Six Ur III Tablets from the Special Collections of the University of Missouri-Columbia

CDLB 2012:2

Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)

Published on 2012-09-20

© 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.

Liu Changyu ORCID logo

Zhejiang Normal University

cuneiform, Ur III, administration, University of Missouri-Columbia


§1. Introduction
§1.1.  The following six cuneiform tablets from the Special Collections of the University of Missouri-Columbia, MO, are dated to the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur (also referred to Ur III, ca. 2112–2004 BC); they were donated to UMC Libraries by the Ernest McClary Todd Museum, formerly a part of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. They probably came to the university in the early twentieth century.


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Ms. Kelli Hansen, Print Collections Librarian of Rare Books and Special Collections of the University of Missouri-Columbia, for spending a considerable amount of time scanning high-quality photographs of all six tablets, for sending them as well as the measurements of all six tablets to me, and for generously granting permission for their publication. I transliterated the texts based on those photographs. Additionally, I would like to thank Professors Markus Hilgert and Lorenzo Verderame for reading the paper and providing me with helpful corrections and revisions. Any remaining mistakes or errors, however, are my sole responsibility.


§2. Transliterations, translations and commentary
§2.1. Messenger text
Museum No.: MULC 1
Provenience: Umma?
Size: 22 × 24 × 12mm
Date: – x 29


  1) 5(diš) sila3 kaš saga 3(diš) sila3 ninda 5 sila of high-quality beer, 3 sila of bread,
  2) 2(diš) gin2 i3 2(diš) gin2 naga 2 shekels of oil, 2 shekels of naga,
  3) 1(diš) ku6 1(diš) sa šum2 1 fish, 1 bundle of onions
  4) inim-dinanna (for) Inim-Inanna;
  5) 4(ban2) ninda ša3-gal simug-e-ne 4 ban2 of bread as provisions for smiths,
  1) giri3 inim-dinanna via Inim-Inanna;
  2) 5(diš) sila3 kaš 5(diš) sila3 ˹ninda˺ 5 sila of beer, 5 sila of bread,
  3) 2(diš) gin2 ˹i3 2(diš) gin2 naga˺ 2 shekels of oil, 2 shekels of naga,
  4) 1(diš) ku6 1(diš) sa šum2 1 fish, 1 bundle of onions
  5) ˹giri3?˺ da-da via Dada;
  6) u4 2(u) la2 1(dištenû)-kam it is on the 19th day (of the month),
left edge
  1) ˹iti ezem˺-dšul-gi Month: “Festival of Šulgi.”


§2.1a. This is one of the so-called “messenger texts,” that generally list six types of goods (beer, bread, oil, naga, fish, onion) in quite regular quantities. The commodity designated as naga is generally held to be a product derived from an alkali-bearing plant; based on its common attestation together with what were presumably dried fish, this product may in turn have been used in the preparation of fish or other foodstuffs.


obv. 4: An Inim-Inanna is also found in the messenger texts: BIN 5, 297, MVN 14, 259, Nisaba 1, 170, Nisaba 6, 14, and Nisaba 16, 84.


rev. 5: The personal name “Dada” recorded in the messenger texts from Umma is also found in Nebraska 47; Nisaba 1, 12; Nisaba 1, 123; Nisaba 16, 22; and UMTBM 3, 18.


§2.2. Withdrawal of livestock
Museum No.: MULC 3
Provenience: Drehem
Size: 58 × 56 × 19mm
Date: Šulgi 46 vii 28


