The Cuneiform Tablet Collection of the Los Angeles Unified School District

CDLB 2016:1

Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)

Published on 2016-11-24

© 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.

Sara Brumfield

Oklahoma City, OK

Lance Allred

Museum of the Bible, Oklahoma City, OK

Cuneiform, Sumerian, administrative, LA Unified


§1. Introduction
§1.1. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Art and Artifact Collection[1] is comprised mainly of a large assemblage of Greco-Roman antiquities acquired by Edward W. Clark, an artifact enthusiast and principal of Venice High School in Los Angeles from 1917 to 1938. In addition to Classical antiquities, however, the collection also features a small assortment of 15 cuneiform documents, consisting of 13 Ur III administrative texts, a Gudea cone, and a neo-Babylonian herding account.[2] The collection is currently housed in downtown Los Angeles in the administrative offices of the LAUSD.


§1.2. Clark majored in Classics and graduated with an A.B. from Oberlin College in 1890. He continued his studies at the University of Chicago and later in Leipzig, earning his A.M. in 1895. When he returned from Germany, Clark accepted a position at Ripon College teaching Greek and Latin as well as archeology. Clark continued to travel abroad, occasionally purchasing Greek and Roman antiquities that he eventually used to form a small collection for the school. This collection at Ripon College now bears his name.[3] Clark left Ripon College in 1909 and spent much of the next few years in Europe. In 1916, he returned to the United States and moved to California, where he taught at several high schools before becoming principal of Venice High School. In 1932, he started the Venice High School Latin Museum using pieces mainly from his own collection that he had acquired while traveling abroad.


§1.3. Thirteen tablets from Clark’s collection of antiquities are presented below dating to the Ur III period (2112-2004 BC). Six come from the sites of Drehem (ancient Puzriš-Dagān) and Umma respectively, while one tablet likely comes from Girsu. As with most collections of this type, these tablets represent a medley of known Ur III archives. And, as is typical of such administrative miscellany, this potpourri of tablets offers certain insights into the terminology (šu-gid2, ab2-rig5) and practices (bala, abbreviating year names, sealing) of the Ur III state apparatus.


§2. Texts
§2.1. Girsu Tablet
No. 1 = AA 69
This Girsu tablet is a reckoning of Aba-isege’s debt to a household within the Lagaš province—likely a grain equivalent of labor—from his role as a foreman of weavers. The tablet is dated to Amar-Suen 1 xi.

  1. ˹la2-ia3˺ 5(aš) še gur lugal The carried over debt is 5 royal gur of barley;
  2. ˹si˺-i3-tum [nig2-ka9-ak] the remaining debt of the balanced account
  3. ˹a˺-ba-i3-se3-ge-e (by) Aba-isege
  4. su-su-dam to be replaced/repaid;
  blank space
  1. ˹iti˺ še-sag11-ku5 month: “Barley harvest,”
  2. ˹mu˺ damar-dsuen lugal year: “Amar-Suen is king.”
  1. [la2-ia3 5(aš) še gur] lugal The carried over debt is 5 royal gur of barley;
  2. [si-i3-tum] ˹nig2˺-ka9-ak the remaining debt of the balanced account
  blank space
  3. [a-ba]-˹i3-se3-ge˺ (by) Aba-isege
  4. [su-su]-˹dam˺ to be replaced/repaid;
  blank space
  seal impression
  1. [iti še- sag11]- ˹ku5˺ month: “Barley harvest,”
  2. [mu damar-dsuen lugal] year: “Amar-Suen is king.”
  1. [a]-ba-i3-[se3-ge] Aba-isege
  2. dumu [...] son of …
  3. [...]


§ The provenience of this tablet is based on its prosopography; an Aba-isege occurs in a number of Girsu texts involving female weavers (geme2 uš-bar) from late in Šulgi’s reign into Amar-Suen’s reign. In several texts (e.g. ASJ 9, 327, 2 [AS 1 i]; HLC 68 [AS 2 iii 1]; UNT 34 [nd]; OTR 258 [AS 1 x]), Aba-isege is listed as a foreman of weavers (ugula uš-bar) and associated with the e2 uš-bar. He appears in three additional texts concerning female weavers (CT 7, pl. 32 BM 18395 [Š 46]; MVN 22, 18 [...]; SET 240 [Š 45]),[4] as taking amounts of grain into his administrative control (i3-dab5).[5] Based on the quantity of grain he receives in SET 240 and ASJ 9, 327, 2, he supervised between 24 and 32 weavers during the first year of Amar-Suen’s reign.[6]


§2.2. Drehem Tablets
No. 2 = AA 76
This text notes a transfer of animals from Intae’a to Ur-kununa, both important officials within the Drehem livestock administration.[7] This tablet was recorded in Amar-Suen 6 vi.

  1. 1(u) u8 sila4 nu-a 10 pregnant ewes,
  2. 1(u) ud5 maš2 nu-a 10 pregnant nanny goats,
  3. a-bi-a-bi-iḫ (of) Abī-abiḫ;
  4. 1(u) u8 10 ewes,
  5. 1(u) ud5 10 nanny goats,
  6. ur-niĝarĝar ab2-rig5-e (of) Ur-Niĝar, the abrig (official);
  1. ki in-ta-e3-a-ta from Intae’a,
  2. ur-ku3-nun-na Ur-kununa
  3. i3-dab5 took (into his administrative control).
  4. iti a2-ki-ti month: “Akiti (festival),”
  5. mu ša-aš-ruki ba-ḫul year: “Šašrum was destroyed.”
Left edge
  1. 4(u) 40 [total animals]


§ The agents recorded in this transaction are well known in the Drehem administration: Intae’a, a member of the shepherd’s office,[8] Ur-kununa, whose family is associated with the shepherd’s office[9] and Abī-abiḫ, a cup-bearer (sagi) at Drehem who was often involved in cult transactions.<[10] The presence of Abī-abiḫ in conjunction with an abrig official, Ur-niĝar, suggests that this tablet is recording a transfer of animals for cultic purposes.


