UNIVERSAL BIOGRAPHY LIBRARY

 

 
 

 

EANNATUM OF LAGASH

2454-2425 BC

 

WARS OF THE CITY-STATES; EANNATUM AND THE STELE OF THE VULTURES

WHEN the patesiate of Lagash passed from Akurgal to his son Eannatum we may picture the city-state as owing a general allegiance to Akkad in the north. Nearer home, the relations of Lagash to Umma appear to have been of an amicable character. Whatever minor conflicts may have taken place between the two cities in the interval, the treaty of Mesilim was still regarded as binding, and its terms were treated with respect by both parties. The question whether Eannatum, like Akurgal, had had some minor cause of disagreement with the men of Umma at the beginning of his reign depends upon our interpretation of some broken passages in the early part of the text engraved upon the Stele of the Vultures. The second column deals with the relations of Umma and Lagash during the reign of Akurgal, and the fourth column concerns the reign of Eannatum. The name of neither of these rulers is mentioned in the intermediate portion of the text, which, however, refers to Umma and Lagash in connection with a shrine or chapel dedicated to the god Ningirsu. It is possible that we have here a continuation of the narrative of the preceding column, and in that case we should assign this portion of the text to the reign of Akurgal, rather than to the early part of the reign of his successor. But it may equally well refer to Eannatum’s own reign, and may either record a minor cause of dispute between the cities which was settled before the outbreak of the great war, or may perhaps be taken in connection with the following columns of the text.

These two columns definitely refer to Eannatum’s reign and describe certain acts of piety which he performed in the service of his gods. They record work carried out in E-ninnu, by which the heart of Ningirsu was rejoiced; the naming and dedication of some portion of E-anna, the temple of the goddess Ninni; and certain additions made to the sacred flocks of the goddess Ninkharsag. The repetition of the phrase referring to Ninni’s temple suggests a disconnected list of Eannatum’s achievements in the service of his gods, rather than a connected narrative. The text in the fifth column continues the record of the benefits bestowed by him upon Ningirsu, and here we may perhaps trace a possible cause of the renewal of the war with Umma. For the text states that Eannatum bestowed certain territory upon Ningirsu and rejoiced his heart; and, unless this refers to land occupied after the defeat of Umma, its acquisition may have been resented by the neighbouring city. Such an incident would have formed ample excuse for the invasion of the territory of Lagash by the injured party, though, according to the records of Eannatum himself and of Entemena, it would appear that the raid of the men of Umma was unprovoked. But, whatever may have been the immediate cause of the outbreak of hostilities, we shall see reason for believing that the war was ultimately due to the influence of Kish.

The outbreak of the war between Umma and Lagash is recorded concisely in the sixth column of the inscription upon the Stele of the Vultures, which states that the patesi of Umma, by the command of his god, plundered Gu-edin, the territory beloved of Ningirsu. In this record, brief as it is, it is interesting to note that the patesi of Umma is regarded as no more than the instrument of his city-god, or the minister who carries out his commands. As the gods in a former generation had drawn up the treaty between Lagash and Umma, which Mesilim, their suzerain, had at the command of his own goddess engraved upon the stele of delimitation, so now it was the god, and not the patesi, of Umma, who repudiated the terms of that treaty by sending his army across the border. Gu-edin, too, is described, not in its relation to the patesi of Lagash, but as the special property of Ningirsu, the opposing city-god. We shall see presently that Eannatum's first act, on hearing news of the invasion, was quite in harmony with the theocratic feeling of the time.

The patesi who led the forces of Umma is not named by Eannatum upon the Stele of the Vultures, but from the Cone of Entemena we learn that his name was Ush. In the summary of events which is given upon that document it is stated that Ush, patesi of Umma, acted with ambitious designs, and that, having removed the stele of delimitation which had been set up in an earlier age by Mesilim between the territories of the respective states, he invaded the plain of Lagash. The pitched battle between the forces of Umma and Lagash, which followed the raid into the latter’s territory, is recorded by Entemena in equally brief terms. The battle is said to have taken place at the word of Ningirsu, the warrior of Enlil, and the destruction of the men of Umma is ascribed not only to the command, but also to the actual agency, of Enlil himself. Here, again, we find Enlil, the god of the central cult of Nippur, recognized as the supreme arbiter of human and divine affairs. The various city-gods might make war on one another, but it was Enlil who decreed to which side victory should incline.

In the record of the war which Eannatum himself has left us, we are furnished with details of a more striking character than those given in Entemena’s brief summary. In the latter it is recorded that the battle was waged at the word of Ningirsu, and the Stele of the Vultures amplifies this bald statement by describing the circumstances which attended the notification of the divine will. On learning of the violation of his border by the men of Umma and the plundering of his territory which had ensued, Eannatum did not at once summon his troops and lead them in pursuit of the enemy. There was indeed little danger in delay, and no advantage to be gained by immediate action. For Umma, from its proximity to Lagash, afforded a haven for the plunderers which they could reach in safety before the forces of Lagash could be called to arms. Thus Eannatum had no object in hurrying out his army, when there was little chance of overtaking the enemy weighed down with spoil. Moreover, all the damage that could be done to Gu-edin had no doubt been done thoroughly by the men of Umma. In addition to carrying off Mesilim's stele, they had probably denuded the pastures of all flocks and cattle, had trampled the crops, and had sacked and burnt the villages and hamlets through which they had passed. When once they and their plunder were safe within their own border, they were not likely to repeat the raid at once. They might be expected to take action to protect their own territory, but the next move obviously lay with Lagash. In these circumstances Eannatum had no object in attacking before his army was ready for the field, and his preparations for war had been completed; and while the streets of Lagash were doubtless re-echoing with the blows of the armourers and the tramp of armed men, the city-gates must have been thronged with eager groups of citizens, awaiting impatiently the return of scouts sent out after the retreating foe. Meanwhile, we may picture Eannatum repairing to the temple of Ningirsu, where, having laid his complaint before him, he awaited the god's decision as to the course his patesi and his people should follow under the provocation to which they had been subjected.

It is not directly stated in the text as preserved upon the stele that it was within E-ninnu Eannatum sought Ningirsu’s counsel and instructions; but we may assume that such was the case, since the god dwelt within his temple, and it was there the patesi would naturally seek him out. The answer of the god to Eannatum’s prayer was conveyed to him in a vision; Ningirsu himself appeared to the patesi, as he appeared in a later age to Gudea, when he gave the latter ruler detailed instructions for the rebuilding of E-ninnu, and granted him a sign by which he should know that he was chosen for the work. Like Gudea, Eannatum made his supplication lying flat upon his face; and, while he was stretched out upon the ground, he had a dream. In his dream he beheld the god Ningirsu, who appeared to him in visible form and came near him and stood by his head. And the god encouraged his patesi and promised him victory over his enemies. He was to go forth to battle and Babbar, the Sun-god who makes the city bright, would advance at his right hand to assist him. Thus encouraged by Ningirsu, and with the knowledge that he was carrying out the orders of his city-god, Eannatum marshalled his army and set out from Lagash to attack the men of Umma within their own territory.