  1) 1(diš) maš2-gal niga ˹šimašgi2˺ 1 barley-fed Šimaškian billy goat,
  2) 1(diš) munus2-gar3 niga den-lil2 1 barley-fed female kid (for) Enlil,
  3) 1(diš) maš2-gal niga ˹šimašgi2˺ 1 barley-fed Šimaškian full-groan billy goat,
  4) dnin-˹lil2˺ (for) Ninlil,
  5) zabar-dab5 ˹maškim˺ the zabardab was the requisitioner;
  6) 1(diš) maš2 niga mu-kux(DU) şe-lu-uš-dda-gan 1 barley-fed male kid, delivery of Şelluš-Dagan,
  7) 1(diš) udu aslumx(A.LUM) niga 1(diš) ud5 maš2 nu2-a 1 barley-fed long-fleeced ram, 1 serviced nanny goat,
  8) mu-kux(DU) ur-dsuen dumu lugal delivery of Ur-Suen, son of the king;
  9) 1(diš) munus2-gar3 niga mu-kux(DU) dutu-ul4-gal 1 barley-fed female kid, delivery of Utu’ulgal
  1) e2 uz-ga for the E’uzga,
  2) da-a-a-ni maškim Dayyāni was the requisitioner;
  3) 1(diš) sila4 den-lil2 1 lamb (for) Enlil,
  4) 1(diš) sila4 dnin-lil2 1 lamb (for) Ninlil,
  5) mu-kux(DU) šeš-da-da ˹sanga˺ delivery of Šešdada, the temple administrator;
  6) 1(diš) sila4 dutu 1 lamb (for) Utu,
  7) mu-kux(DU) ensi2 šuruppakki delivery of the governor of Šuruppak,
  8) dnanše-ul4-gal maškim Nanše’ulgal was the requisitioner;
  9) 1(diš) gu4 1(diš) ab2 3(diš) udu 1 ox, 1 cow, 3 sheep,
  10) 2(diš) maš2 ˹šu˺-gid2 e2 muḫaldim-˹še3˺ 2 goats (as) provisions for the kitchen;
  11) 1(diš) dusu2-munus ba-uš2 mu ur-ra-še3 1 female equid, slaughtered, on account of the dogs,
  12) dingir-ba-ni sipa ur-ra-ke4 šu ba-ti Ilπ-bani, the kennelman, received it;
    blank space
  13) zi-ga u4 2 (u) 8(diš)-˹kam˺ withdrawn; it is on the 28th day (of the month).
  14) iti ezem dšul-gi Month: “Festival of Šulgi.”
  15) mu ki-maški ḫu-ur2-tiki ba-ḫul Year: “Kimaš and Ḫurti were destroyed.”


§2.2a. This text records a number of sheep and goats withdrawn for various purposes.


obv. 7: Steinkeller 1995: 52 discusses the meaning of A.LUM = aslumx as “long-fleeced.” For the discussion of nu2-a, see Steinkeller 1995: 55 and Heimpel 1993: 133-134.


rev. 1: For the interpretation of e2 uz-ga, see Johnson 2004: §3.2, Sigrist 1992: 158-162 and Wu 1996.


rev. 10: The phrase šu-gid2 means “to extend (one’s) hand, to take or accept.” According to Sigrist 1992: 40-42, in Drehem texts it often designates animals delivered by shepherds or distributed to the kitchen.


§2.3. Receipt of garments
Museum No.: MULC 4
Provenience: Drehem
Size: 40 × 34 × 18mm
Date: Šulgi 48 viii –


  1) 4(diš) tug2 di4-di4-la gibil4 gešgarig2-ak 4 small new combed garments,
  2) ki-la2-bi 1(u) 2(diš) 1/3(diš) ma-na 2 their weight is 12 1/3 minas;
  3) 7(diš) tug2 sag uš-bar 7 “sagušbar” garments,
  4) [ki-la2]-˹bi˺ 2(u) 5(diš) ma-na (for) their weight is 25 minas;
  5) [n tug2] uš-bar n “ušbar” garment(s),
  6) [ki-la2]-˹bi 5(diš)˺ ma-na 4 its/their weight is 5 minas;
  1) [n tug2] mug n “mug” garment(s),
  2) [ki-la2-bi] 4(diš) ma-na its/their weight is 4 minas;
    blank space
  3) [ki] a2-na-na-ta from Anana,
  4) ˹mu˺-kux(DU) delivery;
  5) i-di3-er3-ra lu2 azlag2 Iddin-Erra, the fuller;
  6) šu ba-ti received them.
  7) iti ˹šu˺-eš-ša Month: “šuešša,”
  8) mu ḫa-ar-šiki u3 ki-maški ba-ḫul year: “Ḫarši and Kimaš were destroyed.”


