Cuneiform Digital Library Journal
§1.2. Puzriš-Dagan’s archival function as a livestock depository was intricately linked to the diplomacy of the Ur III court and goes beyond the everyday cultic and/or subsistence needs of the Ur III state (Sallaberger 2004, Sharlach 2005). As Sallaberger (1993; 1999: 238-73) has noted, and as has been repeated by Michalowski (2006), Puzriš-Dagan archives not only functioned as tax-control offices but were mostly associated with recording royal gifts for several high functionaries of the state. This is manifested, among other things, by the people who sealed the tablets being members of the central agency, and by the transactions these sealed tablets documented. People who rolled their seals on Puzriš-Dagan tablets include the ‘chief lamentation’ specialist (gala-maḫ), the aga3-us2 who, according to Allred (2006: 3), “served as guards and attendants to various high officials, and engaged in activities such as running messages, policing, and so on, at the wish of their superior,” the sukkal-maḫ, the chief administrator of tributary regions surrounding the Ur III state, the cup-bearer, the sagi-gal, chief administrators (šabra), military generals, provincial governors, and several servants of these individuals.
§1.3. Moreover, tablets dealing with the obligations and the ‘rights’ of foreign envoys, foreign rulers and governors are the most common. Puzriš-Dagan tablets provide information on diplomatic marriages, provisions of livestock for some army corps, and provisions for the cult of foreign deities that were not in the ‘core’ of the Ur III state. The diplomatic significance of Puzriš-Dagan explains the tight control by the central government. This link to diplomacy is more evident during the reign of Amar-Suen and, even though during the reign of Šu-Suen, Puzriš-Dagan’s function seemed to shift from diplomacy to the provisioning of cult operations (Hilgert 2003; Allred 2006), Puzriš-Dagan’s significance for the diplomatic relations of the kings is still obvious.
§1.4. One of the most important pieces of evidence for the linkage of Puzriš-Dagan with diplomacy is the appointment of Naram-ilī, Lugal-itida and, most importantly, Babati as directors of Puzriš-Dagan’s business. Babati was the brother of queen Abi-Simti and thus like her a ‘foreigner’ (Whiting 1976; Walker 1983; Michalowski 2005). Already in the reign of Amar-Suen, Babati had been given the right to control the closing of the accounts of some Puzriš-Dagan officials. This right was consolidated under Šu-Suen, when he was also given a royal gift seal from the king.
§1.5. In the following, the administrative structure of the livestock enterprise that has been documented in over 13,500 tablets will be considered. The paper further discusses the theoretical and methodological background for the division of administrative units within Puzriš-Dagan, and provides some background to the key terminology used on the tablets. Finally, it discusses Puzriš-Dagan’s function as an archival repository rather than a large stockyard.
§2. On Agencies, Offices and Bureaus
§2.1.2. The separate administrative units that had nothing to do with the livestock enterprise at Puzriš-Dagan but that were also tentatively located there used separate archives. Archives are the main depository for documents pertaining to the activities of a particular business; they refer to administrative units often related to a particular person. These archives included the treasury archive, the shoe archive, the archive of Naram-ilī and the early archive of Šulgi-simti.
§2.1.3. The livestock enterprise is here termed the central livestock ‘agency’, to distinguish it from the other archives also concerned with animals, such as those of Šulgi-simti and Naram-ilī. Thus, the term agency refers to an administrative division of the state government that produced tablets dealing with the livestock enterprise. It could be understood as a department of the state government that dealt exclusively with livestock and relevant products (e.g., barley for fattening the animals). Chief officials (in succession Nasa, Abba-saga, Lugal-amar-ku and Intaea) were at the head of this agency, while high functionaries of the state, closely related to the king, oversaw all transactions and were responsible for the final archiving of the tablets, thus acting as the agency’s directors.
§2.1.4. This central agency is divided into smaller subordinate administrative units, each with the responsibility for a specific portion of the agency’s mission. These units will be termed offices, administrative entities whose functions remain constant regardless of the individuals comprising them.
§2.1.5. Finally, the individuals who held positions within these offices and were responsible for the functioning of their business drew up tablets to document their actions. These tablets were part of their bureaus. Here I follow in part the classification of bureaus as proposed by Hilgert (1998), who suggested the separation into bureaus based on the person who initiated a transaction (transfer or expenditure), that is, the originating official (characterized by the formulation ki PN-ta). But I also consider the recipients of products as well as the sealers of the transactions when singling out a distinct set of bureaus and offices.
