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2013:003
ISSN 1540-8779
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Messengers from Šuruppak

Eric Cripps <elcripps@liverpool.ac.uk>
Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology
University of Liverpool



Keywords
Cuneiform, Sumerian, Early Dynastic, Fara-Šuruppak


 

§1. Introduction[1]
§1.1. Intrinsic to the earliest urbanization of southern Mesopotamia were the many trade, diplomatic journeys and military movements of persons and goods to and from cities within as well as beyond the alluvial plain. From the Uruk expansion onwards, archaeology has furnished evidence of trading settlements related to but in locations beyond Sumer, while history, from its very beginning, has suggested expeditions to Elam, to Dilmun, Meluhha, Mari, Ebla and elsewhere. History does not recognise the city state without an underpinning of an inter-city network of communications.

 

§1.2. Some of these communications were dysfunctional, arising from conflict, but others reinforced the urbanization process through trade and diplomatic missions. The earliest texts we understand from the first part of Early Dynastic III are not at all explicit about these. The Fara texts, however, while mainly dealing with the provision of rations, land and animals to various categories in the citizenry, do show via attestations of their occupations that in addition to a military network, a substantial trading activity existed and further, that it was probably supplemented by other kinds of missions from Šuruppak to cities in Elam and elsewhere.

 

§1.3. This paper reviews the evidence for inter city and regional communications in the Fara texts, from the various occupations involved in these trade and military ventures, and also offers a new interpretation of a ‘Sammeltafel’ as a possible summary of ‘messenger’ texts amongst the Fara documents.

 

§2. Trade
§2.1. Trade, especially long distance trade, has been argued to be an essential and prime driver of state formation, which, during the fourth millennium, intensified social complexity and furthered the growth of urbanism (Algaze 2008). From this viewpoint, trade or exchange is the cause of social complexity rather than its consequence. The opposing view is that a complex social organization and the production of a surplus are an essential antecedent to provide trading capital and, also as a priority, an internal (to the city) enabling redistribution system. “Foreign trade logically needs to follow this” (Postgate 2003). Irrespective of whether it is a chicken or an egg, commerce, both local and long distance trade, generated trafficking of people and commodities between cities and regions.

 

§2.2. The presence of copper, silver and gold implements in the Archaic and ED lexical lists testifies to the early import of metals from outside Sumer. Neither these metals, nor stone and timber used in building, occurred naturally in southern Mesopotamia.

 

§2.3. By the Fara period both copper and silver were mediums of exchange. In texts from Šuruppak, which record the inter vivos transfers of real property, each of the elements of the tripartite prices (sa10, nig2-diri and nig2-ba) for which land and houses were traded, for the most part were measured in quantities of copper. A small number of properties were priced in silver and very few in barley.

 

§2.4. Copper and tin were traded into ED Girsu from Dilmun and this particular commerce can be attested from the second half of the third millennium through the Old Babylonian period (Foster 1997: 59). In the earlier period Lagash probably specialised in the Dilmun copper trade and also during the third millennium, trade with Elam may also have been a speciality of Lagash and Umma (Postgate 2003: 10 and n. 5). “These single routes would have served the cities of South Mesopotamia, as a whole, even when they remained mutually independent,” and may indicate the collective organization of the southern cities discernible in the late 4th and 3rd millennia.

 

§2.5. However, a collective organization of the southern cities in the Fara period may primarily have been a military alliance centered on Šuruppak taking the form of a “hexapolis” or an amphictyony of the Sumerian cities Adab, Lagash, Nippur, Umma and Uruk as well as Šuruppak, perhaps subject to the hegemony of the northern power, Kish (Pomponio 1994: 16).

 

§3. Workers
§3.1. Soldiers and workers from each of these cities were stationed in or close to Šuruppak and environs and were victualled from there. Kish may have been the political head of this league of cities but Šuruppak was its “seat of accountability” (Foster 2005: 85). In the Fara texts both soldiers and workers are termed guruš. Both are conscripted to the corvée[2]. The conscription for battle was comprised of guruš-me3, while workers conscripted other than for battle were builders, other artisans and sometimes females, all perhaps providing some kind of logistical support (Visicato 1995: 69)[3].

 

§3.2. Yet another class of workers is constituted by the iri-kas4/DU[4]. Like those conscripted for battle, the iri-kas4/DU emanate from each of the cities of the hexapolis and are denoted guruš “workers,” appearing to be seasonally employed in Šuruppak and its environs where they reside temporarily.[5] These workers receive rations at the rate of 2 barig and 4 ban2 of barley each, the normal monthly remuneration of the non-supervising artisans of Šuruppak (Visicato 1994: 33). These guruš probably were attached to a Fara household e2 iri-DU (ibid.), which when included in Visicato’s reconstruction of the Šuruppak bureaucracy was administered by the office of the gal-nimgir through his subordinate nimgir. The supervision of the iri-kas4/DU by officials called nimgir, frequently translated “heralds,” suggests a role in the communication system of the hexapolis of the kind proposed by Visicato.[6]

 

§4. Boatmen
§4.1. These communications—possibly some military movements, but certainly trade and other interactional relations between the cities of the “hexapolis” as well as cities even further afield—were likely to have enjoyed considerable advantages from water transport on the canals and rivers of the southern alluvium. The colophon at WF 67 rev. vii[7] classifies the text as dub lu2 ma2 “account/document of the boatmen” and records the distribution of 657 1/2 gur-maḫ of barley rations to boatmen and others. In the Fara texts the boatmen were variously lu2 ma2-gal-gal “bargee,” lu2 ma2 dub-sag “lead boatman,” lu2 ma2 sagi “boatman of the cup-bearer,” lu2 ma2-gur8 “sailor on cargo boat,” lu2 ma2-ge6[8] and lu2 ma2 iri-kas4. ma2-laḫ4(/5) “boat/barge captain/sailor” with a similar meaning are also attested.[9] The lu2 ma2 iri-kas4 are probable evidence of the systems of communications and transport between the cities of the “hexapolis.” WF 67 rev. iv 15-rev. v 15 list seven recipients of barley from three of the cities of the hexapolis, Uruk/Kullab, Umma and Adab, and these are collectively described as lu2 ma2 iri-kas4“boatmen of couriers/messengers (to) the city”.[10] That one of the lu2 ma2 assigned rations is a boatman of the sagi “cupbearer” (WF 67 obv. iii 10-11) may also imply the transportation of an emissary.

 

§5. Merchants
§5.1. Explicit accounts of trade between Šuruppak and other cities in the “hexapolis,” or with cities elsewhere, hardly exist in the Fara administrative texts. Aside from texts registering the provision of barley or fields for their sustenance, or plough donkeys to work the fields, to dam-gar3 and their putative superiors, gal dam-gar3, there are few descriptions of the activities of the city’s “merchant” class. In Visicato’s (1995: 91ff.) reconstruction of the bureaucracy of Šuruppak, the dam-gar3 and their subordinates were officials belonging to the office of the gal dam-gar3. Visicato argues that this department was part of the central administrative organization of the e2-gal. This may follow from the fact that the e2-gal accounted for the provisioning of the merchants, but as in other times and places in Sumer, may not suggest that the merchants served only the palace administration.[11]

 

§5.2. Whether it is possible to infer a department of the gal dam-gar3 as Visicato has done is perhaps moot. The Fara texts witness either four or five gal dam-gar3 who, given the likelihood “that a large majority of the tablets from the D.O.G. Fara excavation were written during one single year,” (Pomponio 2001: xxvii), may have severally and contemporaneously held these senior and supervisory offices.[12] On the other hand, the Fara texts record some forty-two dam-gar3. Of these, two have the same personal names as two of the gal dam-gar3: An-nume and Di-Utu. There is the possibility that these are the same persons as those also attested as gal dam-gar3; sometimes they are referred to as dam-gar3 and on other occasions as gal dam-gar3,[13] but neither appears qualified as both in any text.[14] Since both names are very common in the Fara onomasticon, it would not be much of a coincidence if there were both gal dam-gar3 and dam-gar3 with the same names.

