Six Ur III Tablets from the Hulin Collection in Oxford

CDLB 2010:1

Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)

Published on 2010-04-15

© Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

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Ur III, Hulin Collection, administrative, exercise, scribes, orthography


§1. Introduction
§1.1 The following six tablets from the time of the Ur III dynasty were acquired by the late Peter Hulin, lecturer in Assyriology at the University of Oxford. I am grateful to Linda Hulin for permission to publish the tablets here. It is not known how they were acquired, but their provenience can in most cases be established from their content. The first five tablets record transactions, the sixth is perhaps an aide-mémoire or exercise text.

§2. Transliterations, translations and commentary
§2.1. No. 1 = PH 14
Provenience: Drehem
Size: 28 × 16 × 14mm
Date: Amar-Suen 3 ix 8


  1) 2(diš) ab2 Two cows
  2) e2-muhaldim (for) the kitchen
  3) u4 8(diš)-kam on the eighth day
  4) ki in-ta-e3-a-ta out of (the account of) Inta'ea
  1) ba-zi were booked.
    blank line
  2) iti ezem-mah Month: “great festival.”
  3) mu dgu-za den-lil2-la2 ba-dim2 Year: “the throne of Enlil was built.”
left edge
  1) 2(diš) gu4? (erased) Two bovines.


§2.1a. As Maeda (1989: 73) has observed, Inta'ea was initially responsible for providing livestock to the kitchen from (at least) AS 3 ix 1. See more recently Allred (2006: 49-50). This receipt-produced only a week later-comes from the earliest phase of his long career, a summary of which is given by Sigrist (1992: 295-301).

§2.2. No. 2 = PH 18
Provenience: Drehem
Size: 40mm × 35mm × 18mm
Date: Šu-Suen 7 ix 23


  1) 1(diš) udu šimaški geš-du3 u2 A Shimashkian breeding sheep fed on grass
  2) ri-ba-ga-da (for) Ribagada
  3) ša3 mu-kux(DU)-ra-ta from the delivery
  4) u4 2(u) 3(diš)-kam on the 23rd day
  5) ki in-ta-e3-a-ta ba-zi was booked out of (the account of) Inta'ea
  1) giri3 nu-ur2-dsuen dub-sar via Nur-Suen the scribe.
  2) iti ezem dšu-dsuen Month: “festival of Šu-Suen.”
  3) mu dšu-dsuen lugal uri5ki-ma-ke4 ma-da za-ab-ša-liki mu-hul Year: “Šu-Suen, king of Ur, destroyed the land of Zabšali.”
left edge
  1) 1(diš) udu One sheep.


§2.2a. Michalowski (2006: 52-53) has attempted a brief portrait of Ribagada. He was at this point a maškim, apparently of Amorite origin, having attained the final stage of his career as a courier. One can never be sure how many individuals lurk behind a name. Yet Ribagada is attested only in two dozen or so documents, the majority of which are dated. The name itself seems unusual. On this basis I assume – like Michalowski – that at least a large part of the attestations refer to a single individual, and thus I venture the following outline. Ribagada is attested first as a ra2-gaba (rider) in SAT 2, 724 obv. iv 37 (AS 2 ix, Drehem), and subsequently in the same function in AUCT 1, 426 rev. 1 (AS 6 xi 3, Drehem) and CT 32, 10 BM 103412 obv. i 16 (AS 6 xi 27), a monthly account into which the previous receipt was entered.

§2.2b. In PDT 1, 464 obv. 1-2 (SS 1 ix 6, Drehem) Ribagada the rider then “enters the office of gala” (nam-gala-še3 i3-in-ku4-ra-a). Michalowski (2006: 53-54) has demonstrated (a) that this office can only have been held temporarily, and (b) that it was often taken up by individuals described as Amorites. The latter observation agrees perfectly with a recently published text, BPOA 7, 2423 obv. 1-3 (AS 6, Umma), in which Ribagada is referred to as Amorite (2 guruš u4 12-še3 ki-su7 ri-ba-ga-da mar-tu gub-ba ša3 buru14, “two workers for twelve days, standing on the threshing floor [of] Ribagada [of] Martu, during harvest”).

