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Friday, 11 October 2013

Notes on the KUR.

Kramer begins his chapter on the KUR:

One of the most difficult groups of concepts to identify and interpret is that represented by the Sumerian word kur. That one of its primary meanings is "mountain" is attested by the fact that the sign used for it is actually a pictograph representing a mountain. From the meaning "mountain" developed that of "foreign land," since the mountainous countries bordering Sumer were a constant menace to its people. Kur also came to mean "land" in general; Sumer itself is described as kur-gal, "great land."


By around 1000 BC the KUR has become a dragon in Kramer's translation, as attested by the story The exploits of Ninurta: Sumerian in origin, written around 2000 BC (Sumer became 'Akkadian' around 2270 BC).

In this story (translated by Kramer), the KUR is a water dragon:

What had been scattered, he gathered,What by Kur had been dissipated,He guided and hurled into the Tigris,The high waters it pours over the farmland.Behold now everything on earthRejoiced afar at Ninurta, the king of the land;The fields produced much grain,The harvest of palm-grove and vineyard was fruitful,It was heaped up in granaries and hills;The lord made mourning disappear from the land,He made good the liver of the gods."O thou lady, because thou wouldst come to a foreign land,O Ninmah, because for my sake thou wouldst enter an inimical land,Because thou hast no fear of the terror of the battle surrounding me,Therefore, of the hill which I, the hero, have heaped up,Let its name be Hursag (mountain), and thou be its queen."

Jacobson suggests that the name Ninurta means Lord of the Plough, he was the 'life giving semen' , the source of fertility and abundance through out the land.

By Assyrian times, Ninurta (possibly now mixed with Ningirsu) is a terrifying warrior, a protector of the land

In the ETCSL version the Car-ur is a weapon.
It talks.
It tells Ninurta that the people, the plants and the animals are worshipping a monster born from earth.

From http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section1/tr162.htm

They have appealed to you, because of your father; son of Enlil, Lord, because of your superior strength they are looking to you here; since you are strong, my master, they are calling for your help, saying, Ninurta, that not a single warrior counts except for you! They wanted to advise you about ....... Hero, there have been consultations with a view to taking away your kingship. Ninurta, it is confident that it can lay hands on the powers received by you in the abzu. Its face is deformed, its location is continually changing; day by day, the Asag adds territories to its domain."

And so Kramer's KUR is now the Asag..
But asag sounds a lot like ur.sag meaning: the young hero...

When the 12th tablet of the Gilgamesh epic was inscribed in Akkadian, the KUR is once more a water dragon (Kramer's translation).

After heaven had been moved away from earth,After earth had been separated from heaven,After the name of man had been fixed;After An had carried off heaven,After Enlil had carried off earth,After Ereshkigal had been carried off into Kur as its prize;
After he had set sail, after he had set sail,After the father for Kur had set sail,After Enki for Kur had set sail.
Against the king the small ones it (Kur) hurled,Against Enki, the large ones it hurled;Its small ones, stones of the hand,Its large ones, stones of . . . reeds,The keel of the boat of Enki,In battle, like the attacking storm, overwhelm;
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,Like a wolf devours,Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,Like a lion strikes down.
But down in Babylon the KUR is linked to lunar eclipses.

Francesca Rochberg writes in "In the Path of the Moon: Babylonian Celestial Divination and Its Legacy" that in Babylon:

The date of the time interval around full moon is termed na which measured the interval between sunrise and moonset. The date of another time interval named KUR is the interval between moon rise and sun rise on the day of last lunar visibility.

The length of the month, na and KUR are found in each monthly paragraph of an astronomical almanac, the Enuma Anu Enlil, a book of lunar eclipse omens (dated some time before 934 BC- possibly 18th to 16th centuries BC)  The opening words: Enuma Anu Enlil can be loosely translated as: "When the gods Anu and Enlil"  or "In the days of Anu and Enlil".

The terminology is also found in diaries and other types of non-mathematical texts of the Seleucid period (240-63 BC).

In Uruk a different system was used:

NIM- positive latitude.
MURAB- node
SIG- negative node.

12 degrees is the 'middle of the road of the moon' and lunar latitude is: NIM U SIG.