§ The most striking feature of this text is the phrase ab2-rig5-e, which only occurs in one other text (CST 320 [AS 5 vi 20]), also qualifying the personal name Ur-niĝar. An alternative orthography ab2-ri2-ig eš3 occurs in Amorites 18, pl. 7-8 (AS 5 xii 1, 29) and its related account MVN 15, 192 (AS 5 xii, 29), both in conjunction with the personal name Ur-niĝar at Drehem. Syntactically and contextually, the term indicates the office or position held by Ur-niĝar at Drehem, interpreted here as abrig.[11]


§2.2.2.No. 3 = AA 79
This small tablet is an account of nine weaver garments (tug2 uš-bar) given from Nūr-Suen into the administrative control of Lu-gina, the chief household administrator (šabra) during the 46th regnal year of Šulgi’s reign. The provenience is provisional, based on Nūr-Suen appearing in other Drehem texts from this time period.<[12]

  1. 1(u) la2 1(diš) tug2 uš-bar 9 weaver garments,
  2. ki nu-ur2-dsuen-ta from Nūr-Suen;
  3. lu2-gi-na šabra Lu-gina, chief household administrator,
  4. šu ba-ti received.
  blank space
  1. [mu] ˹ḫu˺-ur5-[tiki ba-ḫul] year: “Ḫurti was destroyed.”


§ Nūr-Suen often conducts various transactions with the other Drehem offices, including the dead animals’ office; beginning in Amar-Suen’s reign, Nūr-Suen appears as a main official in the sub-division of this bureau that deals with the raw materials—hides and wool—and also the finished goods—leather and textiles.[13]


§ It is unclear whether Lu-gina is the chief household administrator of a local cult near Drehem, or if he is in fact operating out of Numušda’s cult center of Kazallu.[14] There are, however, three seals from Drehem that bear the title ARAD2 dnumušda (Turām-ilī [ŠS 9 iii-viii]; Šu-iškur [ŠS 9 vii-x]; Ḫalala [ŠS 9 v]), suggesting, at a minimum, that cultic activity related to Numušda’s temple was not uncommon at Drehem, at least in the latter Ur III period.


§ The short forms of year names can be ambiguous and problematic.[15] M. Sigrist discussed most recently difficulties in differentiating Šulgi 48 and Šulgi 46,[16] which in their long form, both mention the destruction of Ḫurti, a toponym situated in the western Kermanshah province of Iran:[17]

Šulgi 48 (long form)
mu ḫa-ar-šiki ki-maški ḫu-ur5-tiki u3 ma-da-bi u4 1-bi ba-ḫul (e.g. AUCT 1, 149; MVN 2, 157; etc.)

Šulgi 46 (long form)
mu ki-maški ḫu-ur5-ti u3 ma-da-bi u4 1-še3[18] ba-ḫul (e.g. Aleppo 185; BPOA 1, 1181; etc.)


§ Judging from tablets that span multiple years—particularly the years immediately preceding or proceeding Šulgi 46 and 48 (e.g. MVN 14, 4)—it appears that scribes tended to abbreviate Šulgi 48 with a reference to the destruction of Ḫarši, an event not referenced in Šulgi 46 (e.g. Princeton 2, 349). Since AA 79 does not reference the destruction of Ḫarši, but only Ḫurti, a date of Šulgi 46 seems preferable.


§2.2.3. No. 4 = AA 73
This tablet records modest amounts of various cattle transferred between the Ur III administration and the merchant (dam-gar3) Gudea, Adda-kala, a foreman of weavers (ugula uš-bar), and Ṣelluš-Dagān. The text was recorded in Šulgi 46 ii.[19]

  1. [n] 7(diš) gu4 ˹niga˺ [...] 7+ barley-fed oxen ...
  2. n [...] ...
  3. [n] gu4 4(diš) udu ˹1(diš) maš2˺ x n oxen, 4 sheep, 1 goat ...
  4. [x] ˹gu3˺-de2-a ˹dam˺-[gar3] ... Gudea, merchant,
  5. [n] gu4 niga 4(diš) [...] x n grain-fed ox(en), 4 ...
  6. [n]+1(diš) udu 1(diš) x .. 1 sheep, 1 ...
  7. x x x ...
  8. [...] x [...] ...
  1. [...] ...
  2. [n] ˹maš2 ad˺-da-˹kal˺-[la] ugula uš-bar ... goat, Adda-kala, foreman of weavers,
  3. [n] ˹maš2˺ ṣe-lu-uš-dda-gan ... goat, Ṣelluš-Dagān.
  blank space
  4. ˹mu˺-kux(DU) delivery;
  5. iti ses-da-gu7 month: “Piglet feast,”
  6. mu ki-maški u3 ḫu-ur5-tiki ba-˹ḫul˺ year: “Kimaš and Ḫurti were destroyed.”


