Šiptu ul yuttun and Legitimation: Reflections on a Closing Formula in Akkadian Incantations

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Religious Studies

Conference Title

American Oriental Society Annual Meeting


American Oriental Society


Nashville, TN

Conference Dates

April 4-7, 2003

Date of Presentation

Spring 4-4-2003


The phrase šiptu ul yattun (or yuttun alongside other dialectical variants) occurs in Akkadian incantations from pre-Sargonic times on through the first millennium. Despite its longevity and its relative frequency in incantations, it has received only cursory study in Assyriological literature. Though even the cursory treatments have proven useful in my own study, I will attempt in this paper to examine this phrase within a contextually broader framework in order to delineate the phrase’s distinctiveness as a legitimating formula, its development during its long career of usage, its probable cultural background, and finally its setting among other emphatic ritual negations. The implications of the study are several: it confirms our understanding of incantation composition in the later periods, it contributes data for interpreting the socio-religious function of incantations for both priest and patient, and it demonstrates the privative rather then the creative power of the word in Mesopotamian thought.

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