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Utu-hegal: 2119-2113, Ur-Nammu: 2112-c. 2095, Shulgi: 2094-2047, Amar-Sin: 2046-2037, Shu-Sin: 2037-2027, Ibbi-Sin: 2026-2004?




Stephen H. Langdom





THE real champion of Sumer and Akkad, the organizer of its most brilliant period, was Ur-Engur (Ur-Nammu). His name indicates that he was the devotee of an otherwise unknown goddess, Cur or Nammu. How peace was restored and the whole of western Asia subdued are related in a long panegyric found at Nippur. It refers to his military exploits as follows. “Those whom he plundered followed with him in tears ... in a place which had been unknown his ships were known”. Kish, the ancient Semitic rival of Sumer, rebelled against the Land and was conquered.

The foreign lands brought presents. But there is no definite statement concerning his conquests east and west, although a year-date at Lagash refers to the year when Ur-Nammu traversed Mesopotamia from the Upper Lands to the Lower Lands. The history of the kings of Ur is derived almost exclusively from the records of Sumerian cities which belonged to his kingdom, and at none of these was he recognized as a god. But at his own capital arose the cult of the god Ur-Nammu, and a tablet containing two hymns in his honor calls him the merciful lord who brought prosperity to Ur, the shepherd of Ur, who ruled also in far-away lands which paid heavy tribute to the capital. He was son of the mother-goddess Ninsun, and the Moon-god of Ur selected him to rule the dark-headed peoples; “Wickedness tarried not before him”, and he seems to have been the founder of the Sumerian code of laws.

In the course of his eighteen years’ reign he was busily engaged in restoring the ancient temples, which renders the paucity of tablets during his reign all the more striking. His son became high priest of Innini at Erech, and it is certain that this ancient rival city prospered under his care. Besides his work at Nippur, Lagash, Adab, Larsa, Eridu and Umma, he built the wall of Ur; and the hymn to Ur-Nammu from Nippur alludes further to the rebuilding of the royal palace. Brick-stamps found at Mukayyar refer only to the temple of Nannar, god of the new moon, and his inscriptions give only the name of the tower E-temen-ni-il, “Temple whose foundation supported splendor”. Liturgical texts of this period refer to the great temple of the moon-god as E-gishshirgal, “house of light”, and its central chapel where stood the statue of Sin or Nannar bore the name E-nitendug. Nabonidus refers to Ur-Nammu as the builder of the stage-tower, but he writes its name E-lugal-malgasidi, “temple of the king who orders counsel”, and still another name for it was E-shuganulul.

The hymn to the deified Ur-Nammu refers to his palace as the house of Ur wherein was accumulated the wealth of the foreign land. The throne-room of Ur-Nammu was named “The mercy of Sin, great lord”, and its gate, “Thy god is a great god”. There the divine Ur-Nammu god of heaven and earth sat as counselor, and the Nippur hymn has also much to say concerning the royal palace, which is referred to even more frequently in the inscriptions of his successors. The palace of the kings of Ur remains to be excavated; its ruins conceal the treasures accumulated by the kings of Sumer's greatest empire, and if the indications obtained from the texts of the period may be trusted, they made this building the chief object of their care.

A clay cone from Lagash states that he dug a canal for his god Nannar, son of Enlil, after he had finished the temple of Enlil at Nippur, and he adjures his successors to care for the abode of Nannar. Since the cult of the moon-god was prominent at Nippur also, it may be inferred that the king refers to a temple of Nannar in Nippur. The Lagash inscription contains the striking phrase: “By the laws of righteousness of Shamash forever I established justice”; and the hymn in his cult at Ur speaks of the proverb: “The righteousness of Ur-Nammu, a treasure, was a saying”. Similar references to the promulgation of a Sumerian law-code are found in the inscriptions of Shulgi.

Although Ur-Nammu’s deification had not been authoritatively recognized beyond the capital it is probable that he was generally regarded as a deity. A posthumous cult of Ur-Nammu was certainly known at Lagash, for a tablet from the archives of that city carries a record of six gur (say 18 bushels) of dates made for a festival and for the regular offerings to Ur-Nammu. A similar record from Lagash, dated in the reign of Shu-Sin, refers to offerings for the festival of the reigning monarch and the fixed offerings of Ur-Nammu, and a tablet from the temple-archives of Umma in the same reign refers to sacrifices made to the thrones of Ur-Nammu, Shulgi and Amar-Sin, the predecessors of Shu-Sin. Here he alone is deprived of the divine title but he received posthumous worship throughout Sumer.

Ur-Nammu adopted the title “King of Ur, king of Sumer and Akkad”, which was claimed by his son Dungi (Shulgi) up to his forty-second year. Shulgi acceded to the throne of Ur in the year 2094, and ruled for the exceptionally long period of fifty-eight years. The date-formulae for all the years of his reign are known with the exception of the second to the twelfth years. In tablets from every Sumerian city of the period except Ur this king appears without the divine title in the early years of his reign. There is definite evidence of his apotheosis before the twelfth year; and in the seventeenth year the seventh month in the old calendar of Lagash appears renamed in honor of the festival of the divine Shulgi. At Umma it was the name of the tenth month which was changed to make place for the new cult of the reigning king. A tablet from Lagash bears the date: “Year when the-high-priest of the cult of the god Shulgi was installed and elected”. At Nippur documents dated by the official formulae of the kingdom of Ur do not exist at all before the thirty-fifth year of Shulgi. The tablets of accounts from Umma reveal the same situation: business revives, the temples again receive revenues as in the days of the kings of Agade, but not until Shulgi had occupied the throne of Sumer and Akkad for nearly forty years. In a list of the provincial governors of the period the following order is given: Girsu, Umma, Babylon, Maradda, Adab, Shuruppak, Kazallu. These seven cities may be regarded as the most important seats of provincial governors; and there is no trace of a revival at any of them before the fortieth year of Shulgi, with the remarkable exception of Lagash, which does not appear to have suffered such total extinction of culture under the kings of Gutium. But other cities arose to prominence in the reign of Shulgi and became seats of patesis, viz. A-pi-ak-(ki), identical with the Awak(ki) of the period of Naram-Sin, and the ancient Awan-ki near Susa, which is mentioned in the fifty-sixth year of Shulgi as a contributor to the sacrifices of the cults of Nippur. Under his successors Amar-Sin and Ibbi-Sin, this Elamite city has a Semitic governor by name Sharrumbani.

The emperors of Ur surpassed their predecessors in their reverence for Nippur. So great were the revenues in grain, fruit, livestock and various offerings that a receiving-house was built on the Euphrates below Nippur, now the ruins of Drehem. Arab diggers have found many hundred tablets from temple archives, and nearly every collection in Europe, America and the British Empire possesses some of these records. The law of the empire imposed regular tribute upon king and all governors to the cults of Nippur, and these tablets form in reality one of the principal sources for the history of the period. The records show that, beside the principal temple of E-kur, and its chapels of Enlil and Ninlil, there stood in this city temples to the divine emperor, to the gods Ninazu, Ningishzida, Lugal-banda, Enki, Amurru or Immer, Nannar, Tammuz, Shamash, and the goddesses Gula, Nana, Innini, Ninsun, Annunit, and many others. In fact, the pantheon of Nippur includes every important deity. It is of course probable that many of these were provided for by chapels in the temple. A magnificent seal dedicated to the god of the new moon, Nusku, for the life of the divine Shulgi by Ur-an-bad (?), the patesi of Nippur, reflects credit upon the school of engravers there. The design is unusual, depicting Shulgi himself pouring a libation into a tall jar from which protrude two lotus buds. Beside the star stands Nusku, clad in the kaunakes and horned headdress (a sign of deity), and behind the emperor his goddess, Ninsun, stands in pose of supplication for her royal son.