§ Despite the fragmentary state of this tablet, the preservation of the personal names helps situate it in its original context. Both Adda-kala and Ṣelluš-Dagān appear individually in a number of texts where they are delivering lambs for deities (Inanna and Nanna respectively) in Drehem. These two personal names appear together in at least two other texts where each is recorded giving a lamb into the possession of Nasa, the fattener of the king,[20] at Drehem for cultic purposes (PDT 2, 1019 [Š 47 ii 4]; PDT 2, 1243 [Š 48 xi 13]).


§2.2.4. No. 5 = AA 136
This text records expenditures of animals from Abba-saga,[21] one of the chief officials, to Šulgi-ayamu, a member of the disbursal office in Drehem dating to Amar-Suen 2 iii 10.[22]

  1. 3(diš) gukkal babbar2 3 white fat-tailed sheep,
  2. 1(diš) gukkal ĝeš-du3 babbar 1 white pregnant fat-tailed sheep,
  3. 3(diš) gukkal 3 fat-tailed sheep,
  4. 2(diš) |U8.ḪUL2| 2 ewes,
  5. 7(diš) udu 7 sheep,
  6. 1(diš) sila4 1 lamb,
  1. 1(diš) maš2 1 goat,
  2. 1(diš) ud5 1 nanny goat,
  3. u4 1(u)-kam on the 10th day,
  4. ki ab-ba-sa6-ga-ta from Abba-saga,
  5. dšul-gi-a-a-mu i3-dab5 Šulgi-ayamu took (into his administrative control);
  6. iti u5-bi2-gu7 month: “Ubi feast,”
  7. mu damar-dsuen lugal-e ur-bi2-lumki mu-ḫul year: “Amar-Suen, the king, destroyed Urbilum.”
Left edge
  1. 2(u) la2 1(diš) 19 (total animals)


§ Curiously, a virtual duplicate of this text is BPOA 6, 703 (AS 2 iii 10), attributed to Drehem, which reads as follows:

  Obverse Reverse
  1. 3(diš) gukkal babbar 1(diš) ud5
  2. 1(diš) gukkal ĝeš-du3 babbar u4 1(u)-kam
  3. 3(diš) gukkal ki ab-ba-sa6-ga-ta
  4. 2(diš) u8 gukkal dšul-gi-a-a-mu
  5. 7(diš) udu i3-dab5
  6. 1(diš) sila4 iti u5-bi2-gu7
  7. 1(diš) maš2 mu damar-dsuen lugal-e ur-bi2-lumki mu-ḫul


§ M. Hilgert compiled duplicates from Drehem during the reign of Amar-Suen.[23] His list includes several texts involving Abba-saga and Šulgi-ayamu all dating from Amar-Suen 4-5. The pair presented here should be added to this list of Drehem duplicates.


§ There are some small differences between these two texts, such as the line divisions and the use of |U8+ḪUL2| in AA 136 compared to u8 gukkal in BPOA 6, 703. Moreover, our text appears to use in one instance (obv. 1) babbar2 (U4.U4) instead of babbar (U4), for describing the white color of the small cattle, whereas only babbar is seen in BPOA 6, 703. The practice of using babbar2 to qualify small cattle at Drehem, predominantly the fat-tailed (gukkal) variety, is seen only until ca. Amar-Suen 6. In the other provinces, babbar2 continues to be used in similar contexts regularly throughout the Ur III period with no such temporal restriction observed. The use of both babbar and babbar2 in the same text is attested in several tablets (e.g. Nik 2, 465 [Š 46 v 21] and MVN 5, 107 [Š 48 i 2]), but the distinction between their use and the significance of the variant orthographies remains unclear. In AA 136, Nik 2, 465 and MVN 5, 107, the choice appears to be one of aesthetic, where babbar2 is used to fill out a short line and babbar is used in a crowded line.


§2.2.5. No. 6 = AA 77
This text records the expenditure from the Drehem administration of two lambs to the cult of the moon god, Nanna, and five ewes to the kitchen (e2-muḫaldim) in Šulgi 46 v 29. These animals were delivered on the same day that they were booked out, as recorded in OIP 115, 205. The delivery of two lambs ultimately destined for Nanna’s temple in Nippur agrees with Wu Y.’s and Li X.’s reconstruction of regular deliveries from Drehem to major cultic centers in Nippur during Šulgi’s reign and suggests that Enšakuge and Lu-Ninšubur were associated with the en of Inanna in Nippur.[24]

  1. 1(diš) sila4 mu-kux(DU) en-ša3-˹ku3˺-ge 1 lamb delivery (from) Enšakuge,
  2. 1(diš) sila4 niga mu-kux(DU) lu2-dnin-šubur 1 barley-fed lamb delivery (from) Lu-Ninšubur,
  3. dnanna (for) Nanna,
  4. zabar-dab5 maškim the zabardab-official[25] was maškim;
  1. 5(diš) u8 šu-gid2 5 ewes šu-gid2,
  2. e2-muḫaldim-še3 for the kitchen;
  blank space
  3. zi-ga u4 3(u) la2 1(dišt)-kam credited on the 29th day;
  4. ˹iti˺ ezem-dnin-a-zu month: “Festival of Ninazu,”
  5. mu us2-sa ur-bi2-lumki ba-ḫul year: “The year after Urbilum was destroyed.”


§ This was one of at least two expenditures made to the kitchen on this day. The other, recorded in MVN 20, 185, notes that the kitchen received one barley-fed ox (gu4 niga), four barley-fed sheep (udu niga) and one barley-fed billy goat (maš2 gal niga) “on account of the runners” (mu kas4-e-ne-še3). Together, these texts represent a fraction of the likely dozens of tablets drawn up on this day to document the movement of animals within and without the Drehem administration.