The account of the battle is very broken upon the Stele of the Vultures, but sufficient details are preserved to enable us to gather that it was a fierce one, and that victory was wholly upon the side of Lagash. We may conjecture that the men of Umma did not await Eannatum’s attack behind their city-walls, but went out to meet him with the object of preventing their own fields and pastures from being laid waste. Every man capable of bearing arms, who was not required for the defence of two cities, was probably engaged in the battle, and the two opposing armies were doubtless led in person by Eannatum himself and by Ush, the patesi of Umma, who had provoked the war. The army of Lagash totally defeated the men of Umma and pursued them with great slaughter. Eannatum puts the number of the slain at three thousand six hundred men, or, according to a possible reading, thirty-six thousand men. Even the smaller of these figures is probably exaggerated, but there is no doubt that Umma suffered heavily. According to his own account, Eannatum took an active part in the fight, and he states that he raged in the battle. After defeating the army in the open plain, the troops of Lagash pressed on to Umma itself. The fortifications had probably been denuded of their full garrisons, and were doubtless held by a mere handful of defenders. Flushed with victory the men of Lagash swept on to the attack, and, carrying the walls by assault, had the city itself at their mercy. Here another slaughter took place, and Eannatum states that within the city he swept all before him "like an evil storm".

 

fragment of the victory stele of the king Eannatum of Lagash over Umma, called «Stele of Vultures». Circa 2450 BC. Discovered in 1881 in Girsu (now Tello, Iraq), Mesopotamia, by Édouard de Sarzec 

 

The record of his victory which Eannatum has left us is couched in metaphor, and is doubtless coloured by Oriental exaggeration; and the scribes who drew it up would naturally be inclined to represent the defeat of Umma as even more crushing than it was. Thus the number of burial-mounds suggests that the forces of Lagash suffered heavily themselves, and it is quite possible the remnant of Umma’s army rallied and made a good fight within the city. But we have the independent testimony of Entemena’s record, written not many years after the fight, to show that there is considerable truth under Eannatum's phrases; and a clear proof that Umma was rendered incapable of further resistance for the time may be seen in the terms of peace which Lagash imposed. Eannatum’s first act, after he had received the submission of the city, was to collect for burial the bodies of his own dead which strewed the field of battle. Those of the enemy he would probably leave where they fell, except such as blocked the streets of Umma, and these he would remove and cast out in the plain beyond the city-walls. For we may conclude that, like Entemena, Eannatum left the bones of his foes to be picked clean by the birds and beasts of prey. The monument on which we have his record of the fight is known as the Stele of the Vultures from the vultures sculptured upon the upper portion of it. These birds of prey are represented as swooping off with the heads and limbs of the slain, which they hold firmly in their beaks and talons. That the sculptor should have included this striking incident in his portrayal of the battle is further testimony to the magnitude of the slaughter which had taken place. That Eannatum duly buried his own dead is certain, for both he and Entemena state that the burial-mounds which he heaped up were twenty in number ; and two other sculptured portions of the Stele of the Vultures, to which we shall presently refer, give vivid representations of the piling of the mounds above the dead.

The fate of Ush, the patesi of Umma, who had brought such misfortune on his own city by the rash challenge he had given Lagash, is not recorded; but it is clear he did not remain the ruler of Umma. He may have been slain in the battle, but, even if he survived, he was certainly deprived of his throne, possibly at the instance of Eannatum. For Entemena records the fact that it was not with Ush, but with a certain Enakalli, patesi of Umma, that Eannatum concluded a treaty of peace. The latter ruler may have been appointed patesi by Eannatum himself, as at later day, Ili owed his nomination to Entemena on the defeat of the patesi Urlumma. But, whether this was so or not, Enakalli was certainly prepared to make great concessions, and was ready to accept whatever terms Eannatum demanded, in order to secure the removal of the troops of Lagash from his city, which they doubtless continued to invest during the negotiations. As might be expected, the various terms of the treaty are chiefly concerned with the fertile plain of Gu-edin, which had been the original cause of the war. This was unreservedly restored to Lagash, or, in the words of the treaty, to Ningirsu, whose “beloved territory” it is stated to have been. In order that there should be no cause for future dispute with regard to the boundary-line separating the territory of Lagash and Umma, a deep ditch was dug as a permanent line of demarcation. The ditch is described as extending “from the great stream” up to Gu-edin, and with the great stream we may probably identify an eastern branch of the Euphrates, through which at this period it emptied a portion of its waters into the Persian Gulf. The ditch, or canal, received its water from the river, and, by surrounding the unprotected sides of Gu-edin, it formed not only a line of demarcation but to some extent a barrier to any hostile advance on the part of Umma.

On the bank of the frontier-ditch the stele of Mesilim, which had been taken away, was erected once more, and another stele was prepared by the orders of Eannatum, and was set up beside it. The second monument was inscribed with the text of the treaty drawn up between Eannatum and Enakalli, and its text was probably identical with the greater part of that found upon the fragments of the Stele of the Vultures, which have been recovered; for the contents of that text mark it out as admirably suited to serve as a permanent memorial of the boundary. After the historical narrative describing the events which led up to the new treaty, the text of the Stele of the Vultures enumerates in detail the divisions of the territory of which Gu-edin was composed. Thus the stele which was set up on the frontier formed in itself an additional security against the violation of the territory of Lagash. The course of a boundary-ditch might possibly be altered, but while the stele remained in place, it would serve as a final authority to which appeal could be made in the case of any dispute arising. It is probably in this way that we may explain the separate fields which are enumerated by name upon the fragment of the Stele of the Vultures which is preserved in the British Museum, and upon a small foundation-stone which also refers to the treaty. The fields there enumerated either made up the territory known by the general name of Gu-edin, or perhaps formed an addition to that territory, the cession of which Eannatum may have exacted from Umma as part of the terms of peace. While consenting to the restoration of the disputed territory, and the rectification of the frontier, Umma was also obliged to pay as tribute to Lagash a considerable quantity of grain, and this Eannatum brought back with him to his own city.

In connection with the formal ratification of the treaty it would appear that certain shrines or chapels were erected in honour of Enlil, Ninkharsag, Ningirsu and Babbar. We may conjecture that this was done in order that the help of these deities might be secured for the preservation of the treaty. According to Entemena’s narrative, chapels or shrines were erected to these four deities only, but the Stele of the Vultures contains a series of invocations addressed not only to Enlil, Ninkharsag, and Babbar, but also to Enki, Enzu, and Ninki, and it is probable that shrines were also erected in their honour. These were built upon the frontier beside the two stelae of delimitation, and it was doubtless at the altar of each one of them in turn that Eannatum and Enakalli took a solemn oath to abide by the terms of the treaty and to respect the frontier. The oaths by which the treaty was thus ratified are referred to upon the Stele of the Vultures by Eannatum, who invokes each of the deities by whom he and Enakalli swore, and in a series of striking formulae calls down destruction upon the men of Umma should they violate the terms of the compact. “On the men of Umma”, he exclaims, “have I, Eannatum, cast the great net of Enlil! I have sworn the oath, and the men of Umma have sworn the oath to Eannatum. In the name of Enlil, the king of heaven and earth, in the field of Ningirsu there has been . . . , and a ditch has been dug down to the water level. . . . Who from among the men of Umma by his word or by his . . . will go back upon the word (that has been given), and will dispute it in days to come ? If at some future time they shall alter this word, may the great net of Enlil, by whom they have sworn the oath, strike Umma down!”.