Anshan, capital of one of the Elamite provinces south of Susa, submitted to the kings of Ur, and one of its patesis married the daughter of Shulgi. But this alliance did not prevent the immediate revolt of Anshan only four years later, and the city was devastated by the king. Two governors of Anshan with Semitic names are known, and they may be placed with some certainty before the devastation of that province in his forty-fourth year. It was the reviving power of the Elamite states which finally overthrew the empire of Ur, and these provinces were troublesome throughout the long reign of Shulgi. Another daughter of the king became queen of Markhashi, a new name for the old Elamite province Barakhsu, near Awan (Awak). Kazallu and Der, provinces in this region, appear to have recognized the authority of Ur early in the reign of Shulgi and to have given no further trouble. In his eighteenth year the serpent-goddess Isir was restored to her temple in Der, an event which was used for the promulgation of the official date for the nineteenth year. In the period of turmoil preceding the dynasty of Ur, Der, seat of the cult of the Elamite god Ash-nunnak and his consort Isir, had been the capital of a small province. Its governor Anumutabil (a Semitic name) claims to have smitten Anshan, Elam, Barakhsu and the Elamite state Simash. Kazallu is powerful but loyal. The installation of the thunder-god, Numushda, in his temple at Kazallu is commemorated in the official date of the twentieth year of Shulgi. All the names of the known patesis and citizens of Kazallu (Ibni-ili, etc.), and of a later king of Kazallu(Muti-abal), suggest that in the period of Ut the population was chiefly semitic.




The conquest of other provinces in this reign, Gankhar, Simuru and Kharshi, was accomplished in the years 34-37 of his reign. These tribes of the western water-shed of the Zagros mountains continued to be restless and disloyal. Gankhar had to be reduced again in his forty-first year, Simuru revolted immediately and was reduced again in his thirty-sixth year, and a third time in his forty-third year. Simuru must have been in constant turmoil, for the date of his fifty-fourth year refers to the destruction of both Simuru and Lulubu for the ninth time. Lulubu, the powerful Elamite (?) tribe, whose prominence two centuries earlier in that region has already been emphasized, seems to have been conquered by Shulgi in the little-known earlier period of his reign. Like Simuru it was in persistent revolt, but the subjection of those lands for the ninth time was effective, and there is no further mention of trouble in this region under the kings of Ur. A variant of the date of the fifty-eighth year refers to a campaign in which Kharshi, Kimash and Khumurti and their lands were destroyed in one day. In the later years of the kingdom of Ur a good portion of the region east of the Tigris, including Gankhar, was included in the patesi-ship of Lagash. Like Kazallu, Gankhar proclaimed itself an independent kingdom in the age of turmoil which followed the fall of Ur; and a fine seal, in the style of the late Ur and Isin period, represents Masiam-Ishtar, a subject of the divine Kishari, king of Gankhar, in prayer before a seated figure of this king. The names suggest a Semitic ruling-class. Another tribe in this region was Urbillum, conquered in the fifty-fourth year. Amar-Sin, the successor of Shulgi, was compelled to subdue Urbillum again five years later, and since Ashur, the old Assyrian capital, recognized Amar-Sin as king it seems certain that Shulgi in his campaigns against Lulubu, Kimash, Simuru and Urbillum also attached the whole region of old Assyria to his empire.

A bas-relief from this region represents a king, perhaps Hammurabi, smiting a bearded enemy with a Sumerian axe and a spear, while the reverse represents the king of Arrapkha in chains before him. The inscription indicates that the scene represents the conquest of Arrapkha, ancient Gutium, south of the Lower Zab. After crossing the Lower Zab this king conquered Tabra (the classical Tapurra) and Urbel (Urbillum). Arrapkha and Tabra do not seem to have been known in the period of Ur, and the Semitic inscription also indicates a later date. Its statement that Ramman, the thunder-god, was the national god of Arrapkha gains significance when associated with the fact that the god of Kazallu was also the thunder-god. The tribes in these lands appear to have worshipped this same deity under various names.

The only lands east of the Tigris and north of Elam which were raised to the dignity of political provinces under a patesi were Kazallu and Kimash, both of which may be located south of the Diyala. They had been thoroughly semiticized already under the rule of the earlier Sargonids of Agade. Also the names of three patesis at Susa of the Ur period (Zarig, Belizarig and Urkium) are all Semitic. It is possible that the powerful ruler of Susa, Gimil-Shushinak, belonged to the time of Ur-Nammu, or even to the Gutium period. Shulgi built a temple to the god Shushinak at Susa before he was deified, and a fine marble mace-head engraved with two lions in procession was dedicated to the god Nineriamugub for the life of Shulgi at Susa by Urniginmu, an official of the Sea. The inscriptions themselves are Sumerian, although the numerous monuments of Gimil-Shushinak are composed in Semitic and he himself bears a Semitic name. It may not be venturesome to suppose that he was a Semite, for the rulers of Agade not infrequently sent Semitic governors to Susa. In the age of the empire of Akkad Semitic had become the official language of Susa and this tradition was continued by Gimil-Shushinak. He usually describes himself as a patesi and the son of Shimbi-ishkhuk. A stele which commemorates his subjection of the “four regions” calls him the king of Zawan. A fragmentary statue of this ruler found at Susa names him patesi of Susa and governor of Elam, a title which recurs on his other monuments. The inscription on his statue declares that he was forced into war with Kimash and Khurtim (Khumurti of the Shulgi texts); and he subdued not only these but a great number of now unknown cities in this region. A fine statue of a seated goddess robed in the kaunakes of the Gudea period carried a fragmentary inscription of Gimil-Shushinak and an archaic inscription in the old Elamite script of the period before Ur-Nina. Fragments of statuettes with his Semitic inscriptions and an old Elamite version have been found at Susa. Two statuettes of the patesi himself, both of which remain unpublished, are described by Scheil. He wears the fringed robe characteristic of Sumerian dress from Gudea onward and has a full beard. A large stele with a five-column inscription preserves a record of his pious works and dedications in the temple of his god Shushinak. The pantheon of Gimil-Shushinak is a mélange of Elamitic and Sumerian deities. Besides his own native gods, Shushinak, Al(?)attegir-raban, Al-Shugu, he appeals to the Sumerian deities, Enlil, Enki, Innini, Ninkharsag and Sin. The Semitic sun-god, Shamash, appears regularly in his imprecations, and a deity Naride, Nariti, as well as Nati, all perhaps Elamite.

But Susa yielded to the dynasty of Ur without a struggle. There are no traces of wars with Susa in the records of Ur-Nammu and Shulgi. Accustomed to the beneficent rule of a Mesopotamian kingdom in the age of Sargon, and disciples of the fine civilization of Sumer since the dawn of history, Susa welcomed the Sumerian renaissance after the blight of the occupation of Gutium. Anshan also became a leading province, and two of its patesis, Libum and Shalabu, have Semitic names. Records from Lagash contain entries by the government’s accountants of food, oil and supplies for the king’s ambassadors (sukkalu) coming from or returning to that province. The Elamite provinces of Adamdun and Sabum appear to have been important administrative provinces and both received the distinction of patesi-ships in the last years of Shulgi. Sabum occurs frequently in the official transactions of the empire; four of its patesis have Semitic names, Abum-ilum, Shelibum, Abummi-sharri and Gimil-Sin-bani; and it was finally included in the patesi-ship of Lagash.




The history of the province of Lagash under the kings of Ur is better known than that of the capital itself. The temple and royal archives of the period excavated at Telloh provide quantities of business records whose numbers are now to be counted in thousands. In the early years of his reign Shulgi built a temple to the goddess Nina at Lagash. His inscriptions, which celebrate the reconstruction of the great city temple of Ningirsu, refer to him as the god Shulgi. A diorite wig, dedicated to Nina, his protecting genius, by Bau-ninam, for the life of the divine Shulgi, is clearly to be assigned to Lagash. Here Bau-ninam, the high-priest of Nina, calls himself the sacrificial priest of Ur-Ningirsu, beloved priest of the goddess Nina. The importance of this statement for chronology is considerable. If Ur-Ningirsu, son of Gudea, was still alive, not as patesi, but as priest, we must shorten the time between Gudea (2144-2124 BC) and Shulgi: we can hardly allow more than four or five years for Utukhegal and the dynasty at Erech between Gutium and Ur-Nammu. Ur-Nammu must have founded Ur almost immediately after Utukhegal had expelled the Gutium rulers, and the present writer’s estimate of 50 years between the kingdoms of Gutium and of Ur must be cancelled. On the other hand, the present writer holds that this Ur-Ningirsu was the subject of a posthumous cult just as his father, Gudea, was the subject of cult-worship in the Ur period.