§ The exact meaning of the term šu-gid2 remains elusive. Proposed translations include “general dues,”[26] “tax,”[27] “Ausschuss,”[28] or as a designation of animals suitable to be eaten,[29] among others. Based on literary contexts, Karahashi suggested “to accept” or, in the context of extispicy,[30] “to examine” adopted by Englund.[31]


§ In general, the term šu-gid2 in the Drehem texts is used for animals expended to the kitchen.[32] In a number of texts, they are distinguished from animals qualified as “slaughtered” (ba-uš2/ug7) (e.g. BIN 3, 490 [Š 43 vi 17], AUCT 1, 679 [AS 4 vi 27], etc.). However, not all animals are qualified as either “slaughtered” or šu-gid2, and in many texts they appear with no designation at all (e.g. MVN 5, 103 [Š 46 ix 13]; BIN 3, 63 [AS 3 xi 2]).


§ An examination of same-day Drehem kitchen texts demonstrates another curious aspect of the use of the term šu-gid2. The text ASJ 3, 189 1 is a summary account of large cattle expenditures by the fattener Enlila made during the second month of Šulgi 43. Included are expenditures of oxen to the kitchen on the 3rd (7 oxen), 10th (1), 11th (2), 12th (1), and 19th (1) of the month. These animals are not qualified as šu-gid2. However, in NYPL 18, dated to the 12th day of the second month of Šulgi 43, there is an expenditure of some 20 small cattle of various types as well as one ox to the kitchen, all qualified as šu-gid2.


§ The expenditure of an ox in NYPL 18, listed as šu-gid2, is unequivocally the same one listed in ASJ 3, 189 1 without any such designation. That there are other instances of this phenomenon (e.g. MVN 13, 805 and Nisaba 30, 8 [Š 43 x 15]; AUCT 1, 876 and OIP 115, 314 [Š 47 viii 11]; AUCT 2, 72 and AUCT 1, 327 [AS 3 i 5], etc.) indicate that this was not simply a scribal error or some other administrative aberration.[33] Instead, the use of the term šu-gid2 depended upon whose tablet the transaction was being recorded: in general, šu-gid2 was used when the transaction came from the account of the main Drehem officials, e.g. Abba-saga and Intae’a. When that same transaction appeared in the records of fatteners such as Enlila, the designation šu-gid2 was not used.


§ Often, administrative records are abbreviated and, thus, omit non-compulsory information in the interest of time and/or space. Perhaps personal receipts, given to non-state employees, did not include supplementary information about the animals or transaction, especially if that information was informative only for internal record keeping. For additional discussion on this phenomenon, see § below.


§2.2.6. No. 7 = AA 70
This Drehem text records both large and small cattle received by members of the Ur III administration. Intae’a and Ur-mes have been identified as members working in the shepherd’s office by previous Drehem research.[34] This tablet was recorded in Šu-Suen 2 vi 20-22.

  1. ˹1(diš)˺ amar maš-da3- munus 1 young gazelle doe,
  2. ˹u4˺ 2(u)-kam on the 20th day,
  3. ˹1(diš) sila4˺ 1(diš) amar maš-da3-nita 1 lamb, 1 gazelle,
  4. u4 2(u) 1(diš)-kam on the 21st day,
  5. 1(diš) sila4 1(diš) gu4 1 lamb, 1 ox,
  6. 7(diš) ab2 7 cows,
  7. 1(u) la2 1(diš) dusu2-˹nita˺ 9 jacks,
  8. 2(diš) dusu2-munus 2 jennets,
  9. šu-gid2 u4 2(u) 2(diš)-kam šu-gid2 on the 22nd day,
  10. ki in-ta-˹e˺-[a]- ˹ta˺ from Intae’a;
  1. 5(diš) udu ˹ki˺ na-lu5-[ta] 5 sheep from Nalu;
  blank space
  from here written on dried clay
  2. ˹ša3˺-bi-˹ta˺ credits:
  3. ˹5(diš) udu˺ ša3 e2 muḫaldim ĝiri3 šu-i3-li2 5 sheep to the kitchen via Šu-ilī,
  4. 2(diš) sila4 2(diš) amar maš-da3 2 lambs, 2 young gazelles,
  5. ĝiri3 in-ta-e3-a via Intae’a,
  6. ur-mes i3-dab5 Ur-mes took (into his administrative control);
  7. 8(diš) ab2 1(u) 1(diš) dusu2 8 cows, 11 donkeys,
  8. den-lil2-la2 i3-dab5 Enlila took (into his administrative control);
  blank space
  9. iti a2-ki-ti month: “Akiti (festival),”
  10. mu ma2 dara3-abzu ba-ab-du8 year: “The boat Dara-Abzu was caulked.”


