Notes on Ur III Period Textile Tablets from Ur

CDLB 2015:4

Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)

Published on 2015-11-13

© 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.

Textiles, Ur III period, Ur provenience, chronology


§1. Introduction
The overwhelming majority of Ur III administrative tablets from the city of Ur were formally excavated and included in the official publications UET 3 and UET 9. However, in Part II of his book, “The administrative and Economic Ur III Texts from the City of Ur” [UCU], Widell (2003) lists 105 administrative and economic tablets which he considers to be from Ur but which were not included in the UET volumes. These are tablets that were unearthed unofficially and sold on the antiquities market and so their provenience is open to question. The main aim of this paper is to consider the tablets from the list that deal with textiles and, in particular, to verify that the provenience of these tablets was Ur.


§1.2. UCU was written during the early stages of CDLI and BDTNS, so the access to electronic databases was substantially less than currently available. Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that the present verification process shows that a substantial number of these textile tablets nominally given a provenience of Ur are not actually from Ur.[2]


§1.3. In some cases, the justification for an Ur provenience is given explicitly within UCU and in others references are made to publications in journals.[3] Unfortunately, in many cases, UCU states that the provenience of tablets is Ur without providing any justification.[4] It is shown here that the textile tablets from the UCU list, which have relatively early dates, are less likely to be from Ur. The paper goes on to consider whether this finding is more generally applicable to the other tablets that are nominally listed in UCU as being from Ur.


§2. Verification of the Provenience of the “Ur” Textile Tablets
Table 1 lists the textile tablets included in the UCU list (pp. 23-24) that are suggested to be from Ur but not included in UET 3 or UET 9. The table also includes the provenience as given in the original publication. It is convenient to follow UCU and consider the tablets in order of their date.


§2.2. UCU 5: RA 73, 27 8 (Š 42 / AS 6)[5]
This tablet lists textiles manufactured (?) using the Girsu gešTAG (heddle), supervised by the overseer, Aḫum-ilum. UCU (p. 119) notes that Aḫum-ilum, is well attested in texts from Girsu but attributes the tablet to Ur because the month name (ezem-maḫ) is only found in Ur or Puzriš-Dagan.


The first line states that the tug2 guz-za were large (gal) and of a fine quality (us2 šar3).[6] This tablet and CT 7, 37 BM 018376, are dated mu ša-aš-ru-umki ba-ḫul which could represent either Š 42 or AS 6. Since the earliest date for Aḫum-ilum based on the remaining tablets is AS 1, it seems more prudent to assume that RA 73, 27 8, and CT 7, 37, are dated to AS 6. Since there was a coherent archive of Aḫum-ilum tablets at Girsu it seems most probable that RA 73, 27 8, was retained as a receipt as part of that archive.


§2.3. UCU 6-8: MVN 13, 14, 21 & 600 (all Š 44)
MVN 13, 14, was not given a provenience in its initial publication. However, there are two records of this distribution of a clothing ration to AN-zu-a for the New Year (tug2-ba za3-mu):


MVN 13, 14 (Š 44) MVN 3, 205 (Š 44)
    1. 1 tug2 uš-[bar x?] 1 tug2 uš-bar
    2. ki-la2-bi 3 [ma-na] ki-la2-bi 3 ma-na
    3. AN-zu-a lu2 dab5-ba AN-zu-a
    1. tug2-ba za3-mu
      blank space seal impression
    2. mu si-mu-ur4-ru-um mu lu-lu-[buki] a-ra2 10 la2 1-kam ba-˹ḫul˺ ba-ḫul mu si-mu-ru-umki lu-lu-bu-umki a-ra2 10 la2 1-kam
    1.   šu-dma-ma
    2.   dub-sar


There is general agreement that MVN 3, 205, is from Adab;[7] therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that MVN 13, 14, is also from Adab.[8]


Widell (2003:120) lists MVN 13 14, 21 & 600 together, drawing attention to the similarity of the form of the tablets. These are each disbursements of garments for the New Year and are all dated Š 44. In each case, the reverse of the tablet has tug2-ba za3-mu at the top, followed by a large space, with the date at the bottom. Based on the drawings, the tablets look very similar. Further, it is noted that these three tablets have similar museum numbers (i.e. the numbers for MVN 13, 14, 21 & 600, are, respectively FLP 1748, 1742 & 1741), which is consistent with the suggestion that these three tablets had been in the same deposit, had been unearthed and subsequently stored together.[9] Statistically, it is highly improbable that such similar tablets could have appeared within such close proximity in the museum inventory by random chance. On this basis, it seems reasonable to suggest that, if MVN 13, 14, is from Adab, then MVN 13, 21 & 600, are probably also from Adab.