Eannatum then turns to Ninkharsag, the goddess of the Sumerian city of Kesh, and in similar phrases invokes her wrath upon the men of Umma should they violate their oath. He states that in his wisdom he has presented two doves as offerings before Ninkharsag, and has performed other rites in her honour at Kesh, and turning again to the goddess, he exclaims, “As concerns my mother, Ninkharsag, who from among the men of Umma by his word or by his . . . will go back upon the word (that has been given), and will dispute it in days to come? If at some future time they shall alter this word, may the great net of Ninkharsag, by whom they have sworn the oath, strike Umma down!”. Enki, the god of the abyss of waters beneath the earth, is the next deity to be invoked, and before him Eannatum records that he presented certain fish as offerings; his net Eannatum has cast over the men of Umma, and should they cross the ditch, he prays that destruction may come upon Umma by its means. Enzu, the Moon-god of Ur, whom Eannatum describes as “the strong bull-calf of Enlil”, is then addressed; four doves were set as offerings before him, and he is invoked to destroy Umma with his net, should the men of that city ever cross Ningirsu’s boundary, or alter the course of the ditch, or carry away the stele of delimitation. Before Babbar, the Sun-god, in his city of Larsa, Eannatum states that he has offered bulls as offerings, and his great net, which he has cast over the men of Umma, is invoked in similar terms. Finally, Eannatum prays to Ninki, by whom the oath has also been taken, to punish any violation of the treaty by wiping the might of Umma from off the face of the earth.

The great stele of Eannatum, from the text upon which we have taken much of the description of his war with Umma, is the most striking example of early Sumerian art that has come down to us, and the sculptures upon it throw considerable light upon the customs and beliefs of this primitive race. The metaphor of the net, for example, which is employed by Eannatum throughout the curses he calls down upon Umma, in the event of any violation of the treaty, is strikingly illustrated by a scene sculptured upon two of the fragments of the stele which have been recovered. When complete, the stele consisted of a large slab of stone, curved at the top, and it was sculptured and inscribed upon both sides and also upon its edges. Up to the present time seven fragments of it have been recovered during the course of the excavations at Tello, of which six are in the Louvre and one is in the British Museum; these are usually distinguished by the symbols A to G. Although the fragments thus recovered represent but a small proportion of the original monument, it is possible from a careful study of them to form a fairly complete idea of the scenes that were sculptured upon it. As we have already noted, the monument was a stele of victory set up by Eannatum, and the two faces of the slab are sculptured in low relief with scenes illustrating the victory, but differing considerably in character. On the face the representations are mythological and religious, while on the back they are historical. It might very naturally be supposed that the face of the stele would have been occupied by representations of Eannatum himself triumphing over his enemies, and, until the text upon the stele was thoroughly deciphered and explained, this was indeed the accepted opinion. But it is now clear that Eannatum devoted the front of the stele to representations of his gods, while the reverse of the monument was considered the appropriate place for the scenes depicting the patesi and his army carrying out the divine will. The arrangement of the reliefs upon the stone thus forcibly illustrates the belief of this early period that the god of the city was its real ruler, whose minister and servant the patesi was, not merely in metaphor, but in actual fact.

Part of the Stele of the Vultures, sculptured with a scene representing
Ningirsu clubbing the enemies of Lagash (Shirpurla), whom he has caught in
his net.

Upon the largest portion of the stele that has been recovered, formed of two fragments joined together, we have the scene which illustrates Eannatum’s metaphor of the net. Almost the whole of this portion of the monument is occupied with the figure of a god, which appears of colossal size if it is compared with those of the patesi and his soldiers upon the reverse of the stele. The god has flowing hair, bound with a double fillet, and, while cheeks and lips are shaved, a long beard falls in five undulating curls from the chin upon the breast. He is nude to the waist, around which he wears a close-fitting garment with two folds in front indicated by double lines. It was at first suggested that we should see in this figure a representation of some early hero, such as Gilgamesh, but there is no doubt that we should identify him with Ningirsu, the city-god of Lagash. For in his right hand the god holds the emblem of Lagash, the eagle with outspread wings, clawing the heads of two lions; and the stele itself, while indirectly perpetuating Eannatum’s fame, was essentially intended to commemorate victories achieved by Ningirsu over his city's enemies. This fact will also explain the rest of the scene sculptured upon the lower fragment. For the god grasps in his right hand a heavy mace, which he lets fall upon a net in front of him containing captive foes, whose bodies may be seen between its broad meshes struggling and writhing within it. On the relief the cords of the net are symmetrically arranged, and it apparently rises as a solid structure to the level of the god's waist. It thus has the appearance of a cage with cross-bars and supports of wood or metal. But the rounded corners at the top indicate that we may regard it as a net formed of ropes and cordage. That it should rise stiffly before the god may be partly due to the imperfect knowledge of perspective characteristic of all early art, partly perhaps to the desire of the sculptor to allow the emblem of Lagash, grasped in the god's left hand, to rest upon it; unless indeed the emblem itself is a part of the net, by means of which the god is holding it up. In any case the proximity of the emblem to the net is not fortuitous. Within the net are the foes of Lagash, and with the mace in his right hand Ningirsu is represented as clubbing the head of one of them which projects from between the meshes.

The metaphor of the net, both of the fisherman and the fowler, is familiar in the poetical literature of the Hebrews, and it is interesting to note this very early example of its occurrence among the primitive Sumerian inhabitants of Babylonia. In the text engraved upon the Stele of the Vultures Eannatum, as we have already seen, seeks to guard the terms of his treaty by placing it under the protection of the nets of Enlil and of other deities. He states that he has cast upon the men of Umma the nets of the deities by whom he and they have sworn, and, in the event of any violation of their oath, he prays that the nets may destroy them and their city. Thus the meshes of each net may in a sense be regarded as the words of the oath, by the utterance of which they have placed themselves within the power of the god whose name they have invoked. But the scene on the front of the stele is not to be regarded as directly referring to this portion of the text, nor is the colossal figure that of Enlil, the chief god of Babylonia. For his destruction of the men of Umma is merely invoked as a possible occurrence in the future, while the god on the stele is already engaged in clubbing captives he has caught; and, whether the net of Ningirsu was referred to in a missing portion of the text or not, the fact that the figure on the stele grasps the emblem of Lagash is sufficient indication that Ningirsu and not Enlil, nor any other deity, is intended. Thus the face of the stele illustrates the text of Eannatum as a whole, not merely the imprecatory formulae attached to the treaty with Umma. It refers to the past victories of Ningirsu in his character as the city-god of Lagash.

