Akkadian Prayer Miscellany

Alan Lenzi, University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA)

Architectural Prayers at Dūr-Šarrukīn

The builders of Sargon II's palace at his newly created citadel, Dūr-Šarrukīn (modern Khorsabad; see the image to the right), inscribed six prayers to as many deities at the entrances to each deity's chapel, all of which were located within the palatial complex (see the yellow highlighted areas in the image below). Because the first excavator of the palace, Victor Place, thought this area belonged to the king's harem, these inscriptions are sometimes still referred to as the Harem Inscriptions (see Loud 1936: iv). The builders also inscribed at least nine copies of a prayer to Nabu (see Frame 2021: 194) into various architectural features in and around that deity's cella within his temple, which was located adjacent to Sargon's new palace (see the green highlighted area in the image to the left). For the archaeological context of these inscriptions and a report of the excavations carried out at the citadel in the 1930's, see Loud 1936 (→bibliography; →open-access) and Loud and Altman 1938 (→bibliography; →open-access). More briefly, see Frame 2021: 187-194. Kertai (2015: 83-118) provides a relatively recent synthesis of the archaeology of the palace. Russell (1999: 100-123) examines the placement of other inscriptions in the palace (the inscribed prayers from the shrines are not discussed). The Akkadian text of each prayer as presented here follows Grant Frame's recent editions of the prayers (2021 = RINAP 2, nos. 16-22; →bibliography; →library; and →open-access on ORACC). He provides comprehensive bibliographical references in the print edition of RINAP 2 (→bibliography). The English translations of the prayers are my own.

Click below to see the individual prayers and their specific architectural context.

palace citadel In the palace chapels:
Prayer to Ninurta
Prayer to Ninshiku (Ea)
Prayer to Sin
Prayer to Adad
Prayer to Ningal
Prayer to Shamash

In the temple:
Prayer to Nabu (composite text)