§2.2c. Ribagada is then known as a ra2-gaba maškim in SAT 3, 1186 rev. ii 74 (SS 1 xii, Drehem), BIN 3, 559 rev. 1 (SS 2 ix 23, Drehem), and as a maškim in PDT 1, 543 obv. 9 (SS 1 viii, Drehem)-one month before his last attestation as ra2-gaba-, a title he continues to hold in several documents until at least PDT 1, 454 rev. 1 (SS 7 xi 29, Drehem). BPOA 7, 2821 obv. 6 (SS 7 iv 4, Drehem) lists one Ribagada among a group of šu-i (bathers); these are known to have served as couriers (e.g. for royal gifts: see Sallaberger 1993: 16-17). The final dated attestation occurs in NATN 940 (IS 2 vi), from Nippur, where a few goods are dispensed from an account of Ribagada.

§2.3. No. 3 = PH 17
Provenience: Drehem
Size: 44 × 38 × 23mm
Date: Šu-Suen 6 vii


  1) 1(diš) sila4 niga 1 fattened lamb,
  2) 3(diš) sila4 ga 3 milk-lambs
  3) ur-šu i3-dab5 Uršu has taken over.
  4) 3(diš) sila4 ga 3 milk-lambs
  5) uri5ki-ki-du10 i3-dab5 Uri-kidu has taken over.
  6) sa2-du11 lugal The sa2-du11 offering of the king
  7) ki a-hu-we-er-ta was booked out of (the account
  1) ba-zi of) Ahu-wer.
    blank line
  2) iti a2-ki-ti Month: “festival of Akiti.”
  3) mu dšu-dsuen lugal uri5ki-ma-ke4 na-ru2-a mah den-lil2 dnin-lil2-ra mu-ne-ru2 Year: “Šu-Suen king of Ur erected the great stele for Enlil and Ninlil.”
left edge
  1) 7(diš) udu Seven sheep.


§2.3a. Uršu and Uri-kidu are both muhaldim (cooks): they appear together in this function in AnOr 7, 107 (SS 9 x 4) from Drehem, and are otherwise well attested. Sigrist (1992: 317-318) briefly characterises Ahu-wer, a minor Drehem bureaucrat.

§2.4. No. 4 = PH 4
Provenience: Drehem?
Size: 49 × 39 × 19mm
Date: Šulgi 46 - 47 xii 3


  1) 2(diš) sila4 šeš-da-da sanga 2 lambs, Šeš-dada, temple administrator,
  2) 2(diš) sila4 ensi2 nibruki 2 lambs, the governor of Nippur,
  3) 2(diš) sila4 zabar-dab5 2 lambs, the zabardab,
  4) 1(diš) sila4 lu2-dnanna 1 lamb, Lu-Nanna.
  5) 1(diš) maš2 zi-ge nu-banda3 1 goat, Zige, the captain,
  6) 1(diš) maš2 me-a-NE nu-banda3 1 goat, MeaNE, the captain,
  7) 1(diš) gu4 niga 1(u) la2 1(aštenȗ) udu 1 fattened ox, 9 sheep,
  8) 1(diš) maš2 gal 1(diš) maš2 1 large goat, one goat,
  9) dšul-gi-ha-ma-ti Šulgi-hamati
  1) 1(diš) x [...]-gal2 1 ...
  2) 1(diš) x-[...]-mes? [x]-x-˹ka˺ 1 ...
  3) 1(diš) sila4 it-ra-aq- i3-li2 1 lamb, Itraq-ili,
  4) 1(diš) sila4 na-da 1 lamb, Nada.
    blank line
  5) mu-kux(DU) Delivery.
  6) iti še-KIN-ku5 Month: “harvest.”
  7) mu ki-maški u3 hu-ur5-tiki ba-hul Year: “Kimaš and Hurti were destroyed.”
left edge
  1) u4 3(diš)-kam The third day.


§2.4a. A delivery for an unspecified cult by various officials. Rev. 2 is perhaps [ur]-mes? despite the strong horizontal stroke, as three faint vertical strokes are visible inside the box.