§2.2. The theory
§2.2.1. The reconstruction of offices and bureaus presented here is tentative. It is not to be considered as an accurate depiction of the way in which the Puzriš-Dagan officials would themselves have perceived the organization of their businesses. Unfortunately, the scarce archaeological information on the location of the tablets make it very difficult to check independently any reconstruction of the bureaucratic organization. However, to begin to understand the material properly it is still useful to create ‘artificial’ archives. As Yoffee (1982: 350) has pointed out, “[t]he purpose of creating ‘artificial archives’ (for the convenience of the modern analyst) is to group related kinds of activities, to ascertain the personnel engaged in executing these activities, and thus to bring together disparate elements in order to perceive the larger system that binds them together.”
§2.2.2. The administration at Puzriš-Dagan has been the focus of numerous studies, most notably by Jones & Snyder (1961), Maeda (1989, 1993 and 1994), Sigrist (1992), Hilgert (1998 and 2003), Gomi (1975 and 1980), and Sallaberger (1993 and 1999). Most of these scholars have based their approach on individuals appearing on Puzriš-Dagan tablets. In 1961, Jones and Snyder presented a very useful reconstruction of the administration at Puzriš-Dagan, but their reconstruction was incomplete due to the limited material they had on hand. They made no mention of Lugal-amar-ku, the chief official, nor did they give a clear description of the chief official’s job. More importantly, several links between other officials were missing.
§2.2.3. Maeda (1993) also presented a tentative reconstruction of the central agency, but again with a limited number of tablets at his disposal. He was the first to document the important notion of the mu-kux(DU) deliveries in Puzriš-Dagan and also the first to use the ki-be2 gi4-a accounts in order to provide a scheme for the organization of Puzriš-Dagan. Because his reconstruction was based on individuals, it did not offer a general perspective of Puzriš-Dagan, nor did it present all the possible different functions of the officials working for the central agency. For example, his distinction between receiving and disbursing officials (1993) was incomplete since these two offices could coincide.
§2.2.4. Sigrist (1992) again focused on individual officials. By arranging them in their chronological or alphabetical sequence, he extracted much prosopographic information from the texts. The information one can draw from Sigrist’s studies with regard to prosopography is immense, even though it now needs updating. But in his treatment of the Puzriš-Dagan tablets, he did not attempt to reconstruct the way the administration and bureaucratic practices worked.
§2.2.5. Sallaberger (1993) treated the Puzriš-Dagan material extensively in his research on the cultic calendar, and gave much prosopographic information on the officials working at Puzriš-Dagan. Later, in 1999, he presented a thorough analysis of different archives within Puzriš-Dagan and successfully reconstructed other business presumably taking place at Puzriš-Dagan.
§2.2.6. Hilgert (1998 and 2003) used almost all the available material and, based primarily on the tablets from the Oriental Institute at Chicago, presented one of the most complete pictures of how Puzriš-Dagan must have functioned. The utilization of the archival approach, as advocated by Gelb (1967), enabled him to divide Puzriš-Dagan into certain administrative units termed bureaus, distinguished by the officials who initiated transactions. He presented a ‘central bureau’, in which he placed the chief official along with several other officials that appear very frequently in the Puzriš-Dagan texts, such as Duga and Ur-ku-nuna. He placed the remaining officials into different administrative units that he termed ‘bureaus.’ A very important outcome of his work was the analysis of the nature of the nakabtum organization in Puzriš-Dagan.
§2.2.7. This study relies heavily on the work of the above scholars. I follow closely Jones and Snyder’s approach to Naram-ilī’s status within the Puzriš-Dagan system and, in contrast to Sigrist, I believe that Naram-ilī had a separate archive from the central agency, whose functioning was interlinked with, but distinct from the former. Thus, his archive is not treated here as part of the central agency’s business. Because of his role in the directorship of Puzriš-Dagan, his standing vis à vis the Puzriš-Dagan organization is briefly dealt with in another article by the author (b). Maeda’s articles have been used for the shepherds’ office, while Sigrist’s and Sallaberger’s prosopographic information was used extensively for the reconstruction of offices. Lastly, I have followed Hilgert’s practice in the division of the offices into bureaus. I have nonetheless elaborated upon it to include offices and bureaus that are not self-evident from his approach, such as the office for dead animals which does not seem to disburse any animals whatsoever. I have also benefitted greatly from his categorization related to the nakabtum organization and used it in order to show that the nakabtum can be seen throughout Amar-Suen’s reign and well into that of Šu-Suen, albeit with substitutions of officials. Most changes in the officialdom took place during the three-year period Amar-Suen 5-8, apparently a most troublesome time for this king.
