The Cuneiform Collection of the Clinton Historical Society

CDLB 2007:2

Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)

Published on 2007-12-30

© Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License except when noted otherwise and in the case of artifact images which follow the CDLI terms of use.

Banks, Clinton, Sin-kašid, Umma, Ur III 

§1. Introduction
§1.1. The following six tablets belong to the collection of the Clinton Historical Society of Clinton, MA.[1] A newspaper clipping from the Clinton Daily Item dated to July 2, 1913, says about the acquisition of the tablets that they “were purchased from Dr. Edgar J. Banks of Greenfield who has spent years in archaeological work in the east and who was present when they were uncovered so that their genuineness is undoubted.”[2] Banks directed a University of Chicago expedition to the site of Adab in the early 1900’s. However, as Foster (2006: 55) noted, “his reputation for acquiring and smuggling antiquities eventually aroused the Ottoman authorities, [and] his project was terminated.” Nevertheless, Banks “deal[t] in tablets and antiquities for the rest of this life, selling small collections of tablets with highly enthusiastic labels to schools, libraries, and seminars.” These tablets here are yet another such example of Banks’ legacy.[3]

§2. Transliterations and Commentary
§2.1. No. 1
Provenience: Uruk
Size: 80 × 55 × 22mm
Date: no date

obv. 1) dsuen-ga-ši-id
  2) nita kal-ga
  3) lugal unuki-ga
  4) lugal am-na-nu-um
  5) u2-a
  6) e2-an-na
rev. 1) e2-gal
  2) nam-lugal-[erasure]-la-ka-ni
  3) mu-du3

§2.1a. This text is identical to Frayne (1990: 444-447) E4.4.1.3.

§2.2. No. 2
Provenience: Umma
Size: 22 × 21 × 13mm
Date: no date

obv. 1) 1(u) la2 1(diš) udu
  2) 1(diš) maš2
  3) la-a-mu agrig
rev.   blank

§2.2a. The provenience of this tablet is suggested by the name La’amu, which is not an uncommon name at Umma. A steward (agrig) by that name is attested several times, e.g. SAT 2, 507 (Šulgi 46) and MVN 21, 410 (Amar-Suena 3 xiii).

§2.2b. This type of text is rare, noting only a quantity of animals and a personal name with no verb or action indicated. Likewise, no date or other information is provided. A similar example is Buffalo SNS 11-2 144, 12. It is possible that these were small ‘chits’ serving to remind a scribe of a transaction to be recorded on a larger tablet at some future time.

§2.3. No. 3
Provenience: Umma Size: 48 × 41 × 21mm Date: Šu-Sin 9 v

obv. 1) 2(geš2) 4(u) 1(aš) 1(barig) 3(ban2) še gur
  2) ugula gu-u2-gu-a
  3) 2(geš2) 1(u) 7(aš) 4(barig) še ˹gur˺
  4) ugula kas4
  5) a-ša3 ša-ra-hum-ma
rev. 1) še geš e3-a
  2) ki-su7 i3-sum-ma
  3) iti RI
  4) mu dšu-dsuen lugal-e e2-dšara2 ummaki-ka mu-du3

§2.3a. Obv. 2) Gu’ugu’a appears as an foreman (ugula) in five other texts, all dated between Šu-Sin 2 and Ibbi-Sin 3 vii. In MCS 7, 21 AO 19544 (Šu-Sin 9), he appears as a foreman together with Kas as in this text. In BPOA 1, 84 (Ibbi-Sin 3 vii 22), he is the foremen of a work team involved with hoeing and cutting boxthorn in the Šarrahum field, almost certainly a variant writing for Šarrahuma.

§2.3b. Obv. 4) This name always appears as Kas (written kas4) in Umma tablets, but, as already noted in Dahl (2007: 87 n. 309), his seal always reads en-kas4.

§2.3c. Rev. 3) For the reading of this month name as dal, “flight,” see now Englund ( 2004: 38).

