Cuneiform Digital Library Notes
2014:11        «              »
What happened to Zuzu, King of Akšak?

Kamran V. Zand
Universität Heidelberg

The few secure pieces of evidence for Zuzu, king of Akšak come from entries in a pair of inscriptions of Eanatum, king of Lagaš (Frayne 2008: 147-148):

RIME 1.9.3.5 (P222400), iv 25-v 8:
mu lugal akšakki-ka, i3-zi-ga-a,
e2-an-na-tum2, mu pa3-da-, dnin-ĝir2-su!-ka-ke4,
an-ta-sur-ra, dnin-ĝir2!-su2-ka-ta,
zu-zu, lugal akšakki, akšak.KI-še3!, mu-gaz,
mu-ha-lam

This small passage has been translated differently by various editors in the past, especially concerning the fate of king Zuzu, depending on the interpretation of the reference of the verb ha-lam “to destroy”:


Thureau-Dangin (1907: 21, 23) “Als der König von Kêšu sich erhob, hat E-an-na-tum, dessen Name ausgesprochen ist von Nin-gir-su, von dem an-ta-sur-ra Nin-gir-sus (verfolgt) Zu-zu, König von Kêšu, bis nach Kêšu, ihn dort erschlagen und vernichtet.”

Sollberger and Kupper (1971: 59): “L’an que le roi d’Akšak se (sou)leva, E-ana-tuma, l’appele2 de Nin-Ĝirsu, (pourchassa) Zuzu, roi d’Akšak, de l’Anta-sura de Nin-Ĝirsu jusque dans Akšak, (l’y) abbattit (et l’)anéantit.”

Steible (1982a: 148-149): “Im Jahr, in dem sich der König von Akšak erhoben hat, hat E’annatum, der mit Namen benannt (wurde) von Ningirsu, (ausgehend) vom Antasurra des Ningirsu, Zuzu, den König von Akšak, bis nach Akšak zurückgeschlagen (und) vernichtet.”

Cooper (1986: 42): “Because the king of Akšak attacked, Eanatum, nominee of Ningirsu, beat back Zuzu, king of Akšak, from the Antasura of Ningirsu to Akshak, and destroyed it (Akshak).”

Frayne (2008: 147): “In the year of the offensive of Akšak E-anatum, nominee of the god Ninĝirsu, crushed Zuzu, king of Akšak, (all the way) from Antasur of Ninĝirsu to Akšak, and killed him.”

These events are reported in a shorter version, without the mentioning of Zuzu in another inscription (Frayne 2008: 151), the translations do not differ:

RIME 1.9.3.6 (P222402), v 10-vi 5:
mu lugal akšak[ki-ka], i3-[zi-ga-a],
e2-[an-na-tum2], mu [pa3-da]-, d[nin]-ĝir2-[su2]-ka-ke4,
an-t[a]-sur-[ra], d[nin]-ĝir2-su2!-ka-ta,
akšakki-še3!(TUG2), mu-gaz
mu-ha-lam
Thureau-Dangin (1907: 25): “Als der König von Kêšu [sich erhob], hat E-[an-na-tum, dessen Name ausgesprochen wurde] von Nin-gir-su, (ihn verfolgt) vom an-ta-sur-ra Nin-gir-su bis nach Kêšu, ihn dort erschlagen und ihn dort vernichtet.”

Steible (1982a: 155): “Im Jahr, in dem sich der König von Akšak [erhoben] hat, hat (ihn) E’[annatum], der mit Namen [benannt] (wurde) von [Nin]gir[su], (ausgehend) vom Antasur[ra] des Ningirsu bis nach Akšak zurückgeschlagen (und) vernichtet.”

Cooper (1986: 43): “Because the king of Akshak attacked, Eanatum, nominated by Ningirsu, beat him back from the Antasura of Ningirsu and destroyed it (Akshak).”

Frayne (2008: 151): “In the year [of the offensive of] the king of Akšak E-[anatum], no[minee of the god Nin]ĝir[su,] crushed him from Ant[a]sur of the god [Nin]ĝirsu and killed him.”

Concerning the reference for the verb ha-lam, Steinkeller legitimately asks (1993: 118 fn. 20): “is the object Zuzu or Akšak?.”