§ Here, a small number of animals are being transported via Intae’a to Ur-mes; however, the majority of Intae’a’s animal deliveries to the Ur III state are taken (i3-dab5) by the individual Duga and only sealed by Ur-mes.[35] Ur-mes is a curious figure in the Drehem shepherd’s office. Tsouparopoulou speculates that he may have been an administrative link between the office of the shepherds and the shepherds themselves.[36] His status is somewhat nebulous given that he is never described as a scribe.[37] This is part of an intricate pattern of exchange between Intae’a, Duga and Ur-mes discussed fully by Tsouparopoulou.[38]


§2.3. Umma Tablets
§2.3.1.No. 8 = AA 72
This tablet records amounts of reeds (gi) and willow (ĝešma-nu) given from Šešani to Lugal-ezem, acting on behalf of the Ur III state. This text is marked as being part of the still poorly understood bala account of the administration. The date of this tablet is reconstructed as Šulgi viii based on the presence of Šešani in ša3 bala accounts received or sealed by Lugal-ezem during the latter part of Šulgi’s reign. This would argue, contextually, for a placement of AA 72 in the second half of Šulgi’s reign.[39]

  1. 1(u) gu2 gi 10 talents of reed (~ 300 kg),
  2. 1(u) gu2 ĝešma-˹nu˺ 10 talents of willow wood,
  3. ki šeš-a-ni-˹ta˺ from Šešani;
  4. lugal-ezem Lugal-ezem
  5. šu ba-ti received;
  6. iti e2-iti-6(diš) ˹ša3 bala˺-a month: “House of the 6 moons;” from the bala (account).
  seal impression
  1. lugal-ezem Lugal-ezem,
  2. dub-sar scribe,
  3. dumu lugal-e2-maḫ-e son of Lugal-emaḫe,
  4. šabra chief household administrator.


§ Lugal-ezem, son of Lugal-emaḫe, dealt with reeds and related goods at Umma, recorded almost exclusively during the 8th month and often, but not consistently, denoted as ša3 bala. For example, OrSP 47-49 176 and Aleppo 112 record a similar bala transaction between these two individuals, but in the seventh month of Šulgi 34.


§ There are two distinct seals attested for Lugal-ezem, son of Lugal-emaḫe.[40] The shorter seal inscription tends to appear on a transactions of various goods occurring throughout the year, almost to the exclusion of the 8th month. Conversely, Lugal-ezem’s longer seal inscription predominantly with transactions for reeds in the 8th month, often with an explicit bala designation. This pattern suggests that officials may have used distinct seals to denote different types of transactions—in this instance bala and non-bala exchanges.[41] After all, bala was not consistently recorded on bala transactions (see the undated duplicate SACT 2, 73, of CDLJ 2009:6 §1).[42] This paradigm permits the suggestion that in addition to administrative terminology, bala transactions could also be denoted by a separate seal.[43]


§2.3.2. No. 9 = AA 80
This Umma text records a large quantity of reeds (gi) from Lugal-itida listed with his patronymic, in the account of Lukalla, as debits. This transaction was sealed by Ur-Šara, son of Lugal-ušur, during Amar-Suen 3.[44]

  1. 3(ĝeš’u) 9(ĝeš2) 1(u) gu2 gi 2,350 talents of reeds (~ 60.5 metric tons),
  2. še-ta sa10-a exchanged in grain,
  3. ki lugal-iti-da-ta from Lugal-itida,
  4. dumu ĝiri3-ne2 son of Ĝirine,
  5. ugu2 lu2-kal-la ba-˹a˺-ĝar placed in the debit account of Lukalla;
  1. kišib3 ur-dšara2 ša13-dub-ba sealed document of Ur-Šara, archivist;
  seal impression
  2. mu ku3 gu-za den-lil2-la2 ba-dim2 year: “A shining throne for Enlil was built.”
  1. ur-dšara2 Ur-Šara,
  2. dub-sar scribe,
  3. dumu lugal-ušur3 son of Lugal-ušur.


§ Ur- Šara, an archivist (šadubba), is a prominent official in the Umma administration whose career extended from the middle of Šulgi’s reign through his predecessor Amar-Suen.[45]


§ Lugal-itida, son of Ĝirine, also possessed several seals throughout his career.[46] Lugal-itida’s seals show a variant orthography for his name as Lugal-tida. In Šulgi 37, but possibly as early as Šulgi 34, his seal reads as follows:

son of Ĝirine
soldier of the governor


§ Beginning in Šulgi 48 and continuing to Šu-Suen 5, Lugal-itida assumes the office of nu-banda3 gu4 and adopts a fuller orthography for his name:

overseer of the oxen
son of Ĝirine


§2.3.3. No. 10 = AA 82
Tablet AA 82 records the total fodder consumed by a herd of 30 sheep over the course of one month. These animals are being purposefully fattened in preparation for cultic slaughter by Alulu, a fattener (kurušda) of the deity Šara, at Umma. This tablet dates to Amar-Suen 6 i.

  1. 3(u) udu niga 5/6(diš) sila3 še-ta 30 barley-fed sheep (fed) 5/6 liter of grain each,
  2. ˹2(ban2)˺ 4(diš) sila3 duḫ 24 liters of bran,
  3. ˹u4˺ 3(u)-še3 for 30 days;
  4. šunigin še-bi 2(aš) 2(barig) 3(ban2) gur the total of its barley is 750 liters;
  5. šunigin duḫ-bi 2(aš) 2(barig) gur the total of its bran is 720 liters;
  1. sa2-du11 dšara2 ša3 ummaki regular offerings for Šara in Umma,
  2. ĝiri3 a-lu5-lu5 via Alulu;
  3. iti še-sag11-ku5 month: “Barley harvest,”
  4. mu us2-sa en-˹maḫ-gal˺-an-na ba-ḫuĝ year after: “Enmaḫgalanna was installed.”


§ This text is typical for Alulu’s activities as an animal fattener at Umma. He is involved in numerous transactions of fattened animals for the Umma cults (see NYPL 20 [AS v 2] for a similar account to AA 82). The hereditary nature of Alulu’s office has already suggested by Mayr,[47] Stepien,[48] and Widell.[49]


§2.3.4. No. 11 = AA 81
This tablet records quantities of cord bundles (sa gu) transferred in four installments across non-consecutive months at Umma. The goods were delivered by Ur-Nintu and accounted to the Ur III state by Lu-Ninšubur, who is identified with both a profession and patronym on the accompanying sealing. This text is from Amar-Suen 6 with accounting entries for months: iii, iv, viii, xi.