 

§5.3. Both An-nu-me and Di-utu, like the large majority of the dam-gar3 recorded in the Fara texts, were probably domiciled in Šuruppak, worked on behalf of the palace and held land as part of their sustenance and were supplied with animals (plough donkeys) to work their land.[15] It may be that dam-gar3, alongside scribes and others such as the “overseers of heralds,” enjoyed a relatively elevated status in the social stratification of Šuruppak. In NTSŠ 258 obv. iii v-rev. i 1, An-nu-me dam-gar3 is one in a list of 17 lu2 [x] umun3, lu2 TUR3.[16]

 

§5.4. Evidence of a Fara merchant’s participation in the copper trade may be indicated by CT 50, 4, in which a merchant has probably acquired 109 “lbs” (mana) of copper at a price of about two thirds of a shekel of silver per pound of copper.[17]

 

§5.5. In addition, two texts suggest that the merchants, An-nu-me and Di-utu, traded copper and possibly silver to the citizens of Fara. TSŠ 260 records a distribution of a total of 40 “lbs” of copper among some seven or more people. About half of the copper is explicitly “delivered” (ba-de6) to two people by An-nu-me dam-gar3. It seems reasonable to infer that the remaining half of the copper may also have been delivered by An-nu-me to the individuals recorded, although this is not made explicit; nor can An-nu-me, dam-gar3, ba-de6 be restored in the damaged cases of the tablet. The tablet is probably a ‘Sammeltafel,’ since it contains two separate deliveries of copper to E2-BALAG, and probably has a companion ‘Sammeltafel’ in NTSŠ 207, which records the same deliveries of copper by An-nu-me as well as two deliveries of copper by Di-Utu.[18] The reverse of NTSŠ 207 may record allocations of silver; by whom is not evident from a much broken tablet.

 

§6. Merchant Emissaries and Long Distance Trade
§6.1. The majority of merchants in the Fara texts are called dam-gar3. The dam-gar3 could have been the only professional group or organization in Šuruppak responsible for the conduct of both local and long distance trade. However, it seems likely that a long distance trader, ga-eš8(KASKAL), either of or going to ma2-gaki receives 80 si-NU×U in TSŠ 369 rev. iii 5-7. There may also be a reference to this profession at TSŠ 881 rev. ii 1'.

 

§6.2. A related functionary may have been the dam-kas4, who enjoyed a high status. Persons of this profession occur in three Fara texts and in at least two of the attestations appear to have senior professionals as functional dependents. In TSŠ 369, a recipient of si-NU×U and NINNI5×U2 is an official of a chief scribe who is subordinate to the dam-kas4. In TSŠ 423 a dam-kas4 has a sanga-GAR as a subordinate.

 

§6.3. While the dam-kas4 may not formally be a merchant, the case for suggesting he plays some like role, perhaps as a long distance emissary, is perhaps twofold. The lexeme kas4(DU×KASKAL) has a meaning “messenger” and his putative high status suggests that the dam-kas4 should perhaps be considered in the same context—especially that proposed by Archi—as the maškim-gi4 discussed later. Secondly, In TSŠ 369, the subordinate official of the dam-kas4 receives supplies of si-NU×U and bundles of reeds along with managers/overseers of cargo boats, a sailor of a merchant’s cargo boat and a long distance trader, suggesting an affinity of the dam-kas4 with the trading and travelling community. Another text also records the supply of a commodity to a dam-kas4. The fragmentary text TSŠ 430 associates this profession with persons from other cities than Šuruppak; from Adab, IL2ki and Aḫutiki.

 

§6.4. The place Aḫutiki occurs as an epithet of An-nu-me, dam-gar3 in TSŠ 415 and in TSŠ 627. The former text records the one allotment of 240 si-NU×U while the latter allocates a quantity of the same commodity to An-nu-me, dam-gar3, A-ḫu-tiki in association with allocations to, among others, a variety of boatmen and sailors. This place name, epithetical to the merchant, suggests trade with the city of Aḫuti. Steinkeller (1991: 40 n. 64) has noted that the location of Aḫuti is unknown but was probably not in Babylonia.[19] It was certainly accessible from Šuruppak by river since TSŠ 430 obv. iv' 3'-4' refers to a “boatman of” me˹me3˺ a-ḫu-tiki, while obv. iv' 5' registers the allocation of 120 (gur) of flour? to the Aḫuti boat, (120 (gur) ma2 a-ḫu-tiki). Since in ED IIIa Šuruppak was located on the main stream of the Euphrates, as was Mari, and since Aḫuti may have been near Mari (see fn. 19), it is probable that it was located on the same river.

 

§6.5. Long distance trade to Madga (ma2-gaki) also on the Euphrates, perhaps some 430 kilometers towards Mari, can also be posited from the Fara tablet TSŠ 369 obv. iii 5-7, where 80 si-NU×U , ga-eš8, ma2-gaki, “80 si-NU×U are allocated to the long-distance trader (of ?) Madga.”[20] Madga and Hit are possibly the same place which was both a regional source of bitumen and a regional center of a river ordeal, Heimpel (2009: 25). The most prolific source of bitumen in ancient Mesopotamia accessible to a navigable river was at Hit and “it is to be expected that as long as bitumen was used, the bitumen wells of Madga/Hit were the principal source for southern Mesopotamia” (Heimpel 2009: 59).[21]

 

§6.6. Given the presence of many boatmen in the Fara texts, it is clear that there must have been considerable boat building and repair activity at Šuruppak, an activity affirmed by the significant occurrence of ma2-GIN2, “boat builders/caulkers,” among lists of boatmen and others receiving rations and other payments of barley.[22] In WF 67, the previously discussed dub2 lu2 ma2 , five ma2-GIN2 each receive 2 gur(-maḫ) of barley, probably rations for six months. It is not unreasonable to suppose, therefore, that the importation of bitumen to Šuruppak from Madga via the Euphrates would have been similar in scope to that described for Umma and Girsu in the Ur III period by Heimpel.

 

§7. ‘Messenger Texts’ in Šuruppak?
§7.1. Featured, and largely unexplained, among the Ur III texts from both Girsu and Umma are the considerable number of so-called ‘messenger texts’; some 3500 published and unpublished from Girsu;[23] about 2670 from Umma.[24] Summaries of the contents and role of these texts are given by Mander and colleagues (see fnn. 23-24). Traditionally, as Mander noted, scholars have considered that these documents generally record rations allotted to missi dominici or messengers of the Ur III king. Potts (1999: 137), for example, described these rations as allotments to travellers, such as couriers (sukkal or kas4) and high officials (e.g., ensi2) between peripheral regions of the Ur III Empire, more distant vassal states, and the center at Ur. However, as Scharlach (2003: 867-868) has noted, we don’t understand at a fundamental level what these texts are. Were the recipients of rations really messengers? Where did they live and why were they entitled to rations? We could even ask, were these expenditures actually rations? The quantities allotted would hardly sustain the recipients for very long. Perhaps they were also the beneficiaries of other rations. Many questions can be and are asked by the scholars researching this subgenre of administrative texts.

 

§7.2. The Ur III ‘messenger texts’ have a number of distinguishing features that have been enumerated by Mander (2008: 119-121) in respect to the Girsu texts and similarly for those from Umma by d’Agostino & Pomponio (2008: 126). Some of these characteristics can be used to ask whether comparable accounts were created to register similar activities in other areas of Sumer and in different periods. Here the question is being asked of the ED IIIa texts from Šuruppak.

 

§7.3. Only some of the idiosyncrasies of the Ur III texts are of relevance. The physical features of the tablets, for example, are not transferrable. Aspects of the subject matter of the texts may be a guide, however. These include “the typologies of the rations, the frequent presence of Elamites (NIM), the recording only of outgoing commodities, the ... composition of the rations and indications of movements to or from or staying in places” (Mander 2008). The commodities expended as rations were for the most part quite small quantities of bread (ninda), beer (kaš), vegetable oil (i3(-geš)), tallow (i3-udu), flour (zi3) and barley grits (dabin). In the Umma texts, the commodities are usually comprised of bread, beer and oil, but also onions and the herb naga and sometimes fish (d’Agostino & Pomponio 2008: 126).

 

§7.4. Visicato (1994: 206) suggests that two brief Fara texts (NTSŠ 140 and TSŠ 135) may be considered to be ‘messenger texts’ based on the commonality of personal names in the two texts and the origins or destinations of the beneficiaries of the expenditures, Umma, Elam[25] and Kish. The goods expended are, in the first text, two še mar to each beneficiary and in the second, two dug-a-nag “vessels” to the Elamite and one each to the remaining recipients. There is no real understanding of what either of these commodities is.