§2.4. UCU 9: NYPL 104 (Š 46)
UCU does not offer any commentary on why this tablet might be from Ur.[10] The tablet is analogous to AnOr 7, 152, and MVN 15, 6 (both Š 47, Drehem), where the latter describes dšul-gi-i3-li2 as an overseer of weavers (ugula uš-bar). Note also TCNU 606 (Š 47), that is very similar to the above tablets and, although listed as being from Umma, is more probably from Drehem. In addition, the Drehem tablets CST 256, Tavolette 350, and AnOr 7, 145, also include dšul-gi-i3-li2 in connection with textiles. Thus it seems highly likely that the provenience of NYPL 104 is Drehem.


§2.5. UCU 104: AfO 40-41, 60 6 (undated)[11]
Widell (2010) gives a detailed discussion of this tablet, that is a record of Iddin-Erra receiving tug2 ta2-ki-ru-um sent to the center of Ur. In respect of the provenience he notes that:

  • there were fullers named Iddin-Erra both in Drehem, during the reigns of Šulgi and Amar-Suen, and in Ur, during the reigns of Šu-Suen and Ibbi-Suen.
  • scribes from Ur preferred the usage of šu ba-an-ti over šu ba-ti and, in particular, all of the tablets from Ur concerned with Iddin-Erra use šu ba-an-ti.
  • the tug2 ta2-ki-ru-um (takkīrum) garments are rare and attested in similar scripts from Ur but do not appear in Drehem texts.
  • the tablet would possibly have been written in the city of Ur but was more likely to have been archived in the location of the origin of the garments in the text rather than in Ur where the garments were delivered.
  • if ša3 uri5ki-ma-še3 tag-tag-ta is interpreted as “to the center of the city of Ur from all of the stacks,” then there is an implication that the textiles were moved from storage on the outskirts of Ur before they were ordered to be sent to the center of the city.

In this way, Widell concludes that the tablet would have been unearthed at a location in the outskirts of Ur.


However, there are a number of difficulties with that line of reasoning:

  • The phrase, šu ba-an-ti, appears frequently in Drehem texts[12] and, in particular, the Drehem text, ASJ 17, 317 (Š 46), is a receipt of wool by Iddin-Erra using šu ba-an-ti and has an impression of Iddin-Erra’s seal. Thus, it cannot be assumed that this phrase necessarily implies that the tablet was written in Ur and refers to the Iddin-Erra from Ur.
  • tug2 ta2-ki-ru-um textiles are listed on 19 tablets from Garšana, 5 from Ur, 2 from Nippur and 1 from Drehem.[13] Thus, the presence of these textiles does not imply that AfO 40-41, 60 6, is from Ur, and does not exclude Drehem.
  • Waetzoldt suggests that tag-tag-de3 is a shortened form of ki-la2 tag-tag-de3, “to be weighed.”[14] Widell rejects this because, for example, on UET 3, 1650, “the garments are already enumerated with their weights. Why should already weighed garments be weighed?” However, this tablet appears to record that 11 mana of wool had been supplied to weave 22 tug2 uš-bar each weighing 1/2 mana, with the request (according to Waetzoldt) that the woven garments be weighed. This would seem to be a readily understandable request to ensure that the weight of the woven garments was approximately equal to the weight of wool supplied, namely, that wool had not been wasted or pilfered.

On this basis, it is suggested that the provenience of AfO 40-41, 60 6, remains unclear.


§2.6. UCU 19: AUCT 1, 967 (ŠS 7)
This tablet records lu2-dingir-ra receiving (šu ba-an-ti) textiles from Iddin-Erra, the fuller. It is also discussed by Widell (2010), since there is some overlap with the subject matter of the previous tablet. He notes that, during the reign of Šu-Suen the official Iddin-Erra with connections to the textile industry at Ur is found on UET 3, 1585 rev. v 2' (ŠS 5), and UET 3, 1647 (ŠS 9). Widell makes the reasonable observation that, in view of the date, it is more likely that AUCT 1, 967, refers to this official from Ur than the fuller with this name from Drehem, who first appears 34 years earlier on BIN 3, 405 (Š 30).


§2.7. UCU 29: MVN 13, 42 (IS 3)
As UCU notes, this text is almost identical with UET 3, 1561, apart from line 3 and the dating formula (see also UET 3, 1556). This allows readings, where the text has become damaged, to be supported by comparison. Thus MVN 13, 42, is from Ur.