The representation of Ningirsu clubbing his enemies forms only a portion of a larger scheme which occupied the whole of the upper part of the Stele of the Vultures. Though his is the principal figure of the composition, it is not set in the centre of the field but on the extreme right, the right-hand edge of the fragments illustrated on above representing the actual edge of the stele. On the left behind the god and standing in attendance upon him was a goddess, parts of whose head and headdress have been recovered upon a fragment from the left edge of the stele. She wears a horned crown, and behind her is a standard surmounted by an emblem in the form of an eagle with outspread wings. She is sculptured on a smaller scale than the figure of Ningirsu, and thus serves to indicate his colossal proportions; and she stood on a fillet or lintel, which cuts off the upper register from a second scene which was sculptured below it. The fragment of the stele in the British Museum preserves one of Ningirsu’s feet and a corner of the net with the prisoners in it, and both are represented as resting on the same fillet or lintel. This fragment is a piece of some importance, for, by joining two other pieces of the stele in the Louvre, it enables us to form some idea of the scene in the lower register. Here, too, we have representations of deities, but they are arranged on a slightly different plan. We find upon the fragment from the right of the stele (C) part of the head and headdress of a goddess very like that in the register above. Here she faces to the left, and on another fragment (F), which joins the British Museum fragment upon the left, is a portion of a very complicated piece of sculpture. This has given rise to many conjectures, but there appears to be little doubt that it represents the forepart of a chariot. We have the same curved front which is seen in the chariot of Eannatum upon the reverse of the stele, and the same arrangement of the reins which pass through a double ring fixed in the front of the chariot and are hitched over a high support. Here the support and the front of the chariot are decorated with a form of the emblem of Lagash, the spread eagle and the lions, and we may therefore conclude that the chariot is that of Ningirsu; indeed, on the left of the fragment a part of the god's plain garment may be detected, similar to that which he wears in the upper register. He is evidently standing in the chariot, and we may picture him riding in triumph after the destruction of his foes.

A close analogy may thus be traced between the two scenes upon the front of the stele and the two upper registers upon the back. In the latter we have representations of Eannatum on foot leading his warriors to battle, and also riding victoriously in a chariot at their head. On the front of the stele are scenes of a similar character in the religious sphere, representing Ningirsu slaying the enemies of Lagash, and afterwards riding in his chariot in triumph. It may also be noted that the composition of the scenes in the two registers upon the face of the stone is admirably planned. In the upper register the colossal figure of Ningirsu with his net, upon the right, is balanced below on the left by his figure in the chariot; and, similarly, the smaller figure or figures above were balanced by the ass that drew Ningirsu’s chariot, and the small figure of a goddess who faces him.

There are few indications to enable us to identify the goddesses who accompany Ningirsu. If the figures in both registers represent the same divine personage the names of several goddesses suggest themselves. We might, perhaps, see in her Ningirsu’s wife Bau, the daughter of Anu, or his sister Nina, the goddess of the oracle, to whose service Eannatum was specially devoted, or Gatumdug, the mother of Lagash. But the military standard which accompanies the goddess in the upper scene, and the ends of two darts or javelins which appear in the same fragment to rise from, or be bound upon, her shoulders, seem to show that the upper goddess, at any rate, is of a warlike character. Moreover, in another inscription, Eannatum ascribes a success he has achieved in war to the direct intervention of the goddess Ninni, proving that she, like the later Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Ishtar, was essentially the goddess of battle. It is permissible, therefore, to see in the upper goddess, sculptured upon the face of the Stele of the Vultures, a representation of Ninni, the goddess of battle, who attends the city-god Ningirsu while he is engaged in the slaughter of his foes. In the lower register it is possible we have a second representation of Ninni, where she appears to welcome Ningirsu after the slaughter is at an end. But though the headdresses of the two goddesses are identical, the accompanying emblems appear to differ, and we are thus justified in suggesting for the lower figure some goddess other than Ninni, whose work was finished when Ningirsu had secured the victory. The deity most fitted to gladden Ningirsu’s sight on his return would have been his faithful wife Bau, who was wont to recline beside her lord upon his couch within the temple E-ninnu. We may thus provisionally identify the goddess of the lower register with Bau, who is there portrayed going out to meet the chariot of her lord and master upon his return from battle.

Perhaps the scenes which are sculptured upon the back of the Stele of the Vultures are of even greater interest than those upon its face, since they afford us a picture of these early Sumerian peoples as they appeared when engaged in the continual wars which were waged between the various city-states. Like the scenes upon the face of the stele, those upon the back are arranged in separate registers, divided one from the other by raised bands, or fillets, stretching across the face of the monument and representing the soil on which the scenes portrayed above them took place. The registers upon the back are smaller than those on the face, being at least four in number, in place of the two scenes which are devoted to Ningirsu and his attendant deities. As might be expected, the scenes upon the back of the stele are on a smaller scale than those upon the face, and the number and variety of the figures composing them are far greater. Little space has been left on the reverse of the stone for the inscription, the greater part of which is engraved on the front of the monument, in the broad spaces of the field between the divine figures. Of the highest of the four registers upon the reverse four fragments have been recovered, one of which (A) proves that the curved head of the stele on this side was filled with the representations of vultures, to which reference has already been made. The intention of the sculptor was clearly to represent them as flying thick in the air overhead, bearing off from the field of battle the severed heads and limbs of the slain. The birds thus formed a very decorative and striking feature of the monument, and the popular name of the stele, which is derived from them, is fully justified. In the same register on the left is a scene representing Eannatum leading his troops in battle and we there see them advancing over the bodies of the slain; while from the extreme right of the same register we have a fragment representing men engaged in collecting the dead and piling them in heaps for burial. We may conjecture that the central portion of the register, which is missing, portrayed the enemies of Eannatum falling before his lance. In the register immediately below we find another representation of Eannatum at the head of his troops. Here, however, they are not in battle array but on the march, and Eannatum, instead of advancing on foot, is riding before them in his chariot.

The sculptured representations of Eannatum and his soldiers, which are preserved upon these fragments, are of the greatest importance, for they give a vivid picture of the Sumerian method of fighting, and supply detailed information with regard to the arms and armour in use at this early period.”

We note that the Sumerians advanced to the attack in a solid phalanx, the leading rank being protected by huge shields or bucklers that covered the whole body from the neck to the feet, and were so broad that, when lined up in battle array, only enough space was left for a lance to be levelled between each; the lance-bearers carried as an additional weapon an axe, resembling an adze with a flat head. From the second register, in which we see the army on the march, it is clear that no shield was carried by the rank and file for individual protection; the huge bucklers were only borne by men in the front rank, and they thus served to protect the whole front of an attacking force as it advanced in solid formation. In the scene in the upper register two soldiers are sculptured behind each shield, and in each gap between the shields six lances are levelled which are grasped firmly in both hands by the soldiers wielding them. The massing of the lances in this fashion is obviously a device of the sculptor to suggest six rows of soldiers advancing one behind the other to the attack. But the fact that each lance is represented as grasped in both hands by its owner proves that the shields were not carried by the lance-bearers themselves, but by soldiers stationed in the front, armed only with an axe. The sole duty of a shield-bearer during an attack in phalanx was clearly to keep his shield in position, which was broad enough to protect his own body and that of the lance-bearer on his right. Thus the representation of two soldiers behind each buckler on the Stele of the Vultures is a perfectly accurate detail. As soon as an attack had been successfully delivered, and the enemy was in flight, the shield-bearers could discard the heavy shields they carried and join in the pursuit. The light axe with which they were armed was admirably suited for hand-to-hand conflicts, and it is probable that the lance-bearers themselves abandoned their heavy weapons and had recourse to the axe when they broke their close formation.