 

§8. A Fresh Look at TSŠ 881
§8.1. Given Šuruppak’s apparent role as a Sumerian hub of Early Dynastic communications and hegemonic activity, there were conceivably many more Fara texts not found but which may be considered to share some of the idiosyncrasies of the Ur III ‘messenger texts,’ providing accounts of the issue of rations to travellers to and from the city. A text which potentially summarizes a number of primary accounts of this genre may be TSŠ 881. Jestin’s (1937) autograph of the tablet has ten columns on the obverse and ten on the reverse. A transliteration and photographs of TSŠ 881 are available on the CDLI site. Both obverse and reverse contain much destruction, though sufficient text perhaps remains to facilitate a fresh interpretation of its meaning and role.

 

§8.2. The tablet originates from ED IIIa Šuruppak and now resides in the Arkeoloji Müzerleri, Istanbul, via the DOG excavations at Fara at the beginning of the 20th century. Its find spot on the Fara mound is unknown, and the find numbers of the Istanbul texts are missing from the tablets (Krebernik 1998: 246). Neither Deimel, who published the Vorderasiatisches Museum’s share of the tablets, nor Jestin, referred to the find spots or excavation numbers of the tablets when publishing them (Martin 2001: 4). Archaeology therefore does not greatly assist interpretation of the text.

 

§8.3. A further impediment to interpretation of the tablet, aside from its physical damage, is created by the nature of the Fara period writing system (Krebernik 1998: 271ff.). The cuneiform writing system of the Fara tablets represented a transitional phase between a “pure” logographic system and a mixed logographic/phonographic system with fully pronounced phonetic complements. The dividing line between rebus and syllabic spellings is still very blurred. The order of signs within cases is also fluid.

 

§8.4. In the administrative texts from Šuruppak the existence of verbal forms is rare and cannot reliably be recognized as such. This has the consequence that in many of these records, it is difficult at the outset to discern their meaning. For example, is a particular text an account of receipts by the administration or of items of expenditure by it? This inability to readily identify the “direction” of transactions is probably significant in that it makes attempts to reconstruct the administration in Šuruppak rudimentary (Edzard 1979: 155-156).

 

§8.5. There has been no detailed consideration of the text since Jestin’s publication. Edzard (1976: 181) perhaps provides the most substantial information concerning the tablet. Edzard identifies it as a ‘Sammeltafel’ with at least twenty columns. A series of transactions (‘Vorgänge’) is filed in an account and each may end, but not in every instance, with an entry of the maškim who administered the process. Particular attention is drawn to the entries of maškim-gi4. This, however, is the extent of Edzard’s discussion of the text. Pomponio and Visicato (1994: 3) consider the text to be a register of various goods. Similarly Krebernik (1998:359) catalogues the text as ‘Wirtschaftstext Verschiedenes.’ My own transliteration (following) contains a considerable number of departures from previous efforts, and is also translated. Compared with many of the Fara administrative texts, some translation is a considerable aid to understanding the text.

 

§8.6. A Fara ‘Sammeltafel’ collects together on a single tablet, and thus in a summary account, several, perhaps many, individual transactions or events each of which may originally have been recorded on separate tablets. Pomponio and Visicato (1994: 21-22) suggest that one of the peculiarities of the administrative documentation of Fara is that the same allocation (the same quantity of goods to the same recipient) may be repeated in several texts. At least three groups of documents can be distinguished. 1. Primary documents that are created at the time goods are delivered. 2. Intermediate documents or partial summaries: in addition to summaries of items from primary documents, they may repeat entries from other intermediate documents. 3. ‘Sammeltafeln’ that group together partial summaries recording the delivery of similar types of goods at fixed intervals of a month or six months, but sometimes incorporate primary records directly into them.

 

§8.7. Approximately three dozen transactions are registered in TSŠ 881. Each extant transaction registers the allocation to a person or persons of quantities of barley (še), barley grits (dabin), varieties of beer (kaš, kurun2) or barley products (bappir, še) to make beer. There are few exceptions to these types of consumables as subjects of each allocation. Oil is given out in obv. i 1'; a shawl in obv. v 7' and a quantity of zisig flour in rev. vi 14'. This range of goods satisfies the Pomponio/Visicato criteria for a ‘Sammeltafel,’ since there is a high degree of homogeneity in the commodities allocated in the transactions and there is less variability in the kinds of goods allocated by the different sub-accounts than we might expect from the Pomponio/Visicato and Krebernik classifications of TSŠ 881.

 

§8.8. Its identification as a ‘Sammeltafel’ is further justified, as Edzard suggested, by the evidence that each account of each allocation of commodities is terminated with the name of the administrator who authorized, made, or otherwise oversaw it. In addition, a fair proportion of the transactions summarized are clearly “actioned” by a verbal phrase and some less obviously by a logogram which may depict the stem of a verb. Rev. iv 17', v 3', 7', and vi 5' all read šu ba-ti, “he received it;” obv. vii 2' contains mu-GAR, perhaps “loaded here”?; rev. vi 10' reads ab-tag “is holding it back”?; rev. vii 5' reads an-gi4, “is returning”; all of which are finite forms. The logograms NINDA2׊E, to be read sa10, is written in obv. iii 8', obv. vii 8' and 14': also rev. vi 8' and KA×A, probably to be understood as kab2, occurs in obv. v 17', vii 13', viii 10', rev. i 6', ii 2' and 6', iii 13' and viii 7'. However, kab2 is also preceded by the ventive prefix mu- in rev. ii 15', confirming a verbal interpretation for the compound logogram KA×A.

 