  1. 3(u) sa gu 30 bundles of cords,
  2. niĝ2-dab5 iti še-kar-˹ra˺-ĝal2-la requisitions (during the) month: “Barley at the harbor;”
  3. 1(ĝeš2) sa gu 60 bundles of cords,
  4. ezem nesaĝ (requisitions during the) month: “First offering;”
  5. 1(ĝeš2) sa gu 60 bundles of cords,
  6. ezem e2-iti-6(diš) (requisitions during) “Festival of the house of 6 moons;”
  1. 3(u) sa gu 30 bundles of cords,
  2. ezem pa4-u2-e (requisitions during) “Festival of Pa’ue,”
  3. ki ur-dnin-tu-ta from Ur-Nintu,
  4. kišib3 lu2-˹d˺nin-šubur sealed document of Lu-Ninšubur;
  seal impression
  5. ˹mu ša˺-aš-šu2-ru-um a-ra2 2(diš)-kam ba-ḫul year: “Šašrum was destroyed for a second time.”
  1. lu2-dnin-šubur Lu-Ninšubur,
  2. dub-sar scribe,
  3. dumu šeš-kal-la son of Šeškalla,
  4. šabra chief household administrator.


§ This particular seal of Lu-Ninšubur appears on Umma texts beginning in Šulgi 34 until Šu-Suen 1. Variations of this seal are also attested at Umma, one as late as Šu-Suen 9 (e.g. PDT 1, 586). Mayr indicates that there may be as many as six distinct seals for Lu-Ninšubur at Umma throughout his lifetime.[50] This leads to some confusion for seals without a clear patronym (e.g. Tavolette 360 [AS 7 iii]; BPOA 1, 700 [ŠS 3 xiii]), but in cases with patronyms, such as AA 81 here, his identity is more secure.


§ SET 274 has a similar entry to this text, but dates several years earlier to Amar-Suen 2 iii, iv, viii, xi. This pattern extends to many other texts from Umma involving Ur-Nintu and Lu-Ninšubur (e.g. BPOA 6, 1442 [AS 2 xi]; USC 6612 [AS 3 viii]):

Reverse ii
  33. 1(ĝeš2) 3(u) sa gu
  34. niĝ2-dab5 ezem še-kar-ra-ĝal2-la u3 ezem nesaĝ
  35. 1(ĝeš2) sa gu
  36. niĝ2-dab5 ezem e2?-iti-6(diš)
Reverse iii
  1. 3(u) sa gu
  2. niĝ2-dab5 ezem pa5-u2-e
  blank space
  3. kišib3-bi 4(diš)-am3
  4. kišib3 lu2-dnin-šubur


§ Several texts from Umma that record bundles of cords transactions do not contain month information, so it is difficult to claim any pattern definitively (e.g. BPOA 2, 2652 [Š 44], and Nisaba 9, 220 [Š 44], for Ur-Nintu entries).


§2.3.5. No. 12 = AA 75
This Umma account records 355 liters of “large bread” (ninda gal) given by Gurzan and associated with the šunir. This text was sealed by Ayakala, the governor (ensi2) of Umma from Amar-Suen 9 until the end of Šu-Suen’s reign. Accordingly, this text was recorded on Šu-Suen 3 xiii.

  1. 1(aš) 5(ban2) 5(diš) sila3 ninda gal gur 355 liters of large bread,
  2. zi-ga šu-nir credited to the šunir,
  3. ki gur4-za-an-ta from Gurzan;
  1. kišib3 ensi2 sealed document of the governor;
  seal impression
  2. iti diri mu si-ma-num2ki ba-ḫul month: “Extra,” year: “Simanum was destroyed.”
  col. i
  1. dšu-dsuen Šu-Suen,
  2. lugal kal-ga strong king,
  3. lugal uri5ki-ma king of Ur,
  4. lugal an ub-da limmu2-ba king of the heaven with its four corners;
  col. ii
  1. a-a-kal-la Ayakala,
  2. ensi2 governor,
  3. ummaki of Umma,
  4. ARAD2-zu your servant.


§ There are at least three distinct individuals named Gurzan at Umma active in Šu-Suen 3: a cook (muḫaldim) (e.g. MCS 2, 75, BM 113075 [ŠS 3]), a fuller (azlag) (e.g. SAT 3, 1332 [ŠS 3 xi]) and a smith (simug) (e.g. Rochester 158 [ŠS 3 vii]). It is difficult to confidently state which Gurzan is represented in the text here; however, contextually the exchange of baked bread would suggest that this Gurzan was a cook at Umma.[51]


§2.3.6. No. 13 = AA 78
This text is a brief labor account for the equivalent of 60 labor days for work performed at the threshing floor (ki-su7) of the Ninurra field. The foreman (ugula) is Šeškala and the sealing agent (kišib3) is Ur-Šulpa’e, son of Lugal-kugani. This account is dated to Šu-Suen 3.

