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Bazi (king)

King of Mari

Bazi (𒀭𒁀𒍣, dBa-zi) was a legendary king of Mari. He is mentioned in the recension of the Sumerian King List from Tell Leilan and in a version of the Ballad of Early Rulers known from Emar. The former of these two texts indicates he was deified. The god Bazi known only from the Old Babylonian Song of Bazi is presumed to be the same figure.


According to the Tell Leilan recension of the Sumerian King List, Bazi was one of the kings of Mari.[1][a] He is the third of the Mariote kings listed, with Anba as his predecessor and Zizi as his successor,[2] though a variant from Nippur apparently places Zizi before him.[3] The list assigns a 30 years long reign to him and characterizes him as a leatherworker.[1] Bazi is attested as an ordinary given name, presumably of Sumerian origin, and a number of individuals bearing it, including an inhabitant of Mari, have been identified in economic texts from between the Early Dynastic and Ur III periods.[4] However, it is presumed king Bazi was most likely not a historical figure, and that his background is purely legendary.[5] No known royal inscriptions can be attributed to him.[4] There is also no indication that he necessarily originated in a western, Amorite tradition.[3]

Bazi is also mentioned among famous ancient figures in a version of the Ballad of Early Rulers from Emar, alongside Alulim, Etana, Gilgamesh, Ziusudra, Humbaba, Enkidu and Zizi.[6] However, he and Zizi are absent from the Old Babylonian version of this composition.[7] The line mentioning both of them is also absent from the only of the three copies from Ugarit preserved to a sufficient degree to determine with certainty if the text matches the Emar version.[8] Maurizio Viano estimates that it was added in the Middle Babylonian period for this reason.[9] Yoram Cohen similarly suggests a “post-Old Babylonian or Middle Babylonian” date.[10] Whether this passage was originally formulated in Mesopotamia or whether it was added by a local scribe in Emar remains a matter of dispute among researchers.[11] In 1992, William W. Hallo proposed that Bazi and Zizi were included because they were regarded as local heroes in Emar, though due to awareness of the incoming publication of the Tell Leilan text also mentioning them, he suggested the tradition pertaining to them originated in Mari.[2] Cohen, relying on the fact that Bazi is presumably not a historical figure and appears only in scholarly compositions of Mesopotamian origin, concluded that the line mentioning him must originate in Mesopotamia.[12] He suggests that he was added due to his association with the western regions making him a suitable legendary figure to mention alongside Humbaba, also believed to reside there, and Gilgamesh and Enkidu, who according to myths traveled to this part of the world.[10] He additionally cites the Sumerian King List as a likely influence on the Ballad of Early Rulers.[13] Wilfred G. Lambert also voiced a degree of support for the eastern origin theory, noting that it is not necessary to presume the text was reworked in Emar or Ugarit.[7]

The historical Babylonian dynasty of Bazi is unrelated to the legendary Bazi, and most likely was instead named after one of the cities named Baz(um) or Baṣ(um).[12]


In the Tell Leilan copy of the Sumerian King List, Bazi’s name is prefaced by the so-called "divine determinative", which indicates he was perceived as a deity.[10] It was initially uncertain if the sign preceding his name should be read phonetically as an or as the determinative dingir, but the matter was resolved by a subsequent discovery of a text known as the Song of Bazi.[12] This composition, dated to the Old Babylonian period, portrays him as a deity.[10] Only a single copy has been identified so far, and its provenance remains unknown.[14] The divine Bazi is otherwise unattested.[15]

The plot of the myth revolves around Bazi’s efforts to acquire a place of worship of his own, which he receives from Ea after proving his strength by overcoming his enemies.[14] The latter god is addressed as his father.[16] Bazi is described as “the god who surveys the human race, who knows the minds of the wicked and the just” and he is compared to a ram.[15] He is also linked to exorcisms.[17] The text describes a temple dedicated to him located in the area of Mounts Bašar and Šaršar, identified by Andrew R. George as a double name of the Jebel Bishri.[10] The pairing of these two toponyms is attested in multiple literary texts, and they were elsewhere associated with Amorites and Suteans.[12] Suggestions that one of the mountains can be identified with Tell Bazi have been criticized by Alfonso Archi, who points out that this site is only a small hill and it is implausible that it would be treated as a mountain comparable to Jebel Bishri.[18]

Annette Zgoll has suggested that based on the fact that the Song of Bazi is written in Akkadian, rather than Sumerian, and on the inclusion of instructions for performance, it was originally sung during festivals.[19]