§2.4. No. 4
Provenience: Umma
Size: 45 × 40 × 17mm
Date: Amar-Suena 7 iv

obv. 1) 4(barig) še ba lugal
  2) 2(diš) sila3 i3-geš
  3) lu2-diškur
  4) 4(barig) še ba
  5) 2(diš) sila3 i3-geš
  6) a-ad-da-mu
  7) šar2-ra-ab-du-me
rev. 1) iti nesag
  2) kišib3 ensi2-ka
  3) inim gu-za-ni
  4) šar2-ra-ab-du-ta
  5) ugula hu-ba-a
  6) mu hu-hu-nu-riki ba-hul
col. 1 1) damar-dsuen
  2) nita kal-ga
  3) lugal uri5ki-ma
  4) lugal an-ub-da-limmu2-ba
col. 2 1) ur-dli9-si4
  2) ensi2
  3) ummaki
  4) ARAD2-ZU

§2.4a. Obv. 7 and rev. 4) The term šar2-ra-ab-du as a type of official occurs not infrequently at Umma and elsewhere in the Ur III corpus, but its exact meaning is unclear. The CAD, s.v. šarrabtû, notes that the function “may be connected with surveying fields and agricultural work.” In the Ur III period, this title seems to have been a function held only on a temporary basis.

§2.5. No. 5
Provenience: Unknown
Size: 85 × 52 × 22mm
Date: no date

obv. 1) [n] sar kin ˹sahar˺-ra
  2) nam-zi-tar-ra
  3) 5(diš) me-e2-gal-ta
  4) 5(diš) ur-dnun-gal
  5) 1(diš) 1/3(diš) ur-e2-an-na
  6) 5(diš) ˹lu2˺-KU-mah
  7) 8(diš) 1/3(diš) e2-dšul-gi-ra
  8) 1(diš) tu-gara2-aš
  9) 1(diš) 2/3(diš) šu-ma-am3
  10) 1(diš) 2/3(diš) gešgigir-re
  11) 3(diš) sipa 1(diš) 2/3(diš)-ta
  12) [n] 2/3(diš) ha-da-da
  13) [n] šeš-kal-la
rev. 1) ˹2(diš)˺ 1/2(diš) ba-sag10
  2) 1(u) aga3-us2
  3) 5(u) 6(diš) (erasure?)

§2.5a. This unusual text appears to list earth-work performed by various individuals. Most such documents provide other information such as the place where the work was performed, the wages of the workers, overseers or other officials, a date, and so on (e.g. BPOA 2, 2383 [Amar-Suena 9]).

§2.5b. Obv. 6) KU is clear in the text; one might still suggest a reading tug2!, though Lu-tugmah is only sparsely seen, and then only in texts from Girsu.

§2.5c. Obv. 8) Other attestations of this name make it uncertain whether the scribe intended it to be tu-gara2-aš as is seen here (cf. UTI 5, 3425:6 [Šu-Sin 3], where the copy clearly shows a gara2) or tu-ga-aš, as is more commonly attested (cf. SANTAG 7, 68 11 [Amar-Suena 3]). Alternatively, these could be two different but similar names.

