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Ushumgal Stela


Artifact: Stone tablet
Provenience: Umma?
Period: Early Dynastic I-II (ca. 2900-2700 BC)
Current location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Text genre, language: Ancient Kudurru; Sumerian
CDLI page

Description: Towards the beginning of the 20th century, scholarship on the political economy of early Mesopotamia considered a ‘temple-state’ model (Deimel:1931 and Schneider:1920) which emphasized land ownership by large institutions. This was subsequently amended by a number of scholars including Diakonoff (1969) and Gelb (1979), who emphasised also the role of private land ownership and economy. This stele provides an example of a transfer of land in an unclear context, adding textual and iconographic evidence to the debate of private or public land ownership. Carved on four sides, this 22 cm high gypsum object shows a large man with an uncertain label, possibly to be read “Ušumgal, the pab-šeš priest of (the diety) Šara” (Gelb et. al: 1989). He is followed by a cohort of three smaller men (possibly leaders of the assembly, the UKKIN), and they all approach a building façade on the other side of which (side D in Gelb’s edition) stands a large female figure with an unclear name and designation. She is followed by a smaller female figure on side C with a similarly unclear adscription. The adscriptions for both of these figures include the sign “DUMU”, “Child/offpspring” (note, not specifically ‘daughter’). An amount of land is recorded, about 18 acres of land (18 iku). The text of this Early Dynastic I-II inscription is still poorly understood, highlighting the great amount of work to be done still towards the decipherment of the earliest cuneiform.

(Kathryn Kelley, Oxford University)

Lineart:OIP 104 Plates (1989), pl. 12-13,16-17

Edition(s): OIP 104, pp. 43-47

[Back to objects 41 to 50]

ushumgal_stela.1378207314.txt.gz · Last modified: 2013/09/03 12:21 by kelley
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