§2.8. UCU 38: MVN 3, 331 (IS 5)
MVN 3 (p. 18) suggests that the provenience of this tablet is Ur? and it is included in UCU (p. 142) without further discussion. The text is considered by Sallaberger (1993: 178 n. 838), and deals with clothing for the fist fighter and wrestler (in the) court in the Akītu(-feast house) at Ur. Sallaberger compares this text with UET 3, 189, 191, and UET 9, 1050, and also gives the provenience of MVN 3, 331, as Ur?.


§2.9. UCU 41 & 94: MVN 13, 15 (IS 5) & 20 (year name not preserved)
UCU does not give a reason for including MVN 13, 15, but it is clearly from Ur because UET 3, 1676, and UET 9, 1294, give the same combination of ur-dšul-gi-ra and giri3 lugal-dumu-še3. Also there are a total of 8 texts that contain both dšul-gi-iri-mu (fuller) and ur-dšul-gi-ra, including MVN 13, 20, that also appears in UCU’s list.


§2.10. UCU 45: MVN 13, 22 (IS 5)
This text also shows ur-dšul-gi-ra receiving garments from a fuller. The combination of ur-dšul-gi-ra and giri3 ur-dingir-ra also appears in the Ur texts, UET 3, 1620-1621, 1623 & 1740, demonstrating that MVN 13, 22, is from Ur.[15]


§2.11. UCU 49: MVN 13, 9 (IS 5)
UCU (p. 146) notes that this text includes the personal names ip-qu2-ša (obv. 2), šu-u2-u2 (obv. 4), lu2-bala-sa6-ga (line 6) and tu-ur-am-i3-li2 (rev. 2), that also appear on UET 3, 1581.[16] Taken individually, these names are not so unusual, but the combination of the four names appearing on the same tablet leaves little doubt that MVN 13, 9, is from Ur.


§2.12. UCU 59: MVN 13, 725 (IS 5)
UCU states that its reconstruction of rev. 4 is based on a similar text, UET 3, 1740, so that […]-ra-ka is interpreted as [ša3 ki-mu]-ra-ka. The UCU argument then follows that ki-mu-ra is a store-house for clothes situated in Ur, citing Sollberger (1966: 141-142) in support. However, Sollberger notes that a ki-mu-ra is also listed as a building in the Girsu tablets ITT 2, 902 + ITT 5, 6850, and ITT 4, 7300+9151.[17] Thus, taken on its own, the argument for suggesting that MVN 13, 725, is from Ur seems weak. The IS 5 date is a stronger indicator, since statistically most IS 5 tablets are from Ur. It is also worth noting that UET 3, 1762, includes lugal-inim-gi-na in an undated textile tablet from Ur. On this basis, the provenience might be regarded as Ur?.


§2.13. UCU 60: SAT 3, 2009 (IS 5)
UCU does not give a reason for including this tablet. However, ur-dšul-gi-ra dub-sar also appears on UET 3, 1060, and that together with the late date suggest that the tablet is from Ur.


§2.14. UCU 70: SAT 3, 2017 (IS 6)
UCU follows Sigrist (2000: 56) stating that this tablet has a provenience of Ur. The personal name, dnanna-ḫi-li lu2 azlag2, is only found at Ur and appears on UET 3, 1584, 1591 & 1660, and UET 9, 345. So it is clear that SAT 3, 2017, is from Ur.


SAT 3, 2018 (IS 9), is also a textile tablet that includes the lines ur-dšul-gi-ra šu ba-an-ti giri3 dsuen-dan, where giri3 dsuen-dan appears in a number of Ur texts.[18] Thus, SAT 3, 2018, is also from Ur (although it was not listed as such by UCU or Sigrist 2000).


§2.15. UCU 86: MVN 13, 17 (IS 8)
UCU (p. 160) implies that this tablet is from Ur because “it seems likely that this town or village [viz., gešx(MAN)-banda3da<ki>] was situated somewhere in the vicinity of Ur.” The late date also makes it likely that the tablet is from Ur. Sallaberger (1993: 147 n. 696) states that MVN 13, 17, is from Ur.


§2.16. BPOA 6, 745 (IS 1)
For completeness, it is worth adding here the textile tablet, BPOA 6, 745, which was published after UCU with a provenience of Ur?. This text analogous to UET 3, 1544, as they are both wool tablets naming šu-ku8-bu-um. All of the other 11 tablets naming šu-ku8-bu-um and dated to the reign of Ibbi-Suen are from Ur (including 9 recorded in UET 3 and UET 9). Thus, it is reasonable to suggest that BPOA 6, 745, is from Ur.


