Schlagwort-Archive: awake

Be(come) Awake, Alert, Vigilant: The Verb “Ḫarādu” in the Neo-Assyrian Empire

by Poppy Tushingham

This contribution to the blog series “Vigipedia” concerns the Akkadian verb ḫarādu, which may be defined as ‘to be(come) awake’ but also as ‘to be(come) alert, vigilant’, and its derived adjective ḫardu and abstract noun ḫarduttu. At the same time, this entry also aims to encourage people to contribute expressions and references to this or related concepts (vigilance, surveillance, attention, etc.) from other languages and cultures to the blog.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire existed for some 300 years between the 9th and 7th centuries BCE. Its heartland was located in what is now northern Iraq and, at its greatest extent, it controlled much of the Middle East. The administration of the empire was carried out primarily in the Assyrian dialect of Akkadian, a Semitic language. Akkadian was recorded using the cuneiform script, a writing system that used wedge-shaped characters to represent words and syllables. Many of these ancient texts, inscribed on clay tablets or stone objects, have survived until the present day.

Artist’s impression of a hall in an Assyrian palace from The Monuments of Nineveh by Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1853, Source: The British Museum.

1. Semantic range (lexicographic)

The semantic range of the Akkadian verb ḫarādu is fairly broad, and, depending on context, may be translated as – so the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary – ‘to wake up, to be alert, to keep watch’1. These definitions pertain to the Grundstamm (G-stem) or ‘basic stem’ of the verb. As is typical in the Semitic languages, of which Akkadian is one, other derived stems of the verb are attested. In the case of ḫarādu, the verb is also used in the D-stem, the infinitive of which has a doubled middle radical, ḫurrudu, and in the N-stem, whose infinitive has a prefixed n, naḫrudu. The D-stem is often factitive in meaning, while the N-stem is often passive in meaning. This holds true for ḫarādu, with the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary defining the D-stem ḫurrudu as ‘to put on the alert’ and the N-stem naḫrudu as ‘to be alerted’.

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  1. A. Leo Oppenheim (ed.), The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD) Vol. 6 Ḫ, 1956, Chicago, 88 s.v. ḫarādu A v. []