25 02 2007

Penned by Kilamuwa, a Cilician king with an Anatolian name, the so-called Kilamuwa Inscription was discovered by a German archaeological expedition in 1902. The language of the text is Phoenician (considered to be the Canaanite language par excellence) and at least two of Kilamuwa’s named ancestors have Aramean names. On the basis of this inscription, some have argued for a mixed population of Semites and Anatolians living in Cilicia at the time of the text’s composition (9th century BCE). Whatever the historical information that one may glean from this text, it is also of great literary value and seems to feature a number of provocative turns of phrase. I reproduce it below for those who may be interested in this curious example of ancient literature.


כן במה.ובל.פעל.וכן.אב.חיא.ובל.פעל.וכן.אח
בל.פעל הלפניהם.כן.בת אבי.במתכת.מלכם.אד
רם.וכל.שלח.יד ללחם.וכת.ביד.מלכם כמאש.אכלת
זקן.ו[כמ]אש.אכלת.יד.ואדר עלי מלך.ד[נ]נים.ושכר
אנך.עלי.מלך אשר.עלמת.יתן.בש.וגבר.בסות

אנך.כלמו.בר.חיא.ישבת.על.כסא אבי.לפן.הם
ולמי.כת.אח.ומי.בל חז.פן.ש.שתי.בעל.עדר.ומי.בלחז.פן.אלף.שתי.בעל
ץ.ואנך.תמכת.משכבם.ליד.והמת.שת.נבש.כם.נבש יתם.באם.ומי.בבנ
י. אש.ישב.תחתן.ויזק.בספר ז.משכבם.אל יכבד.לבעררם.ובערר
ם.אל יכבד.למשכבם ומי.ישחת.הסבר ז.ישחת.ראש.בעל.צמד.אש.לגבר
וישחת.ראש.בעל חמן.אש.לבמה.ורכבאל.בעל.בת

The above transcription was in accordance with the transcription of Rainey and Notley¹ and it is in accordance with their translation that the following translation is made:

I am Kilamuwa son of Ḥaya`.
Gabar reigned over Ya`diya and did nothing.
There was BMH and he did nothing.
And there was my father, Ḥaya`, and he did nothing.
And there was my brother, Sha`il, and he did nothing.
And as for me, Kilamuwa, son of TMT (?), what I did, none of the predecessors did.

My father’s house was in the midst of mighty kings and they all put forth a hand to eat.
But I was in the midst of the kings like fire devouring the beard and like fire devouring the hand.
But the kings of the Danunites overpowered me and I hired the king of Ashur.
He gave a maiden for a sheep and a man for a garment.

I Kilamuwa, son of Ḥaya`, sat on the throne of my father.
Before the former kings, the mškbm complained like dogs.
But as for me, to whom was I a father and to whom was I a mother and to whom was I a brother.
And whoever never saw the face of a sheep, I made him owner of cattle and the owner of silver and the owner of gold,
and whoever never saw linen in his youth but in my day he was covered in byssus.
And I supported the mškbm by the hand and I made their soul like the soul of an orphan towards a mother.

And whoever among my sons that will sit after me and will damage this inscription, may the mškbm not honour the b´rrm
and may the b´rrm not honour the mškbm
and whoever will smash this inscription,
may Baal-Samad of Gabar smash his head
and may Baal-Ḥaman of BMH smash his head
and Rakib-`el, the lord of the dynasty.

¹ Rainey, A. and R.S. Notley, The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (ed. S. Ahituv; Jerusalem, Carta: 2006), 212.




2 responses

28 02 2007

It’s very punk rock for a 9th Century BCE inscription, don’t you think?

28 02 2007
Simon Holloway

“Fire in the Beard”, by Killer Mua? Yep, very punk rock.

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