§3. Wider Discussion of the Provenience of “Ur” Tablets
It is evident from the above discussion (summarized in table 1 at the end of this paper) that the validity of the proveniences given in UCU for textile tablets is most vulnerable to challenge when the tablets are dated prior to the reign of Ibbi-Suen. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss all of the tablets listed in UCU part II, this section extends the discussion to include some of the non-textile tablets, considering briefly the validity of the proveniences assigned in UCU, particularly for tablets pre-dating Ibbi-Suen. A list of the tablets considered is given in table 2 below.


§3.2. UCU 2: Fish & Lambert 1963, 1 = RA 57, 94 1 (Š31)
This tablet was re-published as NATN 60.[19] Fish & Lambert do not suggest a provenience for this tablet and UCU provides no discussion on this. However, in NATN Owen states that it was excavated from Nippur (Owen, 198: 11). Although the early excavation records for Nippur do not meet modern standards, the museum number for the tablet is listed amongst hundreds of tablets from Nippur and so it is very likely that NATN 60 was excavated in Nippur.


§3.3. UCU 3: SAT 2, 192 (Š 38)
UCU follows Sigrist (2000: 15) and assumes that this tablet is from Ur without explanation. The tablet notes a large quantity of apples recorded in the course of an orchard inspection, some having been credited to the palace household. SAT 2, 192, includes the PN i-di3-e2-a, which also appears on SAT 2, 217. During the reign of Šulgi, this name is predominantly found on Drehem texts. Furthermore, SAT 2, 217, refers to e2 sag-da-na nibruki, which was the early name for Drehem. Therefore, it is suggested that SAT 2, 192 & 217, were found at Drehem.


§3.4. UCU 4: MVN 13, 26 (Š 41)
This tablet is now listed as being from Adab following Gomi’s observation (1987: 147) that šu-dma-ma dub-sar named on this tablet (as [šu]-ma-ma dub-sar) also appears on the seals on the Adab tablets MVN 3, 204-205 & 209.


§3.5. UCU 10: ASJ 11, 328 26 (Š 48)
There is a set of eight other very similar texts all dating to Š 48 and all containing the sequence of lines n guruš u4 n-še3, gurum2 ak, a2 lu2 hun-ga2, ki lugal-a2-zi-da: MCS 7, 13 AO 11739 & 11740; MCS 7, 14 AO 11741; MVN 15, 147 & 152; KM 89496, KM 89497 & KM 89529 (unpubl.). Since these tablets are all listed as coming from Nippur, then it follows that ASJ 11, 328 26, is also from Nippur.


§3.6. UCU 11: Princeton 1, 128 (Š 48)
It is suggested in UCU (p. 122) that, “The month name [diri me-ki-gal2] shows that the text derives from Ur and that Š 48 had an intercalary month.” However, although iti diri ezem-me-ki-gal2 is the usual form of the intercalary month name at Drehem, there are a number of examples where the ezem is omitted.[20] Thus, the month name used in this text is not in itself sufficient to demonstrate that the tablet was unearthed in Ur. However, there is no evidence that either Ur or Drehem had an intercalary month in Š 48.


Princeton 1, 128, describes the issuing of sickles (urudagur10) to zi-ma by ur-dba-ba6, with the seal of zi2-ma sipa gu4 den-ki. Zima is not found on other tablets; however, the main cult center of Enki was at Eridu, that was situated near Ur, and this could explain the use of the Ur month name. Ur-Baba is found receiving hoes in Nisaba 18, 77 (Š 46, Girsu), and as an intermediary in a transaction involving sickles, axes (urudaha-zi) and hoes (urudaḫa-bu3-da) in TCTI 2, 3422 (ŠS 1, Girsu). In view of the early date of the tablet, the most likely suggestion is that Princeton 1, 128, was a receipt written by someone using the Ur calendar but the receipt was archived at Girsu.


§3.7. UCU 13: Princeton 1, 80 (AS 3)
UCU (pp. 123-124) suggests that, Princeton 1, 80, is an Ur text because it uses Drehem/Ur month names and includes an intercalary month, which would not be expected at Drehem in AS 2. However, the year name given in this text corresponds to AS 3 and Drehem had an intercalary month after the 11th month (iti diri ezem me-ki-gal2 us2-sa), thus iti šu-eš-ša-ta iti še-sag11-ku5-še3 is indeed 6 months, as stated in the text.[21]


UCU (p. 106) describes the contents of Princeton 1, 80, as the work days of the guruš-workers and free days of the ug3-ga6-workers from the capital fund disbursed by šu-a-gi-na, deducted from lu2-gi-na.[22] However, ePSD interprets šu-a-gi-na in this text as a type of offering.


