In seeking to recover the semantic relationships that led the Euphrates and Sippar to share the writing UD.KIB.NUN, this paper begins with an analysis of the earliest writings for river and city. It is found that the essential elements of this Diri compound, KIB.NUN, first designated the divine Euphrates; only as a secondary development did the city borrow the spelling from the river. Further, it is suggested that the writing UD.KIB.NUN belongs to the UD.GAL.NUN orthographic tradition. As for the city taking its spelling from the river, the explanation lies, on one hand, in the functional overlap of the Sun- and River-gods and, on the other, in the unique topography of the Sippar region. The aspect of divine judge defines both the Sun-god, the patron deity of Sippar, and the River-god, the divine Euphrates being a particular manifestation of dí d /dNāru – indeed, the textual and artistic records together describe a mythological and cosmographical conception that links these two deities. The Sippar region, it is argued, was an early cult center of the River-god and was regarded as a numen loci on account of the unique geomorphological conditions specific to the area.
© Walter de Gruyter