§2.2.8. This article attempts to unify and develop those earlier investigations and to present a coherent picture of the way Puzriš-Dagan’s central agency functioned. It is argued that sealing and archival practice present Puzriš-Dagan as an administrative center whose officials, most of whom held the title scribe, were responsible for collecting the tablets that documented the management of livestock, but were not themselves physically associated with the collection or distribution of the animals. The officials stationed at Drehem were indeed scribes, and a small stockyard of animals would have been based at Drehem to provide for the everyday needs of the officials, and very possibly for their diplomatic ‘visitors’ (soldiers, messengers, etc.). Thus, Drehem must have been a proper administrative center, with scribes, clerks and archivists, and not just shepherds and cattle-herders, barely literate enough to record their own transactions. But Drehem must have also housed a palace or at least a royal residence, and we most probably have unearthed most of the operations supervised by its kitchens.
§2.2.9. In contrast to earlier authors, I have not based my approach on the individuals appearing in the Puzriš-Dagan texts. Instead I have grouped individuals into administrative units, or ‘offices’, according to certain characteristic phrases that occur very often in the tablets alongside particular names. Further information regarding the offices was extracted from the sealing practice and the people who functioned as ĝiri3 (literally “foot,” referring to officials responsible for the conveyance of transacted goods). This approach to the material, which has almost doubled in quantity since the pioneering earlier work, has been facilitated by the online databases of CDLI and BDTNS, that make possible multiple quick searches, using a variety of criteria. In this manner, I have been able to divide the Puzriš-Dagan central agency into four distinct offices: the office of the chief official C, the disbursal office D, the shepherds’ office S and the office for dead animals X. The office for dead animals would not have become evident from categories based simply on the initiators of transactions, since from the documents themselves this office does not seem to have disbursed any animals. But its existence is obvious from categories based on other criteria.
§2.2.10. These four offices had quite different functions and responsibilities. The office of the chief official seems to have been senior to that for the disbursal of animals, but with an ambivalent relationship to the shepherds’ office. At the end of Amar-Suen’s reign Intaea, from the shepherds’ office, rose in rank and took over the position of the chief official during the reign of Šu-Suen. From then on, things changed, for the bulk of the tablets documenting transactions shifts from the officials of the disbursal office to the officials of the shepherds’ office. Moreover, while the cultic functions during the reigns of Šulgi and Amar-Suen seem to have been limited to the disbursal office, during the reign of Šu-Suen and Ibbi-Suen the shepherds’ officials were very much involved with cult activities. The office for dead animals appears to have been headed by high-status officials, such as Ur-niĝar, but its position in relation to the chief official is unclear. However, all these offices were clearly subservient to such high functionaries of the state as Babati, the maternal uncle of Šu-Suen, Naram-ilī, Lugal-itida and Šarakam, who occasionally sealed their transactions and most importantly checked the bullae used to seal the sacks where their transaction tablets were stored (Tsouparopoulou (b)).
§2.3. The criteria
§2.3.2. The first set of keywords concerns particular characterizations of the animals involved in transactions:
§2.3.3. The second set of keywords refers to administrative terms:
Fig. 1: Officials and transactions within the Puzriš-Dagan central agency
§2.3.4. Collating from the available documents specific kinds of transactions with specific groups of officials concerned shows that most of the Puzriš-Dagan tablets emanated from four main offices: 1) the office of the chief official; 2) the disbursal office; 3) the shepherds’ office; and 4) the office for dead animals. Figure 1 illustrates the fact that specific officials were responsible for particular transactions and kinds of animals, based on linking the above specified keywords with specific officials. Although the Puzriš-Dagan tablets do not span the reigns of the four kings equally (the administration in the reign of Amar-Suen is understood the best), the division into these offices can be applied equally well to the reigns of Šulgi, Šu-Suen and Ibbi-Suen, with a few exceptions.
§3. The Central Livestock Agency—a schematic overview
Fig. 2: The daily transactions between the four offices at Puzriš-Dagan
§3.1.2. From the available tablets one can draw an overall picture of how Puzriš-Dagan functioned, in particular about the way the offices interacted with each other and with individuals from outside Puzriš-Dagan (figure 2). Deliveries were brought into Puzriš-Dagan by several individuals of high status, such as governors of cities, royal courtiers, members of the royal family, military generals, etc. (Sallaberger 2004). Products (mainly livestock) came into Puzriš-Dagan both as simple and royal deliveries. Most of the animals delivered to Puzriš-Dagan were part of the tribute from the peripheries—that is, as the gun-mada tax (Steinkeller 1987).