In the first inscription (RIME 1.9.3.5 [P222400]) further circumstances are described (Frayne 2008: 148-9):

vi 10-11
(Eanatum) lugal akšakki, kur-ra-na!(KI) bi-gi4
“He (Eanantum) drove the king of Akšak back to his own land.”

vi 21-vii 2
kiški akšakki, ma-ri2!ki, an-ta-sur-ra-, dnin-ĝir2-su-ka-ta, GIN2.ŠE3 bi-se3
“He (Eanantum) defeated Kiš, Akšak, and Mari at Antasur of the god Ninĝirsu.”

Although this course of events is not narrated continuously in the inscription, but interspersed with other exploits, this episode is generally reconstructed in this way:

1. Akšak forms an alliance with Kiš and Mari.
2. This coalition under the leadership of Zuzu of Akšak penetrates into Lagašite territory.
3. The coalition is defeated by Eanatum at the Antasur.
4. Zuzu is beaten back to Akšak.

This narrative seems to be quite straightforward. But Steinkeller (1993, 118 fn. 20) again has a point by describing it: “The vague language of the passage make it most unlikely that he followed Zuzu all the way to Akshak. It seems certain that, had Eanatum taken Akshak, he would have stated it in quite unequivocal terms.”

Some observations further emphasize this point. Besides the passages above, ha-lam is attested ten times in the Lagaš-I-corpus, including one damaged, unclear context (Behrens and Steible 1983, the sigla of the inscriptions are from Frayne 2008):

RIME 1.9.3.1 (P222399), rev viii 2'
RIME 1.9.3.5 (P222400), iv 18-19
RIME 1.9.3.6 (P222402), v 3-4
RIME 1.9.3.8 (P222411), vi 10-11
EanatumAruamu-ha-lam
RIME 1.9.3.1 (P222399), xi 21-23Eanatumkur-kure-na-ha-lam
RIME 1.9.3.3 (P222463), ii’ 4-5EanatumUmmae-ha-lam
RIME 1.9.3.4 (P222460), i 18-ii 2Eanatum[ensi2?] Ummamu-ha-lam-ma-a
RIME 1.9.5.1, vi 18-20Enlillu2 umma, lu2 kur-rahe2-ha-lam-me
RIME 1.9.9.3 , iv 16'-19'NingirsuUmma zi-ga-bii3-ha-lam
RIME 1.9.3.16 (P222670)-[...] TAG2? [...] x [...] KA[...]-ha-lam

Unfortunately, the attestations for the verb do not clarify the situation. Its distribution shows, that it can be used indiscriminately with animate and inanimate objects. No constraints concerning one class of nouns is detectable and therefore its object can be animate (Zuzu) or inanimate (Akšak). This use of ha-lam differs from the use of hul, which is used in the royal inscriptions only as a verb to describe the destructions of places (Behrens and Steible 1983: 163). The semantic range of ha-lam is wider and it is therefore quite nondescript.

Another verb used in the inscriptions is gaz. “to beat/crush” (Behrens and Steible 1983: 134-135). The verb alone has a meaning “crush/kill” (Behrens and Steible 1983: 134-135). The sigla of the inscriptions are from Frayne 2008):

RIME 1.9.3.1 (P222399), viii 1-3:
šu e-na-zi, ša3 ĜIŠ.KUŠU2ki-ka i3-gaz
“(His people) will raise a hand against him, and he will be killed within Ĝiša (Umma).”

RIME 1.9.5.1, vi 26-29:
nam2-lu2-ulu3-uru-na, šu u3-na-zi, ša3 uru-na-ka, ha-ni-gaz-zex(AB2.ŠA3.GE)
“May the people of his city, after rising up against him, kill him there within his city.”

Used with the terminative, the verb has a meaning “to beat back, repel” (Behrens and Steible 1983: 134-135, the sigla of the inscriptions are from Frayne 2008), with the terminative depicting the local endpoint of the action (Balke 2006: 198 nr. 366):

RIME 1.9.3.5 (P222400), iv 25-v 8: (about Zuzu, see above).
RIME 1.9.3.6 (P222402), v 10-vi 5: (about Zuzu, see above).