Both Eannatum and his soldiers wear a conical helmet, covering the brow and carried down low at the back so as to protect the neck, the royal helmet being distinguished by the addition at the sides of moulded pieces, to protect the ears. Both the shields and the helmets were probably of leather, though the nine circular bosses on the face of each of the former may possibly have been of metal. Their use was clearly to strengthen the shields, and they were probably attached to a wooden framework on the other side. They would also tend to protect the surface of the shields by deflecting blows aimed at them. The royal weapons consisted of a long lance or spear, wielded in the left hand, and a curved mace or throwing-stick, formed of three strands bound together at intervals with thongs of leather or bands of metal. When in his chariot on the march, the king was furnished with additional weapons, consisting of a flat-headed axe like those of his soldiers, and a number of light darts, some fitted with double points. These last he carried in a huge quiver attached to the fore part of his chariot, and with them we may note a double-thonged whip, doubtless intended for driving the ass or asses that drew the vehicle. It is probable that the soldiers following Eannatum in both scenes were picked men, who formed the royal body-guard, for those in the battle-scene are distinguished by the long hair or, rather, wig, that falls upon their shoulders from beneath their helmets, and those on the march are seen to be clothed from the waist downwards in the rough woollen garment similar to that worn by the king. They may well have been recruited among the members of the royal house and the chief families of Lagash. The king's apparel is distinguished from theirs by the addition of a cloak, possibly of skin, worn over the left shoulder in such a way that it leaves the right arm and shoulder entirely free.

Considerable light is thrown upon the burial customs of the Sumerians by the scene sculptured in the third register, or section, on the reverse of the stele of Eannatum. Portions of the scene are preserved upon the fragments C and F, which we have already noted may be connected with each other by means of the fragment G, preserved in the British Museum. In this register we have a representation of the scenes following the victory of Eannatum, when the king and his army had time to collect their dead and bury them with solemn rites and sacrifices beneath huge tells or burial-mounds. It will be remembered that a fragment of the top register portrays the collection of the dead upon the battlefield; here, on the left, we see the mounds in course of construction, under which the dead were buried. The dead are quite nude, and are seen to be piled up in rows, head to head and feet to feet alternately. The two corpses at the base are sculptured lying flat upon the ground, and, as the tell rises, they appear to be arranged like the sticks of a fan. This arrangement was doubtless due to the sculptor's necessity of filling the semi-circular head of the tell, and does not represent the manner in which the corpses were actually arranged for burial. We may conclude that they were set out symmetrically in double rows, and that the position of every one was horizontal, additional rows being added until sufficient height had been attained.

Two living figures are sculptured on the fragment, engaged in the work of completing the burial. They are represented as climbing the pile of corpses, and they seem to be helping themselves up by means of a rope which they grasp in their right hands. On their heads they carry baskets piled up with earth, which they are about to throw upon the top of the mound. In the relief they appear to be climbing upon the limbs of the dead, but it is probable that they began piling earth from below and climbed the sides of the mound as it was raised. The sculptor has not seen how to represent the sides of the tell without hiding his corpses, so he has omitted the piled earth altogether, unless, indeed, what appears to be a rope which the carriers hold is really intended for the side of the mound in section. It has been suggested that the carriers are bearing offerings for the dead, but the baskets appear to be heaped with earth, not offerings, and the record in the text upon the stele, that Eannatum piled up twenty burial-mounds after his battle with the men of Umma, is sufficient justification for the view that the scene represents one of these mounds in course of construction.

The continuation of the scene upon the other two fragments, proves that the burial of the dead was attended with elaborate funeral rites, and the offering of sacrifices. To the right of the workers engaged in piling up the burial-mound may be seen a bull lying on his back upon the ground, and bound securely with ropes to two stout stakes driven into the soil close to its head and tail. He is evidently the victim, duly prepared for sacrifice, that will be offered when the burial-mound has been completed. In the field above the bull are sculptured other victims and offerings, which were set out beside the bull. We see a row of six lambs or kids, decapitated, and arranged symmetrically, neck to tail, and tail to neck. Two large water-pots, with wide mouths, and tapering towards the base, stand on the right of the bull; palm-branches, placed in them, droop down over their rims, and a youth, completely nude, is pouring water into one of them from a smaller vessel. He is evidently pouring out a libation, as we may infer from a similar scene on another early Sumerian relief that has been recovered. Beyond the large vessels there appear to be bundles of faggots, and in the field above them are sculptured a row of growing plants. These probably do not rise from the large vessels, as they appear to do in the sculpture, but form a separate row beyond the faggots and the vessels. At the head of the bull may be seen the foot and part of the robe of a man who directs the sacrifice. As in all the other registers upon the reverse of the stele Eannatum occupies a prominent position, we may conclude that this is part of the figure of Eannatum himself. He occupies the centre of the field in this register, and presides at the funeral rites of the warriors who have fallen in his service.

Of the last scene that is preserved upon the Stele of the Vultures very little remains upon the fragments recovered, but this is sufficient to indicate its character. Eannatum was here portrayed deciding the fate of prisoners taken in battle. Of his figure only the left hand is preserved; it is grasping a heavy spear or lance by the end of the shaft as in the second register. The spear passes over the shaven heads of a row of captives, and at the end of the row its point touches the head of a prisoner of more exalted rank, who faces the king and raises one hand in token of submission. A fragment of inscription behind the head of this captive gives the name “Al-[ . . . ], King of Kish”, and it may be concluded with considerable probability that these words form a label attached to the figure of the chief prisoner, like the labels engraved near the head of Eannatum in the two upper registers, which describe him as “Eannatum, champion of the god Ningirsu”. There is much more to be said for this explanation than for the possibility that the words formed part of an account of a war waged by Eannatum against Kish, which has been added to the record of his war with Umma. According to such a view the stele must have been larger than we have supposed, since it would have included additional registers at the base of the reverse for recording the subsequent campaigns and their illustration by means of reliefs. The monument would thus have been erected to commemorate all the wars of Eannatum. But that against Umma would be the most important, and its record, copied directly from the text of the treaty, would still occupy three quarters of the stone. Moreover, we should have to suppose that the scribe slavishly copied the text of the stele of delimitation even down to its title, and made no attempt to assimilate with it the later records, which we must assume he added in the form of additional paragraphs. Such a supposition is extremely unlikely, and it is preferable to regard the words behind the prisoner's head as a label, and to conclude that the connected text of the stele ended, as it appears to do, with the name and description of the stone, which is engraved as a sort of colophon upon the upper part of the field in the fourth register.

According to this alternative we need assume the existence of no registers other than those of which we already possess fragments, and the conception and arrangement of the reliefs gains immensely in unity and coherence. On the obverse we have only two registers, the upper one rather larger than the one below, and both devoted, as we have seen, to representations of Ningirsu and his attendant goddesses. The reverse of the stone, divided into four registers, is assigned entirely to Eannatum, who is seen leading his troops to the attack, returning in his chariot from the field of battle, performing funeral rites for his dead soldiers, and deciding the fate of captives he has taken. Thus the reliefs admirably illustrate the description of the war with Umma, and we may conclude that the Stele of the Vultures was either the actual stele of delimitation set up by Eannatum upon the frontier, or, as is more probable, an exact copy of its text, embellished with sculptures, upon a stone which Eannatum caused to be carved and set up within his own city as a memorial of his conquest. Indeed, we may perhaps make the further assumption that the stele was erected within the temple of Ningirsu, since it commemorates the recovery of Gu-edin, the territory that was peculiarly his own. The Stele of the Vultures, with its elaborate and delicate relief, would have been out of place upon the frontier of Gu-edin, where, we may conjecture, the memorial stone would have been made as strong and plain as possible, so as to offer little scope for mutilation. But, if destined to be set up within the shelter of Ningirsu’s temple in Lagash, the sculptor would have had no restriction placed upon his efforts; and the prominent place assigned to Ningirsu in the reliefs, upon the face of the memorial, is fully in keeping with the suggestion that the Stele of the Vultures at one time stood within his shrine.

