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NEW LIGHT ON MAG-AN AND MELUHA 
W. F. Albeight 

American School in Jerusalem 

The rapidity with which knowledge progresses in the ancient 
Oriental field is well illustrated by the flood of new material 
with reference to Magan and Meluha. In Schroeder's new 
volume, KeiUchrifttexte aus Assur verschiedenen Irihalts (Leipzig, 
1920) there is some very important evidence on the subject. 
Text No. 92 is a kind of geographical handbook, describing the 
extent and the mutual relation of the dominions of Sargon II 
of Assyria, but pedantically, and not always accurately, sub- 
stituting names and terms from the age of Sargon of Akkad, 
wherever possible. Line 30 ff. reads: 120 double-hours (here) 
of marching distance (siddu) from the dam (KUN^mihru) of 
the Euphrates to the border of Meluha and Mari (MA(!)-RI-K1) 
which Sargon (Sarrugina), king of the world, when he conquered 
the expanse of the heavens (sic, siMp samd) with might, traversed. 
Here we are informed that it was 240 marching hours from the 
fords of the Euphrates between Mari and Sumer, or Babylonia, 
as follows from line 29, to the boundary between Mari and 
Meluha. 1 But where could Mari, on the middle Euphrates, 
and Meluha in Africa have possibly met? Clay has long 

1 The 240 hours from the Euphrates to the Egyptian frontier imply, 
at three miles an hour, an actual marching distance of about 720 miles. 
The actual distance in a straight line from Thapsacus to Raphia, and thence 
to Pelusium is five hundred miles, but during the course of a month spent 
in walking over Palestine and Syria, the writer learned that it required 
eight marching hours to cover a distance of sixteen miles measured by the 
map, owing to the relatively large amount of climbing and detours which 
is necessary in this rough country. Accordingly, the 120 double-hours are 
precisely what we should expect. Similarly, the 30 double-hours from 
Aphek to Eaphia, given is Esarhaddon's report, correspond to 130 miles in 
straight line. 



318 W. F. Albright 

maintained that Mari is really synonymous with MAR-TJJ, 
or Amurru, and refers to Syria, as well as to the middle 
Euphrates country, but few have accepted his view. Now, 
however, it is proved for the seventh century b. c. by the 
remarkable geographical vocabulary published by Schroeder, 
No. 183, line 11, where Mari is explained by mat Haiti, the 
Hittite country, which in late Assyrian texts is the regular 
expression for Syria, including Palestine. 

In late Assyrian texts, from Sargon to A§surbanapal, Meluha 
always refers to the Ethiopia magna of the Pianhi dynasty, 
and is thus often extended to include Egypt, which formed a 
part of the Ethiopian Empire. Sargon II says, in his Triumphal 
Inscription, line 102 f., that Yamani of Ashdod fled ana itt 
Musuri $a pat mat Meluha, "to the part (lit. border) of Egypt 
which is in the territory of Meluha". The king of Meluha in 
line 109 is the Ethiopian monarch. The same usage is found 
in the texts of Sennacherib. It explains the confusion in the 
mind of Esarhaddon's scribe when he says, describing Esar- 
haddon's famous desert march to Egypt, "From Magan I 
departed, to Meluha I approached", and then mentions the 
30 double-hours from Aphek (Apqu=Fiq, east of the Sea of 
Galilee) in Samaria (Same[rijna) to Raphia, which is just one- 
fourth the total distance from the Euphrates to the Egyptian 
frontier, in perfect agreement with the estimate given above. 
From Raphia, instead of taking the direct route by way of 
Pelusium, and attacking the strongly fortified frontier zone, 
Esarhaddon, gathering camels and supplies from "all" the 
tributary Arab sheikhs, made a terrible desert march by way, 
it would seem, of Suez, and outflanked the Egyptian army of 
defence. His description of the serpents met within the "Arabah" 
reads like an excerpt from the book of Numbers. In the Esar- 
haddon text Magan takes the place of the Mari of the geograph- 
ical inscription, since under the Sargonids Egypt was included 
under the head of Meluha and there was thus no room in Africa 
for Magan. However, the old condition of affairs survives, as 
indicated by the alternation between Magan and Meluha in 
some texts and Musur and Meluha in others. 

That Magan was not combined with Syria in the early period 
is shown by the Sumerian texts I have quoted in previous 
papers, and proved by a passage in the geographical text 



New Light on Magan and Melulia 319 

already cited, which in this case obviously derives its infor- 
mation from early Babylonian sources. Lines 41 ff. state: 
Anami, 2 Kaptara (Eg. Kptr, Bib. Caphtor), lands beyond 
(BAL-BI) the Upper Sea (Mediterranean), Tilmun, Magana, 
lands beyond the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf), and the lands 
from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun, which 
Sargon, king of the world, up to his third (year?) conquered 
(qatsu ikSudu). So Magan is faithfully given, in accord with 
the old Sumerian tradition, as a land beyond the Persian Gulf 
by the sea route — and yet it is on the land route from the 
Euphrates to Meluha = Ethiopia! 

