The Eršema Prayers of the First Millennium BC contains philological editions of the Mesopotamian Eršema prayers, which were written in the Emesal register of Sumerian and often accompanied by interlinear Akkadian translations. The Eršema prayers are relatively short compositions belonging to the larger corpus of Emesal prayers, and they were part of the repertoire of a cultic functionary known as the gala/kalû. The content of these prayers, like that of the other genres of Emesal prayers, is usually lamentful, mourning the destruction of cities and temples.
The book treats both types of Eršemas known from the first millenium BC: those appended to longer Emesal prayers known as Balag compositions, and individual Eršema prayers (“Ritual Eršemas”). Over eighty prayers are listed in an ancient catalog from Nineveh. This book edits them according to their sequence in the Nineveh catalog and on the basis of over one hundred tablets and fragments stemming from various provenances, especially Nineveh, Babylon, and Uruk. The book also includes editions of unidentified Eršemas and of other fragments that may be Eršemas. In addition to a score transliteration, a translation, and philological notes, the evidence for the ritual performance of each Eršema is provided. Where Old Babylonian forerunners and first-millennium BC parallels, especially from Balag compositions, are known, they are presented in synoptic transliterations with the Eršemas they parallel.