In favour of the view that the monument was not the actual stele of delimitation we may note that towards the close of its text some four columns were taken up with lists of other conquests achieved by Eannatum. But in all “kudurru-inscriptions”, or boundary-stones, which were intended to safeguard the property or claims of private individuals, the texts close with a series of imprecations calling down the anger of the gods upon any one infringing the owner's rights in any way. Now in general character the text upon the Stele of the Vultures closely resembles the “kudurru-inscriptions”, only differing from them in that it sets out to delimit, not the fields and estates of individuals, but the respective territories of two city-states. We should therefore expect that, like them, it would close with invocations to the gods. Moreover, the Cone of Entemena, the text of which was undoubtedly copied from a similar stele of delimitation, ends with curses, and not with a list of Entemena's own achievements. But if the short list of Eannatum’s titles and conquests be omitted, the text upon the Stele of the Vultures would end with the series of invocations to Enlil and other deities, to which reference has already been made.

We may therefore conclude that the original text, as engraved upon the stele of delimitation, did end at this point, and that the list of other conquests was only added upon the memorial erected in Ningirsu’s temple.

Apart from the interest attaching to the memorial itself, this point has a bearing upon the date of the conquest of Umma in relation to the other successful wars conducted by Eannatum in the course of his reign. It might reasonably be urged that the subjugation of the neighbouring city of Umma would have preceded the conquest of more distant lands and cities, over which Eannatum succeeded in imposing his sway. In that case we must assume that the list of conquests upon the Stele of the Vultures was added at a later date. On the other hand, it is equally possible that the war with Umma took place well on in Eannatum’s reign, and that, while the patesi and his army were away on distant expeditions, their ancient rival Umma refrained from taking advantage of their absence to gain control of the coveted territory of Gu-edin. Both cities may for years have respected the terms of Mesilim’s treaty, and Lagash, while finding scope elsewhere for her ambition, may have been content to acquiesce in the claims of independence put forward by her nearest neighbour. Thus the list of Eannatum's conquests may well have been engraved upon the Stele of the Vultures at the time the treaty with Umma was drawn up. In accordance with this view we shall see there are reasons for believing that several of Eannatum’s conquests did take place before his war with Umma, and it is quite possible to assign to this earlier period the others that are mentioned in the list.

The conquest of Kish stands in close relation to that of Umma, for, apart from the portrayal of the king of Kish as a captive upon the Stele of the Vultures, there is a passage in the main body of the inscription which would seem to connect the outbreak of war between Umma and Lagash with the influence of that city. In the broken passage recording the encouragement given to Eannatum by Ningirsu after the raid of Gu-edin, the names of Umma and Kish occur together, and the context of the passage suggests that Ningirsu here promises his patesi victory over both these cities. We may, therefore, conjecture that the ambitious designs described by Entemena as actuating Ush, the patesi of Umma, in raiding the territory of Lagash, were fostered by the city of Kish. It is probable that Eannatum had already given proof of his qualities as a military leader, and had caused the king of Kish to see in Lagash a possible rival for the hegemony which the North had long enjoyed. To sow dissension between her and her neighbour Umma, would have appeared a most effective method of crippling her growing power, and it is possible that the king of Kish not only promised his support, but furnished a contingent of his own soldiers to assist in the attack. The representation of the captive king of Kish upon the Stele of the Vultures may possibly be interpreted as proving that he led his troops in person, and was captured during the battle. But the relief is, perhaps, not to be taken too literally, and may merely symbolize the defeat of his forces along with those of Umma, and his failure to render them any effective aid. On the other hand, in a text engraved upon one of his foundation-stones, Eannatum boasts that he added the kingdom of Kish to his dominions : “Eannatum, patesi of Lagash, by the goddess Ninni who loves him, along with the patesiate of Lagash was presented with the kingdom of Kish”. It would seem that in this passage Eannatum lays claim, not only to have defeated Kish, but also to exercising suzeranity over the northern kingdom.

With Eannatum’s victory over Kish we must probably connect the success which he achieved over another northern city, Opis. For towards the end of the text upon the foundation-stone referred to above, these achievements appear to be described as a single event, or, at least, as two events of which the second closely follows and supplements the first. In the course of the formulae celebrating the principal conquests of his reign, Eannatum exclaims : "By Eannatum was Elam broken in the head, Elam was driven back to his own land; Kish was broken in the head, and the king of Opis was driven back to his own land". When referring to the victory over Opis in an earlier passage of the same inscription, Eannatum names the king who attacked him, and, although he does not give many details of the war, it may be inferred that Opis was defeated only after a severe struggle. “When the king of Opis rose up”, the text runs, “Eannatum, whose name was spoken by Ningirsu, pursued Zuzu, king of Opis, from the Antasurra of Ningirsu up to the city of Opis, and there he smote him and destroyed him”. We have already seen reasons for believing that the king of Kish took an active part in Umma’s war with Lagash, and shared her defeat; and we may conjecture that it was to help and avenge his ally that Zuzu, king of Opis, marched south and attacked Eannatum. That he met with some success at first is perhaps indicated by the point from which Eannatum records that he drove him back to his own land. For the Antasurra was a shrine or temple dedicated to Ningirsu, and stood within the territory of Lagash, though possibly upon or near the frontier. Here Eannatum met the invaders in force, and not only dislodged them, but followed up his victory by pursuing them back to their own city, where he claims that he administered a still more crushing defeat. It is possible that the conquest of Maer, or Mari, took place at this time, and in connection with the war with Opis and Kish, for in one passage Eannatum refers to the defeat of these three states at the Antasurra of Ningirsu. Maer may well have been allied with Kish and Opis, and may have contributed a contingent to the army led by Zuzu in his attack on Lagash.

It is interesting to note that Kish and the king of Kish represented the most dreaded enemies of Lagash, at least during a portion of the reign of Eannatum. For on a mortar of black basalt which is preserved in the British Museum, Eannatum, after recording that he has dedicated it to Nina, “the Lady of the Holy Mountain”, prays that no man may damage it or carry it away; and he then adds the petition, "May the King of Kish not seize it!". This ejaculation is eloquent of the dread which the northern kingdom inspired in the cities of the south, and we may see in it evidence of many a raid during which the temples of Lagash had been despoiled of their treasures. We may well ascribe the dedication of the altar and the cutting of the inscription to the early part of Eannatum’s reign; at any rate, to a period before the power of Kish was broken in the south; and, if we are right in this supposition, the mortar may perhaps serve to date another group of Eannatum’s campaigns. For in a passage on the second side of this monument it appears to be recorded that he had conquered the cities of Erech and Ur. The passage follows the invocations set forth by Eannatum upon the other side, in the course of which he prays that no one shall remove the mortar, or cast it into the fire, or damage it in any way; and it might be argued that the lines were an addition made to the original text of dedication at a considerably later period. In that case the passage would afford no proof that the conquest of Ur and Erech preceded that of Kish. But both sides of the monument have the appearance of having been engraved by the same hand, and we are probably justified in assuming that the whole of the inscription was placed upon the vessel at the time it was made. We may thus provisionally place the conquest of Ur and Erech before that of Kish. Further, in his foundation-inscriptions, Eannatum groups his conquest of Ur and Erech with that of Ki-babbar, “the place of the Sun-god”, a term which may with considerable probability be identified with Larsa, the centre of the cult of the Sun-god in Southern Babylonia. It would thus appear that Eannatum conquered these cities, all situated in the extreme south of Babylonia at about the same period, and probably in the early part of his reign.