§3.1.3. The offices of the chief official (in figure 2 as C), the shepherds’ (S) and the disbursal (D), all received these deliveries. But only the chief official received the royal deliveries (mu-kux(DU) lugal). The terminology used for these deliveries was: mu-kux(DU) ki PN-ta C, D, and/or S i3-dab5, and mu-kux(DU) lugal C i3-dab5 (see figure 2).
§3.1.4. After the animals were ‘delivered’ to Puzriš-Dagan, they were either disbursed or lifted out (deducted) directly from the chief official’s account (ki C-ta ba-zi or zi-ga), and the other offices, the disbursal and the shepherds’, (ki D-ta ba-zi or zi-ga and ki S-ta ba-zi or zi-ga), or they were transferred between offices to be disbursed later.
§3.1.5. Usually, the chief official transferred the animals delivered to him to the disbursal office (ki C-ta D i3-dab5), for necessary cultic expenditure or for the provision of the royal family, high functionaries of the state, and so on. However, the chief official sometimes sent any surplus animals that were not immediately needed to the shepherds’ office for fattening or pending their final disposition (ki C-ta S i3-dab5). The chief official could also transfer the animals directly to high functionaries of the state or to other individuals without issuing a ba-zi or zi-ga, but a simple transfer document instead (ki C-ta PN i3-dab5). The disbursal office also transferred surplus animals, earlier received either from the chief official’s office or from deliveries, to the shepherds’ office (ki D-ta S i3-dab5).
§3.1.6. If there were not enough animals in the chief official’s office or in the disbursal office to satisfy the needs of receiving agents, the shepherds’ office, that had previously acquired any previously surplus animals, transferred them to the chief official’s office or to the disbursal office as required. Again simple transfer documents were written to indicate such transactions (ki S-ta D i3-dab5 and ki S-ta C i3-dab5).
§3.1.7. Not only the chief official’s office but also the disbursal and the shepherds’ offices could transfer animals directly to an individual according to the transfer documents that were issued (ki D-ta PN i3-dab5 and ki S-ta PN i3-dab5). The shepherds’ office especially issued such documents for transfers of animals to fatteners.
§3.1.8. When animals died or were slaughtered, the office for dead animals (X) supervised their acceptance and distribution. These animals went to the kitchen and the dogs, and their hides could be used for leather products (Tsouparopoulou 2013). The only office that seems to have sent dead animals directly to the office for dead animals was the disbursal office. In any such documented transaction the verb šu ba-ti (‘received’) was used instead of the verb i3-dab5 (‘took into administrative control’) (ki D-ta X šu ba-ti). The other offices either disbursed the dead animals automatically, sending them to the kitchen, or the officials of the office for dead animals acted as maškim or receiving officials in double-entry expenditure documents of dead animals issued by these offices. This last fact supports my suggestion that the offices of the dead animals, of the chief official and of the shepherds, must have been located close to one other and most probably in Puzriš-Dagan itself (see below).
§3.1.9. The main recipients of the animals were:
§3.2. Main officials
§3.2.2. The office of the chief official
§188.8.131.52. The Puzriš-Dagan central agency, at least after the year Šulgi 42, was headed by one chief official at any given time. The chief official was the only one who could receive deliveries destined for the king (mu-kux(DU) lugal), and this seems to have differentiated him from the rest of officialdom. The first chief official was Nasa who was succeeded by his son Abba-saga. Interestingly, for a short period another son of Nasa, Lugal-amar-ku, also acted as the chief official, replacing his brother Abba-saga. After Abba-saga, Intaea took over. The latter, however, had no identifiable family members related to the family of Nasa.
§184.108.40.206. The exact nature of the function of the chief official seems to have been somewhat transformed over time, becoming less exclusive. For example, at the beginning of Puzriš-Dagan’s establishment, only the chief official Nasa was responsible for sending out animals to the bureau of Ur-ku-nuna, an official of the shepherds’ office who served at Puzriš-Dagan continuously. When Abba-saga took over his father’s duties as chief official, Ur-kununa, of the shepherds’ office, stopped receiving animals from the chief official’s office but instead received them from another official, Intaea, also of the shepherds’ office. This is particularly noticeable in the three-year period between Amar-Suen 3 and 6. Most scholars think that the strictly centralized authority in Šulgi’s reign continued well into Amar-Suen’s reign, but the record shows that such centralization did not immediately persist in the reign of the latter king.