Umma, also the seat of a patesi, retained its importance under Shulgi. It is somewhat characteristic of the seals of Umma to engrave a lion on the side of the throne of a deity, who is probably the vegetation-god, Shara; on one seal he carries a standard supporting a lion. The throne of a seated goddess is often adorned with a lion also, this figure is probably Nidaba, the grain-goddess. The history of Umma in this period is associated principally with the name of the patesi Ur-Negun, who was appointed not later than the forty-third year. He held office continuously (apart from a brief spell when Akalla filled the post) until the sixth year of Amar-Sin. The twenty-two years of his patesi-ship is the longest of its kind in the records of any city under the rule of Ur.

The sacred city, Eridu, still survived and was the seat of a viceroy. A Babylonian Chronicle states that Shulgi cared greatly for Eridu on the shore of the sea, a statement confirmed by an inscribed stone tablet which commemorates his construction of the temple of Enki. But it suffered serious reverses. Nur-Immer, or Nur-Adad (2197-2181), king of Larsa, who reigned nearly two centuries later, states that Eridu had been destroyed. He caused the income of Eridu to be given regularly, and commanded that the city be rebuilt. The holy abode (E-apsu) which Enki loved he built, and he restored to their place the eternal cult utensils and ritual decorations of the temple. Moreover, his predecessor, Bur-Sin, king of Isin (2235-2213), who ceased to reign only a few years before Nun-Immer, claims that he also restored the holy “designs”, or temple-vessels and sacred objects of Eridu. The ancient city of the water-god Enki was still in good preservation under the kings of Ur; its temples and cults remained in use as late as Hammurabi.

Shulgi built the temple (E-Keshdu) of Ninkharsag, the mother-goddess of Adab, in the early years of his reign. The brick stamp employed by Amar-Sin at Eridu, Sippar and Adab, is, curiously enough, only a duplicate of one which he used in the temple of Enlil at Nippur.

For the conditions of the cults at Nippur in this period the information to be gathered from the prolific ruins of Drehem is satisfactory. These archives contain the official accounts of the sacrifices at various feasts to the gods of the Nippur pantheon and the deified kings of Ur. The excavations at Nippur have yielded a large number of the hymns sung in the public services, and especially in the cults of the god-emperors, Shulgu, Amar-Sin and Shu-Sin. Many Sumerian hymns sung in the cult of the dying god Tammuz and his sister Ishtar, as the service was conducted there, have been recovered. To the Nippurian school of liturgists in this age Sumer and the Babylonian and Assyrian peoples owed the elaborate daily services of the most formal and musically intricate religion of antiquity. The entire development of liturgical literature can be traced in the remains of the temple-library of Nippur. A good number of the early services, which consisted of only one hymn, usually a lamentation on some specific calamity or upon the ordinary troubles of mankind, were still in use at Nippur. These were accompanied by a drum, flute or lyre. Next, several old songs with a common theme were combined, and finally the composite type of liturgical service was evolved. In the final product of the schools of music throughout Sumer, the melodies are rewritten to develop a theme and to introduce certain important doctrines. The Nippurian school of liturgists were more conservative than those of other great centres and were slower to give up the old melodies, which consisted of one song only. They acted as learned compilers and revisers of the hymn-books produced in other schools.




Perhaps the most profound idea that pervades the liturgies of Nippur is the view which they set forth concerning the mother-goddess. Gula-Bau-Ninkharsag, the earth-mother worshipped in all cities, but principally at Adab, Kish and Lagash, is constantly appealed to in these doleful breviaries as the sorrowful mother to whom also the woes of humanity bring grief, and who is the steadfast suppliant of mankind before the angry gods. Of equal importance is the idea of the Word of Wrath which is introduced into all the daily liturgies and is sometimes the subject of entire prayer-services. According to the Nippurian school sin causes the gods to send affliction upon mankind by means of their “Word”, which is spoken and sent forth as an angry spirit to visit the habitations. The lamentations of the long prayer-books are chiefly concerned with the deeds of the wrathful word of one of the gods. Perhaps the most dreary part of each breviary is the litany which always occupies the penultimate position, the recessional to the flute coming last. This litany is made up of a refrain placed after the titles of all the important deities of the pantheon and has been described by the present writer as the Titular Litany. By means of the Titular Litany, which is always the same in each breviary—with the exception of the refrain, which must be, unique in each—the pantheon has been reconstructed.

The principal cults of Nippur, which were supported throughout all the cities of the empire, were those of Enlil and his consort Ninlil, Enlil’s sons, Ninurta, the war-god, Sin, Mannar and Nusku, the moon-gods, and Babbar, the sun-god, the various married types of the earth-mother, Ninkharsag of Adab, Nintud of Kish, Bau of Isin, Ninsun and Innini of Erech. The two other gods at the head of the trinity, Anu of Erech and Enki of Eridu, received much attention. Nippur, as the prehistoric seat of the worship of the earth-mother, creatress of man and his intercessor in life and death, became the national shrine of Sumer and of all converts to the Sumerian religion. As such, its appeal to the religious sentiments of Semites in Mesopotamia and Elam was equally strong. Sacrifices came to her temples from the cities of Akkad and Elam, and from Maer, the centre of the west Semitic converts on the middle Euphrates. In religion, speculation, music and literature the position of Nippur in this and the succeeding epoch of Isin and Larsa was preeminent and unchallenged.

The province of Nippur sent its share of the taxes to the cults of its own city. The cities Erech and Larsa appear to have belonged to the administrative district of the capital. They were not the seats of patesis under the kings of Ur. Shulgi repaired Eanna, the temple of Innini at Erech, in the first years of his reign, and Amar-Sin, who mentions her new name (Ninsianna), as goddess of Si-an-na (the planet Venus), also worked at the restoration of her temple. The archives of Drehem make frequent reference to sacrifices supplied to Erech for the feasts of the new moon and the full moon, and for services of song in the rituals of libations for the souls of the dead. The king himself sent fat lambs for the sacrifices to Innini in Erech. The northern Semitic type of Innini, Anunnit, the war-goddess, had a temple at Erech where she received offerings from the national supplies at Drehem; Shu-Sin built her temple there and this deified king claimed her as his own wife.

The complete silence of the business-records of Drehem, Lagash, Umma and Nippur concerning Larsa is at present inexplicable. This was the city which was soon to succeed Ur itself in the hegemony of southern Sumer, and as the centre of the cult of Babbar, the sun-god, it should be mentioned in contemporary literature. Layard found the stamped bricks of the temple E-babbar restored by Ur-Nammu at Senkereh; and that is the only information at present available for the history of this great city under the kings of Ur. A Nippur liturgical hymn of the period includes Ur and Larsa among the sacred places visited by the wrath of Enlil. But the canonical prayer-books always connect the sun-god with Sippar and not with Larsa. It is evident that the canonical hymns of Sumer were completed under the influence of the school of Nippur in the period which succeeded the kingdom of Ur. Nippur during the greater part of this literary era belonged to Isin and the rival dynasty reigned at Larsa. Consequently the old Sumerian cult of the sun-god was expunged, although the other temples and gods of the kingdom of Larsa were retained. Thus the Semitic sun-god of Sippar completely displaced the older Babbar of Sumer in the sacred songs of the Babylonian church.




The history of the capital itself is perhaps the least known or any great city in the empire. A pearl tablet, taken to Susa in later times among other plunder from Ur, has an inscription of Shulgi which refers to its dedication to Ningal, consort of the moon-god Sin. The inscription is noteworthy for the title which is given to the “God Shulgi, god of the Land”. The ever-increasing emphasis now placed upon the divinity of the rulers of Ur is manifest. His successor, Amar-Sin, proclaimed himself to be the sun-god of the Land. Shulgi twice refers to the dedication of a statue of the moon-god Nannar in a city Karzidda, probably a quarter of Ur itself. Amar-Sin has left two inscriptions which refer to a sacred room of the temple of Nannar in Karzidda. Before his time this temple did not possess a gig-kisal, “secluded court”, but Amar-Sin built one and placed therein his god Nannar. The archives of the depot of sacrifices for Nippur usually attribute the incoming taxes and gifts from Ur to the relays of the king.

