Zu (cuneiform)

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Digitized form of cuneiform zu, , ṣú, or sumerogram ZU.
EA 364, Obverse.
Line 18, city Hazor: (Ha-sǘ-ra)
(high resolution expandible photo)

Cuneiform zu, (also , ṣú, and sumerogram ZU (capital letter majuscule)), is an uncommon-use sign in the 1350's BC Amarna letters, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and other cuneiform texts. Alphabetically, it could conceivably be used for letters z, s, , or u; however in the Amarna letters it used mostly for personal names or geographical names.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, sumerogram ZU, is used to spell the name of god Ninazu, (a name of god Tammuz, two times, Chapter XII, 28, 47). In the Epic, ZU is also used as a logogram, ZU.AB, for Akkadian language "apsû",[1][2] English language "abyss"; it is used twice in Chapter VIII, and twice in Chapter XI, the Gilgamesh flood myth.

Uses of zu

Epic of Gilgamesh

The usage numbers for zu in the Epic of Gilgamesh are as follows:[3] -(1) time, ṣú-(0), zu-(41), and ZU-(7) times.

Partial list of uses in Amarna letters


  1. Parpola, 197l. The Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, Logograms and Their Readings, pp. 117-118, ZU.AB, p. 118.
  2. Parpola, 197l. Glossary, pp. 119-145, apsû, p. 121.
  3. Parpola, 197l. The Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, Sign List, pp. 155-165, Sign No. 006, zu, p. 155.