Proposed associations with other figures

Eckhart Frahm has proposed that the name of Bazi, specifically in sequence with Zizi (dba-zi-zi-zi), was the origin of the theonym Pazuzu.[20] He points out that in the Song of Bazi, the eponymous figure is linked to magic and exorcisms, similarly to Pazuzu in later sources.[17] However, he acknowledges that the evidence is not conclusive.[21] Different proposals instead present Pazuzu’s development as influenced by the image of figures such as Humbaba[22] or the Egyptian god Bes.[23]

Alfonso Archi suggests that the Song of Bazi, specifically what he interprets as the characterization of the eponymous figure as omniscient and his association with Ea, “finds an echo in the Hurrian poem of Ea and the Beast.”[24]


  1. ^ The section is either not fully preserved or omitted in other known copies.[2]


  1. ^ a b Frayne 2008, p. 295.
  2. ^ a b c Cohen 2012, p. 141.
  3. ^ a b Cohen 2012, p. 142.
  4. ^ a b Frayne 2008, p. 303.
  5. ^ Cohen 2013, pp. 147–148.
  6. ^ Cohen 2012, pp. 139–140.
  7. ^ a b Cohen 2013, p. 146.
  8. ^ Viano 2016, p. 302.
  9. ^ Viano 2016, p. 310.
  10. ^ a b c d e Cohen 2013, p. 148.
  11. ^ Viano 2016, p. 299.
  12. ^ a b c d Cohen 2012, p. 147.
  13. ^ Cohen 2013, p. 147.
  14. ^ a b Zgoll 2015, p. 68.
  15. ^ a b Frahm 2018, p. 279.
  16. ^ Zgoll 2015, p. 70.
  17. ^ a b Frahm 2018, p. 280.
  18. ^ Archi 2015, p. 389.
  19. ^ Zgoll 2015, pp. 68–69.
  20. ^ Frahm 2018, p. 277.
  21. ^ Frahm 2018, p. 281.
  22. ^ Frahm 2018, p. 274.
  23. ^ Frahm 2018, p. 284.
  24. ^ Archi 2013, p. 16.


  • Archi, Alfonso (2013). "The West Hurrian Pantheon and Its Background". In Collins, B. J.; Michalowski, P. (eds.). Beyond Hatti: a tribute to Gary Beckman. Atlanta: Lockwood Press. ISBN 978-1-937040-11-6. OCLC 882106763.
  • Archi, Alfonso (2015). "Reviewed Work(s): Prinz, Prinzessin - Samug (= RlA 11) by M.P. Streck; Šamuḫa - Spinne (=RlA 12) by M.P. Streck". Archiv für Orientforschung. 53. Archiv für Orientforschung (AfO)/Institut für Orientalistik: 386–390. ISSN 0066-6440. JSTOR 44810845. Retrieved 2023-01-17.
  • Cohen, Yoram (2013). Wisdom from the Late Bronze Age. Writings from the ancient world. SBL Press. ISBN 978-1-58983-754-6. Retrieved 2023-01-16.
  • Cohen, Yoram (2012). ""Where is Bazi? Where is Zizi?" The List of the Early Rulers in the "Ballad" from Emar and Ugarit, and the Mari Rulers in the Sumerian King List and Other Sources". Iraq. 74. British Institute for the Study of Iraq: 137–152. doi:10.1017/S0021088900000322. ISSN 0021-0889. JSTOR 23349786. S2CID 192942939. Retrieved 2023-01-17.
  • Frahm, Eckhart (2018). "A Tale of Two Lands and Two Thousand Years: The Origins of Pazuzu". Mesopotamian Medicine and Magic. Studies in Honor of Markham J. Geller. Ancient Magic and Divination. Vol. 14. Brill. pp. 272–291. doi:10.1163/9789004368088_015. ISBN 9789004368088. S2CID 201576309.
  • Frayne, Douglas (2008). Pre-Sargonic Period. RIM. The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. doi:10.3138/9781442688865. ISBN 978-1-4426-8886-5.
  • Viano, Maurizio (2016). The reception of Sumerian literature in the western periphery. Venezia. ISBN 978-88-6969-077-8. OCLC 965932920.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • Zgoll, Annette (2015). "Der akkadische Bazi-Mythos und seine Performanz im Ritual". In Janowski, Bernd; Schwemer, Daniel (eds.). Weisheitstexte, Mythen und Epen. Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments. Neue Folge (in German). Vol. 8. Gütersloher Verlagshaus. pp. 68–73. doi:10.14315/9783641219949-004. ISBN 9783641219949. S2CID 198882298.
Bazi Regnal titles Preceded byAnba King of Mari (legendary) Succeeded byZizi
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Bazi (king)
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