The great cult of the moon-god of Ur hardly received adequate recognition in the canonical liturgies of Babylonia, because Ur came under the sway of Larsa when these breviaries were being completed at Nippur. Of the older liturgical hymns of the temple services in Ur during the period of her affluence under Shulgi and his successors two at least have survived. Both belong to the temple library of Nippur, and their note of gladness relieves the sombre monotony of the official liturgies of the later period:


0 holy crescent light of heaven, who is of itself created,

Father Nannar, lord of Ur,

Father Nannar, lord of Ekishshirgal,

When in the boat that in heaven ascendeth, thou art glorious,


Hail thou that in the majesty of a king daily risest, hail!

Hail son of Enlil, in the Land he is ruler, lord Ashimur.

In my city of the lifting of the eyes, the home of his own abode,

which is the fulness of luxury,

Whose design is like Shuruppak.


The moon-god is usually referred to under the title Nannar by the theologians of Sumer, and this is the ordinary title in the titular litanies of the prayer-books.

The patesi-ships assigned to Akkad were those of Babylon, Kish, Cuthah and Maradda. An unidentified city, Push, which seems to belong to Akkad also received a patesi-ship. Its cult is unknown and the name appears only in this period. All of these cities contributed sacrifices regularly to Nippur; but Cuthah and its cult of the god of the lower world Nergal, were especially favored by the king of Ur. This ancient city never lost its traditions as a centre of Sumerian culture, and both of the patesis of Cuthah whose names are known, Namzitarra and Gudea, seem to have been Sumerians. Shulgi rebuilt the temple E-kishibba and its stage-tower in Cuthah. The favorite title of the chthonian god of Cuthah in the liturgies and inscriptions is Meslamtaea. Under this title he was worshipped everywhere in Babylonia and Assyria. Shulgi’s attachment to this deity is reflected in the inscription of an elegant seal from Lagash dedicated to Meslamtaea for his life by Kilulla, an official. The engraving on the seal is almost unique in the period, for the man has the attitude assumed in the early period, when the suppliant saluted the deity by throwing a kiss, and the deity stands with right hand outstretched holding a flail with three knotted cords and in the left hand a short sword. This bearded deity with horned tiara is surely the terrible judge of those who die and come before the god of the nether world. The loyal owner named his seal “May my king in his excellent wisdom live”.

At Babylon, which began to attain prominence under the kings of Ur, Arshikh has the distinction of being the first important historical personage. He seems to have been patesi from the fifty-third to the fifty-sixth years of Shulgi and again during the reign of Amar-Sin. The Babylonian Chronicle says of Shulgi: “Evil he sought after and the treasures of E-sagila and Babylon he brought forth as spoil, the god Bel (Marduk) brought evil upon him and caused his dogs to eat his corpse”. The tendency of the Chronicle to record evil of kings who had violated Babylon has already been noted in the case, of Sargon. At all events, the humiliation of Babylon at the hands of Shulgi may explain the fact that the records of the Ur period are silent concerning Arshikh during the last two years of this reign.

There is no evidence that the kings of Ur did anything for the city and its cult, or had the slightest premonition of its future fame. Its god, Asaru, or Asaruludug, a water-deity, was borrowed from Eridu after the Ur dynasty, and in the liturgies of the Isin period only this title and Enbilulu, an old Eridu title, are ever admitted. Its gods and temples are not mentioned at all in the time of the last Ur dynasty, and it had no claim to figure in the canonical prayer-book of Sumer by its status as the seat of a prehistoric god. Babylon and its god Marduk were forced upon the liturgists of Nippur and Sumer because of its subsequent political power in the times of the kings of Isin. The theologians of Babylon revised the old myth of creation in which Ninurasha, son of Enlil, a god of the spring-sun, battled with the dragon of chaos, and Asaru replaced Ninurasha in this legend. As such Asaru, a god of lustration and atonement, son of the water-god of Eridu, became perforce a sun-god and the writers devised the new name amarudu, “youth of the sun”. The Semites, in borrowing Sumerian words compounded of the elements, usually attached the ending ku and the word became Amaruduku, Marduk, in popular speech. This new title is never admitted by the Sumerian hymnologists, although they were compelled to admit him into the pantheon, a concession which was not made to Agade, to Ashur, or to Nineveh.




Ashnunak (or Ashnunnak, Ishnunuk), east of the Tigris on the river Uknu, modern Kerkhah, is first mentioned in the records of Shulgi, who appointed a patesi, Kallamu, to that province. Both Kallamu and his successor, Ituria, have Semitic names. Shutruk-Nakhkhunte, king of Anzan and Susa, found a statue of Manishtusu at Ashnunak, and carried it away to Susa, which indicates that the kings of Agade knew the province under the same name. Its old Sumerian deity was Umunbanda, a type of earth-god known at Erech as Lugal-banda. Umunbanda, Enbanda or Lugal-banda, and his consort, Ninsun, are both forms of Ninurasha, the son of Enlil and Gula the mother-goddess, and both may have been transferred to Erech from Ashnunak. Lugal-banda was originally an ancient king of Erech who had been deified, and he was probably then confused with Umunbanda, after which Ninsun was also brought to Erech. There may have been some historic circumstance which connected Erech and its legendary king Gilgamesh with Ashnunak and Elam. Another title of the god of Ashnunak is Tishpak, an Elamite type of Ninurasha. Both Ash-nunak and Der occur in all periods from Shulgi to the Persian period for the same province or parts of the same province. The Elamite god Tishpak was also the god of Der and the two places appear to interchange freely.

Esh-nun-(ki), the original Sumerian name, means house of the prince, that is, home of the cult of the water-god Enki, and Bad-an-(ki), the ideograph for Der, means wall of the heaven-god Anu. This province, east of the Tigris, was the seat of a prehistoric Sumerian civilization at whose two chief cities, Der and Ash-nunak, were established the cults of the heaven-god Anu and the water-god Enki. Der was also the seat of a cult of the earth-goddess Bau, called “Queen of Der”. Here, too, was the prehistoric home of Ka-Di, a bi-sexual ophidian deity; and the scribes call the serpent-god (siru) of Der, both lord of life, and queen of life. Ka-Di is in fact a prehistoric title of the later Tammuz, and his name, Izir, seems to refer to the ophidian character of the prehistoric vegetation-deities: mother-earth and the bi-sexual child who dies and is resurrected yearly. Der is one of the halting places of Sumerian emigration from central Asia and its cults retained the character of their great antiquity. Innini, the special type of virgin earth-goddess, sister of Izir or Tammuz, also had her cult here. But the centre of Sumerian civilization shifted southward to the fertile valley of the Two Rivers. Anu and his daughter, Innini, took up their abode in the great city of Erech, and Izir, the dying god, under the more popular name of a dead king, Tammuz, had here his principal cult. The old relation of Erech to Eshnunak and Der manifests itself especially in the liturgies in frequent passages.

Another deity of the oldest Sumerian pantheon is Sakkut of Der, the prototype of Ninurasha. The Elamite Tishpak was identified with him. The temple of the heaven-god at Der was called Dimgal-kalama, “Bar of the Land”, and here Anu, father of the gods, undoubtedly maintained his position as the principal deity, whereas at Erech he was completely overshadowed by the worship of Innini. The Sumerians increasingly emphasized the cults of the mother-goddesses, especially of the virgin-type Innini, and the history of Ashnunak and Der both secular and religious is of supreme importance, for in this province the older Sumerian stage of religious belief persisted. Anu usually has the title Great Anu at Der, and his temple was served by a great priesthood, even in the days of Ashurbanipal. Esarhaddon restored the city and temple for the god Anu, the queen of Der, the serpent-god (siru), the goddess Kurunitu, Sakkut, the god of Bube, and the god Mar-biti. In the days of the Gutium invasion and subsequent humiliation of Sumer and Akkad the goddess of Der was carried away to the land of the conqueror, and a Semitic poem rehearses the lamentations of the various local mother-goddesses of the two lands. To judge from the date of his nineteenth year Shulgi restored to his city the god Izir, who, like Bau, had probably been taken to Gutium.