§2.3a. This text records the weight of four kinds of garments delivered from Anana, received by Iddin-Irra. For similar Drehem texts associating these two officials with garments, see PDT 2, 1167; SumRecDreh 7; Nik 2, 504; BIN 3, 411; OIP 115, 367; Ontario 1, 8; and BPOA 7, 2932.


obv. 1: For a discussion of gešgarig/ga-rig2-ak “(to be) combed,” see Waetzoldt 1972: 115-116 and Attinger 1993: 179.


obv. 3, 5 and rev. 1: For a discussion of tug2 sag uš-bar, tug2 uš-bar and tug2 mug, see Waetzoldt 1972 and Oppenheim 1948: 13-14 and 104-106.


§2.4. Receipt of slaughtered livestock
Museum No.: MULC 5
Provenience: Drehem
Size: 33 × 29 × 15mm
Date: Amar-Suen 4 xii 14


  1) 1(diš) maš2-gal niga saga us2 1 barley-fed full-grown billy goat of the second grade,
  2) 1(diš) udu 1 sheep,
  3) 3(diš) ˹u8˺ 3 ewes
  4) 7(diš) ud5 7 nanny goats,
  5) 2(diš) maš2 2 billy goats,
  6) 5(diš) sila4 ga 5 suckling lambs,
  7) 3(diš) maš2 ga 3 suckling kids,
  1) ba-uš2 were slaughtered,
  2) u4 1 (u) 4(diš)-kam it is on the 14th day (of the month),
  3) ˹ki a-ḫu˺-we-er-ta from Aḫu-Wer,
  4) ˹dšul˺-gi-iri-mu Šulgi-irimu
  5) šu ba-ti received them.
  6) ˹iti še-sag11-ku5˺ Month: “Harvest,”
  7) ˹mu en dnanna ba-ḫun˺ year: “The en-priestess of Nanna was installed.”
left edge
  1) 2(u) 2(diš) udu (Total:) 22 sheep.


§2.4a. This text documents the receipt of 22 carcasses from Ahu-Wer to Šulgi-irimu. For recent discussions of these officials, see Hilgert 2003: 43-53 and Tsouparopoulou 2008: 168-169 and 255-256.


§2.5. Sealed receipt of millstone of black basalt
Museum No.: MULC 6
Provenience: Umma
Size: 44 × 50 × 16mm
Date: Šu-Suen 5 –


  1) 1(diš) kikken ˹a2-da-bar˺ saga 1 millstone of high-quality black basalt (?)
  2) lugal-iti-da (for) Lugal-itida
  3) 1(diš) kikken a2-da-bar 1 millstone of black basalt
  4) a-kal-la ašgab (for) Akalla, the leatherworker;
  5) 1(diš) ˹kikken uš-mu˺ x 1 millstone (of black basalt for) Ušmu,
  6) 1(diš) ˹kikken A-DU-la-URU˺ 1 millstone (of black basalt for) ADUlaURU,
  7) 1(diš) ˹kikken˺ dšara2-za-me 1 millstone (of black basalt for) Šara-zame,
  1) ˹ki a˺-du-ta from Adu,
  2) ˹kišib3˺ ur-dnu-˹muš˺-da under seal of Ur-Numušda.
    blank space
  3) ˹mu˺ us2-sa dšu-dsuen ˹lugal˺-e bad3 mar-tu mu-du3 Year after: “Šu-Suen, king of Ur, built the Amorite wall.”


§2.5a. The text records five millstones of black basalt withdrawn from the account of Adu. Texts dealing with millstones of black basalt are very uncommon. The personal names Akalla, the leatherworker, and Šara-zame, are exclusively found in Umma texts; see, for instance, TCL 5, 5672, BIN 5, 106, AAS 72, Nik 2, 263, BIN 5, 48, MVN 4, 120, and MVN 13, 213.


obv. 1 and 3: The reading of kikken (also kinkin, sign ḪAR) preceding a2-da-bar derives from na4kikken ad-bar, with the meaning of “millstone of black basalt,” for which see OB Nippur Ura 4 Seg. 1, 106. The term is discussed by Stol 1979: 83-88. The three “kikken” listed in obv. ll. 5-7 are, in my opinion, all abbreviations of the “kikken a2-da-bar” recorded in obv. 1 and 3.


