A fragment of the Babylonian 'Dibbara' epic

by Morris Jastrow | 1891 | 16,670 words

Translations and comments for text relating to Dibbara. (Anu gave the order to destroy all Human life to Dibbara, aka. Dibbarra)....

Note by Lee K. Frankel, B.S., University of Pa.

The brick was found to be covered with a white layer which could be scratched very easily with a knife-blade, and even with the finger nail.

On further examination with the microscope, minute vitreous crystals could be observed, having apparently a "monoclinic habitus", and were judged from their previously determined hard ness to be crystals of selenite (gypsum). The greater portion of the incrustation, however, was of the massive variety.

The brick was first suspended in dilute hydrochloric acid, its action upon the incrustation being, however, very slow.

Upon immersing the brick in concentrated hydrochloric acid better results were obtained.

The gypsum was gradually but completely dissolved out, requiring, however, considerable time, since it had settled into every portion of the sunken characters, and hence exposed but a small portion of its surface at a time to the action of the acid.

Hot concentrated hydrochloric acid was also tried, but its action was found to be too energetic, since it dissolved out very readily the ferric oxide present in the brick, with a correspond ing removal of the reddish color from it.

The above action also took place on using the cold.acid, but in a lesser degree.

It was found that after the acid had exercised its solvent and loosening power, the application of a tooth-brush over the surface of the brick removed the soft gypsum, still undissolved, very materially, leaving the harder clay inviolate. This was especially serviceable for the more minute characters.

A theory that could be suggested for the presence of the incrustation of gypsum on the brick, is that it existed as such in the ferruginous clays as found in the Southern countries of Mesopotamia; that on baking these clays it became converted into the anhydrous variety (anhydrite), which from continued exposure to air and moisture, dissolved and recrystallized as gypsum.

This is especially probable, since the gypsum appeared not only as an incrustation on the surface of the brick, but was found deposited throughout the whole body of it, and to such an extent that on immersing the greater portion of the brick in the acid, the dissolving gypsum had a tendency to effect the complete disintegration of the brick. It is advisable, there fore, so to suspend the brick in the strong acid that merely its surface comes in contact with the acid. If this precaution is followed, it is not likely that this treatment can effect any per manent or serious injury, but rather the reverse.  

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