Princeton 1, 80, is analogous to BIN 3, 425 (AS 4, Drehem), that also concerns lu2-gi-na disbursing man-power, in that case for two months. This, taken together with the use of the Drehem calendar, suggests that Princeton 1, 80 has a provenience of Drehem.


§3.8. UCU 14: SNAT 346 (AS 4)
This tablet is included in the discussion by Heimpel (2004). He demonstrates that the ensi2 of Umma supplied bricks for the building of the residence of the En-priestess of Nanna in Ga’eš on behalf of a number of towns, and that a series of tablets account for recompensing Umma for these bricks. Thus, it is shown that PDT 2, 1370 & 1377, are receipts, UTI 5, 3394, SNAT 346, and PDT 2, 1353, are promisory notes for bricks, and these are all included in the summary tablet RA 12, 164 AO 7667. The clear implication is that all of these tablets formed part of the same archive at Umma.[23]


§3.9. UCU 15: MAOG 4, 188 2 (AS 5)
The provenience of this tablet is given as unknown by Gelb et al. (1991: 193 no. 359).[24]


There are three common personal names shared between MAOG 4, 188 2 and MAOG 4, 191 3, i.e. ab-ba-gi-na, ur-da-šar2 and |PU3.ŠA|-dšara2. These two tablets are part of the same relatively small museum collection and, in view of the overlap of personal names, it is evident that they have the same provenience. Steinkeller (1989: 320) implies that this might be Umma.


§3.10. UCU 16: OrSP 47-49, 145 (AS 7)
UCU (pp. 126-127) suggests that this tablet is from Ur for two reasons. First, it concerns legal cases and Ur is ‘a much more likely location for legal cases than Puzriš-Dagan.’ Second, it names the throne carrier, ur-dnin-geš-zi-da, and a throne carrier with this name also appears in UET 3, 1152, although it is noted that the latter is dated to IS 7, which is 18 years later than OrSP 47-49, 145 (AS 7).


However, ur-dnin-geš-zi-da is a common name and a throne carrier named ur-dnin-geš-zi-da also appears in a seal impression on Ontario 2, 197 (Š 46, Girsu), and on both tablets, CT 9, pl. 42 BM 18425 (Š 48, Girsu), and TUT 154 (AS 2, Girsu). Considering the dates of these tablets, it is much more likely that these latter texts are recording the same throne bearer ur-dnin-geš-zi-da as OrSP 47-49, 145, suggesting that this tablet is more probably from Girsu.


Instead, Molina (2006) draws attention to lu2-ama-na di-ku5, who appears in tablets from Umma (MVN 10, 217, and MVN 18, 635). However, lu2-ama-na di-ku5 also appears in tablets from Girsu (OIP 121, 83, and Ontario 1, 128). Therefore, the provenience of OrSP 47-49, 145, remains uncertain.


§3.11. UCU 17: TMH NF 1-2, 131 (ŠS 5)
UCU appears to have included this tablet because it records barley sent to Ur. However, five of the personal names on this tablet (lugal-ku3-zu, lu2-e2-sukud-ra2, ur-šem5-ku3-ga, lu2-dgeš-bar-e3 and ki-lu5-la2) also appear in TMH NF 1-2, 149, dated to the following month in ŠS 5. TMH NF 1-2, 149, is not included in UCU and is generally listed as being from Nippur. There are five tablets that name ur-šem5-ku3-ga, all dated to ŠS 5, and clearly part of the same archive: TMH NF 1-2, 131 (ŠS 5 iv), NATN 464 (ŠS 5 x), TMH NF 1-2, 149 (ŠS 5 x), TMH NF 1-2, 82 & 144+349 (ŠS 5 xi) and NATN 455 (ŠS 5). These tablets are all from the Nippur excavations.[25] While there is some potential for odd tablets to have been purchased, this is a coherent group of tablets and therefore it is very likely that they were actually excavated at Nippur.


§3.12. UCU 18: MVN 13, 368 (ŠS 6)
This tablet includes the seal also found on UET 3, 157 (IS 6), 999 (IS 6), 1016 and MVN 3, 261 (IS 6). In addition, the phrase ki ga-ti-le-ta is also found on UET 3, 1182 (IS 8), that is analogous in content to MVN 13, 368. Thus, it is very likely that MVN 13, 368, has a provenience of Ur.