  1. 1(ĝeš2) [guruš u4 1(diš)-še3] 60 labor days,
  2. ki-˹su7 a-ša3-dnin-ur4-ra˺ gub-ba stationed at the threshing floor of the Ninurra field,
  3. [ugula] ˹šeš˺-kal-˹la˺ the foreman is Šeškala,
  4. [kišib3 ur]- ˹d˺šul-pa-e3 sealed document of Ur-Šulpa’e;
  seal impression
  1. mu us2-sa dšu-dsuen lugal-e ˹bad3˺ mar-tu ˹mu˺-[du3] year after: “Šu-Suen, the king, built the western wall.”
  1. ur-dšul-pa-e3 Ur-Šulpa’e,
  2. dub-sar scribe,
  3. dumu lugal-ku3-ga-ni son of Lugal-kugani.


§ The place name ki-su7 a-ša3-dnin-ur4-ra occurs only in Umma texts; moreover, this field features prominently in a list of Umma fields in SAT 2, 1114 (AS 8). There are several other work assignment records for this location, mostly groups of male laborers (guruš) filling and punting or towing[52] (gid2) boats (e.g. UTI 4, 2447 [ŠS 4]; SACT 2, 76 [ŠS 1]).


§ The reconstruction of ugula in obv. 3 is supported by BPOA 1, 10 (iv 10), and BPOA 1, 908 (ŠS 3). Specifically, BPOA 1, 10, lists the foremen responsible for work in the field of Ninurra in Umma:

  1. 3(ĝeš2) guruš ša3-gu4 180 ox driver workers,
  2. ugula ur-dšul-pa-e3 the foreman is Ur-Šulpa’e;
  3. 3(ĝeš2) ugula lugal-a2-zi-da 180 (ox driver workers), the foreman is Lugal-azida;
  4. 2(ĝeš2) ugula šeš-kal-la 120 (ox driver workers), the foreman is Šeškalla;
  5. 1(ĝeš2) ugula lu2-banda3da 60 (ox driver workers), the foreman is Lubanda;
  6. 2(ĝeš2) ugula ur-dma-mi 120 (ox driver workers), the foreman is Ur-mami;
  1. gurumx(|IGI.ERIM|) u4 1(u) inspected on the 10th day;
  2. iti nesaĝ month: “First offerings,”
  3. ki-su7 a-ša3 dnin-ur4-ra at the threshing floor of the Ninura field.



1  Our thanks to Leslie Fischer, LAUSD’s Art and Artifact Collection Consultant, who brought the collection to our attention and who was gracious enough to allow digital imaging of the documents. Ms. Fischer also provided much of the biographical information regarding Edward Clark.

2  The neo-Babylonian herding account (AA 74) will be treated elsewhere by Michael Kozuh. The Gudea cone (AA 135) bears the same inscription as RIME 3/ For artifact images, consult CDLI.

3  Several years after Clark left Ripon College, a professor of physics there, William H. Barber, agreed to purchase seven cuneiform tablets (EC.74.1, EC.74.2, EC.74.3, EC.74.4, EC.74.5, EC.74.6, and EC.74.7) from Edgar Banks and donated them to the school’s Clark Collection of Ancient Art.

4  Jones & Snyder 1961: 134-135, assigned this text to Umma, but it is almost certainly from Girsu. Umma’s month one, še-sag11-ku5, is the same as Girsu’s month eleven. Moreover, none of the names attested in SET 240 are particular to Umma.

5  In MVN 22, 18, Aba-isege takes administrative control over unused rations/allocations from a weaver, Nin-Šulgi, who has recently died. The logical inference is that Aba-isege was her supervisor.

6  This calculation assumes a 30-sila3 ration for geme2 (Gelb 1965: 232).

7  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 225-227 and 218-220.

8  Metcalf 2010: §2.1a with references. See also, Tsouparopoulou 2008: 225-227.

9  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 218-220.

10  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 262.

11  These two interrelated texts record Ur-niĝar amongst the chief singer (gala-maḫ) and the šabra. Ur-niĝar receives a single lamb, which tends toward a cultic interpretation over an association with the kitchen or slaughterhouse. For additional commentary on this term, see Brumfield 2011.

12  Nūr-Suen also appears in other textile accounts (e.g. VAMZ 3, 26-27 129 3 [AS 1 viii]; MVN 13, 11 [AS 3 viii]; TRU 304 [AS 1 xi]) within several years of this account. Moreover, the tablet shape adheres to the typology of Drehem tablets, in opposition to those from Umma.

13  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 154, 257.

14  See MVN 3, 364.

15  See, for example, Wu 2010.

16  Sigrist 2010: 232-33.

17  Steinkeller 1988: 201.

18  Sometimes 1-a is seen instead of 1-še3.

19  See § above for the discussion on this year name.

20  For a brief overview of Nasa’s career at Drehem, see Wu & Li 2013: 445-446.

21  Possibly Abba-saga son of Nasa the royal fattener at Drehem under Šulgi (Wu & Li 2013: 446). Abba-saga assumed his father’s office under Amar-Suen.

22  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 332-334.

23  Hilgert 2003: 40-42.

24  Wu & Li 2013: 446, 450. According to their analysis, the en of Inanna in Nippur, consistently identified by title alone, contributed two lambs or one lamb and one kid to Inanna, Nanna, Utu, An and Nanaya. The sanga primarily sent deliveries for Enlil and Ninlil.

25  For a brief discussion of the interpretation of this official see Johnson 2006: §2.2.

26  Kang 1972: 279.

27  Sigrist 1995: passim.

28  Sallaberger 2004: 49.

29  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 215.

30  Karahashi 2000: 161-2.

31  Englund 2004: 40 and 2010: 104.

32  Not all animals recorded as šu-gid2 went to the kitchen; see, for instance BIN 3, 309.

33  See Allred 2006: table 2.1 for many such pairs.

34  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 211-248.

