Artifact: Clay prism
Period: Early Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1800 BC)
Current location: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (Ashm 1923-444)
Text genre, language: School text, mathematical exercise; undetermined
Description: The Sumerian King List is an important chronographic document from ancient Mesopotamia. It lists a long succession of cities in Sumer and its neighbouring regions where kingship was invested, the rulers who reigned in those cities and the length of their reigns. The list starts with the remote mythical past when kingship had descended from heaven. The rulers in the earliest dynasties are represented as reigning fantastically long periods. Some of these rulers such as Etana, Lugal-banda and Gilgamesh are mythical or legendary figures known also from Sumerian and Babylonian literary compositions. As the King List reaches historical rulers whose reigns are attested by their royal inscriptions, the length of each reign becomes more realistic. The King List ends with the reign of a Mesopotamian ruler presumably contemporaneous with the author or redactor of the List. (Samuel Yi Chen, University of Oxford)
Lineart: OECT 02, plts. 1-4
Edition(s): Jacobsen, Thorkild. 1939. The Sumerian King List. AS 11. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.