Lest the problem should be cleared up too speedily, our new 
vocabulary furnishes an additional complication; line 13 has 
(b-d) kur Ma-gan-naki = mat Si-id-di-ri = [mat M]i-is-r[i]. 
As Col. b contains only Old Babylonian names from the third 
millennium, we may consider Siddiri as an early form of the 
same word which later appears in Babylonia as Misri, Misir, 
and in Assyria as Musri, Musur. The word has thus origi- 
nally a d between the s and the r, just as in the later Greek 
form, Me<rS(r)pai/j., where the 3 is, however, apparently a secondary 
parasitic element. The primary Egyptian name would then 
be approximately * e mdedrew, heard by the Babylonians as 
*€edere, which would have to be written in cuneiform as Sid- 
diri, with accentual doubling of the d. Later we may suppose 
that the Western Semites corrupted the plural, *Misidrim, 
'Egyptians', into the more compatible Misrim, from which the 
various forms, Amarna Misri, Heb. dual Misrayim, singular 
Masor (by popular etymology, following masor, 'fortification') 
were derived by back-formation. 



2 The cuneiform text, as given by Schroeder, has A-na-AZAG, which 
is certainly a mistake, like E-ZU and LIL-UBU for MA- UB U = Mari 
elsewhere in our text. In a cramped Assyrian hand there is no noticeable 
difference between AZAG and ML It is possible that Anami is the Ana- 
mim of Gen. 10 is, which may represent Cyrene, being followed by Leha- 
bim, the Libyans of Marmarica. The Oaphtorim of the next verse are 
naturally the people of Kaptara, or Crete. Cnossus in Crete is mentioned 
in a text of Esarhaddon found at Assur as Nusisi, if we may accept Peiser'a 
identification (OLZ 14. 475; 15. 246). Cf. also the remarks in my paper 
to appear in JP08, 'A Colony of Cretan Mercenaries on the Coast of 
the Negeb'. 



320 W. F. Albright 

The fact that Magan is in one passage termed a land of 
copper, so far from being against its identification with Egypt, 
is in favor of it. Hume, Preliminary Report on the Geology of 
the Eastern Desert of Egypt, 1907, pp. 56 f., says that copper 
ores are found in the eastern desert, and that there are old 
workings at Abskiel and Abu Hamamid, a statement confirmed 
by Mr. Thomas, JEA 7. 110. I have also been assured by 
a mining engineer, Mr. Walter Middleton, that there is an 
abundance of copper ore in the Nubian desert, in the region 
northwest of Port Sudan, which to the Egyptians was the coast 
of Punt. This explains why the Egyptians and Sumerians 
brought malechite from Pwntf = Meluha. 

Nor can there be any doubt now that the invasion of Egypt 
by a king of the Dynasty of Akkad was quite within the range 
of probability. Thanks to the remarkable discoveries of Forrer, 
Hrozny" and others among the treasures of Boghazkeui, it is 
now certain that Sargon I extended his conquests far beyond 
Mari, or noi'theastern Syria, and Ibla, or northwestern Syria, 
into southwestern Cappadocia, where he captured the city of 
Bursahanda, Hittite Barsuhanta, between Hubisna = Kybistra 
and Tuwanuwa = Tyana. Moreover, according to a text de- 
scribed by Forrer, Die acht Sprachen der Boghazh'oi-Inschriften, 
p. 1038 £, a king of Akkad, almost certainly Sargon, fought 
a coalition of the kings of Kanis, near Oaesarea Mazaca, Hatte 
(Boghazkeui) and Kursaura, northwest of Tyana. 

Despite recent assertions, it is absolutely certain that Yari- 
muta, as described in the Amarna tablets, lay to the south 
of Phoenicia. The indications of the letters sometimes point 
rather to the Delta than to the Plain of Sharon, but the 
non-Egyptian form of the name and the Semitic names of the 
two functionaries, Yanhamu and Yapa-Addi, point rather to 
Palestine. Moreover, Amarna, No. 296, can only mean (which 
does not appear to have been observed) that Gaza and Joppa, 
both Egyptian garrison towns, were in the district controlled 
directly by Yanhamu, that is, in Yarimuta. In JEA 7. 80, the 
writer was unable to check Professor Sayce's identification of 
Yarimuta with 'classical Armuthia', but since this paper was 
written the necessary books have been acquired. There is no 
classical Armuthia at all! The source of it is Tompkins, 
TSBA 9. 242, ad 218 (of the Tuthmosis list): 'Mauti. Perhaps 