Both Der and Ashnunak were situated in a province which from the period of Hammurabi was called Yamutbal or Emutbal. Hammurabi ordered his governor, Sin-idinnam, to restore the goddesses of Emutbal, and in another letter he directed that the hierodules and harlots of Emutbal be brought to Babylon. The Babylonian king certainly referred to the Sumerian mother-goddesses of Der and Ashnunak, and to the sacred women in the service of the cult of Innini there. Certain indigenous languages of this region in the Assyrian period have a word which recurs in place-names, kingi, apparently in the sense of “land, country”. Emutbal itself is called in Sumerian kingi-sag VI, “Land of the six heads”. Kingi, however, is the original of the later word Sumer, and may perhaps mean the land simply; and the word seems to make it certain that this language, which survives in such sporadic instances in the highlands east of the Tigris, is a survival from the prehistoric period of the migrations of the Sumerians. Emutbal, a late (Elamite?) name for one of the oldest Sumerian halting places, was designated by the Sumerian ideogram for seven, a mystic number given also to Erech and the sacred city of Kish in Sumer. There can be no doubt concerning the sentiment of the Sumerians towards their old home-lands east of the Tigris; and their primitive serpent-cult lingered there, whereas it disappeared when it proceeded to Erech. Erech was the traditional capital of Sumer, and its historic connection with Ashnunak, Der, and Emutbal is explained by the fact that its chief cults of Anu, Innini and Tammuz are precisely those of the city of their former habitation.

A Sumerian inscription of the period of Gutium records how some patesi or governor had rebuilt Der and its temple. Beside the patesis of Ashnunak, whose names are found in the archives of Drehem, on tablets from the reigns of Shulgi, Amar-Sin and Shu-Sin, there is a seal-inscription concerning Ur-Ningishzida, the patesi of Ashnunak, dedicated to him by his son, Girra-bani. His brick-stamp has a Semitic inscription, “Ur-Ningishzida, be-loved of the god Tishpak, patesi of Ashnunak”. The scene on the cylinder belongs undeniably to the Ur period. It is unique in that it combines two styles of the Ur period. First, the worshipper is represented standing with hands folded at the waist, the new style, and behind this figure another worshipper is brought forward by a deity who grasps his left hand while he salutes with the right, the old processional style which is not later than the Ur period. One of the figures represents the owner, Girra-bani, and the other is his father Ur-Ningishzida, to whom the seal is dedicated.

The population of this region, at all events of the parts of Emutbal near the Tigris, was largely Semitic from the period of Agade onward, but in culture and religion Sumerian. In the period of Rim-Sin of Larsa, the daughter of Billama, patesi of Ashnunak, married Dan-rukhuratir, viceroy of Susa. In the period of turmoil after the fall of Ur, Ibik-Adad proclaimed himself king of Ash-nunak, and of course assumed the title of god, for king-worship was then in vogue. His son Dadum succeeded to the throne, also as a god. A seal of Khabde-Adad, servant of the god Ibik-Adad, in the glyptic style of the Hammurabi period is now in the British Museum.

Shuruppak and Kisurra probably constituted the administrative area immediately north of the central province, and its patesi was located at Shuruppak. The names of two of its viceroys who served under Amar-Sin and Shu-Sin are known from contemporary records, but these afford no information concerning the cult of the mother-goddess of Shuruppak and its god Aradda. The name of its chief temple appears to have been E-sagtena or E-sagdana.

The temple of Nin-ezen-la, founded by Shulgi, was probably that of Sag-pa-Kab-Du, Sagpaega (or Ursagpae), possibly near Umma. Zabshali, whose patesi married a daughter of a king of Ur, was certainly an Elamite province. Documents from Susa in the period of the Susan patesi Adda-Pakshu, contemporary of the founder of the first Babylonian dynasty, mention the city Zapzali. Shulgi, in fact, allied himself to two districts of Elam (Anshan and Markhashi) by marrying his daughters to their patesis. The year-date which refers to a similar alliance with Zabshali is “Year when Tukin-khatti-migri-sha daughter of the king and the patesi of Zabshali married”. It occurs several times, but the king in question cannot be determined: Ibbi-Sin, the last king of the dynasty of Ur is most probable, for Zabshali was in revolt against Shu-Sin, who devastated the place in his sixth year. The name of the princess is Semitic: “She has secured the sceptre of her favourite”, a name not likely to have been chosen by Shulgi, who made no concessions to the growing power of the Semites.




Shulgi doubtless extended his empire northward to include all northern Mesopotamia, and westward to the sea to include Syria and Cappadocia. A fine carnelian seal was found in the vicinity of Arbela in Gutium with the inscription: “To Ninlil, his lady, the divine Shulgi, the mighty man, king of Ur, king of Sumer and Akkad, has dedicated it for his life”. The question as to whether this seal was found in its original place is important. Arbela is near Ashur, the old Sumerian settlement of the north, and the capital of early Assyria. Its goddess was Ninlil, who became the consort of the god Ashur there. Little is known of the history of the Sumerian occupation of Ashur. In the early Assyrian period it had a temple to Enlil named E-amkurkurra, “Temple of the wild ox of the lands”; and the probability is that Enlil and Ninlil of Ashur were imported from Ashur to Nippur. The older patron deity of this city was the god A-shir, corrupted into Ashur and Ashshur. The deity occurs in the name of an early patesi of Ashur, Kate-Ashir, about a century after the Ur period; and at Tuz-khurmati, on the Aksu, a brick stamp of Pukhiya son of Asirim and king of Khurshitu of about this time has been found. This Semitic prince it will be noticed, claimed for himself a royal status, and it is difficult to understand why the early viceroys of Ashur previous to the establishment of Babylonian authority in the time of Hammurabi did not make the same pretensions. At all events, the god Ashir was unknown to the Sumerian priests, although Ur-Nammu or Shulgi certainly conquered his city. A date of the Ur period reads: “Year when for the second time the land of Ashur was destroyed”. It had no patesi apparently, and it may be assumed that Ur-Nammu and Shulgi placed it under the patesi-ship of Kimash or some other district in that region. Zariku, a Semite, was governor under Amar-Sin, and he built the temple of Nin-egal, “Lady of the great house”. His title shakkanak was that of a local political office subordinate to the patesis.

The old Sumerian civilization of Ashur had already disappeared in the time of Sargon. A fine statuette of one of its early Sumerian rulers has been recovered from the period when the beard was still worn, the lips, cheeks and head being clean shaven. The monument proves two things most important for the solution of the problem of origins. The incomplete tonsure belongs to the age of early Elamitic culture and long before the earliest sculpture of Sumer. The weaving of the kaunakes reveals a higher state of civilization in the north than that of Sumer two or three centuries later. Seals from the same strata are pre-Sargonic; and this, combined with the fact that the old earth-god Enlil and his consort, Nin-lil, probably migrated to Nippur from Ashur, only indicates that Ashur in reality duplicates the history of Ashnunnak and Der. They are halting-places of the prehistoric Sumerian migration, and Nippur received from Ashur its gods, even as Erech had received hers from Der. But was its old Sumerian name Ashir(ki) corrupted to Ashshuru, already in the time of Shulgi? The name is of course taken from that of the god Ashir about whom the Sumerian texts of all periods are silent. His name is sometimes written A-usar, but A-shir, if Sumerian, should mean a deity of light, a form of the sun-god, and A-usar may refer to a god of dreams. At all events we find the Cappadocian proper-name Ashir-Shamshi, that is, Ashir is my sun-god. However, the origin of the patronymic deity of the future capital of Assyria is a complete mystery. No temple-archives of the city under the empires of Akkad and Ur have been found, and it certainly did not pay tribute to the cults of Nippur.

