Cuneiform Digital Library Notes
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On the reading of a-dam-DUNki

Ingo Schrakamp
Freie Universität Berlin

The toponym a-dam-DUNki, frequently attested in Lagash II/Ur III sources and in Šimaški/Sukkalmaḫ period texts from Susa, was identified with Tepe Surkhegan in 1993 by Vallat (1993: 4; cf. Vallat 1997; for previous research, see the references cited in Edzard & Farber 1974: 3-5; Edzard & Farber & Sollberger 1977: 4-5; Vallat 1993: 4; De Graef 2006: 31-32; Michalowski 2008: 114-121). Vallat based this proposal on a Gudea inscription which commemorates the construction of a sanctuary of the “mistress of a-dam-DUNki” and was said to have been found in 1972 by the local population at Tepe Surkhegan. Steve (2001: 13-14) and Potts (2010: 246) published a copy, transliteration, and translation; Steinkeller (2013: 299 n. 44) provided an improved reading.

This identification suits the fact that a-dam-DUNki was incorporated in the Ur III gun2 ma-da belt and was reached from Sumer by boat (Steinkeller 2013: 297). It also matches Michalowski’s proposal to identify a-dam-DUNki as the central city of the land of Awan (Michalowski 2008: 115). It was thus accepted by Lafont (1996: 91), Steve (2001: 12), De Graef (2006: 32), Krebernik (2006: 74), and Steinkeller (2013: 299). Potts (2010: 246-247) and Michalowski (2008: 115 n. 20) questioned whether the inscription came from Tepe Surkhegan and rejected this identification, but Gasche (apud Steinkeller 2013: 299 n. 43) confirmed its provenience, so that the equation Tepe Surkhegan = a-dam-DUNki seems established.

The identification also has consequences for the reading of a-dam-DUNki. The conventional reading, a-dam-dunki, was proposed by Scheil and Poebel on the basis of an alleged etymology with Elamite Haltamti, but most scholars nowadays reject this (Vallat 1993: 4; Vallat 1996; De Graef 2006: 31-32; Krebernik 2006: 64-67, 74; Michalowski 2008: 115 with n. 19). Civil (1998) suggested the reading a-dam-šaḫ2ki, assuming that the Sumerian term for a container, duga-dam-šaḫ/šaḫ3 = adamšaḫû, was derived from the toponym and related to the animal name dam/dim3-šaḫ/šaḫ2/šaḫ3. This was considered hypothetical by Michalowski (2008: 115 n. 19), and rejected by Krebernik (2006: 74), who instead entertained the reading a-dam-sulki, since the ED IIIb Girsu text Nik. 1, 310 = Selz 1989: no. 310 mentions a place-name e2-dam-[s]ul-la (locative) in a context together with Elamite toponyms.

Orthographic variants and writings with phonetic indicators are otherwise unattested, with the exception of e-dam-DUNki which appears twice in Ur III Girsu (TCTI 1, 668: 29 and TCTI 2, 3795: 17; see Bauer 2009: 256), and a few references without the determinative ki. e2-dam-sul-la also lacks the determinative and recalls localities in the region of Lagash, such as e2-dam-si and e2-dam-sur3/utul2-gal (Selz 1995: 116-117), or the Ur III personal name e2-da-sul-la (MVN 15, 325 obv. 7). But as the name occurs together with Elam and Urua, tentatively identified with Musiyān in Deh Lurān (Steinkeller 1982: 244-246; Frayne 1992: 71; Michalowski and Wright 2010: 107), and appears as a locative in a syntagma parallel to elam-ma “in Elam” (Selz 1989: 540; 1991: 38-39; cf. Krebernik 2006: 74), it certainly refers to a place in the east. a-dam-DUNki also occurs in Ur III sources together with Duduli, Sabum, Susa, and Urua, i. e. places to be located in Khuzestan (see, e. g., Berens 77: a-dam-DUNki, Sabum; Berens 84: a-dam-DUNki, Duduli, Susa; Berens 91: a-dam-DUNki, Susa; Berens 92: a-dam-DUNki, Sabum, Susa, Urua; CUSAS 16, 233: a-dam-DUNki, Sabum, Susa, Urua; TCTI 1, 668: e-dam-DUNki, Duduli, Sabum, Susa, Urua; TCTI 2, 3795: e-dam-DUNki, Sabum, Susa, etc. On the localizations of Duduli and Sabum, see most recently De Graef 2007: 90-91; Owen 2006-2008; Notizia 2010: 273-277). Comparable toponyms are otherwise unknown, and an interchange of initial e2- and a- is also attested for the Lagashite toponym a-ḫuš, e2-ḫuš(ki) (Falkenstein 1966: 27 with n. 13. Note that a-ḫuš is the ED IIIb writing, while e2-ḫuš(ki) is attested from the Sargonic period onwards). Thus, an identification of e2-dam-sul with a-dam-DUNki is likely. This then supports a reading a-dam-sulki. The ED IIIb orthography e2-dam-sul probably either indicates a place name with initial /ha/, which was lost in the Ur III period, as demonstrated by the Ur III spelling e-dam-DUNki, or a folk-etymological orthography modelled on toponyms beginning with e2-dam-.


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