§9. TSŠ 881 – Transliteration and Translation

Obverse
i
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [...] i3 sila3 ... liters oil,
 2'. 1 [x] sila3 1 liter [x],
 3'. 3(barig) dabin ˹tur˺-tur180 liters fine barley grits,
 4'. ensi2-GAR-gal (to) ensi2-GAR-gal,
 5'. [...] ...;
 6'. 3 še lid2-ga 720 liters barley,
 7'. x-ma x-ma
 8'. ˹KA˺ ma-KI [(...)] KA ma-KI (...)
 rest of column missing
ii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [...] a2-ki-ti ... Akiti,
 2'. e2-kur E-kur,
 3'. e2-zi E-zi;
 4'. 4 kaš ba-˹an˺ 40 liters beer,
 5'. 4 bappir kaš ba-an 40 liters bappir for beer,
 6'. [...]-x ba-de6 PN? took,
 7'. dsud3-da-maḫ-di Sud-da-maḫdi,
 8'. IB IB;
 9'. 3 [lid2]-ga še 720 liters barley,
 10'. [...]-giri3 ...-giri,
 rest of column missing
iii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [...] še ... barley,
 2'. ˹il˺-tu[-tu?] (to) Il-tu[-tu?],
 3'. a2-e3-x (subordinate of ) A-e-x,
 4'. kab2 measured,
 5'. dsud3-da-maḫ-di Sud-da-maḫdi,
 6'. IB IB;
 7'. 2(ban2) še 20 liters barley,
 8'. e2-engur sa10 (to) E-engur measured out;
 9'. 1 [še lid2]-ga 240 liters [barley],
 10'. ad-[da?] (to) Ad[da?];
 11'. 10 [...] 10 ...,
 12'. [...] ...
 13'. [...] ...
 14'. [...]-TUR ...-TUR,
 15'. [...] x ... x
 rest of column missing
iv
 beginning of column missing
 1'. lunga3 brewer,
 2'. a2-nu-kuš2 A-nu-kuš,
 3'. maškim administrator;
 4'. 1(barig) dabin 60 liters barley grits,
 5'. al6-la dumu (to) Alla son of
 6'. e2-kur E-kur,
 7'. utu (of) Utu,
 8'. ANŠE-SAR [(...)] ANŠE-SAR (...),
 9'. [...] ...
 10'. [...] ...
 11'. [...] ...
 12'. [...] ...
 13'. 4 sila3 kaš 4 liters beer,
 14'. 1/2 sila3 kurun2 1/2 liter sweet beer,
 15'. ˹en˺-ki Enki,
 16'. daḫ Daḫ,
 17'. kalam-[...] Kalam-...,
 rest of column missing
v
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [...] i-[ri2?]-gi ... I[ri?]gi,
 2'. lu2 URU×A man from Arawa,
 3'. UR-UR UR-UR,
 4'. maškim administrator,
 5'. maškim-gi4 (of) palace agent/overseer of messengers (kas4);
 6'. 2(barig) 1(ban2) še 130 liters barley,
 7'. tug2 gu2-la2 shawl,
 8'. e2-gi4 [...] E-gi ...,
 9'. [...] ...
 10'. [...] ...
 11'. [e2]-ki [E]-ki,
 12'. IB IB,
 13'. dumu a2-nu-kuš2 subordinate of A-nu-kuš,
 14'. maškim the administrator;
 15'. 1 (ban2) še 10 liters barley,
 16'. GIRI3 sukkal (to) GIRI courier,
 17'. kab2 measured,
 18'. lu2-bara2-[si[26]] Lu-bara-[si],
 rest of column missing
vi
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [...]-ta [...]-ta,
 2'. unu3 cattle herder,
 3'. AN AN,
 4'. UR-UR UR-UR,
 5'. maškim administrator
 6'. maškim-gi4 (of) palace agent/overseer of messengers (kas4);
 7'. 5 lid2-ga 1(barig) dabin1260 liters barley grits,
 8'. 3 sila3 kurun2 3 liters sweet beer,
 9'. 1 (n) dabin [...] n (liters) barley grits,
 10'. [...] ...,
 11'. [...] ...;
 12'. [...n] lid2-ga ... n liters,
 13'. AB-si-gar AB-si-gar
 14'. zimbirxki
   (UD.LAM.NUN.KI)
(from) Sippar,
 15'. lugal[27] (representative of the) king;
 16'. 2(ban2) dabin 20 liters barley grits,
 17'. lu2 ma2-gid2 boat tower,
 18'. da-ti-[...] Dati-[...],
 rest of column missing
vii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [...]-e2 [...]-e,
 2'. dilmun mu-GAR loaded here for Dilmun?
 3'. 2-kam4 a second (time),
 4'. UR-UR UR-UR,
 5'. maškim administrator;
 6'. 3(ban2) dabin 30 liters barley grits,
 7'. 3(ban2) dabin tur-tur 30 liters fine barley grits,
 8'. 3(ban2) še kaš sa10 30 liters barley for beer measured out,
 9'. 1(barig) še anše 60 liters barley for donkey (fodder),
 10'. sag-tuku (to) Sag-tuku,
 11'. dumu subordinate
 12'. e2-ti-la of E-tila,
 13'. kab2 measured;
 14'. 4(ban2) še kaš sa10 40 liters barley for beer measured out,
 15'. ˹dim2˺-[(...)] Dim-(...),
 rest of column missing
viii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. nig2-diri the surplus,
 2'. nin-u2-ga2?-ta Nin-uga?ta,
 3'. sagi cupbearer,
 4'. nam-maḫ Nam-maḫ,
 5'. dub-sar scribe;
 6'. 1(barig) la2 1(ban2) še 50 liters barley,
 7'. giri3 (to) Giri,
 8'. dumu subordinate
 9'. IB-gibil6 of IB-gibil,
 10'. kab2 measured,
 11'. iti 3 month 3,
 12'. šubur Šubur,
 13'. maškim administrator;
 14'. 2(ban2) še 20 liters barley,
 15'. anše donkey (fodder),
 rest of column missing
ix
 beginning of column missing
 1'. ˹4(ban2)˺ dabin 40 liters barley grits,
 2'. ˹4(ban2)˺ dabin [tur-tur]40 liters [fine] barley grits,
 3'. [...] ...,
 4'. GAN2-gir2-sur GAN-gir-sur,
 5'. mu-gid2-da ?
 6'. nam-maḫ Nam-maḫ,
 7'. dub-sar scribe,
 8'. Lugal-[(...)] Lugal-(...),
 rest of column missing
x
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [...] lu2 [...]-lu,
 2'. il2 Il,
 3'. utu Utu,
 4'. izi-huš-na-si-ga Izi-hušna-siga,
 5'. lu2-bara2-si Lu-bara-si,
 6'. šu-i Šu-i,
 7'. maškim administrator;
 8'. 1 lid2-ga 3(barig)[28] ‹še›??420 liters ‹barley›,
 9'. 2 [...] 2 ...,
 rest of column missing
Reverse
i
 beginning of column missing
 1'. 1(barig) dabin 60 liters barley grits,
 2'. 2 sila3 kaš 2 liters of beer,
 3'. 1/2 sila3 kaš 1/2 liter beer,
 4'. 1/2 sila3 kurun2 1/2 liter sweet beer,
 5'. ab-e3 (to) Ab-e
 6'. kab2 measured,
 7'. e2-zi E-zi;
 8'. 1 lid2-ga 2(barig) dabin360 liters barley grits,
 9'. dur-dur2 Dur-dur,
 10'. e2-du3 E-du,
 11'. il2-eš5 Il-eš,
 12'. šu ba-ti received,
 13'. nam-maḫ Nam-maḫ,
 rest of column missing
ii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. du-du ga-eš8 Du-du, long-distance trader,
 2'. kab2 measured,
 3'. ki UR-UR (at) the place of UR-UR;
 4'. 2(ban2) še 20 liters barley,
 5'. lugal-giri3 (to) Lugal-giri,
 6'. kab2 measured,
 7'. ki UR-UR (at) the place of UR-UR,
 8'. 2-kam4 a second (time),
 9'. nam-maḫ Nam-maḫ,
 10'. dub-sar scribe;
 11'. ˹2(ban2)˺ dabin 20 liters barley grits,
 12'. [...] ...
 13'. [x] LAK672 lunga3 [x] LAK672, brewer,
 14'. šu-nigin2 altogether
 15'. mu-kab2 were measured here
 16'. nam-[maḫ] by Nam-[maḫ],
 17'. dub-[sar] scribe;
 rest of column missing
iii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. dsud3-da-maḫ-di Sud-da-maḫdi,
 2'. IB IB
 3'. maškim administrator;
 4'. 3 lid2-ga še anše 720 liters barley for donkey (fodder),
 5'. šubur Šubur,
 6'. maškim administrator;
 7'. 2 (barig) še 120 liters barley,
 8'. ur-dlamma (to) Ur-Lamma,
 9'. lu2 il2 the bearer,[29]
 10'. [...] ...
 11'. [...] ...
 12'. [...] ...
 13'. kab2 measured,
 14'. [ki UR]-UR [(at) the place of] of UR-UR,
 15'. 3-kam4 a third (time),
 rest of column missing
iv
 beginning of column missing
 1'. amar-sun2 Amar-sun,
 2'. šu-ku6 fisherman
 3'. elam (of) Elam,
 4'. um-˹ab2?˺-na2)[30]Um-ab?-na,
 5'. maškim administrator;
 6'. 2(barig) dabin 120 liters barley grits,
 7'. 1(barig) dabin tur-tur 60 liters fine barley grits,
 8'. 1 sila3 kaš 1 liter beer,
 9'. GAN2-gir2-du3[31] (to) GAN-gir-du;
 10'. [n] kaš ˹kur?˺-ra?[32] [n] liters beer (to) Kur?-ra?,
 11'. baḫar2 Baḫar,
 12'. maškim administrator;
 13'. 2(barig) ˹dabin˺ 120 liters barley grits,
 14'. lu2-U2-TAR Lu-U-TAR
 15'. kiš (of) Kish
 16'. šu ba-ti received;
 rest of column missing
v
 beginning of column missing
 1'. [n] lid2-ga [še] [n×240] liters [barley],
 2'. lu2 ma2-addirx(LAK590.SI)the ferryman
 3'. šu ba-ti received;
 4'. 2(barig) še 120 liters barley,
 5'. e-du-ia2 E-du-ia,
 6'. si-[x] Si-[x],
 7'. šu ba-ti received;
 8'. 3(ban2) dabin 30 liters barley grits,
 9'. ša3-utu Ša-Utu,
 10'. [...] [...],
 11'. e2-[ki] E-[ki],
 12'. dumu a2-[nu]-kuš2 subordinate of A-[nu]-kuš,
 13'. maškim administrator;
 14'. 3(ban2) dabin tur-tur 30 liters fine barley grits,
 15'. 2(barig) še anše 120 liters barley donkey (fodder),
 16'. UR-UR UR-UR,
 rest of column missing
vi
 beginning of column missing
 1'. maškim administrator;
 2'. [n] lid2-ga še [n×240] liters barley,
 3'. a-mes-[x] A-mes-[x],
 4'. um-me-da Um-me-da,
 5'. šu ba-ti received;
 6'. 1 (barig) še 60 liters barley,
 7'. e2-engur-a E-engur-a
 8'. sa10 measured out,
 9'. a-ga-[(x)] A-ga-(x)
 10'. ab-TAG is holding it back?,
 11'. en-ša3-ga-na En-ša-ga-na,
 12'. ad-kup4 the reed worker;
 13'. 3 sila3 kaš 3 liters beer,
 14'. 3(barig) zi3-sig15 180 liters zisig flour,
 rest of column missing
vii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. maškim administrator;
 2'. 1 1/2 sila3 kurun2 1 1/2 liters sweet beer,
 3'. [an?]-da-tuku [An?]-da-tuku,
 4'. lunga3 brewer,
 5'. an-gi4 is returning,
 6'. nam-maḫ Nam-maḫ,
 7'. dub-sar scribe;
 8'. [n] sila3 ˹kaš˺ [n] liters beer,
 9'. 1/2 sila3 kurun2 1/2 liter sweet beer,
 10'. GAN2 [x]-ḫal-[(x)] (to) GAN-[x]-ḫal-(x),
 11'. nam-maḫ Nam-maḫ,
 12'. dub-sar scribe;
 rest of column missing
viii
 beginning of column missing
 1'. me-zu5-an-da Me-zu-anda;
 2'. 2(ban2) dabin 20 liters barley grits,
 3'. 1(ban2) dabin tur-tur 10 liters fine barley grits,
 4'. lu2-u5 (to) Lu-u,
 5'. elam Elamite,
 6'. e2-ti-la-ni (and) E-tilani,
 7'. kab2 measured,
 rest of column missing
ix
 beginning of column missing
 rest of column blank
x
 1'. x x x ga ... ga