§2.6. Transfer of livestock
Museum No.: MULC 7
Provenience: Drehem?
Size: 23 × 21 × 12mm
Date: Amar-Suen 2 viii 29


  1) 1(diš) sila4 ga 1 suckling lamb,
  2) 1(diš) kir11 ga 1 suckling female lamb,
  3) 1(diš) maš2 ga 1 suckling kid,
  4) u3-tu-da new-borns;
  5) u4 3(u) la2 1(diš)-kam it is on the 29th day (of the month),
  1) dšul-gi-a-a-mu i3-dab5 Šulgi-ayamu took.
  2) iti šu-eš-ša Month: “Šu’ešša,”
  3) mu damar-dsuen lugal-e ur-bi2-lumki mu-ḫul year: “King Amar-Suen destroyed Urbilum.”
left edge
  1) 3(diš) 3


§2.6a. This text registers three new-born domestic animals taken by Šulgi-ayamu. For the discussion of this official, see Hilgert 2003: 43-53 and Tsouparopoulou 2008: 163-164.





Attinger, Pascal
  1993 Eléments de linguistique sumérienne: La construction de du11/e/di “dire”. Freiburg: Editions Universitaires Fribourg Suisse.
Heimpel, Wolfgang
  1993 “Zu den Bezeichnungen von Schafen und Ziegen in den Drehem- und Ummatexten.” BSA 7, 115-160.
Hilgert, Markus
  2003 Cuneiform Texts from the Ur III Period in the Oriental Institute, Volume 2: Drehem Administrative Documents from the Reign of Amar-Suena. OIP 121. Chicago: The Oriental Institute.
Johnson, J. Cale
  2004 “Two Ur III Tablets from the Tulane County Library.” CDLB 2004/2.
Oppenheim, Leo A.
  1948 Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets of the Wilberforce Eames Babylonian Collection in the New York Public Library. AOS 32. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
Sigrist, Marcel
  1992 Drehem. Bethesda, MD: CDL Press.
Steinkeller, Piotr
  1995 “Sheep and Goat Terminology in Ur III Sources from Drehem.” BSA 8, 49-70.
Stol, Marten
  1979 On Trees, Mountains, and Millstones in the Ancient Near East. Leiden: Ex Oriente Lux.
Tsouparopoulou, Christina
  2008 The Material Face of Bureaucracy: Writing, Sealing and Archiving Tablets for the Ur III State at Drehem. PhD. Dissertation, Cambridge University.
Waetzoldt, Hartmut
  1972 Untersuchungen zur Neusumerischen Textilindustrie, Studi Economici e Tecnologici I. Rome: Centro per le Antichità e la Storia dell’Arte del Vicino Oriente
Wu, Yuhong
  1996 “The Ewes Without Lambs and Lambs Cooked in é-UZ-GA, ‘the Private House of Kings,’ in the Drehem Archives.” JAC 11, 65-109.



Version: 20 September 2012  


Cite this Article
Liu, Changyu. 2012. “Six Ur III Tablets from the Special Collections of the University of Missouri-Columbia.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2012 (2).
Liu, C. (2012). Six Ur III Tablets from the Special Collections of the University of Missouri-Columbia. Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2012(2).
Liu, C. (2012) “Six Ur III Tablets from the Special Collections of the University of Missouri-Columbia,” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2012(2). Available at: (Accessed: April 24, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-04-24]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Liu, Changyu},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin},
	issn = {1540-8760},
	number = {2},
	year = {2012},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {Six {Ur} {III} {Tablets} from the {Special} {Collections} of the {University} of {Missouri}-{Columbia}},
	url = {},
	volume = {2012},

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T2  - Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin
TI  - Six Ur III Tablets from the Special Collections of the University of M
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