§220.127.116.11. Intaea eventually took over as the chief official from AS.09.07, but his duties were somewhat different from his predecessor’s. Intaea, an official of the shepherds’ office initially, gave more authority to the shepherds’ office, especially to Ur-ku-nuna and Duga. Beyond the sealing of tablets, which seemed now to have become almost obligatory when documenting transactions internally within the offices, new methods of control were introduced in the shepherds’ office, such as the documentation of the ĝiri3 official. During Abba-saga’s tenure the disbursal office, especially the branches related to catering to the cult and the ambassadors, already mentioned ĝiri3 officials on their tablets. Now with Intaea holding the office of the chief official, this practice was introduced into the shepherds’ office as well.
§3.2.3. The office of the disbursal/transfer of animals
§18.104.22.168. The disbursal office can be divided into smaller administrative units, defined according to the kind of animals they managed as well as the location where the transactions could have taken place. There were branches of this office in other towns, such as Tummal, Ur, Nippur and Uruk. Some uncommon animals were dealt with by the central agency, and the officials dealing with these rare animals have been grouped as the branch for rare and/or exotic animals. The different branches of the disbursal office seem to have included sheepfolds and cattleyards, probably in the region of the towns where they were located, as listed above.
§3.2.4. The office of the chief official
§3.2.5. The office for dead animals
§3.3. Physical location of the Puzriš-Dagan offices
The disbursal officials away from Drehem would have had their own sheepfolds and stockyards close to their towns, as can be seen from texts mentioning the sheepfold of Nalu or the sheepfold at Tummal, indicating that these sheepfolds were not in Drehem. There are also texts from the disbursal office referring to newborn animals at several sheepfolds, such as those at nakabtum and Tummal. The practice of documenting the births or deaths of animals suggests that such sheepfolds were owned and controlled by the state.
§3.3.2. The officials of the shepherds’ office must have had their own smaller sheepfolds and corrals close to or even at Drehem, to store stock for consumption when necessary. Most probably, the shepherds’ office passed on the animals they received to the fatteners and to other shepherds who had their corrals close-by. While there are many tablets documenting transfers between shepherds and the officials of the shepherds’ office, there are no tablets documenting transfers between shepherds and fatteners and the officials of the disbursal office. This is probably due to their respective archives having been located elsewhere.
§3.3.3. This suggestion for the geographic separation of the different offices of the central agency is based on the following considerations:
It is argued that three of the offices—the chief official’s office, the shepherds’ office and the office for dead animals—were located at Drehem itself, while the disbursal office, with its separate departments and bureaus, may well have been located close to the places it seems to have served. This suggestion is based on a number of factors, including the existence of encased tablets, the nature of the transactions between these four offices and the sealing and ĝiri3 officials who appear in these offices.
§4.2. The four main offices also appear to be hierarchically different. The chief official’s office seems at first to have been in control of the shepherds’ office and the disbursal office, while the office for dead animals does not seem to have been connected to the chief official. Officials of the shepherds’ office were apparently recruited from specific families of ‘shepherds,’ and one official of this office, Intaea, later secured the appointment as chief official, possibly after Amar-Suen’s death. Here, the word ‘possibly’ is most appropriate since it seems that even at the beginning of his term in the shepherds’ office, Intaea had taken over some of the duties of the chief official of that time, Abba-saga. It also seems that, after Intaea’s appointment as chief official, the shepherds’ office rose in status and its officials became more closely integrated into the administration of animals for cult activities.
§4.3. The office for dead animals seems at all times to have been under the control of a different individual, someone who was responsible for archiving tablets also from other offices. Identifying them—Šarakam in Šulgi 45, Ur-niĝar from Šulgi 46 to 48, Naram-ilī from Šulgi 48 to Amar-Suen 2, Lugal-itida from Amar-Suen 3 to 9, and Babati from Amar-Suen 6 to well into the reign of Šu-Suen—is possible from their sealing of bullae. They all seem to have been prominent members of the higher echelons of society, with titles of considerable influence and authority. It is thought that they were directly appointed by the king to the directorship of Puzriš-Dagan’s livestock agency, and that their term of office was directly linked to the influence of the king himself.
§4.4. The administrators at Puzriš-Dagan were appointed to various different offices or positions. Some who held these posts had the title of scribe, while others held titles related to livestock management. Being appointed was sometimes determined by ancestry, and progression in one’s career was based on family connections. This was the case for the officials of the shepherds’ office and the office of the chief official; for the officials working at the disbursal office and the office for dead animals, family relations do not appear to have played any significant role. Prominent posts, such as the director of Puzriš-Dagan or the officials of the disbursal office, seem to have been filled for diplomatic reasons rather than based on family relationships. None of the directors of Puzriš-Dagan belonged to the same family, but rather all came from different, prominent families. The same is true for some of the officials of the disbursal office. Even so, their scribes may well have belonged to specific families, as was particularly obvious for the shepherds’ office.
Version: 2 June 2013