 

§10. Commentary

Obv. ii 8'. IB. In addition to the scribes and maškim authorizing several of the transactions in this account, other officials entitled IB also served in this capacity, and apparently were also responsible for the verification or checking of barley allocated as a ration. Note obv. ii 8', v 12' and rev. iii 2', but see in particular obv. iii 4-6 ... kab2, dsud3-da-maḫ-di, IB. The occupation or profession IB is listed in ED Lu2 B (MSL 12, 13), for which see SF 70 rev. i 6. Exactly what this official did may be more obscure than the role of the maškim, though it is known from Fara, Presargonic and Sargonic sources (Gelb et al. 1991: 102).

 

Obv. iii 8'. It is certain that NINDA2׊E in the Fara texts, whether a noun sa10 or a verb sa10, is most often to be translated as “price” (especially nig2-sa10) or “to sell” or “to buy.” By far the greatest number of these occurrences is in the so-called sale documents or contracts accounting the inter vivos transfers of real property— houses and parcels of land. These contain, where there are no lacunae due to destruction of the tablet, data for the nig2-sa10, a note of “the seller,” the lu2 sa10-gu7 and “the purchaser of the field/house” the lu2 aša5/e2-sa10. There is much circumstantial evidence to suggest that in Šuruppak, the nig2-sa10 of fields was determined formulaically by the central administration and was fixed as proportional to the area of the field being transferred (Cripps 2007: ch. 4).

sa10 in TSŠ 881, however, probably means “measured out.” Steinkeller (1989: 155-156) suggests that the meaning “measured out” for sa10 is confirmed by the Eblaite lexical entry NINDA2׊E = mu-da-tum/madādum in MEE 4, p. 369, line 311, where NINDA2׊E replaces the expected NINDA2×NE, read as ag2. Of the 746 texts from ED IIIa Fara in the CDLI database, forty-nine attest to sa10 (NINDA2׊E). Only nine of these latter are not concerned with sales of land or houses. Typically, NINDA2×NE/ŠE describes the action of disbursing or measuring out barley or grain. Perhaps another such text from Fara is TSŠ 837, which documents the allocation of 10 liters of barley and 20 liters of bran to Nin-ama-na with the verb sa10. Only a few remaining attestations of NINDA2׊E from ED Fara may mainly be characterized as sa10 “price.” Thus TSŠ 515 rev. iv 3-5 reads 6 siki ma-na, sa10 šaḫ2 niga-kam4, nig2 gidlam-kam4. “6 “lbs” of wool, the price of a fattened pig, the possession of a spouse,” although it is possible that in TSŠ 44 ii 2 sa10, should that be the reading of the damaged sign, indicates that quantities of fish and marine animals have been “exchanged” for quantities of other fish, etc. In addition to the two references to the barley measured out to e2-engur-(a), sa10 is also employed with a similar meaning in obv. vii at 8', 3(ban2) še kaš sa10 and 14', 4(ban2) še kaš sa10, where relatively small amounts, 30 and 40 dry liters are measured out presumably to make beer.

 

Obv. iii 4'. This entry is the first of ten instances of the logogram KA×A in this text, all of which, like sa10, are concerned with the disbursement of grain products. Each of these appears to stand for a verb. The principal alternatives for a verb are nag “to drink” and kab2 “to test” or perhaps “check/verify.” “To drink” does not fit the context of these accounts. However, “to check/verify” may. Civil (1994: ch. 7.4) provides the evidence to show that kab2-du11-ga has an interpretation based on the Akkadian latāku “to check,” “to verify.” Although witnessed in lexical sources, Civil (1994: 154) doubts whether KA×A/kab2 can be used alone as a verbal root, meaning latāku. kab2-du11-ga is already attested in the context of checking/verifying quantities of barley and other cereals in Fara documents. In TSŠ 860 obv. i 1, 6 (gur?) barley are kab2-du11-ga, in obv. i 4, 90 liters of barley entered at obv. i 3 are kab2-du11 while at obv. ii 1 (gur?) wheat (gig written MI, not MI.NUNUZ) is also kab2-du11-ga. The measurement and quality of these amounts of grain has been checked,[33] therefore. WF 64 obv. i 4 records that 1 lid2-ga of barley out of 4 lid2-ga allocated in i 3 has been checked (kab2-du11-ga).

Despite Civil’s reservations, it would seem from TSŠ 881 that kab2 may stand alone as a verb, or certainly as the logogram KA×A representing a verb; at least so in the Fara texts. With the exception of the account summarized in rev. i 1'-7', the still readable allocations of perhaps rations, that are registered as being kab2, “checked,” are all of grain products, a context suggested by Civil (1994: 155) as being the only one attested before Ur III. In his study the cereal products of bread, beer and flour are not apparently associated with the verb kab2-du11-ga until the texts of the Ur III period. However, in rev. i 1'-7', if the items in 1'-4' are all allocated to Ab-e3, it would seem that beer as well as barley grits and sweet beer (kurun2) are authorized as kab2 by E2-zi. In obv. iii 1'-6', the only preserved entry verified is of barley. In obv. v 15'-18', clearly only barley (ten liters) is kab2. Obv. vii 6'-13' registers the allocation of barley grits, fine barley grits (dabin tur-tur), barley measured out for beer and barley for a donkey to Sag-tuku, the subordinate (dumu) of E2-tila. Obv. viii 6'-13' is again concerned only with the allocation of a quantity of barley as is rev. ii 4'-10'. Rev. viii 2'-7' records that allocations of barley grits and fine barley grits were verified. The significance of these allocations is that they provide a context analogous to that identified by Civil as consistent with a meaning “checked/verified” by measurement, for KA×A/kab2, which can therefore be considered as a specific interpretation of “measured.”

 

Obv. iv 14' kurun2 (ŠE.DIN). In this entry, and in obv. vi 8', rev. i 4', and rev. vii 2' and 9', small quantities (fractions of a liter) of barley could be interpreted as allocations to various persons for the purpose of making kurun2. These disbursements are often in association with other grain products of beer and grits. However, the complete ideogram ŠE.DIN is here transliterated as kurun2. The small quantities distributed suggest allocations of a beer rather than barley or some other grain and are in the same order of magnitude as other expenditures of beer (kaš) recorded in this account.

