The Calendar of Neo-Sumerian Ur and Its Political Significance: Notes

*     This paper was originally presented at the 214th annual meeting of the American Oriental Society in San Diego, March 2004. An earlier draft of the paper has benefited from comments by Seth Richardson. References to texts in this article are according to the abbreviations used by the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (

1     E.g. Sollberger 1954/56; Gomi 1979; Whiting 1979; Cooper 1987 and Cohen 1993, 131-160.

2     That is, BM 16525, 18735, 18815, 18822b, 30182 and 30183. I am most grateful to the members of this important project, and to Lorenzo Verderame in particular, for generously providing me with information concerning these texts.

3     Judging from the excavation numbers of the 14 texts with Girsu month names published in UET 3 or UET 9, the tablets were unearthed in the third (2 texts), fourth (1), fifth (2), seventh (3), eighth (2) and ninth (4) seasons of excavations. The fact that the texts were found in different seasons makes it unlikely that they all derived from a single archive. However, the exact archaeological contexts of the tablets remain uncertain, although it seems as if the majority of the texts were found in the so-called royal cemetery of the city (see Widell 2003a, 91-101). The text UET 3, 300 (U.17246) was found in the “Mausoleum site” (see Woolley and Mallowan 1976, 249-250), while at least one text (from Šulgi 27) came from “House 2” on “Straight Street” (see Woolley and Mallowan 1976, 159, n. 32).

4     The broken part on the copy seems to be very small for the reconstruction suggested here (see UET 3, 294, 289, 290).

5     Note that the tablet has not been copied and the reading of the month name here is based solely on D. Lodingís date of the tablet to the first month. The fact that Loding (1976, 42) reads the e-il2-la (i.e. the twelfth month in the Girsu calendar) before the year name on (also not copied) UET 9, 1184, but does not give the tablet a month date, seems to imply that month 1 in UET 9, 1183, refers to the first month in the Ur calendar rather than the Girsu calendar.

6     See UET 3, 1224, from Amar-Suen 6, using the month diri še-KIN-ku5. The text records four different barley-fed small cattle from Halhala to be sent to Nippur. Since the animals were received by the well-known Puzriš-Dagan official Nalu (see Sigrist 1995, 43), who later in all likelihood would be responsible for their disbursement in Nippur (e.g. SACT 1, 144; YOS 18, 12, 13), it seems likely that the tablet was drawn up by a local scribe in Puzriš-Dagan (where diri še-KIN-ku5 was the name of the intercalary month) and later brought to Ur where it was archived. Note, however, that Halhala, who is rather frequently attested in texts from Puzriš-Dagan, may have been active at the royal court in Ur (see Sallaberger 1993, 65, with references), in which case the text also may have been drawn up in that city.

7     Note, however, that in some rare cases it appears that some public institutions were using their own specific systems to record the months. Hence the continued use of the so-called mada year in the office of queen Šulgi-simtum in Puzriš-Dagan until 48, although other offices in the city seem to have converted to the Akiti year already from 45 (Wu 2000, 81-82). Note also the so-called grain archive (“Getreidearchiv”) in Nippur using Ur/Puzriš-Dagan month names, while the rest of the city was using the Nippur calendar (Sallaberger 1993, 7, n. 13 with further references).

8     Namhani and Nammahni are in this article considered to be variants of the name of the same Lagaš II ruler (see Maeda 1993).

9     For the attribution of the Codex to Ur-Namma, see Flückiger-Hawker 1999, 4, n. 30, with further references.

10     Unfortunately, the still unpublished version of the Codex Ur-Namma in the private Schøyen collection in Oslo does not include this problematic line and therefore cannot solve the issue definitely.

11     See, e.g., P. Steinkellerís suggestion (1988) that Namhani may have ruled before Gudea, Ur-Ningirsu and Pirigme.

12     A text copied during the Old Babylonian period (the original text was probably composed earlier, presumably commissioned by Utu-hegal himself), tells in a poetic way about the circumstances of Utu-hegalís war against the Gutians. This important text first describes a six day mobilizing campaign beginning in Utu-hegalís hometown Uruk and continuing through Kullab, Nagsu by the Iturungal canal, Bara-ilī-tappû and Karkar (areas obviously not under the control of the Gutians). Thereafter follows a description of the actual war, victory and capture of the Gutian king Tirigan (see Römer 1985, Frayne 1993, 284-93; Widell 2000). As the leader of this successful coalition against the Gutians, Utu-hegal possessed both the political prestige and the military power to claim hegemony over southern Babylonia.