§2.4b. Itraq-ili (rev. 3) is referred to as a lu2 ma-ri2ki, a man from Mari, in the almost contemporaneous receipt PDT 1, 161 rev.1 (SH 47 iv 25, Drehem). There are a few other attestation of Itraq-ili holding various offices between SH 43 and AS 4. See MAD 3 s.v. TRK ? for further attestations and Owen 1992 on Syrians in Ur III documents. AHw offers two interpretations: “er ist lang, mein Gott” (AHw s.v. arākum) and “es (das Neugeborene) wurde blau, mein Gott!” (AHw s.v. tarāqum). The reading it-, not a2-, seems guaranteed by i-ta2-ra-aq-i3-li2 (UET 3, 1780; IS 1 xii). Hilgert (2002: 193) hesitantly places the name under trq, “grüngelb, blau werden”; see his note 54 (and ibid. 185 note 12). CDA s.v. tarāqum(a/a) suggests “to take pity, relent” (“OAkk, jB”), which would produce the acceptable meaning “my god has relented.”

§2.5. No. 5 = PH 23
Provenience: Umma
Size: 59 × 43 × 23mm
Date: nn iv

  1) [n] 1(diš) tug2 guz-za ˹sag10˺ [n and] 1 unit of good guz-za textile,
  2) 1(diš) tug2 tab-ba sag10 1 unit of good double-threaded textile,
  3) 1(diš) tug2 bar-dul5 ˹sag10˺ 1 unit of good bar-dul5 textile,
  4) 3(diš) tug2 bar-dul5 ˹gu2˺-[TAR?] 3 units of bar-dul5 gu2-TAR? textiles,
  5) 5(diš) tug2 gu2-˹e3˺ [...] ˹DU˺ 5 units of gu2-e3 textiles [of good quality?]
  6) 5(diš) tug2 gu2-e3 5 units of gu2-e3 textiles of regular quality,
  7) 2(u) la2 3(aštenȗ) tug2 guz-za DU 17 units of guz-za textiles of regular quality,
  8) 1(diš) tug2 ˹ha˺-bu-um one unit of soft textile,
  9) 4(diš) ˹tug2˺ x x gal 4 units of ... textile,
  1) 6(diš) tug2 aktum gi 6 units of native aktum textiles,
  2) 7(diš) tug2 elam 7 units of Elamite textiles,
  3) 5(diš) tug2 bar-si gu2-e3 5 units of bar-si gu2-e3 textiles,
  4) 6(diš) gada gal sag10 6 units of good linen,
  5) 8(diš) gada ša3-ga-du3 8 units of ša3-ga-du3 linen,
  6) 3(diš) gada sag three units of top linen,
  7) ki gal5-la2-gal-ta from (the account of) the galla gal
  8) dingir-ra-ke4 were received
  9) šu ba-ti by Dingira.
  10) iti ezem-nesag2 Month: “first fruits festival.”

§2.5a. Most textiles listed here are well-attested. tug2 aktum gi (rev. 1) is presumably “native aktum textile” (gi in the sense of gi7 in dumu-gi7, eme-gi7, etc.), as opposed to the Elamite textiles in the following line. The alternative is “yellow aktum” (GI = sig17).

§2.5b. The office of the galla-gal (rev. 7) is attested in Umma (see Dahl and Hebenstreit 2007: 45), this text seems to contain the only instance of someone receiving goods from his account.

§2.5c. Dingira (rev. 8) appears in over a dozen dated receipts from Umma, most of which resemble this tablet. They suggest that Dingira was active in the later reign of Šulgi and that he worked particularly with garments: MVN 15, 42 obv. 4 (SH 33 vi), ASJ 19, 212 34 obv. 3 (SH 33 xii), JCS 2, 185 NBC 3056 obv. 5 (SH 36 v), TCNU 604 rev. 1 (SH 37 iv), SANTAG 6, 31 obv. 6 (SS 37 v), CDLJ 2002/1, no. 14 obv. 3 (SH 39 vii), Nisaba 9, 205 obv. 3 (SH 44), SACT 2, 147 rev. 1 (SH 44 xi), YOS 4, 292 obv. 9 (SH 46), MVN 20, 142 obv. 9 (SH 46 v), BPOA 1, 731 rev. 1 (SS 47 v), BPOA 1, 876 rev. 3 (SS 47 vi), AnOr 7, 280 rev. 3 (SH 47 x). Two slightly later texts also from Umma mention a man named Dingira weighing textiles, Princeton 1, 301 rev. 4 (AS 7 viii) and BPOA 1, 598 rev. 7 (SS 2 vii).