Lexically, (see UET 7, 76 ll. 20-23), KAŠ.DIN = kurun = kurunnu, sābu, or šikaru, “beer,” as well as karānu, “wine.” The logogram DIN is kurun2 and is also glossed as kurunnu and šikaru beer as well as karānu (MSL 9, 124-137 ix 615-617). There is apparently no lexical evidence for ŠE.DIN, but OSP 1, 128, appears to contain exemplars of kaš ŠE/ŠE(ŠE over ŠE).DIN.

The amounts of beer (kurun2) allocated are measured in sila3 and fractions of a sila3. Although in the Girsu Presargonic system there were still distinct liquid and dry capacity measures characteristic of the archaic phase of Mesopotamian metrology (Powell 1994; 102), in the Fara system, there was probably a convergence of the dry capacity sila3 and the liquid measures. Any distinctions between the two measures were within very small margins. Further, there is evidence in lexical texts for some fractions of the sila3 (Powell 1987-90: 503). Also see Powell (1994: 104) with regard to the indivisibility of the sila3 in the measurement of beer capacities in brewing recipes, noting that there are several allotments in this text of kurun2 measured in fractions of a liter. It is unlikely therefore that these are allocations of barley to brew beer.

 

Obv. v 4'-5' maškim, maškim-gi4. It would appear that UR-UR authorized this and a second allocation (obv. vi 4'-6') as maškim, maškim-gi4. He is also called maškim in obv. vii 4'-5' and again in NTSŠ 296 obv. iii 2-3. Although it is difficult, even at the present time, as Edzard had already noted (Edzard 1979: 166 n. 46), to be precise about the meaning of the word and function of maškim in the Fara period, it is not inaccurate to consider a professional function/occupation of “commissioning agent.” The secular meaning of the word is usually equated with the Akkadian rābişu, “an official representative of and commissioned by a higher authority” (see CAD s.v. rābişu 1). As might be expected, the maškim probably had scribal training.[34]

A more significant difficulty arises in interpreting the function or meaning of maškim-gi4. In TSŠ 936 ii 3, maškim-gi4 is quite clearly a personal name. However, several texts from Šuruppak attest that maškim-gi4 is also an occupation/profession and separate from maškim.[35] W. G. Lambert argued that gi4 is a phonetic indicator and that there is no difference between maškim and maškim-gi4 so far as language is concerned. Its use became misleading by the second millennium and was therefore omitted, at least in non-secular references (Lambert 1989: 456). maškim-gi4 appears not to have been written in administrative texts since the Fara period. However, it is evident from TSŠ 881, if no other text, that the two terms are distinct. Neither maškim nor maškim-gi4 is likely to be a personal name here, and therefore both should be interpreted as an occupation or profession.

The word maškim is represented by the complex logogram PA.KAŠ4, consisting of PA (ugula), “overseer,” and KAŠ4, “runner,” or perhaps “messenger.” The Early Dynastic names and professions lists from Abu Salabikh contain both PA.KAŠ4.E.GI4 and E.GI.PA.KAŠ4, as well as the variant PA.KAŠ4 with no extension. There are similar parallels in the Ebla lexical texts and vocabularies; see Edzard and Wiggermann (1989: 450) for a discussion and references. If, as Edzard and Wiggermann suggest, the etymology of the Sumerian word maškim is opaque, it may be appropriate to consider a meaning more directly related to the components (”overseer messenger”), of the logogram especially when written with the extension (e)-gi4.

Michalowski (1985: 299 n. 51) tentatively suggested that e-gi(4) may be a gloss to KAŠ4 and that the logogram should be read ugula egix that possibly refers to chief messengers of various cities. Archi (1999: 147) also regards the maškim-e-gi4 as “agents/representatives” of the king of Mari: “... it was these agents who maintained diplomatic and economic relations with Ebla. ... They were messengers and merchants (kas4, garaš, lu2 kar, u5); the delegation was led, however, by a court official, the “steward,” “sagi”.”

In his commentary on NTSŠ 296, Visicato (1994: 186) notes that UR-UR maškim in obv. iii 2-3 is the same person as UR-UR maškim in TSŠ 881, where he is referred to with the title maškim maškim-gi4. Given that recipients of the allocations of barley in NTSŠ 296, who include a PN (of ) ma2-gid2 and a sukkal, are connected with journeys, he suggests that the maškim acts as the person responsible for personnel involved in journeys to and from Šuruppak. It is noteworthy that Pomponio (1987: 304) reads maškim maškim-gi4 as the title of a single person—UR-UR. We should perhaps understand this as maškim of the maškim-gi4, where maškim-gi4 could be an organization/office of maškim “sent as messengers (gi4),” i.e. travel as agents from Šuruppak to other cities and return.

 

Obv. v 11'-13'. [E2]-ki is restored at 11' in comparison with rev. v 11'-13', where the converse restoration of [E2]-ki is made, since in both examples E2-ki is evidently the dumu “subordinate” of A2-nu-kuš2, maškim. At obv. v 12' he has the epithet IB, which suggests that in this text at least, the occupation IB may have been subordinate to the maškim who officiated in these transactions.

 

Obv. vii 2'. dilmun (NI.TUK) mu-GAR. Prima facie, it appears implausible that this phrase refers to the place Dilmun. There are fourteen other attestations of the word dilmun in the Fara lexical and administrative texts, yet none of them refer to the place Dilmun. However, several people from cities other than Šuruppak are recorded as beneficiaries of allocations of grain products in this text. Persons who apparently received such allotments include a lu2 URU×A, possibly “citizen of Arawa” in Elam (obv. v 2'),[36] an official from Sippar (AB-si-gar, zimbirxki; obv. vi 13'-14'), a fisherman from Elam (rev. iv 2'-3'), a citizen of Kish (rev. iv 14'-15'), and a second person from Elam (rev. viii 4'-5'). Further, we noted earlier that there is ample evidence of the copper trade between ED Girsu and Dilmun, with access to that trade for the cities of the south provided by a single route via Girsu. This may also have been true of the earlier Fara period, given the widespread use of copper as a currency in Šuruppak.

A transliteration and translation of dilmun mu-GAR, “loaded here for Dilmun,” is made more hazardous due to the destruction at both the head and foot of each column on this tablet. And given the strictures by Englund (2010: 99 n. 4) that “Sumerian si(g) as a rule qualifies the loading of cereals and flour; gar refers to textiles, lumber, animal carcasses, etc.; and gub to livestock or humans,” further doubt is added since for the most part this text is about the disbursement of grain products.

A more cogent reason for doubting that a geographical location is referred to may be that, in fourteen of the fifteen attestations in the Fara texts, dilmun is the probable occupation of an official. gal dilmun is such in the Early Dynastic list of “Officials” (SF 59 obv. iv 1). In the list, the occupation is preceded by the official šuš3, “large cattle manager,” and followed by šidim, “builder, architect.” This part of the list has exact parallels in the Ebla and Abu Salabikh equivalents. The term dilmun without gal is attested in a number of administrative texts from Šuruppak as an epithet qualifying a personal name.[37] It probably describes the profession or occupation of the person so qualified and it may follow that, as with other professions in Šuruppak, gal dilmun indicates that the dilmun belonged to an organization which also had “chief ” or senior members. However, the gal dilmun need not have directly supervised the dilmun.

As with many other occupations recorded in the Fara accounts, dilmun appear to have been supervised by ugula, for which cf. WF 75 rev. vi 5-7[38], a text allocating barley rations to various officials from Šuruppak and several persons from Adab, Umma and Nippur. Although WF 75 rev. vi and vii for the most part list allocations of rations to people from other Sumerian cities, it is highly improbable that dilmun, to whom allocations head this part of the account, constitutes a geographic name rather than the title or occupation of an official; see also Visicato (1994: 92).