§2.6. No. 6
Provenience: Umma
Size: 154 × 87 × 27mm
Date: Šu-Sin 7

obv. i 1) 7(aš) 3(barig) še numun gur
  2) 1(aš) gur a2 lu2 hun-ga2
  3) kišib3 i7-pa-e3
  4) 7(aš) še numun gur
  5) kišib3 šeš-kal-la
  6) ˹5(aš)˺ še numun gur
  7) kišib3 gu2-TAR
  8) 5(aš) še numun ˹gur˺
  9) 2(barig) a2 lu2 hun-˹ga2˺
  10) kišib3 ur-e2-nun-˹na˺
  11) 6(aš) 2(barig) 5(ban2) 6(diš) sila3 gur ˹še˺ ba iti-da
  12) 4(barig) sa2-du11 dšara2
  13) kišib3 al-u2-a
  14) 1(aš) 4(barig) 4(ban2) še zi3-da gur
  15) kišib3 ab-˹ba˺-gi-na
  16) ˹1(geš2)˺ gur ˹še˺ gi-a sa10-sa10
  17) kišib3 ˹šeš˺-kal-la dumu lugal-ma2-gur8-re
    blank line
  18) [ŠU+NIGIN2 1(geš2)?] 1(aš) 4(barig) 4(ban2) gur
  19) ˹gur˺ zabar-ta
  20) ˹ŠU+NIGIN2˺ 2(u) 4(aš) 3(barig) gur
  21) gur še numun-ta
  22) ŠU+NIGIN2 8(aš) 3(barig) 5(ban2) 6(diš) sila3 gur
  23) gur sa2-du11-ta
  24) ˹1(geš2)˺ 3(u) 5(aš) 1(barig) 3(ban2) 6(diš) sila3 gur
  25) ki-su7 uš-gid2-da-ta
  26) 1(geš2) 5(u) 9(aš) gur
  27) ˹ma2˺-[a si]-˹ga˺ nibruki-še3
  28) [kišib3] ˹lu2˺-dingir-ra
obv. ii 1) 1(u) 3(aš) 4(barig) 2(ban2) še zi3-da gur
  2) kišib3 ab-ba-gi-na
  3) 1(aš) še gur
  4) 8(aš) ziz2 gur
  5) sa2-˹du11˺ dšara2
  6) kišib3 nig2-mu
  7) 2(aš) ˹4(barig)˺ gur a2 lu2 ˹hun˺-[ga2]
  8) ˹2(aš)˺ ziz2 numun gur
  9) 3(barig) gig numun
  10) kišib3 šeš-kal-la
  11) 2(aš) 3(barig) gur a2 lu2 hun-ga2
  12) 5(ban2) še ba
  13) 2(aš) ziz2 numun gur
  14) 3(barig) gig numun
  15) kišib3 i7-pa-e3
  16) 3(aš) 4(barig) ziz2 gur mu-ša
  17) kišib3 du11-ga-zi-da
  18) 3(barig) ziz2 nig2-siskur2-ra a-ša3-ga
    blank line
  19) ŠU+NIGIN2 2(geš2) 1(u) 2(aš) 4(barig) 2(ban2) gur
  20) ŠU+NIGIN2 3(aš) 4(barig) ziz2 gur
  21) gur zabar-ta
  22) ŠU+NIGIN2 4(aš) ˹ziz2˺ gur
  23) ŠU+NIGIN2 1(aš) 1(barig) gig gur
  24) gur še numun-ta
  25) ŠU+NIGIN2 6(aš) 2(barig) 5(ban2) gur
  26) ŠU+NIGIN2 8(aš) 3(barig) ziz2 gur
  27) gur sa2-du11-ta
  28) 2(geš2) 3(u) 8(aš) 1(barig) 1(ban2) gur
  29) ki-su7 gu2-edin-na-ta
  30) 2(geš2) gur
  31) ma2-a si-ga nibruki-še3
rev. i 1) kišib3 lu2-dingir-ra
  2) 1(u) 3(aš) 2(barig) 4(ban2) še zi3-da [gur]
  3) kišib3 ab-ba-˹gi˺-[na]
  4) 3(aš) 1(barig) gur [a2 lu2 hun]-ga2
  5) 2(barig) [1(ban2) še? ba?]
  6) 1(aš) 4(barig) ˹ziz2˺ [numun] ˹gur˺
  7) 4(barig) ˹gig˺ numun
  8) kišib3 ur-e2-nun-na
  9) 3(aš) gur a2 lu2 hun-ga2
  10) 2(ban2) še ba
  11) kišib3 gu2-TAR
  12) 1(barig) 2(ban2) še ba iti-da
  13) 2(aš) 2(ban2) gur ša3-gal anšekunga2
  14) lu2-dšara2 munsubx(PA.GU2 gunû)
  15) 2(aš) 1(barig) ziz2 numun gur
  16) 1(aš) 4(ban2) gig numun gur
  17) kišib3 šeš-kal-la
    blank line
  18) ŠU+NIGIN2 2(geš2) 1(u) 3(aš) 2(barig) 4(ban2) gur
  19) gur zabar-ta
  20) ŠU+NIGIN2 4(aš) ziz2 gur
  21) ŠU+NIGIN2 1(aš) 4(barig) 4(ban2) gig gur
  22) gur še numun-ta
  23) ŠU+NIGIN2 9(aš) 1(ban2) gur
  24) gur sa2-du11-ta
  25) 2(geš2) 3(u) 2(barig) 1(ban2) gur
  26) ki-su7 i7-lugal-ta
  27) ˹5(u)˺ 8(aš) 4(barig) gur
  28) ma2-[a] si-ga nibru[ki-še3]
  29) kišib3 lu2-˹dingir-ra˺
  30) 3(aš) 3(ban2) ˹še˺ zi3-da gur
  31) kišib3 [...]-ku-li
    blank line
  33) ŠU+NIGIN2 1(geš2) [1(aš) 4(barig)] 3(ban2) gur zabar-ta
  34) ˹ki˺-su7 ˹sag-du3˺-ta
rev. ii 1) ˹1(aš) 1(barig)˺ še numun gur
  2) 1(barig) 3(ban2) a2 lu2 hun-ga2
  3) kišib3 i7-pa-e3
  4) 1(aš) 1(barig) še numun gur kišib3 ur-e2-nun-na
  5) 1(aš) še numun gur kišib3 gu2-TAR
  6) 1(aš) še numun gur kišib3 šeš-kal-la
    blank line
  7) ŠU+NIGIN2 4(aš) 2(barig) gur še numun-ta
  8) ŠU+NIGIN2 1(barig) 3(ban2) gur sa2-du11-ta
  9) 4(aš) 3(barig) 3(ban2) gur
  10) ki-su7 šu-nu-kuš2-ta
    blank line
  11) ˹ŠU+NIGIN˺ [6(geš2)] 3(u) 1(barig) 1(ban2) še gur
  12) ŠU+NIGIN 3(aš) ˹4(barig)˺ ziz2 gur
  13) gur ˹zabar ˺-ta
  14) ŠU+NIGIN 2(u) 9(aš) še gur
  15) ŠU+NIGIN 8(aš) ziz2 gur
  16) ŠU+NIGIN 3(aš) 4(ban2) gig gur
  17) gur še numun-ta
  18) ŠU+NIGIN 2(u) 4(aš) 3(barig) 2(ban2) ˹6(diš) sila3 še˺ gur
  19) ŠU+NIGIN 8(aš) 3(barig) ˹ziz2˺ gur
  20) gur sa2-du11-ta
    blank line
  21) še-bi 7(geš2) 5(u) 2(barig) 5(ban2) 6(diš) sila3 gur
  22) še gibil GAN2-˹gu4˺
  23) guru7-ta ˹e3˺-a
  24) ša3 gu2-edin-na ˹u3˺ muš-bi-an-na
  25) giri3 lu2-dšul-gi-ra
  26) mu dšu-dsuen lugal-e ma-da za-ab-ša-liki mu-hul