In the age of Sargon the extensive district between the rivers north of Akkad was called Subir or Subartu, but in the records of Ur it appears as Sua(ki), Su(ku) or Su. Its population was Hittite or Mitannian. Men from Su are repeatedly mentioned in the archives of Drehem and the name of one, Niushanam, is known. The Assyrian grammarians frequently enter words of Su or Subir in their vocabularies. For example, one vocabulary states that the Su words for child, son, are pitku and nibru; now, a Hittite word for son is pitga. The Su word for door is kharali, and for bed it is namaltum. The names of the war-god Ninurta in Su are Zizanu, Rabisguzu and Lakharatil. Gutium was likewise shortened to Gu and the grammarians occasionally enter words from Gu. Su and Gu would be the Shoa and Koa mentioned by Ezekiel (XXIII. 23) with the Babylonians, Assyrians, and others.

An administrative record from Umma speaks of rations for camp-followers from Ibla, Urshu and Kimash; the rations are wine from the land Bilak. Ibla and Urshu have already figured in the geography of the empire of Akkad and in the inscriptions of Gudea in northern Syria on the sea-coast, and Bilak is probably identical with the classical Bilechas, the name of the river on which were situated Harran and Edessa. The Semites of Akkad were already firmly established among the peoples of the middle and upper Tigris long before the age of Shulgi, and they were most probably the founders of the Semitic state it Ashur. The older Mitanni element reasserted itself toward the end of the Ur period, and Assyrian tradition speaks of two early Mitanni rulers at Ashur, who may be assigned to the age of Ibbi-Sin, Ushpia and Kikis. A great many Mitanni names appear in the archives of Drehem in the reigns of Shulgi and his successors, and men with Mitanni names are found, not only as contributors to the national Sumerian cult of Nippur, but also in the capacity of civil servants in Sumer.

Cappadocia was doubtless conquered and attached to the empire of Ur by Ur-Nammu or Shulgi. In the valley of the Halys, north-east of Caesarea, at Kara-Euyuk, several hundred cuneiform tablets, mostly letters and contracts of the periods of Ur, Isin and the first Babylonian dynasties, have been found. The people learned Sumerian business methods and juridical procedure, the use of the cylinder seal, and the so-called case-tablet. In the case-tablet, the clay tablet on which a contract or letter has been written, is enclosed in a thin clay envelope upon which is copied the inscription on the inner tablet. Witnesses, buyers and sellers, or officials, then impressed their seals on the envelope. By this method the contracting parties secured duplicate copies. The custom came into vogue about the time of Shulgi in Sumer and at once spread throughout the empire. A Cappadocian contract concerning a loan of money in form of a case-tablet has several seal impressions. The document is witnessed by a Sumerian scribe, who used the following seal: “To the divine Ibbi-Sin, mighty king, king of Ur, king of the four regions. Ur-Lugal-banda the scribe, son of Ur-nigingar thy servant”. Some Sumerian, learned in Sumero-Babylonian legal methods, had been brought to this Semitic colony in the most remote part of the empire. It has been suggested that the scribe employed this old seal of the reign of the last king of Ur in the age of Hammurabi two centuries later. But the evidence for the antiquity of this Cappadocian colony cannot be thus explained away. Many of the seals of Cappadocia are engraved with Sumerian religious scenes combined with local religious motifs, and a considerable percentage of them may be definitely dated in the Ur dynasty. One of the most common scenes is that where the worshipper is conducted into the presence of a seated deity by his protecting divinity, who leads him by the left hand while he salutes the deity by throwing a kiss with the right hand. This motif is characteristic of the age from Gudea to Shulgi, and disappears after the kings of Ur; and the seal of the scribe dedicated to Ibbi-Sin only completes the evidence of the glyptics. Cappadocia was clearly under the influence of the empire of Ur, and it may be that the exploits of the great founder of the dynasty rivaled those of Sargon the ancient. Many seals belong also to the later Ur period and the dynasty of Isin, and a few are engraved in the style of the first dynasty of Babylon. The Semitic colony in this region, which was soon to become the centre of Hittite power, thrived for at least three centuries.

The dialect employed in these Cappadocian tablets is fundamentally Babylonian-Semitic, as found in contracts and letters of the Hammurabi period. The technical legal terms are mostly those of Babylonia and the grammar is essentially Babylonian. On the other hand, the dialect employed here reveals at once west Semitic (Amorite) influence, and a people who had difficulty in pronouncing some Akkadian consonants. The emphatic sounds k, s, t are represented by the simple sounds, k or g, z and t. The surds t and p almost invariably become the sonants d and b, and there is a tendency to discard all closed syllables. For example, the Semite of Cappadocia may write bit house, bi-i-e-it, “he purchased” i-sha-um not i-sham; and in general the cuneiform script which they borrowed from Sumer was adapted to their peculiar pronunciation. These Semites of Cappadocia were doubtless under Hittite influence, as their defective pronunciation of Semitic words seems to be explained by Hittite phonetics. Many of these peculiarities recur in the Semitic dialect as spoken and written by the Hittites at Boghaz Keui in later times. The contracts of Kara Euyuk mention two Hittite cities, Ganish and Barush, and an official is called the garum zakhir rabu Khatim, “Inferior and chief prefect of the Hittites”. On the other hand, the names of men and women are Semitic, and principally west Semitic (or Amorite) with a prominent admixture of Assyrian names, a few are Babylonian and Sumerian. It is not possible to detect with certainty a single Hittite personal name in the lists yet published. Caution must be exercised in the discussion of this important problem, for the majority of the Cappadocian tablets remain unpublished and Hittite names are to be expected.

The Amorite god Adad is prominent in the composition of names; but specifically west Semitic words (like adunu, lord) are rare. The god of Ashur is common, and is written Ashir, as in the early period of the Ur dynasty, and also Ashur. That is, the same form of the word occurs here as in its native land. But the most important evidence for the direct influence of the city-state Ashur upon this remote Semitic colony is supplied by the month-names. They are identical with the old Assyrian month-names and have nothing in common with the Semitic month-names of Akkad. In fact the Cappadocian tablets afford earlier records of the Assyrian months than the Assyrian sources. The name of the sixth month is “month of the lady of the great house”. Now, Ninegal was an old Sumerian goddess of the lower world whose name was translated into Semitic by Belit-ekallim; her cult was popular at Ashur and among the Hittites of the later period. A temple was built to her at Ashur for the life of Shu-Sin and it may be assumed that her cult was older there than in Cappadocia. The weight of evidence, however, seems to favor a Cappadocian origin of the Assyrian month-names, but it can hardly be maintained that the god Ashur came from that region.

The Cappadocians went their own way in the method of dating documents, writing the date in the body of the contract, giving the month and the name of the limmu. For example, a loan of money is dated in the month Kuzallu in the limmu of Ashur-imeti the sailor. The name of some prominent citizen is given to each year, though none of them seem to have held high office as did the eponyms of Assyria. This method of dating is commonly regarded as characteristically Assyrian, but the system was in use in Cappadocia at least before 2000, and may be as old as the Ur period there. Here again the Assyrian appears to be the borrower. The Cappadocian week of five days has not been discovered in Assyria. If it may be assumed that the week of five days was unknown at Ashur, it follows, of course, that the Cappadocian colony could hardly have come from there. The five-day week might have been borrowed from the Hittites, but this cannot be proved.

The Cappadocian colony consisted largely of traders, merchants of gold and silver and of garments manufactured there. The most probable view is that a branch of the western Semites (Amorites), attracted by the mines of Anatolia, founded a colony beyond the Taurus about the time of Shulgi, and that after the Ur period recognized more or less the authority of the viceroys of Ashur. Influences between the growing power of Ashur and the Cappadocians were mutual. But the ethnological conditions of the lands of Subartu and Amor in the time of the empire of Ur are still a dimly lighted gallery of Ancient History, and it is regrettable that the origin of the future kingdoms of Assyria cannot be more precisely described.