An indication that we are right in placing the southern conquests of Eannatum before the war with Umma may, perhaps, be seen in the invocations to deities engraved upon the Stele of the Vultures with which Eannatum sought to protect his treaty. In the course of the invocations Eannatum states that he has made offerings to the goddess Ninkharsag in the city of Kesh, to Enzu, the Moon-god, in Ur, and to Babbar, the Sun-god, in Larsa. These passages we may assume refer to offerings made by Eannatum in his character of suzerain, and, if this view is correct, we must conclude that the conquest of these cities had already taken place. The invocation to Enki perhaps presupposes that Eridu also was in the hands of Eannatum at this time, a corollary that would almost necessarily follow, if the three neighbouring cities of Ur, Erech, and Larsa had fallen before his arms. Accordingly, the list of gods by whom Eannatum and the men of Umma swore to preserve the treaty becomes peculiarly significant. They were selected on political as much as on purely religious grounds, and in their combined jurisdiction represented the extent of Eannatum's dominion in Sumer at the time. That a ruler should be in a position to exact an oath by such powerful city-gods was obviously calculated to inspire respect for his own authority, while the names of the gods themselves formed a sufficient guarantee that divine punishment would surely follow any violation of the treaty. The early successes gained by Eannatum, by which he was enabled to exercise suzerainty over the principal cities of Southern Babylonia, may well have been the cause of his arousing the active hostility of Kish and Opis. When he had emerged victorious from his subsequent struggle with the northern cities, we may assume that he claimed the title of king, which he employs in place of his more usual title of patesi in certain passages in the text of his treaty with Umma.

The other conquests recorded in the inscriptions of Eannatum fall into two groups. In all the lists of his victories that have come down to us—on the Stele of the Vultures, the foundation-stones, and the brick-inscriptions—the defeat of Elam is given the first place. This is probably not to be taken as implying that it was the first in order of time. It is true that the order in which the conquered districts and cities are arranged is generally the same in the different lists, but this is not invariably the case. Apart from differences caused by the omission or insertion of names, the order is sometimes altered; thus the conquest of Arua is recorded before that of Ur on the Stele of the Vultures, whereas on the foundation-stones this arrangement is reversed. It would, therefore, be rash to assume that they were enumerated in the order of their occurrence; it is more probable that the conquered states and districts are grouped on a rough geographical basis, and that these groups are arranged according to the importance attaching to them. That Elam should always be mentioned first in the lists is probably due to the fact that she was the hereditary enemy of the cities of Sumer and Akkad, whose rulers could never be sure of immunity from her attacks. The agricultural wealth of Babylonia offered a tempting prey to the hardy tribes who dwelt among the hills upon the western border of Elam, and the dread of the raider and mountaineer, experienced by the dweller in the plain, is expressed by Eannatum in his description of Elam as “the mountain that strikes terror”.

That in their conflict with Eannatum the Elamites were, as usual, the aggressors, is clear from the words of the record upon his longer foundation-inscription— “by Eannatum was Elam broken in the head, Elam was driven back to his own land”. In other passages referring to the discomfiture of the Elamites, Eannatum adds the formula that “he heaped up burial-mounds”, a phrase which would seem to imply that the enemy were only defeated with considerable loss. It is not unlikely that we may fix the field of battle, upon which the forces of Elam were defeated, on the banks of the Asukhur Canal, which had been cut two generations before by Ur-Nina, Eannatum’s grand­father; at least, the canal gives its name to a battlefield which is mentioned immediately before the name of Elam in one of the lists of conquests. It would thus seem that the Elamites were engaged in raiding the territory of Lagash when Eannatum fell upon them with his army and drove them northwards and across the Tigris.

Closely associated with Eannatum’s success against the Elamites were his conquest of Shakh, of a city the reading of the name for which is unknown, and probably also of a land or district which bore the name of Sunanam. The conquest of this last place is only mentioned in a broken passage upon the Stele of the Vultures, between the names of Elam and Shakh, and that of the unknown city, so that little can be inferred with regard to it. Shakh, on the other hand, whenever it is referred to in the inscriptions of Eannatum, follows immediately after the name of Elam, and it was not improbably a district on the Elamite frontier which Eannatum ravaged during his pursuit of the invaders. The city with the unknown name was evidently a place of some importance, for not only was it governed by a patesi, but when its conquest is mentioned in the lists details are usually given. The interpretation of a phrase recording its patesi’s action with regard to the emblem of the city is not quite certain, but it would appear that on the approach of Eannatum he planted it before the city-gate. The context would seem to imply that this was intended as an act of defiance, not of submission, for Eannatum states that he conquered the city and heaped up burial-mounds. The site of the city, like its name, is unknown, but since the records referring to it always follow those concerning Elam, we may provisionally regard it as having lain in the direction of the Elamite frontier.

The remaining group of Eannatum's conquests comprise the victories he achieved over Az, Mishime, and Arua. The first of these places was a city ruled by a patesi, whom Eannatum slew when he captured and destroyed it. It was formerly regarded as situated in the neighbourhood of the Persian Gulf, but the grounds on which this view was held have proved inadequate. Moreover, Eannatum’s references to Mishime and Arua do not assist us much in determining their positions, for he merely states that he destroyed and annihilated them. In a passage upon the Stele of the Vultures, however, a reference to the land of Sumer follows closely upon a record of the conquest of Arua, which perhaps is an indication that all three places should be sought in Southern Babylonia. We are thus without data for settling definitely the region in which this group of cities lay, and we are equally without information as to the period of his reign in which Eannatum captured or destroyed them. The fact that they are mentioned last in the lists is no proof that they were among his most recent conquests; it may merely be due to their relatively small importance. In support of this suggestion we may note that in the longest of his foundation-inscriptions Eannatum refers to them once only, while his successes against Elam and the northern cities are celebrated in two or three separate passages.

From the preceding discussion of the campaigns of Eannatum it will have been seen that during his reign a considerable expansion took place in the power and influence of Lagash. From being a city-state with her influence restricted to her own territory, she became head of a confederation of the great Sumerian cities, she successfully disputed with the northern cities the hegemony in Babylonia, and she put a check upon the encroachments of Elam, the hereditary foe of Sumer and Akkad alike. According to the view of Eannatum’s conquests which has been put forward, the first expansion of the city's influence took place southwards. The cities of Ur, Erech, Larsa, Kesh, and probably Eridu, had already become her vassal states, before Kish and Opis attempted to curtail her growing power; and in the war which followed it is probable that we may see a struggle between the combined forces of Sumer on the one hand, and those of Akkad on the other. One of the most important episodes in this conflict was the war with Umma, since the raid by the men of that city into the territory of Lagash furnished the occasion for the outbreak of hostilities. The issue of the conflict placed Lagash in the position of the leading city in Babylonia. The fact that from this time forward Eannatum did not permanently adopt the title of "king" in his inscriptions, may perhaps be traced to his preference for the religious title of “patesi”, which emphasized his dependence upon his own city-god Ningirsu.