§2.6a. This text lists newly harvested grain of domain land (še gibil GAN2-gu4) from five threshing floors (ki-su7) located in settlements in the Gu’edena and Mušbiana districts of Umma[4]: Ušgida (obv. i 1 to i 26), Gu’edena (obv. i 27 to ii 29), I-lugal (obv. ii 30 to rev. i 26), Sagdu (rev. i 27 to i 33), and Šunukuš (rev. ii 1 to ii 8). The entry for each location is similarly structured with subtotals divided into up to three distinct categories, gur zabar, gur še numun, and gur sa2-du11. The literal translation of gur zabar-ta is “from the bronze gur-measure,” but such a reading in this context makes little sense. For instance, in the sub-totals from the Gu’edena threshing floor, we find for gur zabar-ta (obv. ii 19-20):

  • ŠU+NIGIN2 2(geš2) 1(u) 2(aš) 4(barig) 2(ban2) gur
  • ŠU+NIGIN2 3(aš) 4(barig) ziz2 gur

The latter total matches exactly the entry in obv. ii 16-17:

  • 3(aš) 4(barig) ziz2 gur mu-ša
  • kišib3 du11-ga-zi-da

The former total is the sum of obv. i 26 - ii 2:

  • 1(geš2) 5(u) 9(aš) gur
  • [ma2-a si]-˹ga˺ nibruki-še3
  • [kišib3] ˹lu2˺-dingir-ra
  • 1(u) 3(aš) 4(barig) 2(ban2) še zi3-da gur
  • kišib3 ab-ba-gi-na

But while the numbers properly add up there is nothing in the qualifications mu-ša, ma2-a si-ga nibruki-še3, or zi3-da to suggest any connection to the bronze gur-measure. Similarly, while the totals labeled sa2-du11 are made up of entries with that qualification, they also include entries with other qualifications, most often “wages for hired workers” (a2 lu2 hun-ga2). Only the summaries labeled še numun are composed entirely from entries qualified as such.