The Semitic penetration of Subartu, in which Ashur lay, from the age of Sargon onward, renders it a natural assumption that Ashur was colonized by the Semitic Akkadians about 2900 B.C. But this Semitic colony, which displaced the Sumerian there, came into more intimate contact with the western Semites; Hittite influence also went no little way in increasing the difference between them and their ancestors in the south, both in language and temperament. But the greater number of the deities in Cappadocia were Sumerian, as is to be expected. The western Semites on the frontiers of the empires of Akkad and Ur borrowed their culture from Sumer and Akkad, and came into contact with a northern exponent of this civilization at Ashur. Semite and Hittite vied as eager apostles of the religion, law and literature of Sumer and Akkad. The old deities of Sumer, Sin (written Zu-in, Su-in), Ea, Enlil, Anu, Ashdar (Ishtar), Nana and Ninsubur appear frequently among the proper names. The goddess Ishkhara, who first appears in the Sumerian pantheon at the end of the Ur period, occurs in Cappadocian names and frequently in the oaths of the treaties of later Hittite kings. It is possible that she is a Hittite deity of fountains and canals; the Sumerians identified her with Nina, the irrigation goddess. The fact that her name is omitted from the liturgies throws doubt upon her Sumerian origin.




Such was the empire founded by Ur-Nammu and consolidated by Shulgi. In virtue of his wide dominion Shulgi changed his title about the forty-second year of his reign, and henceforth described himself as “King of Ur, king of the four regions”. The empire had been roughly divided into four lands, Sumer and Akkad, Elam, Subartu and Amurru. The long and prosperous reign of Shulgi inspired a religious movement of emperor-worship throughout Sumer and Akkad. Temples were built to the god Shulgi, or chapels provided for him in the great city-temples. A large temple record from Lagash dated in the fifty-seventh year preserves the income and expenses of the estate of the temple of the divine Shulgi. Even more intensive became the adoration of the god-king after his death, and a business record of Lagash mentions lands belonging to the temples of the gods Amar-Sin (his son), Shulgi and Ningishzida, the latter being the local type of the dying vegetation-god Tammuz

The deified kings had this in common with Tammuz, that they suffered the fate of death. They were therefore more or less identified with the dying son of mother-earth; they triumphed not over death as he did, but were translated to the stars. In Shulgi the people supposed that a champion had arisen to restore the Paradise among men which had existed before the Flood, and had been lost through the transgression of an ancient king, the divine Tagtug.

The theologians of Nippur wrote a long epic poem concerning the lost Paradise and the Fall of Man from his pre-diluvian state of happiness, and for the cult of Shulgi they also wrote hymns inspired by faith in him as the son of the earth-mother Ninsun of Erech, sent to restore the age of peace and happiness. His conquests in far-away lands are also mentioned in his liturgies:

One that walks in a foreign land by a route stretching far away thou art,

A hastening governor, traversing his plains by the highways thou art.

Divine Shulgi, conqueror of foreign lands, establisher of the Land of Sumer,

Hero who in heaven and earth no rival hast.

The hymns to Shulgi emphasize his love of justice and institution of laws. “He that tirelessly causes anarchy to depart art thou”. The names of men reflect the new religion: “Shulgi is the plant of life”, “Shulgi the breath of life has given”. An estate was named “Shulgi is the breath of life of the Land”. A seated deity usually beardless, and with low round hat, extending a cup to an adorant, now appears on seals. The new deity represents the deified emperors of the period.

Amar-Sin, son of Shulgi, succeeded to the throne (2046) and reigned eight years, receiving divine honors from the date of his accession. His name (youth of the moon-god) is a Semitic translation of a good Sumerian type, and the fact reflects the increasing influence of the Semites. It is indeed incredible to suppose that the Sumerian empire of Ur was founded and held together for even a short period by the military power of the older race. The desolation of the Gutium period had shown that the welfare of Sumer and Akkad depended upon cooperation, and the real military power of Ur-Nammu and Shulgi was probably founded upon the Semitic element. The Sumerian tenure of power was founded largely upon prestige of ancient culture and religion, acknowledged by Elam as well as Akkad. The only parts of the empire which caused trouble in the reign of Amar-Sin were those of the ever turbulent peoples of the Zagros table-lands. Urbillum revolted and was suppressed in the first year. Shashru and Khukhunuri in the same quarter had to be reconquered in the fifth and seventh years. Shashru together with Shurudkhum had been subdued in his third year, an event not mentioned in the date-lists. A variant of the date-formula for the seventh year describes more fully the campaign of the sixth year. “Amar-Sin the king, Nebrabelak, Nieshru with their lands and Khukhunuri he destroyed”. He has an inscription in which it is stated that he placed a statue of himself in a chapel at Ur. Many seals of his reign have the usual dedication to the deified emperor and in all his inscriptions he retains the later title of Shulgi, “King of Ur, king of the four regions”. His cult flourished long after him. A tablet from Drehem includes sacrifices to him in the great temple of Enlil where he had a chapel, but the people of Lagash provided a special temple for the god Amar-Sin. He even passed into the official pantheon of later times as a minor deity in the court of the moon-god Sin, and his consort, Ningal. The hymns of his cult have been lost, with the exception of a long hymn to the war-god on the accession of his son Shu-Sin. He was succeeded by his son, Migir-Sin, or rather Gimil-Sin (a Semitic rendering of the Sumerian Shu-Sin).




The cult of Shu-Sin was added to those of Shulgi and Amar-Sin as a matter of course. Their feasts seem to have been appointed to coincide with phases of the moon, and we now find feasts of the “houses (or stations) of the moon”. This is probably due to the influence of the worship of their patron deity, for Sin was the god of Ur. A list from Nippur contains nine year-dates, and in fact there are nine formulae for the years of Shu-Sin's reign on documents. Disturbances in his reign are again confined to the area east of the middle Tigris. Simanum revolted in the second year and Zabshali in the sixth year. In his third year he built a wall known as the “Wall of Amurru”, or the Amorite Wall, usually translated as the Western Wall. Inscriptions from Umma which commemorate the construction of the temple of the god Shara, E-shaggipadda, have the interesting chronological detail, When he built the Amorite Wall “Murik-Tidnim” and restored the Amorite route of Madanu. Murik-Tidnim means '”Wall which keeps Tidnu at a distance”, and Tidnu (or Tidanu) has been identified with the Anti-Lebanon mountain region. The Assyrian geographers employ it for the west as a synonym of Amorite. The location of this wall is unknown. The name recalls the old Median wall north of Sippar between the rivers, built to restrain an invasion from the north. At all events the name suggests that the Amorites now threatened Sumer and Akkad.

Shu-Sin was obviously losing control of the restless lands of his far-flung frontiers, for in his second year he transferred several eastern patesi-ships and governorships to Arad-Nannar, patesi of Lagash. The door-sockets of the temple built by this patesi for the cult of the divine Shu-Sin at Lagash are inscribed with the titles of Arad-Nannar. He was patesi of Lagash, high-priest of Enki, prefect of Uzargarshana and of Ba-bi-shu-e, patesi of Sabum and the land of Gutebum, prefect of Timat-Enlil, patesi of the city of Shu-Sin, prefect of Urbillum, patesi of Kharnasi and Gankhar, prefect of Ishar, prefect of the people of Su(bartu) and the land of Karda(ka) in the Zagros mountains (the original home of the Kurds). References to independent patesis at Sabum, Khamai and Gankhar in business documents cease after the second year of Shu-Sin, a fact which confirms the claims of Arad-Nannar's inscription. The ancient Sumerian city of Lagash was entrusted with the administration of the most unstable part of the empire. Even Subartu, or Subir(ki), including the rising state of Ashur, was attached to its patesi-ship. A series of law-suits at Lagash is dated in the third year of Shu-Sin and in the patesi-ship of Arad-Nannar. He probably retained the office and administered the vast province for the kings of Ur until their authority ceased to be recognized beyond Sumer and Akkad early in the reign of Ibbi-Sin. Shu-Sin, at all events, still retained the allegiance of the province of Susa, for a brick stamped with a Semitic inscription testifies to his building activity there. At the capital the patesi Lugal-magurri built a temple for the “God Shu-Sin”, beloved of Enlil, who had chosen him as the king of Ur and of the four regions; but this patesi of Ur has the ominous title “master of the defences”, another sign of the feeling of insecurity which overshadowed the kingdom.