§2.6. No. 6 = PH 24
Provenience: unknown
Size: 94 × 51 × 23mm
Date: unknown

  1) 3(diš) gu4 ˹niga˺[...] 3 fattened oxen ...
  2) 1(diš) anše libir ˹4(u) 4(diš) ˺ [x] 1 “old” donkey, 44 ...
  3) 1(u) 5(diš) maš2 4 (ban2) 1(diš) 1/2(diš) sila3 15 goats, 4 ban 1 1/2 sila,
  4) 1(ban2) 7(diš) sila3 ga-HAR 1 ban 7 sila of cheese,
  5) im 1(diš)-kam of the 1st tablet.
  6) 6(diš) gu4 6 oxen,
  7) 4(u) 7(diš) anše libir! 47 “old” donkeys,
  8) 1(diš) udu 1 sheep,
  9) 2(u) 4(aš) še gur 24 gur of barley,
  10) im 2(diš)-kam of the 2nd tablet.
  11) 2(geš2) 3(aš) 1(barig) 4(ban2) 5(diš) 2/3(diš) sila3 še ˹gur˺ 123 gur, 1 barig 4 ban, 5 2/3 sila,
  12) im 3(diš)-kam of the 3rd tablet.
  13) 1(u) še gur 10 gur of barley,
  1) im 4(diš)-kam of the 4th tablet.
  2) 1(u) 9(diš) gin2 ku3-babbar 19 shekels of silver,
  3) im 5(diš)-kam of the 5th tablet.
  4) 1(geš'u) 4(geš2) 5(diš) udu maš2 hi-a 845 mixed sheep and goats,
  5) im 6(diš)-kam of the 6th tablet.
  6) 1(geš2) 4(u) 4(diš) gu4 1(diš) 1/3(diš) ma-na 3(diš) 1/3(diš) gin2 1(u) 8(diš) še ku3-babbar 104 oxen, 1 1/3 mana, 3 1/3 shekels, 18 grains of silver,
  7) n(ban2) 2(diš) sila3 i3-nun 2(barig) 2(ban2) 1(disz) sila3 ga-HAR n ban two sila of ghee, 2 barig 2 ban, 1 sila of cheese,
  8) n kuš gu4 2(u) 6(diš) ad3 gu4 26? oxen hides, 26 oxen carcasses,
  9) ˹im˺ 7(diš)-[kam] of the 7th tablet.
  10) x 1(u) udu im [8(diš)-kam] 10 sheep, [the 8th] tablet.
  11) 1(geš2) 2(u) udu ˹im˺[9(diš)-kam] 80 sheep, [of the 9th tablet.]
  12) 1(diš) anše ˹libir˺ 1 “old” donkey ... ,
  13) im ˹1(u) ˺-[kam] of the 10th tablet.
  14) pisan šu-er3-[ra-ta?] [From?] the basket of Šu-Erra(?)
  15) i-din-˹er3-˺ [ra šu ba-ti?] Iddin-Erra [received?].
left edge
  1) 8(aš) ˹še˺ [gur] ˹im˺ 1(u) 1(diš)-kam 8 gur of barley, of the 11th tablet.

§2.6a. This document is unusual in that it appears to consist of little more than a series of references to eleven other tablets. It was presumably employed in the administration of an archive. The reading pisan followed by two personal names in rev. 14 and 15 would indicate that the eleven tablets cited belonged to a tablet-basket. It is known from archive labels that such baskets were attributed to particular officials (see e.g. ASJ 8, 68 rev. iii 1 and the identical label in Nik 2, 162 rev. 8 and 165 rev. 5 [Foxvog 1986: 63-64]).