§2.6b. Obv. i 3) I-pa’e also appears in obv. ii 15 and rev. ii 3. According to Vanderroost (forthcoming), he is not among the several chief plot managers (nu-banda3 gu4) working in this district under Lu-Šulgira (cf. iv 23). It is unclear if this person is the same as the I-pa’e attested as a plot manager for the Da-Umma district. However, as Studevent-Hickman (2006: 34-35) has already shown, there is often an overlap of activities among the four Umma districts.

§2.6c. Obv. i 7) GuTAR was one of four chief plot managers for the Gu’edena and Mušbiana districts (Vanderroost forthcoming). He appears in this text again in rev. i 11 and ii 5.[5]

§2.6d. Obv. i 10) Like GuTAR, Ur-Enuna was one of the district’s chief plot managers under Lu-Šulgira. He appears again in rev. i 8 and ii 4.

§2.6e. Obv. i 28) Lu-dingira was another chief plot manager of this district. He appears again in rev. i 1 and rev. i 29. Each of his entries concerns grain loaded on a boat bound for Nippur (ma2-a si-ga nibruki-še3).

§2.6f. Rev. ii 21) The total here is correct. As noted in Englund (1991: 269 n. 20, with references), wheat (gig) was artificially converted into barley (še) at the rate of 2:1. Thus, the entry in rev. ii 16 counts as 6;1.2 and not 3;0.4 for the purpose of arriving at a total value.



1  These tablets were brought to our attention by David I. Owen, who, in turn, was made aware of them by Christine Latini of the Clinton Historical Society of Clinton, MA. We wish to thank the Clinton Historical Society for making the tablets accessible to us, and for their permission to publish them here. Thanks in particular go to Ms. Latini, who arranged for the loan of the tablets to Cornell and provided information on the history of the Society’s collection. Tablet measurements given are in millimeters, H x W x T.

2  The same notice appeared three days later on July 5 in the now-defunct Clinton Courant.

3  For more on Banks, see the comments in Englund (2004) and Owen and Wasilewska (2000) with bibliography.

4  As will be argued in Vanderroost (forthcoming), the Umma districts of Gu’edena and Mušbiana were usually considered to be a single administrative unit.

5  See also Studevent-Hickman (2006: 49).


Dahl, Jacob
  2007 The Ruling Family of Ur III Umma: A Prosopographical Analysis of a Provincial Elite Family 4000 Years Ago (Leiden: Netherlands Institute for the Near East).
Englund, Robert
  1991 “Hard Work: Where Will It Get You?” JNES 50, 255-280.
  2004 “Banks in Banning.” In H. Waetzoldt, ed., Von Sumer nach Ebla und Zurück (=HSAO 9; Heidelberg: Heidelberger Orientverlag) 35-44.  
Frayne, Douglas
  1990 Old Babylonian Period (2003-1595 BC) (=Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Early Periods, vol. 4; Toronto: University of Toronto Press).
Foster, Benjamin
  2006 “The Beginnings of Assyriology in the United States.” In S. W. Holloway, ed., Orientalism, Assyriology, and the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press) 44-73.
Owen, David I. and Ewa Wasilewska
  2000 “Cuneiform Texts in the Arizona State Museum.” JCS 50, 1-54.
Studevent-Hickman, Benjamin
  2006 The Organization of Manual Labor in Ur III Babylonia. PhD dissertation, Harvard University.
Vanderroost, Nicolas
  forthcoming “Distribution géographique et organisation administrative des équipes agricoles de la province d’Umma.”


Version: 30 December 2007

Cite this Article
Allred, Lance, and Alhena Gadotti. 2007. “The Cuneiform Collection of the Clinton Historical Society.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2007 (2).
Allred, Lance, & Gadotti, Alhena. (2007). The Cuneiform Collection of the Clinton Historical Society. Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2007(2).
Allred, Lance and Gadotti, Alhena (2007) “The Cuneiform Collection of the Clinton Historical Society,” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2007(2). Available at: (Accessed: December 6, 2023).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2023-12-06]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Allred,  Lance and Gadotti,  Alhena},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin},
	number = {2},
	year = {2007},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {The {Cuneiform} {Collection} of the {Clinton} {Historical} {Society}},
	volume = {2007},

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