§3.13. The “Guzana Tablets”
Steinkeller (1982) sets out a clear basis for regarding the “Guzana tablets” as part of the same archive: i.e., MVN 3, 257, 260, 270, 278, 291, 298-299, 304-305 & 377; NYPL 263-264, 377 & 381; and Fs Gordon 1, 135 3.[26] NATN 2 (IS 2, Nippur) is also linked to this archive because it has a similar seal to that on MVN 3, 270 (but note gu-za-ni on MVN 3, 270, and gu-za-na on NATN 2). Michalowski (2008: 111 n. 8) adds JCS 19, 28 3 to this list. It is possible to extend this list of tablets. The three phrases i3-ba aga3-us2 (oil rations for the gendarmes), še-geš-i3 kar2/x-ḫarki (sesame oil from kar2/x-ḫarki) and ki gu-za-na-ti ba-zi (Guzana dispersements) are all found on JCS 19, 28 3, NYPL 264, and SAT 3, 1935 (IS 1). SAT 3, 1854 (ŠS 8), has the phrase i3-ba aga3-us2 and names the same person to be responsible as on SAT 3, 1935 (giri3 i-ku-(un)-pi4-dutu). Similarly, še-geš-i3 and ki gu-za-na-ti both appear on JCS 19, 28 3, MVN 3, 298-299, 305, NYPL 264, 377, and SAT 3, 1935, and these are all within the set of Guzana tablets. As already noted, Guzana’s name is sometimes given as Guzani (see, for example, the tablet and case of NYPL 377). Therefore, including tablets with še-geš-i3 and ki gu-za-ni-ti extends the list of “Guzana tablets” to include BPOA 6, 17 (ŠS 9), and SAT 3, 1937 (IS 1).


Steinkeller suggests that the provenience of the “Guzana tablets” should be regarded as unknown. However, he notes that MVN 3, 305, has a (hitherto unattested) month name kur-ga-na-še, whereas the other tablets use the Reichskalender. He also notes that NATN 2 was excavated from Nippur. After a discussion on the likely location of Guzana’s depot, Steinkeller concludes that evidence ‘speaks strongly against the possibility that the “Guzana tablets” could have originated from Ur,’ but gives some weight to the possibility that it was in the vicinity of Nippur (based largely on NATN 2, that he suggests might have been carried, as a receipt, from Guzana’s depot to Nippur).


In terms of the list of tablets given in UCU, the above discussion would imply that MVN 3, 305, and NYPL 263-264 & 381, are not from Ur (i.e. UCU 22, 30, 21 & 20, respectively).


§3.14. UCU 51-53, 56, 58, 61: SAT 3, 2014; ASJ 18, 91 27; MVN 13, 133-135; MVN 8, 189
There are a substantial number of tablets containing the phrase zi-ga siskur2 lugal (booked out as an offering of the king) dated during the years Ibbi-Suen 5 to 7. These includeto date 66 tablets excavated from Ur and published in UET 3. It is therefore only a small step to assume that a relatively small number of other tablets of the same form, including this phrase and dated within this short time span, were also unearthed at Ur. These include: ASJ 18, 91 27; BPOA 6, 46; MVN 8, 189; MVN 13 , 133-135, 800; and SAT 3, 2014. All of these are listed in UCU except for BPOA 6, 46, that was published later in 2009.


§3.15. UCU 46: TUT 276 (IS 5)
UCU included this tablet because it was sealed by a scribe at Ur. However, it was published in 1901, many years before the start of excavations at Ur, making it unlikely that the tablet was unearthed in Ur.


TUT 276 (IS 5 vii) records ki-tuš-lu2 giving dates as a maš-da-ri-a contribution for the a2-ki-ti festival. It is very similar to RA 58, 108 117, that has the same date and records ki-tuš-lu2 disbursing figs. The latter has the British Museum museum no. BM 16108 and is listed as being from Girsu (Sigrist et al. 1996). Note, in addition: ki-tuš-lu2 disbursing silver and dates in BRM 3, 147 (IS 5 vii, Girsu); ki-tuš-lu2 disbursing dates in RA 58, 102 55 (AS 1, Girsu); and acting as an intermediary for a delivery including dates, figs, raisins and dried apples in TÉL 72 (ŠS 5, Girsu).


On this basis, it seems more likely that, although TUT 276 was sealed by a scribe in the city of Ur, it was retained by ki-tuš-lu2 and found in Girsu. This draws attention to an important distinction between where the tablet was written and where it was unearthed.


