The city Zabala, located within the province of Umma; and under the jurisdiction of the governor of Umma seems to have been of minor economic importance to the central administration. Zabala has been identified with Ibzaykh (see Steinkeller (2001) 54, + fn 124). See however the Google Earth images (31° 44' 41.03" N, 45° 52' 32.71" E), which suggest that the site was excavated recently. Note also the strong marks of illeagal excavations. The writing of Zabala in the Ur III period has not been clarified in the literature. A brief survey of the available reliable visual resources suggests that zabala3 (MUSH3.UNUG) was the correct Ur III writing of the city-name. Zabala was perhaps not an important economic center, but it was an important cultic center; in particular in the years following Shu-Suens first year, during which the “queen-dowager” Abi-simti visited the city four times in five years. Zabala was the city of the goddess “Inanna of Zabala” (possibly identical with the “Lady of Zabala”, although she is often mentioned as the Apisalite Lady of Zabala), and the oldest Ur III sources from Zabala mention a temple of Inanna at Zabala; it is likely that the archives of Zabala were kept in Umma. Prior to the coronation of Shu-Suen, references to Zabala primarily recorded minor deliveries for the cult of Inanna of Zabala.
The first explicit reference to the “queen-dowager” Abi-simti’s yearly visits to Zabala comes from the account concerning Lu-kirizal, the pig-herder ([http://www.cdli.ucla.edu/P130196 SNAT 436] [from SS 1]). The vast majority of texts mentioning Zabala from the following five years were concerned with the annual visits by the “queen-dowager.” Although no royal visitor was mentioned in Shu-Suen’s second year, it is still possible to suggest that Abi-simti paid a visit to Zabala that year as well. The fragmentary text MVN 18, 508 (from SS 1?), even alludes to a house of the queen(-dowager) in Zabala. The deliveries for the cult of Inanna of Zabala as well as the provisions for the “queen-dowager’s” visits were mostly sealed by the governor of Umma or members of his administration; one of these, Ur-Shulpa’e was perhaps a royal representative at the governor’s court.
It seems reasonable to suggest two different, but perhaps overlapping, reasons for the “queen-dowager’s” yearly visits to Zabala. A) Abi-simti personified the Urukite Geshtinanna journeying to Zabala each year: or her visits were in any other way connected to the cult of Inanna and her status within the royal family. B) Zabala was the “private” estate of Abi-simti in the same way as Garshana was the “private” estate of Simat-Ishtaran, also a member of the royal family. As is obviously A and B are not mutually exclusive, but may rather compliment each other. Further studies into the cultic responsibilities, and the “private” possessions, of the members of the royal family of Ur are needed to clarify these issues.