling onto Irving Finkel's book about the new flood tablet he had translated. While I had always been interested in cuneiform, there are only so many hours in the day to study anything, and I ended up going to chemistry instead. I have been reading up on the Epic of Atra-Hasis, specifically (MAH 16064) Tablet III, i, 23-24:

ma-ak-ku-ra ze-e-er-ma na-pi-is-ta bu-ul-li-it

Most translations of this are a variation of Wilfred and Lambert's original translation:

Spurn Property, Preserve Life.

I was trying to dig into this a little bit, because I had a number of questions about this, not least of which whether the beginning of Line 24 was broken off (I have subsequently seen it questioned if it should not be ma- rather than na-).

Trying to do a translation (which, again, not my field at all), it seems like spurn property, preserve life are line 23, and kind of also line 24. Which is also confusing.

Then I stumbled onto Alter Orient und Altes Testament (1976). There is a short chapter by Harry A. Hoffner, Jr. of Chicago. He posits that there is confusion and that the line reads

makkura szern

not

ma-ak-ku-ra,

and that the translation should actually be

Construct an ark

rather than spurn property.

I think he makes some interesting points. What I am curious about is that I continue to see the original translation. That means that either the translation was never noticed or that it was ultimately dismissed. The book pops up again and again, so I do not think it was not noticed. That means that this interpretation was dismissed.

This might be reaching back, but I am curious if you might know why this translation disagreement was not adopted?

And, of course, the obvious question given Dr. Finkel's book- might ma-ak-ku-ra be build a coracle rather than generic boat/ark?

  • This is an attempt at a helpful edit - I read the original question multiple times and had trouble isolating the question. – Mark C. Wallace Oct 30 at 9:02
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    @MarkC.Wallace thank you- this is what happens when you stay up past your bedtime trying to formulate a question. – Broklynite Oct 30 at 10:24
  • You could also try asking this on linguistics.stackexchange.com – simon at rcl Oct 31 at 12:06
  • @simonatrcl Good point, I had not considered that. Will try it. – Broklynite Nov 1 at 2:34

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