§3.16. UCU 98: SET 245 (no year given)
This tablet was probably included in UCU on the basis of the provenience given in the original publication (Jones & Snyder 1961: 142). In that publication the seal is rendered as,


1. ur-[gar]
2. dub-sar
3. dumu lugal-ušur3
4. nu-banda3-gu4 dšara2


However, CDLI, following BDTNS, renders it as


1. ur-[dšara2]
2. dub-sar
3. dumu lugal-ušur4
4. nu-banda3-gu4 dšara2


and on that basis the tablet can readily be given a provenience of Umma, since there are to date 51 other texts known with this seal (in CDLI: S005355) with this provenience.


§3.17. UCU 99: MVN 2, 267 (no year given)
The sequence ki ur-bad3-tibirx(KU)-ra-ta ur-dig-alim šu ba-ti appears on two other tablets, SNAT 132 and Nisaba 10, 55, both from Girsu (and registered in the British Museum in 1896 and 1898, many years before excavations began at Ur). The latter identifies ur-dig-alim as a musician/singer (nar). Note also a similar form on TCTI 2, 2746, also from Girsu. The likelihood therefore is that MVN 2, 267, is from Girsu.

  Year UCU no. CDLI no. Prov. in
orig. ref.
Prov. according
to this paper
RA 73, 27 8 Š42 5 P127997 Drehem Girsu
MVN 13, 14 Š44 6 P116787 - Adab
MVN 13, 21 Š44 7 P116794 Ur Adab
MVN 13, 600 Š44 8 P117373 - Adab
NYPL 104 Š46 9 P122640   Drehem
AUCT 1, 967 SS 7 19 P103812 -[27] Ur
MVN 13, 42 IS 3 29 P116815 Ur Ur
MVN 3, 331 IS 5 38 P113891 Ur ? Ur ?
MVN 13, 15 IS 5 41 P116788 Ur Ur
MVN 13, 22 IS 5 45 P116795 Ur Ur
MVN 13, 9 IS 5 49 P116782 Drehem Ur
MVN 13, 725 IS 5 59 P117498 - Ur ?
SAT 3, 2009 IS 5 60 P145209 Ur Ur
SAT 3, 2017 IS 6 70 P145217 Ur Ur
MVN 13, 17 IS 8 86 P116790 Ur Ur
MVN 13, 20 IS ? 94 P116793 Ur Ur
AfO 40-41, 60, 6 not given 104 P100301 Drehem ? uncertain
Table 1: Textile tablets from Ur according to UCU


  Year UCU no. CDLI no. Prov. in
orig. ref.
Prov. according
to this paper
NATN 60 Š31 2 P120758 (Nippur in NATN) Nippur
SAT 2, 192 Š38 3 P143393 Ur Drehem
MVN 13, 26 Š41 4 P116799 Ur Adab ?
ASJ 11, 328 26 Š48 10 P102464 Ur Nippur
Princeton 1, 128 Š48 11 P126817   Girsu
Princeton 1, 80 AS 3 13 P126769 Drehem Drehem
SNAT 346 AS 4 14 P130106 Ur Umma
MAOG 4, 188 2 AS 5 15 P112549 - uncertain
Or 47-49, 145 AS 7 16 P125034 Drehem uncertain
TMH NF 1-2, 131 SS 5 17 P134443   Nippur
MVN 13, 368 SS 6 18 P117140 Ur Ur
MVN 3, 305 SS 9 22 P113865 uncertain uncertain
NYPL 381 SS 9 20 P122918 Ur uncertain
NYPL 264 SS 9 21 P122802 Ur uncertain
NYPL 263 IS 3 30 P122801 Ur uncertain
TUT 276 IS 5 46 P135870 - Girsu
ASJ 18, 091 27 IS 5 52 P102656 Ur Ur
SET 245 not given 98 P129655 Ur Umma
MVN 2 , 267 not given 99 P113566 - Girsu
Table 2: A selection of non-textile textile tablets from Ur according to UCU



1  I would like to thank Marie-Louise Nosch and the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research for funding my visit to the Bibliothèque d’archéologie et des sciences de l’Antiquité at the University of Nanterre in November 2012, to Cécile Michel for hosting that visit and to Françoise Rougemont for her help during the visit. Finally, I am grateful to Manuel Molina for his comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

2  See also, Molina’s (2006) review of UCU.

3  See, for example, MVN 3, 261, 314 & 318, that were originally listed by Owen (1975: 18) as being from Drehem, but that are convincingly shown by UCU to have a provenience of Ur.