35  The last attestation of Ur-mes’ seal dates to Šu-Suen 4 vi, which likely indicates that Ur-mes retired/died sometime between the 6th and 10th month of that year.

36  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 237-240.

37  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 237, fn. 111.

38  Tsouparopoulou 2008: 93, 240. For a brief discussion on sealing by proxy, see Mayr 1997: 139.

39  Huehnergard & Sharlach 2000: 123-124, fn. 3.

40  A broken attestation of a Lugal-ezem seal dating as late as Šu-Suen 5 is found in Owen 1994: 23-24, no. 13, from Umma. Because of its fragmentary state, it is not certain which seal of Lugal-ezem is attested in Šu-Suen 5.

41  There does not appear to be a difference in the placement (e.g. obverse, reverse) of the “short” (three lines) and “long” (four lines) seals of Lugal-ezem, as outlined by A. Di Ludovico in his study of Ur III Umma administrative tablets (2012: 277-278).

42  See Widell 2009 for the potential duplicate accounts. An additional example is given in Brumfield forthcoming. Moreover, bala may not indicate the same type of system for all participants in the Ur III administrative apparatus; Garfinkle (2002: 30 fn. 8) and Van de Mieroop (1986: 15 & fn. 49) each argue for a distinct bala in the private archives of Tūram-ilī.

43  There is extant evidence for variant practices for recording administrative transactions in the Ur III period. For example, compare BCT 2, 27 and 28 (Š 44 xi), two Umma tablets recording the same work of reed workers but with slightly different information recorded on each tablet (Heimpel 2009: 45):

1(u) 5(diš) gurus / a2 u4 1(diš)-bi gu-nigin2 4(u) 5(diš)-am3 / šunigin 1(ĝeš’u) 2(ĝeš2) 4(u) 5(diš) gu-nigin2-am3 / a2 u4 1(u) 7(diš)-bi-im / ur-e11-e i3-dab5 / blank space / iti pa5-u2-e / mu si-mu-ru-umki ba-ḫul

  • 15 male workers, the labor of 1 day: 45 bales, the total is 765 bales, being the labor of 17 days, Ur-e’e took (into his administrative control); month: “Pa’ue,” year: “Simurrum was destroyed” (BCT 2, 27).

1(u) 5(diš) ĝurus a2 u4 1(diš)-bi u2|ZI&ZI|-a gu-nigin2 ˹3(diš)?˺-ta-am3 / šunigin 1(ĝeš’u) 2(ĝeš2) 4(u) [5(diš)] gu-nigin2-am3 / [a2 u4] 1(u) ˹7(diš)˺-bi-˹im˺ / saĝ-niĝ2-gur11-ra-kam / ša3-˹bi˺-ta / ˹1(ĝeš’u)˺ 2(ĝeš2) 4(u) 5(diš) gu-nigin2-am3 / ur-e11-e i3-dab5 / ku?-ga? ma2-da-ga-še3? su?-us2? / iti pa5-u2-e / blank space / mu si-mu-[ru]-umki ba-˹ḫul˺ / erasures? / blank space

  • 15 male workers, the labor of 1 day: rushes, 3? bales each, the total is 765 bales, being the labor of 17 days, it is the debits; credits are 765 bales; Ur-e’e took (into his administrative control); … Magda … month: “Pa’ue,” year: “Simurrum was destroyed” (BCT 2, 28).

W. Heimpel’s assertion that the second (incorrectly identified as sealed) text was given to Ur-e’e, an agent of the Ur III state, seems to be the most logical interpretation of the differences between administrative records (although see Widell 2009: §2.3.7 for the arguments in favor of scribal drafts). The more abbreviated record would be sufficient for the workers to prove their payment of reeds; however, the state would require supplementary details. Based on the duplicate accounts presented by Heimpel as well as those discussed in Brumfield, forthcoming, such supplementary details could include sealing agent/authorizing party, terminology used in running accounts, toponyms, commodity specification, additional agents or account type.

44  The family of Lugal-ušur is outlined in Mayr 1997:150-151.

45  Dahl & Hebenstreit 2007: 48; Dahl 2007: 76, fn. 279.

46  Mayr 1997: 469-470.

47  Mayr 1997: 153.

48  Stepien 1996: 38-39.

49  Widell 2009: §3.3-3.3.5.

50  Mayr 1997: 318-319.

51  Allred 2006: 169-71.

52  For the possible translation “punting” of gid2 instead of the traditional “towing,” see the recent arguments set forth in Englund 2010.



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Version: 24 November 2016  

Cite this Article
Brumfield, Sara, and Lance Allred. 2016. “The Cuneiform Tablet Collection of  the Los Angeles Unified School District.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2016 (1).
Brumfield, Sara, & Allred, Lance. (2016). The Cuneiform Tablet Collection of  the Los Angeles Unified School District. Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2016(1).
Brumfield, Sara and Allred, Lance (2016) “The Cuneiform Tablet Collection of  the Los Angeles Unified School District,” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2016(1). Available at: (Accessed: April 12, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-04-12]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Brumfield,  Sara and Allred,  Lance},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin},
	issn = {1540-8760},
	number = {1},
	year = {2016},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {The {Cuneiform} {Tablet} {Collection} of  the {Los} {Angeles} {Unified} {School} {District}},
	url = {},
	volume = {2016},

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T2  - Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin
TI  - The Cuneiform Tablet Collection of  the Los Angeles Unified School Dis
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VL  - 2016
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