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CATALOGUE OF THE CUNEIFORM TABLETS IN THE KOUYUNJIK COLLECTION OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM (1889-1914) by C. Bezold (5 Volumes plus Supplement Volume)

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CATALOGUE OF THE CUNEIFORM TABLETS IN THE KOUYUNJIK COLLECTION OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM (1889-1914) by C. Bezold (5 Volumes plus Supplement Volume)

575.00

BEZOLD, C. (Carl)

Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets in the Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum (6 Volumes)

London: The British Museum, 1889-1914. First Editions. 6 Volumes (issued separately). Hardcover. Quarto. In blue cloth with gilt spine titles. Vol I (1889): xxxi + 420; Vol II (1891): xxiv + 420-900; Vol III (1893): xii + 901-1370; Vol IV (1896): xii + 1371-1950; Vol V (1899): xxx + 1951-2387 (General Index) plus 12 full page black and white plates; Vol VI (1914): xxxviii + 285 pp., plus 6 collotype plates. A very heavy set of books, weighing in at 23 pounds when packaged for shipping. Additional postage costs will be required for Priority Mail service within the United States. 

A few bumped corners on these heavy volumes, faint evidence of bookplate removal to volume V, pages of volume VI are mostly unopened along the top edge. A very good set. 

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Volume I includes a list of the titles of Assyriological works (and their abbreviations) which are referred to in these volumes. The Collection of Clay Tablets inscribed in cuneiform, now commonly known as the "Kouyunjik Collection," in the British Museum, represents the greater part of the contents of the Royal Library which was founded and maintained at Nineveh by the kings of the last Assyrian Empire, who reigned from about B.C. 720 to B.C. 620. There is evidence to prove that the library existed in a humble form in the days of Sargon, "the son of no-one," who reigned from B.C. 722 to B.C. 705, and it is certain that his son and grandson added to its contents. It was, however, reserved for his great-grandson Ashur-bani-pal (B.C. 668 to about B.C. 625) to enlarge and enrich the collection of tablets which his predecessors had brought together in such a way as to constitute them into a veritable library, by the addition of hundreds, even thousands, of documents inscribed with translations and copies of ancient Babylonian and Akkadian works, and large numbers of syllabaries, lists of words, vocabularies, and classified explanations and commentaries upon texts which dealt with every branch of learning and science known to the wise men of his day. This included numerous references to magical spells and incantations, as well as omens. Indeed, almost every tablet of importance in the collection bears in its colophon the name of Ashur-bani-pal, a fact which justifies the boast which this king makes in his Annals, that Nebo, the lord of wisdom, had granted unto him understanding and knowledge, whereby he was able to become the master of the art and mystery of writing, and of each and every science treated of in the learned works which were written upon clay tablets at that period. 

The Kouyunjik Collection derives its name from a large mound situated on the east or left bank of the river Tigris, which contains the ruins of two or more palaces of the kings of the last Assyrian empire. The mound Kouyunjik lies nearly opposite of the modern town of Mosul in Iraq. 

The number of complete tablets in the collection is relatively small. This is due to the fact that on some occasion, when the city of Nineveh was pillaged by a victoriuos enemy, the tablets were taken from the Library and were purposely broken into pieces, the fragments being scattered about both inside and outside the Library chamber. During the compilation of this catalogue several hundred tablets had been "re-joined." 

The subject matter of the tablets includes letters, dispatches, and reports (written by the king himself or by his officers), oracles, prayers, magical spells and incantations (see below), accounts of the gods and mythological legends and lore, contracts, omens concerning, among other things, the appearances and actions of animals and birds, the movements of snakes, scorpions, and insects, the births of monstrosities and of malformed children, etc. Liver and entrails omens are also included. 

Two principal series of incantations, called Maklu and Surpu respectively, have been identified. The Maklu series contains exorcisms of witches and their companions, and was intended to drive away evil dreams, sickness, etc. The Surpu series contains incantations against sin, disease, and calamity of every kind. The incantations of the Maklu series were accompanied by directions for the performance of ceremonies wherein the sinner, having made figures of the powers of darkness who had caused his calamity, in clay, or bitumen, or honey and flour, or bronze or wood, burnt them in the fire while he recited prayers to the gods of fire and light. 

Over 2000 tablets are described in these volumes.