However, it is evident that the lexical texts ED Officials, ED Lu2 A and ED Lu2 E[39] witness a geographic name as well as an occupation/professional title for the word dilmun. In ED Lu2 E, the word is entered at line 41 and precedes ma2-GIN2 “boat-builder,” usan3-du3 mušen “wild fowler,” usan3-du3 A-GI-ANŠE “?,” šu-ku6 “fisherman,” and at line 46 enku (ZAG.ḪA). Both Green (1984: 94) and Visicato (1995: 133) conclude that ZAG.ḪA should be read enku “tax collector” in the Fara texts, equivalent to the Akkadian mākisu. However, if as Visicato suggests the functions of the numerous šu-ku6 and usan3-du3 in the Fara texts are unclear when associated with enku, “tax collector,” Englund’s (1998: 142 n. 319) suggestion of “fish tithe collector” may be more explicit and would explain the lexical proximity of “boat-builder.” However, the entry dilmun at line 41 immediately follows baḫar2, “potter,” and in lines 35-39 a series of “makers” (dim2) of reed mats, throw sticks, bows, combs and of an unknown item (Buccellati 2003: 48). Since a boat-builder or caulker (ma2-GIN2) may also be considered a manufacturer, it is feasible that the dilmun are also manufacturers rather than associated with the enku.

In ED Lu2 A, dilmun is more clearly a geographical location. As Green (1984: 94) has shown, comparing SLT 24 rev. ii', after the entries (chief) tax collector and collector of harvest taxes (nesag) at lines 80 and 81, the entries 82-86 all associate taxation with geographical areas. NI.TUK ZAG in line 83 is enkux dilmun,[40] “collector of taxes in Dilmun.” In this text, then, Dilmun, the place, though less likely, is not impossible.

 

Rev. ii 7'. ki UR-UR. It is probable that UR-UR here and in rev. ii 3' and restored in rev. iii 14' is the same person as the maškim in the commentary on obv. v 4'-5'. In rev. ii 4'-7', a relatively small quantity of barley is measured to Lugal-giri3 and checked/verified (at) “the place of UR-UR.” Similarly quantities, probably of barley, were so measured ki UR-UR in rev. ii 2'-3' and rev. iii 13'-14'. It is not necessary that ki in this text has the meaning “account/fund” as it may have had in some Sargonic texts relating to land (Foster 1982: 86, Cripps 2010: 33). Rather than the barley being verified to the account of UR-UR, it may be more plausible that the quality/quantities of the barley allocated to the named individuals were checked at the place of the agent UR-UR prior to distribution.

The measuring of barley allocations at the place of UR-UR is apparently a recurring operation. The allocation to Du-du ga-eš8 (rev. ii 1'-3') is checked on the first occasion, while that to Lugal-giri3 (rev. ii 4'-8') occurs on a second occasion (2-kam4). An allocation in the place of UR-UR is checked on a third occasion (3-kam4; rev. iii 13'-15'). On the second occasion—the text could mean on the first also—the measuring was carried out by the scribe Nam-maḫ. Since the part of the text immediately after the entry 3-kam4 is destroyed, we cannot know, but it is possible, that the same scribe did the checking on this occasion as well.

 

Rev. ii 14'-17' suggest that all (šu-nigin2 “the entirety”) of the allocations of (barley) measured in the place of UR-UR (“measured/checked here/in this place,” mu-kab2) were checked by Nam-maḫ, the scribe.[41] The placement of this phrase in the document may refer only to the first and second occasions on which the allocations were checked, but it is not inconceivable that it also includes the third occasion, which may be written later in the text as an afterthought. On the other hand, the restoration made at rev. iii 14' may not be accurate.

 

Rev. vi 6'-8'. E2-engur-a is a personal name,[42] E2-engur is a temple name in the later ED IIIb administrative texts from Girsu (see, for example, DP 159, 163 and 613). In this text, though, given the relatively small allocations of barley “measured out” to E2-engur-a, the word is more likely a personal name, but with a different spelling from E2-engur-ra.

 

Rev. vi 10'. ab-TAG. The meaning of this term in this context is very uncertain. The verbal form here perhaps has a passive interpretation akin to the Akkadian stative.[43] The pronominal -b- refers to the barley allotted in this transaction to E2-engur-a denoting it is that which is being acted upon by the PN in rev. vi 9'.

Besides the use of the verb TAG in TSŠ 881, there are perhaps six other texts from the third millennium that are appropriate to consider in an attempt to suggest a translation,[44] five from the Ur III period and one possible other from ED IIIb. The Ur III texts include three similar texts concerned with brewing beer, one with the weaving of cloth and one with the tying up or tethering of animals.[45] The three brewing texts may be best illustrated by CUSAS 16, 151, that reads; obv. 1/2 ma-na bappir2, 1/2 sila3 še-li, ki a-gi4-ta, kaš dida a-da, lunga ba-ab-TAG, rev. kišib3 lu2-dnin-gir2-su dumu ba-zi, (seal), mu gu-za maḫ ba-dim2. “1/2 “lb” of bappir, half a liter of aromatic (juniper seeds?), from/supplied by A-gi; the brewer applied (perhaps mixed/brewed) the wort with water.[46] Sealed document of Lu-Ningirsu, the son of Bazi, year: “The big throne (for Enlil) was fashioned” (Amar-Suen 3).” Two similar texts from Amar-Suen 1 and 2 are SAT 1, 255 and HLC 59. A fourth Ur III text from Ibbi-Suen 5 is UET 3, 1708. In this, quantities of two kinds of cloth, tug2 guz-za du and tug2 uš-bar, are textiles supplied to a šabra. [PN/ProfN] wove it (ba-ab-TAG). None of these four Ur III texts is particularly helpful in deciphering the entry in TSŠ 881. However, a fifth, Nisaba 5/1, 25, may be more suggestive. In so far as can be judged from the BDTNS record, a bull and 15 “small cattle” (sheep and goats) were tied up/tethered (ba-tag) in a part of Babylon (DIN.TIRki). In concert with this, we can also, possibly, call in aid a text from the ED IIIb period, TCBI 2/1, 7. Here, a goat to be inspected for offering (šu-gid2-še3) may have been tied up/tethered, ab-[tag]. The third and final entry in the text is a personal name, E2-ur2-bi-du10. Unfortunately, tag is restored.

 

§11. Analysis of TSŠ 881
§11.1. Table 1 lists the different commodities issued in the accounts of the ‘Sammeltafel’ TSŠ 881. In all there are only ten different kinds issued in the extant three dozen expenditures registered. One of these is a “shawl” or “blanket” (tug2 gu2-la2). The remainder are foodstuffs and may be considered to be rations of various types. One transaction records a distribution of a quantity of oil (i3). The most frequent disbursements are of barley (še), sixteen in total, the second most common are of coarse barley grits (dabin), some fourteen; about seven are of fine barley grits (dabin tur-tur). A similar number of allotments of beer (kaš) are registered alongside five of a sweet, perhaps dark, beer (kurun2). There were two of barley to make beer and three of barley as fodder for donkeys, one of bappir (bappir kaš) and one of flour (zi3-sig15). Like many of the Ur III examples, few of these “rations” were issued in large amounts. Several of the commodities were expended in quantities greater than 1 lid2-ga (240 liters). There is one allocation of dabin of 5 lid2-ga and 1 barig.

 

Commoditymost transactionsfew transactions
 (in sila3 )(in sila3 )
bappir kaš40-
dabin20-1201260
dabin tur-tur10-180-
i3n-
kaš1/2-40-
kurun21/2-3-
še10-130240-720
še anše20-60720
še kaš30-40-
zi3-sig15180-
tug2 gu2-la21 only-

Table 1: Disbursements in transactions of TSŠ 881

 

§11.2. The remaining twelve allocations of dabin varied between 2 ban2 and 2 barig. Of the sixteen barley allocations, six were of quantities equal to or great than 1 lid2-ga. The undamaged examples varied from 1-3 lid2-ga. The other ten disbursement of barley varied between 1 ban2 and 2 barig 1 ban2. There was one allocation of 3 lid2-ga še anše but leaving aside beer, expenditures of all other cereal based products varied between 1 ban2 and 3 barig.

 

§11.3. The disbursements of kaš were much smaller, with quantities varying between 1/2 sila3 and 4 ban2. Only one of the allocations of beer exceeded 4 sila3. The allotments of kurun2 are in even smaller amounts of mostly 1/2 sila3 and a maximum of 3 sila3.