The military character of Eannatum is reflected in his inscriptions, which in this respect form a striking contrast to those of his grandfather, Ur-Nina. While the earlier king’s records are confined entirely to lists of temples and other buildings, which he erected or restored in Lagash and its neighbourhood, the texts of Eannatum are devoted almost exclusively to his wars. From a few scattered passages, however, we gather that he did not entirely neglect the task of adding to and beautifying the temples in his capital. Thus he built a temple for the goddess Gatumdug, and added to other buildings which were already standing in Ur-Nina's time. But his energies in this direction were mainly devoted to repairing the fortifications of Lagash, and to putting the city in a complete state of defence. Thus he boasts that he built the wall of Lagash and made it strong. Since Ur-Nina's time, when the city-wall had been thoroughly repaired, it is probable that the defences of the city had been weakened, for Eannatum also records that he restored Girsu, one of the quarters of the city, which we may suppose had suffered on the same occasion, and had been allowed to remain since then in a partly ruined condition. In honour of the goddess Nina he also records that he rebuilt, or perhaps largely increased, the quarter or the city which was named after her, and he constructed a wall for the special protection of Uru-azagga, another quarter of Lagash. In fact, the political expansion, which took place at this period in the power of Lagash, was accompanied by an equally striking increase in the size and defences of the city itself.

During the reign of Eannatum it is clear that the people of Lagash enjoyed a considerable measure of prosperity, for, although they were obliged to furnish men for their patesis army, the state acquired considerable wealth from the sack of conquered cities, and from the tribute of grain and other supplies which was levied upon them as a mark of their permanent subjection. Moreover, the campaigns could not have been of very long duration, and, after the return of the army on the completion of a war, it is probable that the greater part of it would be disbanded, and the men would go back to their ordinary occupations. Thus the successful prosecution of his foreign policy by Eannatum did not result in any impoverishment of the material resources of his people, and the fertile plains around the city were not left untilled for lack of labour. Indeed, it would appear that in the latter part of his reign he largely increased the area of land under cultivation. For in his longer foundation-inscriptions, after recording his principal conquests, he states : “In that day Eannatum did (as follows). Eannatum, . . . when his might had borne fruit, dug a new canal for Ningirsu, and he named it Lummadimdug”. By the expression “when his might had borne fruit”, it is clear that Eannatum refers to the latter part of his reign, when he was no longer obliged to place his army incessantly in the field, and he and his people were enabled to devote themselves to the peaceful task of developing the material resources of their own district in Sumer.

Another canal, which we know was cut by Eannatum, was that separating the plain of Gu-edin from the territory of Umma, but this was undertaken, not for purposes of irrigation, but rather as a frontier-ditch to mark the limits of the territory of Lagash in that direction. There is little doubt, however, that at least a part of its stream was used for supplying water to those portions of Gu-edin which lay along its banks. Like the canal Lummadimdug, this frontier-ditch was also dedicated to Ningirsu, and in the inscription upon a small column which records this fact, the name of the canal is given as Lummagirnuntashagazaggipadda. But this exceedingly long title was only employed upon state occasions, such as the ceremony of dedication; in common parlance the name was abbreviated to Lumma-girnunta, as we learn from the reference to it upon Entemena’s Cone. It is of interest to note that in the title of the stone of delimitation, which occurs upon the Stele of the Vultures, reference is made to a canal named Ug-edin, the title of the stone being given as “O Ningirsu, lord of the crown . . . , give life unto the canal Ug-edin!”. In the following lines the monument itself is described as “the Stele of Gu-edin, the territory beloved of Ningirsu, which I, Eannatum, have restored to Ningirsu”; so that it is clear that the canal, whose name is incorporated in that of the stele, must have had some connection with the frontier-ditch. Perhaps the canal Ug-edin is to be identified with Lummagirnunta, unless one of the two was a subsidiary canal.

For the supply of his principal irrigation-canal with water after the period of the spring-floods, Eannatum did not depend solely upon such water as might find its way in from the river, before the surface of the latter sank below the level of the canal-bed; nor did he confine himself to the laborious method of raising it from the river to his canal by means of irrigation-machines. Both these methods of obtaining water he doubtless employed, but he supplemented them by the construction of a reservoir, which should retain at least a portion of the surplus water during the early spring, and store it up for gradual use in the fields after the water-level in the river and canals had fallen. In the passage in his foundation-inscription, which records this fact, he says: “For Ningirsu he founded the canal Lummadimdug and dedicated it to him; Eannatum, endowed with strength by Ningirsu, constructed the reservoir of Luinmadimdug, with a capacity of three thousand six hundred gur of water”. It is true that his reservoir was not of very imposing dimensions, but its construction proves that Eannatum or his engineers had studied the problem of irrigation in a scientific spirit, and had already evolved the method of obtaining a constant water-supply which is still regarded as giving the best results.

Smaller canals were possibly dug during Eannatum’s reign for supplying water to those quarters of Lagash which he improved or added to; and we also know that, where canalization was impracticable, he obtained water by sinking wells. Within the enclosure of Ningirsu’s temple, for instance, he constructed a well for supplying the temple with water, and some of the bricks have been recovered which lined the well on the inside. On these he inscribed his name beside those of the gods by whom he had been favoured; and, after giving a list of his more important conquests, he recorded that he had built the well in the spacious forecourt of the temple, and had named it Sigbirra, and had dedicated it to Ningirsu. From the reference to his conquests in the inscription upon the bricks, it is clear that the sinking of the well, like the cutting of the irrigation-canal Lummadimdug, took place in the later years of Eannatum’s reign.

The phrase with which the well-inscription of Eannatum ends may be taken as indicating the measure of prosperity to which the state of Lagash attained under his rule. “In those days”, it says, “did Ningirsu love Eannatum”. But Eannatum’s claim to remembrance rests, as we have seen, in a greater degree upon his military successes, by means of which he was enabled to extend the authority of Lagash over the whole of Sumer and a great part of Akkad. He proved himself strong enough at the same time to defend his empire from the attack of external foes, and it is probable that, after his signal defeat of the Elamites, he was not troubled by farther raids from that quarter. Three times in the course of his inscriptions he states that “by Eannatum, whose name was uttered by Ningirsu, were the countries broken in the head”, and it would appear that his boast was justified. The metaphor he here employs is taken from the heavy battle-mace, which formed an effective weapon in the warfare of the period. It may be seen in use in the scene sculptured upon the principal monument of Eannatum’s reign, where Ningirsu himself is portrayed as breaking the heads of his foes. This representation of the city-god of Lagash, one of the finest examples of early Sumerian sculpture, in itself admirably symbolizes the ambition and achievements of the ruler in whose reign and by whose order it was made.

 

 

URUKAGINA

 

BRICK OF EANNATUM, PATESI OF SHIRPURLA, RECORDING HIS GENEALOGY AND CONQUESTS, AND COMMEMORATING THE SINKING OF WELLS IN SHIRPURLA.