Cuneiform Digital Library Notes
2010:3        «              »
More Šu-Suen Seals
During the Reign of Amar-Suen

Lance Allred
University of California, Los Angeles

As already noted by Waetzoldt (1970/71), there are several tablets that, while dated to the reign of Amar-Suen, nevertheless bear seal impressions with a dedication to his successor Šu-Suen. The recent publications of BPOA 6 and 7 (Sigrist and Ozaki 2009) add 10 new such tablets to this group. These include (arranged by date):

BPOA 6, 948 (AS 7)
BPOA 6, 788 (AS 8 xii 12)
BPOA 6, 1461 (AS 8)
BPOA 6, 824 (AS 9 i 2)
BPOA 7, 2818 (AS 9 i 30)
BPOA 6, 786 (AS 9 vii 30)
BPOA 6, 445 (AS 9 x 9)
BPOA 6, 250 (AS 9 xi)
BPOA 7, 1672 (AS 9 xii 16)
BPOA 7, 1725 (AS 9)

Several of these occurrences date to late in Amar-Suen’s ninth year, after the kings death around AS 9 ii 9 (Sallaberger 1999: 167), and may simply be explained as honoring the new king—Šu-Suen—even if, for administrative purposes, the calendar had not yet recognized his ascension to the throne.

Nevertheless, at least five of the texts listed above are dated to before Amar-Suen’s death. In his discussion of this phenomenon, Waetzoldt (1970/71) posited a co-regency for Amar-Suen and Šu-Suen, but the argument remains unconvincing (Sallaberger 1999: 166). Thus, other possibilities must be explored.

In attempting to answer this question, a comparative approach is useful. In particular, it is noteworthy that there are no attestations of seals dedicated to Amar-Suen before AS 1. Indeed, such seals are not even present during the short time between Šulgi’s death ca. Š 48 xi 2 (Michalowski 1977b) and AS 1.

The case of Ibbi-Sin, the last king of the dynasty, is somewhat more complicated. Several tablets, e.g. SA 154, NYPL 264, and Nik 2, 190, bear impressions of dedicatory seals to Ibbi-Sin, but are dated to ŠS 9. The former is dated to the 11th month of the year, and thus approximately one month after Šu-Suen’s death (Sallaberger 1999: 171). It is likely that NYPL 264 and Nik 2, 190, while not dated to the month, were similarly written after Šu-Suen’s death.

More vexing are texts like SAT 3, 1892, BIN 3, 585, and SET 115. The first is dated to ŠS 9 ix 18, just a few days before our terminus ante quem for Šu-Suen’s death. The texts BIN 3, 585 and SET 115, however, are unequivocally dated to a time when Šu-Suen was alive; the former to ŠS 9 v and the latter to ŠS 8. If, as in the case of Amar-Suena and Šu-Suen, a co-regency between Šu-Suen and Ibbi-Sin seems unlikely, then some other explanation is necessary. Was the end of Šu-Suen’s reign plagued by internal strife as has been tentatively posited for the case of Amar-Suen (Michalowski 1977a)? Or can this phenomenon be explained via some mundane administrative practice that has yet to be discerned?


Michalowski, Piotr
1977a“Amar-Su’ena and the Historical Tradition”. In: M. Ellis (ed.) Essays on the Ancient Near East in Memory of Jacob Joel Finkelstein (Archon Books: Hamden, Connecticut):155-157.
1977b“The Death of Shulgi”. OrNS 46:220-225.
Sigrist, Marcel and Tohru Ozaki
2009Neo-Sumerian administrative tablets from the Yale Babylonian Collection, Part Two, BPOA 7. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas: Madrid.
Waetzoldt, Hartmut
1970-1971“Thronfolger auch Mitregent?”. Mesopotamia 5/6:321-323.
ISSN 1546-6566    © Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative | Archival: 2010-06-01