New Light on Magan and Meluha 321 

the Yari-muta of the Tel el-Amarna tablets, now (I think) 
Armuthia, south of Killis.' 'Armuthia' is only a bad ortho- 
graphy for Armudja, a small village some three miles south of 
Killis, and thirty north of Aleppo, not on the coast at all, but 
in the heart of Syria. Moreover, instead of the Nos. 298—301 
of the Tuthmosis list, quoted by Professor Sayce as Arsha, Mari, 
Ibl, and Qarmatia, we really have Nos. 298—299, I3-r3-s3-[], 
M3-ry-[], and 306— 307 (!) Iy-b-r3, KJ-r3-my-ty. The first two 
identifications, as well as the fourth, are impossible, though 
the third is probably right. In this connection it should be 
observed that Professor Sayce's effort to do away with Ethi- 
opians in the Amarna texts by creating a north-Syrian Kus 
(JBAS 1921, 54) is useless. He quotes an Assyrian letter which 
locates the cities of Arpad, Kullania, and Dana in the land 
of the Ku-sa-a (pronounced KuSa'a), but the latter is simply 
the gentilic corresponding to the well-known Bit-Gusi, or Beth 
Gosh. Arpad was the capital of Bit-Gusi, and Kullania is 
generally located in it by Assyriologists, while there is no 
geographical objection to placing Dana there as well. 

Since the conquests of Naram-Sin extended further toward 
the southwest than those of Sargon, there is no place for 
Magan but Egypt, unless one insists on identifying it with 
Winckler's ill-fated Arabian Musri in Midian. Hall's obser- 
vation (JEA 7. 40) that Manium is undeniably a common 
Semitic name is very strange; the writer would very much like 
to have it pointed out in other inscriptions. The ending ium 
is found also affixed by the Akkadians to non-Semitic names, 
as Gutium; it is exactly parallel to Lat. Arminius for Herr- 
mann, &c. 

It is quite premature to say that the chronological situation 
forbids our synchronism. Langdon's date for Naram-Sin, given 
in his lecture on 'The Early Chronology of Sumer and Egypt' 
(cf. Near East, May 5, 1921, p. 530 b) as 2795(3?)— 2739 is a 
terminus ad quern. For the reasons previously outlined, it 
seems to me necessary to allow fully 125 years between the 
expulsion of the Guti and the accession of Ur-Nammu (formerly 
called Ur-Engur) b. c. 2475, which will bring the accession 
of Naram-Sin to at least 2875 3 . The new 'short chronology' 

3 Thanks to the kindness of Professor Clay, I have been able to read 



322 W. F. Albright 

for Babylonia, which would reduce the date for Ur-Nammu 
to about 2300, has been disposed of in an article to appear 
in the Revue d'Assyriologie. Egyptian chronology naturally 
offers a more complicated problem, but the writer fails to see 
any particular difficulty in the scheme which reduces the period 
between the Sixth and the Twelfth Dynasty to 160 years, and 
allows an average of eighteen years each to the kings of the 
first two dynasties. Since it is steadily becoming clearer that 
the history of Egyptian civilization, especially in the Delta, 
reaches far back into the predynastic age, before 4000 b. c, 
why should an Egyptologist assume that the crude beginnings 
of Babylonian monumental art, in the days of Mesilim and 
Ur-Nina, must fall later than Menes? Our theory places 
them only two to three centuries earlier. Even with our 
rectification of the chronology, Egyptian art remains superior 
to contemporary Babylonian art, as will be easy to see on 
comparing, for example, the Tanite art of the Thinite period, 
as found by Capart in the group of 'Nile gods' in Cairo, and 
the Ludovisi statue at Rome, with the art of the Akkadian 
epoch in Babylonia. 



the translation of the new dynastic fragment found in the Philadelphia 
Museum by Legrain. It offers very useful confirmation of the view out- 
lined that there was an interval of some length between Utu-gegal and 
Ur-Nammu. The ninth column of the tablet contained the dynasty of Utu- 
gegal and the dynasty of Ur; it begins with the regnal years of the last 
monarch of Guti, and closes with the name of the third king of Isin, Idin- 
Dagan, thus containing the names of eight kings, and the record of three 
dynastic changes. "While only the first seven lines of the column are pre- 
served, we may estimate the number of names lost by comparing the situ- 
ation in the seventh and eighth columns, where we are on firm historical 
ground. Col. VII contained the names of all the twelve kings of Akkad, 
and the five kings of Erech, with the record of two dynastic changes, and 
the partial account of another. Col. VIII contained the names of all 
twenty-one monarchs of Guti. Accordingly, Col. IX gave a least six, and 
probably seven names of the dynasty of Utu-gegal — less, naturally, if 
there were two dynasties here instead of one, which is hardly probable, 
despite Lugal-anna-mundu of Adab.