Revisiting Jemdet Nasr Texts: IM 55580+: Notes


1    For the time notations used in the Uruk III period, cf. R. K. Englund, “Administrative Timekeeping in Ancient Mesopotamia,” JESHO 31 (1988) 121-185.

2    For a detailed discussion of the numerical systems in use in ancient Mesopotamia, see P. Damerow and R. K. Englund, “Die Zahlzeichensysteme der Archaischen Texte aus Uruk,” in M. W. Green and H. J. Nissen, Zeichenliste der Archaischen Texte aus Uruk (=ATU 2; Berlin 1987) 117-166.

3    These products are grain groats and malt, respectively (i.e., beer ingredients), according to R. K. Englund, “Grain Accounting Practices in Archaic Mesopotamia,” in J. Høyrup and Peter Damerow, eds., Changing Views on Ancient Near Eastern Mathematics (=BBVO 19; Berlin 2001) 11-13.

4    R. K. Englund, BBVO 19, 19, suggested a more attractive interpretation of the term NIa+RU as toponym denoting the town of Jemdet Nasr. Since conclusive evidence for this interpretation is still lacking, however, I would prefer to maintain as an alternative my interpretation based on the assumption that the term may represent a standard administrative formula (possibly a verbal form) to be compared with the later a mu-ru (but see also nig2-a-ru ezem še gu7 in VS 14, 013 and nig2-a-ru ezem munu4 gu7 in DP 72, both texts from ED IIIb Lagash: for the expression NIa+RU + month name see the following note).

5    R. K. Englund, JESHO 31, 146, states, “the notation 3N57+U4 SUa 6[+ ] N1 GIBIL ˹NI+RU˺ in OECT 7, 134 (…) suggests that the numerous parallel notations XN57 SUa GIBIL … in the JN corpus are all to be understood as notations for ‘years’.” In my opinion, the notation nN57 SUa GIBIL (GI) refers to specific grain deliveries, with nN57 used prevalently as ordinals, while the use of notation nN1 (cardinal numbers) denotes the frequency of grain deliveries in a specified time period (the notation in text MSVO 1, 90 (= OECT 7, 134) should consequently be rendered as “6? deliveries over a period of 3 years, regular offerings of …,” with the sign GI to be restored in the broken part of the case before ‘NI+RU’). If Englund's interpretation of SUa GIBIL as a month name is correct (BBVO 19, p. 21), then deliveries of such offerings took place regularly in a fixed period of the year.

6    The restoration of case O0201, based on its similarity with case O0401, ensures that AMAR is the name of the second official in charge of the transaction and therefore does not denote the recipients (“calves”) of the grain. For the standard daily unit of grain for each official, see note 9 below.

7    See for instance MSVO 1, 95, 96, 97, 99, etc.

8    For practical reasons, all grain measurements refer to the N1 units, denominated barig following P. Damerow and R.K. Englund, ATU 2, 153-154, n. 60.

9    The standard year quantity of 39 3/5 bariga corresponds to a daily quantity of 1/10 bariga (N24) with the addition of 10% (TARa) as clearly indicated in the text MSVO 1, 121 (=OECT 7, 84). See R. K. Englund, JESHO 31, 150-160 for commentary to this and similar texts discussed in the present paper.

10    The regular supply of 118 4/5 ÷ 4 = 29.7 barig, corresponding to 27 barig after subtraction of 10% (TARa), results in an expected value of 4N20 3N5 in case O0401. The obverse of the tablet is badly damaged and requires more collation for confirmation.

11    Regular supply of the standard 26.4 bariga (including the additional 10%) for 4 years is found in MSVO 1, 119 = OECT 7, 2).

12    Analogous supply of the standard 26 2/5 barig (including 2 2/5 barig qualified as TARa) is also found in another fragmentary text from Uqair, MSVO 4, 27.

13    R. K. Englund (JESHO 31, 159) has already suggested the possible existence of the intercalary month in connection with the grain/time notations reported in the reverse of MSVO 1, 94, although he attributes the resulting yearly amount of 78 barig as due to “an increase of the daily grain unit N39a … not by the usual factor of 1/10, but rather by 1/12.”

Version: 1 September 2004