RIME 1.9.4.2, x 6-xi 1:
ur-LUM-ma, ensi2, ĜIŠ.KUŠU2ki, en-an-na-tum2-me, e-ki-sur-ra-, dnin-ĝir2-su-ka-še3, mu-gaz
“Enanatum repelled Urluma, the ruler of Ĝiša (Umma), to the Ekisurra-(channel) of Ningirsu.”

RIME 1.9.5.1, iii 15-18:
ur-LUM-ma, ba-da-kar, ša3 ĜIŠ.KUŠU2ki-še3, e-gaz
“Urlumma escaped. He (Enmetena) drove him back to the midst of Ĝiša (Umma).”

This last passage is sometimes translated differently. Some editors believe that it means that Urlumma was killed in the middle of Ĝiša(Umma) by Enmetena. If that were true, the passage concerning Zuzu could also be seen under this aspect, because it is the same grammatical construction. The argument for this interpretation is, that only a few lines later in the inscription (iii 28-37), Il, his nephew, gains the rulership of Ĝiša(Umma), and this should only be possible if Urlumma had been killed. That the death of his precursor was a necessary requirement for Il’s ascension is a modern interpretation with no definite evidence. On the contrary, Lambert (1965: 83) already showed that the verb form used in iii 37 (šu e-ma-ti) is reflexive, and must therefore be translated as: “he took the rulership for himself,” which implies that another person claimed the throne. Neither the death nor the survival of Urlumma can be proven without doubt (Steiner 1986: 242).

Another argument against the translation of gaz + terminative as "to kill" is the parallel construction of the passages RIME 1.9.3.1 (P222399), viii 2-3 and RIME 1.9.5.1, iii 17-18:

RIME 1.9.3.1 (P222399), viii 2-3: ša3 ĜIŠ.KUŠU2ki-ka, i3-gaz
RIME 1.9.5.1, iii 17-18: ša3 ĜIŠ.KUŠU2ki-še3, e-gaz

The passage RIME 1.9.3.1 (P222399), viii 2-3 is without doubt to be translated as “he will be killed in the middle of Ĝiša (Umma).” If the passage RIME 1.9.5.1, iii 17-18 would mean the same, why is it not constructed in the same manner (gaz + locative)? The construction of gaz + terminative must therefore be translated differently.

More important for the Fate of Zuzu are the only two attested passages (Behrens and Steible 1983: 351-352), where a foreign ruler is definitely killed by a sovereign of Lagaš:

RIME 1.9.3.5 (P222400), iv 12-15, RIME 1.9.3.6 (P222402), iv 16-19:
uru-azki, mu-hul, ensi2-bi, mu-ug7
“He (Eanatum) destroyed Uruaz (and) killed its Ensi.”

Not only the clarity of the phraseology is noteworthy, it occurs only in the two inscriptions that mention the above quoted episode with the coalition of Akšak. It is also always mentioned before the events of the Akšak-expedition. The reasons for this fixed order of events is not clear (Cooper 1983: 25). Eanatum explicitly says that he destroyed a city (hul) and killed its ruler (ug7). It seems that the afterwards occurring ha-lam was chosen purposely (instead of gaz and ug7), to describe the events concerning Zuzu and Akšak in the most ambiguous way that still sounded like a victory.

It is thus highly probable that Zuzu, king of Akšak survived his military enterprise. We do not know if he was identical with Puzuzu, who vanquished hamazi, as Steinkeller (2013: 149) suggests. King Zuzu may have been beaten back and his city destroyed, but Akšak played an active role in ED IIIb-politics after Eanatum, again in combination with Kiš . Our notion of his demise is based on Lagašite rhetoric, which itself is composed of the most nondescript terms. Thus I propose the following translation:

RIME 1.9.3.5 (P222400), iv 25-v 8:
mu lugal akšakki-ka, i3-zi-ga-a,
e2-an-na-tum2, mu pa3-da-, dnin-ĝir2-su!-ka-ke4,
an-ta-sur-ra, dnin-ĝir2!-su2-ka-ta,
zu-zu, lugal akšakki, akšakki-še3!, mu-gaz,
mu-ha-lam

“In the year when the king of Akšak arose, Eanatum, nominee of Ningirsu, beat back Zuzu, king of Akšak, from the Antasur of Ningirsu to Akšak, (and) destroyed (it).”


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