The Incirli “Human Sacrifice” Trilingual: Not a Trilingual about Human Sacrifice

First part: Front of the inscription*

Since the text of this incredibly interesting but horribly worn stela is not currently available in any digital form, including books or online journal articles, here is the text and translation, based on Steven Kaufman and Bruce Zuckerman’s careful work (S.A. Kaufman 2007. The Phoenician Inscription of the Incirli Trilingual: A Tentative Reconstruction and Translation, Maarav 14.2, 7–26). This is a very simplified version of Kaufmann’s edition, which should be consulted because it indicates many places where the characters are incompletely preserved.

I present here the front, from which the most text is preserved, along with a translation after his. I present the more obscure and uncertain passages in italics. Later I will add the other three sides and a more original translation.


  1. hgbl z mtn/t tkltʾplsr pʾl mlk ʾšr

This frontier is a gift of Tiglath-Pileser—Puʾul, king of Assyria,

  1. lmlk wlšpḥ mlk dnnym | hgbl gbl

to the king and the descendants of the king of the Danunians. This frontier has been the border

  1. pḥt (/ʾrṣ) ʿbr nhr wgbl kmḥ lmym swsdd šr

of the province (or land) of Across-the-River and Kummuh from the reign of Shamshi-Adad, ruler

  1. ʾšr wʿd kl ym tkltʾplsr pʾl ml[k]

of Assur, through the reign of Tiglath-Pileser—Puʾul,

  1. ʾšr rb | hgbl [z] gbl hr [g]rgm wpḥty

Great Kin[g] of Assyria. [This] frontier is the border between the mountains of [Gu]rgum and my province,

6. zʾ(/hʾ) ḥdšt ʿd bʾ pḥt ʾšr lhgbl z

this new one up to where the Assyrian province reaches it, through this region

  1. lmʿbr lbt trtn kbʾ nhr sns ʿd

from across the Turtanu’s dynastic region along the River Sinis, up to

  1. [h]r [ʾ]rrṭ      ʾnk wryks mlk z bt mp[š]

the [moun]tains of [U]rarṭu. I am Warikis, king of the House of Mopsos

  1. ʿbd m[l]k [tk]ltʾplsr mlk ʾšr mlk qw

servant of king T[ig]lathpileser, king of Assyria, king of Que

  1. mlk bt mpš wkl [   ]t ḥt wʿd lbnn

king of the house of Mopsos and all [ ] Hittite country up to the Lebanon

  1. w kn mrd bkl mt ḥ[t] wzbḥ mlk ʾrpd

There was a rebellion throughout the Hittitle country and the king of Arpad

  1. lyʿn hdd mlk wgzr mkpr k ʾrpd

sacrificed for the benefit of Hadad-Melek (or: as a mulk-offering for Hadad) and redeemed (the human sacrifice) with butchered animal parts because Arpad

  1. pḥd mlk ʾm/šr [xx] wʿṣ ḥkm l/wʾmr

feared (a living molkomor/the king of Assyria. He arose, a wise man, and said)

  1. km ḥq mlk ʾrpd wḥlb ʾl tgzr/l ʾd[m]

“According to the law of the King of Arpad and Aleppo, do not sacrifice a human being

  1. […]ʾl tpḥd kʾm kpr ʾš pḥtk ʾl yḥr[b/m]

[…] fear not, rather offer a substitute sacrifice so he will not destroy your province..”


*Huge thanks to Chip Hardy, Philip Schmitz, and Sanna Aro-Valjus for helping me understand the text; errors are mine.




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