Ibbi-Sin, son of Shu-Sin, reigned twenty-five years. He received divine honors from his subjects in Sumer, but his provinces fell away rapidly early in his reign, and even his own land became unsettled. A year-date refers to his conquest of Simurum in a quarter which never ceased to rebel against the kings of Sumer and Akkad. At Lagash, Umma, Nippur and Drehem business documents cease abruptly in the early part of his reign. Arad-Nannar, the defender of the kingdom on the eastern border-states, continued to be the strongest supporter of the tottering empire. A Lagash tablet dated in his first year bears records of gifts made by the king to children of a weaver and the gift was conveyed by the patesi himself. The tablet bears the impressions of a fine seal which Arad-Nannar dedicated to the “Divine Ibbi-Sin, mighty man, king of Ur, king of the four regions”. The patesi is engraved standing with hands folded at the waist, holding a sceptre, and adoring the seated figure of the god-king. A seal of Enim-Nannar-zid, high-priest of Enlil at Nippur, is dedicated to his master the “Divine Ibbi-Sin”. These and two other seals of a scribe and a minister at Lagash are the only monuments of this unfortunate king. A fine impression of a seal, presented by the Divine Ibbi-Sin to Sag-Nannar-zu, priest of Enlil, has been recently found on a Nippur tablet in Philadelphia. Ibbi-Sin is represented seated on a throne, arrayed in the long kaunakes; he is beardless and wears the low head-dress of the period. The engraver has succeeded in making a real portrait of the deified emperor, a handsome man in the prime of life with unusually defined Sumerian features.

A lamentation on the end of the last of the Sumerian kingdoms has been found at Nippur:


When they overthrew, when order they destroyed,

Then like a deluge all things together he consumed

Whereunto, 0 Sumer! did they change thee?

The sacred dynasty from the temple they exiled.

The city they demolished, the temple they demolished,

The rulership of the Land they seized.

Its gaze unto another land they fixed.

By the commands of Enlil order was destroyed.

By the Storm-Spirit of Anu hastening over the lands it was seized away.

Enlil directed his eyes toward a strange Land.

The divine Ibbi-Sin unto Elam [was taken].


The downfall of Ibbi-Sin was a catastrophe which echoed down the ages. In Omen literature his name was associated with disaster and the overthrow of dynasties. An astrological text contains the following portent: “If the constellation Gan-shudul in its rising has its face set toward the west and looks towards the face of heaven and no wind blows, there will be hunger, the dynasty will suffer the destruction of Ibbi-Sin, king of Ur, who went in fetters unto Anshan; they shall weep and perish”. A liver-omen speaks of the destruction which befell Ibbi-Sin, the king of Ur, and his name became synonymous with disaster.

With Ibbi-Sin the political history of the Sumerian people is closed. The multifarious records of the period show that the race was in rapid decline. But the history of religion and culture in the historically complex situation which followed is dominated by Sumerian influence. The liturgists of the great temples continued quietly to develop their breviaries. The poets and theologians were left in undisturbed possession of their theories of providence and of origins and of their rudimentary metaphysics. It is difficult to define the work of the best Sumerian writers of the Ur period, for learning pursued its way under the kings of Isin and Larsa without any noticeable dislocation. The most profound religious movement of the period, the identification of the kings with the vegetation-god who dies yearly with the withering flowers and the parched rivers, has been described; but the full religious consequences of the king-worship did not develop until the Isin period, when the god-men may be said to become real Saviours in a theological sense as well as in popular belief, divine intercessors for men in the stately prayers of their temple worship.

The first systematic Sumerian law codes date from this period. Of the old code three tablets have been found, two from Nippu and one from Warka. Altogether about 25 laws of this redaction are known, and they prove that the code is the result of a long history of legal decisions which in due time became laws. Sumerian law is in fact a redaction of judgments handed down for litigants. A large number of these law-suits, called at Lagash, ditilla, “judgment completed”, is now known. At Nippur the term for a decision at a court of law was didibba, “judgment taught”. Hammurabi's great code was modelled upon the code of Dungi and his successors. The general impression obtained from the portion of the Sumerian code now recovered is that it is more primitive and not so well thought out as the later Semitic code. But Sumerian justice is often tempered with mercy and is more humane than the Spartan legislation of the Semites. The difference in the legal spirit is especially noticeable in comparing the laws on adultery in the two codes. In Sumer, if a wife is taken in adultery, she is not even divorced; but the husband may marry a second wife, and the first wife loses her position. But by Semitic law she and the corespondent are slain.

The history of the Sumerian calendar is most obscure. Each city had its own names for the months, the months being lunar and adjusted to the solar year by intercalating a month every three or four years as necessity arose. There was no rule about month-intercalation. At Lagash In the early period each month seems to have had two or three names. Many of the months are named from festivals, such as “Month of the feast of eating millet” (a festival of the goddess Nina). Several names owe their origin to agriculture: the month of harvesting grain, the month of sheep shearing, the month of raising the water-wheels---all are ancient. More interesting is the appearance of two new feasts in the calendars of Lagash and Nippur, called, respectively, the Month of the festival of Tammuz, and the Month of the mission of Innini. These are the names of the sixth month and refer to the wailings for the dying god Tammuz, or the journey of his sister, Innini, to the lower world to find her lost brother. In the old Sumerian myth the young god was regarded as the brother of the virgin goddess, but the Semitic myth made him the son of the earth mother. The two views were confused from the Sargonic period onward, and consequently the texts speak of Tammuz inconsistently as the brother or son of Innini-Ishtar. The Lagash calendar in the Ur period was much, the same as under the kings of Agade, and it may be assumed that the Nippur calendar remained substantially unaltered. At Nippur under the kings of Ur there were two official calendars, the old Nippurian and the royal calendar of the capital, called “Secondary Nippurian” in the present writer's lists. The Lagash, Ur, and Umma calendars all make room for the month of the festival of the reigning deified king the tenth month at Umma but the seventh at Lagash and Ur. The month of grain harvest is usually the last in the year, but sometimes it is the first.The true Nippurian calendar and that of Umma have a month called “Month of placing the brick in the mould” or the month of brick-making. The month of the festival of Tarnmuz at Umma is the last in the year, the harvest month being first. After the fall of Ur the old Nippur calendar prevailed and was adopted by the Semites, at least in writing the names, and as such it became the official calendar of Babylonia and Assyria. The business documents at Larsa under the dynasty established there adopted the Nippurian names. There seems little doubt that from the period of Agade onward the first month began soon after the equinox. But the problem of the old Sumerian calendar remains unsolved. Much evidence suggests that it began in midwinter, and that the second half of the year was brought into relation with the rising of Sirius, which gave an astral setting for the resurrection of Tammuz and the return of Innini from the lower world. These calendars are all strictly lunar, but for business purposes the month is reckoned at 30 days, and for calculating wages three months would be 90 days.

The writing of a history of Sumer and Akkad involves the task of reconstructing the course of events from tablets relating to a period of some 2500 years. And often the sources are deficient, the statements are obscure and the present knowledge of Sumerian too incomplete. All these facts must be taken into consideration by the reader. Moreover, it is not easy to disentangle the interwoven influences of Sumerians and Semites. In the opinion of the present writer the entry of the Sumerians into Mesopotamia and Egypt heralded the dawn of civilization in the ancient world, and with their decline and disappearance the most talented and humane of early peoples became extinct. Their presence in predynastic Egypt is attested by the cylinder-seal, linear pictographic writing (which survived as magical symbols on early Egyptian pottery), and various motifs in predynastic art, such as the struggle of a hero with lions, animals vis-a-vis separated by a tree or other object, interlaced necks of serpent-headed monsters, and others. Certain fundamental similarities between Sumerian and Egyptian religion can also be recognized. Apparently without warlike ambition and certainly never conducting war for war’s sake, the Sumerians confined their energy as far as possible to the conquest of agricultural areas. The irrigation system of Lower Mesopotamia in the fifth millennium BC was a monumental achievement which calls forth our admiration. But their material achievements are surpassed by their influence in religious and other literature. Their most marked characteristic is a genius for religious speculation. Here their influence may be said to have  permeated the religions of Babylonia and Assyria, and survived until the last century of our era.