§2.6b. Now the pisan dub-ba label AR RIM 4 30 (SS 7 xii, Drehem) records that an individual named Iddin-Erra collected his accounts over a twelve month period. A dub-sar of this name is attested in AUCT 2, 381 obv. 15 (year name missing, Drehem). Is our tablet perhaps the aide-mémoire of a scribe called Iddin-Erra as he made a record of his accounts? Šu-Erra and Iddin-Erra are not uncommon names, but here they may refer to two scribes in the later reign of Šu-Suen. The Iddin-Erra of the pisan dub-ba label dates from SS 7 xii; around this time, a dub-sar called Šu-Erra is attested in Syracuse 203 rev. 4 (SS 9 i 6), AUCT 3, 197 rev. 10 (SS 9 ix 25, Drehem), BIN 3, 462 rev. 4 (SS 9 xi 14, Drehem), AUCT 3, 196 rev. 3 (SS 9 xi 17, Drehem), CST 455 rev. 9 (SS 9 xii 14, Drehem) as well as in a few other documents from the reign of Šu-Suen but of uncertain date; CUSAS 3, 1013 rev. 8 (SS 8 ix, Garshana) mentions a Šu-Erra dub-sar maškim. There is only one other text of the Ur III period in which two bureaucrats called Šu-Erra and Iddin-Erra appear together, as far as I can see, namely Princeton 2, 141 obv. i 6 and 15 (SS 9, Drehem) which also falls into this period of time.

§2.6c. Further, according to the recent orthographic study of Veldhuis (2008: 224-225) the presence of the sign ad3 (LU×BAD) in our text (rev. 8) would of itself demand a date in or after SS 4 (if from Drehem) or SS 8 (Umma). This does at least not impede an attempt to date the tablet to the later reign of Šu-Suen.

§2.6d. In terms of form, too, the coarse appearance of the tablet (which seems to be of unusually generous size) and the absence of a date might point in the direction of an aide-mémoire or exercise of some kind. The rather erratic writing (gu4 is not written consistently: compare obv. 1 and 6 with rev. 6 and 8; libir squeezed into obv. 7; the eleventh im noted on the left edge) gives the impression of having been quickly jotted down.

§2.6e. With all due hesitation I would like to think of this tablet as a briefly noted inventory or writing practice, perhaps by two scribes in the time of Šu-Suen, as this interpretation seems the most likely to agree with both content and form.



Allred, Lance B.
  2006 Cooks and Kitchens: Centralized Food Production in Later Third Millennium Mesopotamia. Johns Hopkins University doctoral dissertation. Baltimore.
Dahl, Jacob L. and Hebenstreit, Laurent F.
  2007 “17 Ur III Texts in a Private Collection in Paris.” RA 101, 35-49.
Foxvog, Daniel A.
  1986 “A Summary of Non-Sealed Labor Assignments from Umma.” ASJ 8, 59-75.
Hilgert, Markus
  2002 Akkadisch in der Ur III-Zeit. Münster: Rhema.
Maeda, Tohru
  1989 “Bringing (mu-túm) livestock and the Puzurish-Dagan organization in the Ur III dynasty.” ASJ 11, 69-107.
Michalowski, Piotr
  2006 “Love or Death? Observations on the Role of the Gala in Ur III Ceremonial Life.” JCS 58, 49-61.
Owen, David I.
  1992 “Syrians in Sumerian Sources From the Ur III Period.” In M. W. Chavalas and J. L. Hayes, eds., New Horizons in the Study of Ancient Syria. Bibliotheca Mesopotamica 25. Malibu: Undena, pp. 108-175.
Sallaberger, Walther
  1993 Der kultische Kalender der Ur III-Zeit. Berlin-New York: de Gruyter.
Sigrist, Marcel
  1992 Drehem. Bethesda, MD: CDL.
Veldhuis, Niek
  2008 “Orthography and Politics: adda, ‘Carcass’ and kur9, ‘To Enter.’ ” In P. Michalowski, ed., On the Third Dynasty of Ur. Studies in Honor of Marcel Sigrist. JCS Supplement Series. Boston: ASOR, pp. 223-229.


Version: 15 April 2010  

Cite this Article
Metcalf, Christopher. 2010. “Six Ur III Tablets from the Hulin Collection in Oxford.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2010 (1).
Metcalf, Christopher. (2010). Six Ur III Tablets from the Hulin Collection in Oxford. Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2010(1).
Metcalf, Christopher (2010) “Six Ur III Tablets from the Hulin Collection in Oxford,” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2010(1). Available at: (Accessed: November 29, 2023).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2023-11-29]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Metcalf,  Christopher},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin},
	number = {1},
	year = {2010},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {Six {Ur} {III} {Tablets} from the {Hulin} {Collection} in {Oxford}},
	volume = {2010},

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