 

§11.4. The Ur III “messenger texts” from both Girsu and Umma attest to disbursements of barley from 3 ban2, and perhaps less, to 5 gur.[47] Barley fodder for donkeys was also sometimes disbursed in these texts in large as well as small quantities.[48] kaš was disbursed in varying quantities from 1/2 sila3 to 1 gur.[49] Most commonly, however, Ur III quantities of beer were 2 or 3 sila3. These allocations of both barley and beer are comparable with those disbursed in TSŠ 881. The relatively few expenditures of kurun2 tend to be on the low side. However, the smaller allotments of kurun2 (1/2 sila3) are invariably accompanied by larger quantities of kaš. Both in the typology of the commodities allocated and the range of quantities of them, the transactions summarized in TSŠ 881 display substantial similarities to the Ur III genre.

 

§11.5. As already noted, several distant (from Šuruppak) locations are also mentioned in this text, perhaps origins or destinations of people receiving these commodities. Another indication, common also to Ur III messenger texts, is the frequent attestations to Elamites. Two of the recipients in this text are designated Elamites (NIM),[50] while a third is a citizen of Arawa, also in Elam.[51] The two other certain geographical locations are Sippar and Kish.[52]

 

§11.6. Table 2 lists fourteen different professions or occupations which appear in TSŠ 881. Only ten out of these professions are in receipt of the commodities disbursed in these accounts. The epithet lugal in the list of professions, as noted earlier, is attached to the official AB-si-gar from Sippar, who is most likely an emissary of the king of Kish. He, not the king, is issued with [... n] lid2-ga of barley. Other occupations that are possible candidates for emissaries are sukkal, “courier,” sagi, “cupbearer,” ga-eš8, “long-distance trader,” and perhaps the ensi2-GAR-gal. Arguably supporting these are lu2 ma2-gid2, “boat tower,” lu2 il2, “bearer,” šu-ku6, “fisherman,” lu2 ma2-addirx, “ferryman,” and perhaps lunga3, “brewer.” The non-recipient professions are those that administered the accounts or effected the disbursements. These were the IB, perhaps a subordinate of the maškim, the maškim and the dub-sar.

 

OccupationRecipient of disbursement
ensi2-GAR-gal*
IB 
maškim*
maškim-gi4 
sukkal*
lugal*
lu2 ma2-gid2*
sagi*
dub-sar 
lunga3*
lu2 il2*
šu-ku2*
lu2 ma2-addirx*
ga-eš8*

Table 2: Professions/occupations attested in TSŠ 881

 

§11.7. Several of the maškim are further qualified with the epithet maškim-gi4. As also argued already, this further qualification could mean either that the administrators were both maškim and maškim-gi4, or they were representatives of an office of maškim-gi4. These officers may have constituted the equivalent of the “chief messengers” or agents/emissaries of the palace as proposed by Michalowski and Archi for Mari, from the Ebla texts.

 

§11.8. Other than a single entry recording that beer and bappir was taken (ba-de6) by a recipient and several entries registering receipt (šu ba-ti) of various quantities of barley and grits by others, the majority of disbursements in these accounts are described as sa10 (NINDA2׊E) or kab2 (KA×A) to the recipient(s). sa10 is used only in relation to disbursement of barley either as a barley ration or as barley for beer. There are two instances of each use in the text. Some ten incidences of kab2 on the other hand, action the disbursement of other commodities as well; mainly barley, but also barley grits and beer. The use of these two lexemes in a similar context in this text suggests that they are semantically similar and, although phonetically different, are nevertheless cognates. Each may be glossed “measured,” but sa10 is modified as “measured out,” perhaps “disbursed,” while, as Civil has proposed, kab2 implies measurement for testing or validation. The ‘Sammeltafel’ may represent a monthly or other periodic summary of the disbursement of commodities to emissaries, given the reference to month three. There is also an indication that there was a cyclical element to these disbursements.

 

§11.9. The accounts represented in TSŠ 881 were most likely produced by a subdivision of the central administration, probably responsible to the e2-gal in Šuruppak. This part of the palace organization provided barley rations, allocated sustenance fields and supplied teams of donkeys to work them. A separate component of the central administration may have housed the logistical headquarters of the army and victualled and otherwise supplied troops stationed there from there from the allied cities of the “Hexapolis.”

 

§12. Conclusions
§12.1. The palace organization of Early Dynastic Šuruppak and the city’s status in an amphictyony of six Sumerian city states,[53] subject to the domination of the northern city of Kish, formed the nexus of a system of inter-city communication. In the early third millennium, Šuruppak enjoyed a then strategic location on the ancient Euphrates (Sumerian buranun) between the northern cities and the cities of Uruk, Umma and Lagaš on the southern alluvial plain. Later on, the course of the river shifted and reduced the importance of the city.

 

§12.2. Although, as Foster notes, Kish was at the head of this league, Šuruppak was the main place of account; hence the substantial number of Fara administrative texts that witness the mustering and victualling of conscripted armies and workers from the cities of the league. These military and worker cohorts were supplied from the logistical headquarters of the “Hexapolis” within Šuruppak.[54] Other workers coming to Šuruppak from the cities of the amphictyony were sustained by rations from the e2-gal or a department of it. These were known as the iri-kas4/DU and may only have resided in Šuruppak for six months at a time. As their title appears to suggest, they travelled between the cities of the Hexapolis providing a medium of communications. The soldiers and workers from these other cities of Sumer probably made extensive use of the system of rivers and canals throughout southern Mesopotamia to route their transport to and from Šuruppak. And equally, they were to a considerable extent dependent on the boats and boatmen of the cities to provide the means of transport. They consequently required a substantial boat building and repair facility located in Šuruppak.

 

§12.3. The iri-kas4 apparently employed boatmen dedicated to their transport, the lu2 ma2 iri-kas4 who also received rations from the e2-gal. A sagi similarly had a boatman of his own, the lu2 ma2 sagi, and thus may, as in the Mari case, have been an emissary of the ruler of Šuruppak who travelled to foreign parts on his behalf. In addition to these dedicated tasks, boatmen also provided boats for more general purposes of trade. They manned cargo boats (ma2-gur8), barges (ma2-gal) and possibly sailing boats (ma2-ge6? and ma2-lah4(/5)), all of which point to boats capable of transporting large quantities of goods long distances. Evidence in the Fara texts for a lu2 ma2 dub-sag, “lead/first/front boatman,” may also suggest long distance transport in convoys of boats. Disbursements of barley rations from the central administration of Šuruppak to ma2-GIN2 “boat builders/caulkers” also testify to a boat building industry in the city.

 

§12.4. Corroboration of extensive trading activity is provided by the large number of merchants (dam-gar3) furnished with barley rations by the e2-gal. The dam-gar3 probably traded both locally and with “foreign” parts. The latter long distance trade is witnessed by the presence a dam-gar3 either travelling to or from Aḫuti. Long distance trade from Šuruppak is specifically referenced with evidence of a long distance trader (ga-eš8) of Madga, a place located in excess of four hundred kilometers upstream from Šuruppak on the Euphrates. Aḫuti may have been even further away up river. The presence of a trader from Madga perhaps signifies the import from there of bitumen for boat building.

 

§12.5. It is evident that Šuruppak traded throughout Sumer and beyond; and that its missions extended beyond the cities of the amphictyony. Its emissaries were also engaged in other matters than trade. Several texts refer to the office of the dam-kas4 who may have been involved with diplomatic missions. Another such office may have been the maškim-gi4, officials of which made and authorized disbursements of barley products, beer and oil to travellers from Šuruppak to other cities beyond Sumer such as Kish, Sippar and the cities of Elam. Several of the recipients of these disbursements were Elamites, which taken together with the typology and quantities of the rations given may posit that the Fara accounts contained ‘messenger texts’ akin to those of the Ur III state.

 

§12.5. The main focus of this paper has been the exploration of the ‘Sammeltafel’ TSŠ 881 that summarizes a considerable number of accounts and may exemplify the presence of such documents. Specified as a component in the gamut of Fara texts, they enhance the identity of Early Dynastic Šuruppak as a fulcrum of a trading and diplomatic communication system throughout Sumer and its periphery. Doubtless this position was enabled and sustained by the hegemonic network allied to Kish.

 


 

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Version: 20 July 2013