4  As an example, Owen (1975) gave the proveniences of MVN 3, 233, 313, 315 & 316 as Drehem. In UCU (pp. 134-135, 140-141, 156, 155), these are listed as being from Ur without any explanation. See also the discussion below on ASJ 18, 91 27, MVN 8, 189, MVN 13, 133, 134 &135, and SAT 3, 2014.

5  Listed in UCU as Durand 1979: 8.

6  Waetzoldt 1972: 47.

7  See, for example, Molina 2008: 52 and Such-Gutiérrez 2005/6: 2 n. 2.

8  Note that Molina (2006) lists MVN 13, 14, as having a provenience of Adab, although at a later stage (Molina 2008: 52) this was changed to Adab?.

9  They are probably not written by the same scribe since MVN 13, 14 & 21, use the si-mu-ur4-ru-um spelling in the date, whereas MVN 13, 600, uses si-mu-ru-um.

10  The term tug sa gi4-a refers to a fulling process and frequently appears on tablets from Ur (see Waetzoldt, 1972: 55). However this term is also known at other locations, and so is not a certain guide to the provenience of tablets. For example, tug2 sa gi4-a appears on the Drehem tablets OIP 115, 368, and PDT 2, 995.

11  Listed in UCU as Sallaberger 1993/94: 6.

12  The CDLI database lists 163 examples (as of September 2015).

13  According to the CDLI database. Strictly, Ozaki & Yildiz (2002) give a provenience of Drehem? for JCS 54, 12 82; however, the presence of the wife and daughter of Išaramaš, whose name is closely associated with Drehem (Sigrist 1992: 368), implies that it is highly likely that this text is in fact from Drehem.

14  Waetzoldt 1972: 143 n. 551.

15  This combination also appears in BPOA 6, 292, that is listed as being from Umma, although it is clearly from Ur.

16  UCU also includes giri3 lugal-dumu-še3 (line rev. 6) but this requires more faith. On UET 3, 1581: šu-u2-u2 (obv. i 3), tu-ur-am-i3-li2 (obv. i 18), lu2-bala-sa6-ga (rev. i 2), ip-qu2-ša (obv. i 6).

17  More recent publications include e2 ki-mu-ra at Garšana (CUSAS 3, 84, 194, 198, 242 & 1325) and a ki-mu-ra at Nippur (NATN 407). ePSD identifies ki-mu as “storage, a store house” (i.e. not specifically a store house for clothes).

18  SAT 3, 2017; UET 3, 1585, 1682, 1702 & 1745.

19  There is a small glitch in that Fish & Lambert give the museum number as UP 9159, whereas the actual no. (as written on the tablet) is 8159A and the prefix CBS is conventionally used now instead of UP for the Catalogue of the Babylonian Section in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

20  For example, MVN 13, 444; PDT 1, 404; TLB 3, 136; TRU 60.

21  Whiting 1979: 22. There are many examples of Drehem texts with an intercalary year in AS 3 (Yuhong 2002: table 4).

22  The UCU p. 123 reading of the text has lugal-gi-na, instead of lu2-gi-na and omits line 11.

23  Note also BPOA 2, 2605, dated four years later (AS 8).

24  Snell (1982: 141) states that the provenience is Ur (naming the text as MAOG 188: 1 and giving the date as IS 2).

25  Note in addition the undated text JCS 54, 5 32 Ni 2090 from the Nippur collection of the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul.

26  Steinkeller (1982) also considers that MVN 3 261 & 318, might possibly be part of the same archive. However, in this case, the discussion set out by Widell (2004) would seem to preclude this possibility. Thus, Widell (2004) gives a good basis for regarding MVN 3, 261 & 318, as being from Ur. By extension, MVN 13, 368, has the same seal as MVN 3, 261, UET 3, 157, 999 & 1016, and so is likely to have the same provenience.

27  However, Sigrist (1992: 401 n. 117) clearly assumes that AUCT 1, 967, is from Drehem.



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Version: 13 November 2015  

Cite this Article
Firth, Richard. 2015. “Notes on Ur III Period Textile Tablets from Ur.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2015 (4).
Firth, Richard. (2015). Notes on Ur III Period Textile Tablets from Ur. Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2015(4).
Firth, Richard (2015) “Notes on Ur III Period Textile Tablets from Ur,” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2015(4). Available at: (Accessed: April 13, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-04-13]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Firth,  Richard},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin},
	issn = {1540-8760},
	number = {4},
	year = {2015},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {Notes on {Ur} {III} {Period} {Textile} {Tablets} from {Ur}},
	url = {},
	volume = {2015},

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