Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)
Published on 2017-09-30
© Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative
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Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin
The Secret Life of Lu-Ningirsu, the JudgeGábor Zólyomi <email@example.com>
(Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
Sumerian, Ur III, legal, prosopography
§2. Lu-Ningirsu’s ARADzu seals
dšu-/di-bi2-dsuen, lugal kal-ga, lugal uri5ki-ma, lugal an ub-da limmu2-ba, lu2-dnin-gir2-su, dub-sar, dumu lu2-dba-ba6, ARAD2-zu
According to Delaporte (1920: 23-24), Lu-Ningirsu’s Ibbi-Suen seal was in fact made by partly recutting his Šu-Suen seal: the first two signs in the first case of the legend (AN, ŠU) were scraped and replaced by three signs (AN, I, NE) in a slightly extended case.
§2.2. Lu-Ningirsu’s ownership of an ARADzu seal is an indication of his relatively high social status. Although ARADzu seals “were utilitarian seals of office” (Mayr & Owen 2004: 156), on a symbolic level they articulated “the legitimate authority of the seal owner, as granted by the king, to exercise his office within the Ur III bureaucracy” (Winter 1991: 60).
§2.3. In terms of its iconography, Lu-Ningirsu’s Šu-Suen/Ibbi-Suen seal is a royal presentation seal of the audience sub-type. His Šu-Suen seal impressed on DAS 2 can be studied in Delaporte 1920: pl. 12, fig. 4; Lu-Ningirsu’s seal is the lower one. Its scene shows a bareheaded, beardless petitioner, followed by a supporting goddess with both hands raised in salutation. The petitioner stands with clasped hands directly before the king who sits on a stool covered with fleece. Both the king and the supporting goddess appear to wear a flounced garment, while the petitioner wears a fringed one. Unfortunately, the upper body and the head of the king cannot be seen on this impression.
§3. Lu-Ningirsu, the chief temple administrator of Dumuzi’s household
§3.2. TCTI 2, 3854, is the receipt of 13,800 liters of barley disbursed by gu3-de2-a, used as loan barley (še ur5-ra) of plot managers (engar) and chief plot managers (nu-banda3-gu4) to produce a type of flour (zi3 KA). In obv. 4 - rev. 1 the tablet says: kišib3 lu2-dnin-gir2-su sanga ddumu-zi “the sealed tablet of Lu-Ningirsu, the chief temple administrator of (the household of) the god Dumuzi.” This tablet therefore reveals that “our” Lu-Ningirsu served for a period as the head of one of the households of the Lagaš province.
§3.3. The description lu2-dnin-gir2-su sanga ddumu-zi occurs on another tablet as well: TCTI 2, 2620 obv. 3-4 (ŠS 3/iv/–). This tablet is the receipt of 1,500+ liters of barley from the Black-Mound field (a-ša3 du6-ge), disbursed by Lu-Ningirsu.
§3.4. Another tablet from the third year of Šu-Suen, TCTI 2, 4004 (ŠS 3/–/–), also mentions the sanga ddumu-zi but without a name. The tablet records 165.2 grams of silver, received by al-la, the supervisor (nu-banda3), for the use of the sanga ddumu-zi in relation with a work-force that does not leave the city (a2 iri-ta nu-e3). Because of the tablet’s date, it is very likely that the official meant is “our” Lu-Ningirsu.
§3.5. TCTI 2, 4293 (ŠS 4/–/–) is the receipt of barley disbursed by lu2-dnin-gir2-su sanga from the granary of the Ningirsu-azida-Nanše-field. PPAC 5, 1114 (ŠS 4/i/–), is also a receipt of grain disbursed by three people, one of them lu2-dnin-gir2-su sanga. On TCTI 2, 2732 rev. 2-3 (ŠS 2/–/–), Ur-saga is still named as the sanga ddumu-zi, so Lu-Ningirsu’s term in this office must have started in this year on the basis of TCTI 2, 3854, that is also dated to the 2nd year of Šu-Suen.
§3.6. The successor of Lu-Ningirsu was Lu-gula, son of E-ki’ag, who is attested on several tablets in this capacity: L 5170 (ŠS 4/xi/-), TCTI 2, 2658 (ŠS 4/xii/-), TCTI 2, 4248 (ŠS 5/–/–), TCTI 2, 3891 (ŠS 6/–/–), TÉL 208 (ŠS 6/–/–), L 5941 (ŠS 7/–/–), Nisaba 17, 90 (ŠS 7/–/–), BPOA 2, 1883 (ŠS 8?/–/–), TÉL 94 (ŠS 9/i/-), L 4867 (IS 2/–/–), ASJ 17, 214 18 (= BM 27777) (date broken).
§3.7. It is unclear who is referred to as sanga ddumu-zi in TCTI 2, 2565 (ŠS 4/–/–), since both Lu-Ningirsu and Lu-gula are attested from this year. The text is the receipt of 15,300 liters of grain, disbursed by the sanga of ddumu-zi, received by dutu-a. Nisaba 17, 90 (ŠS 7/–/–), is a very similar text from three years later with the same receiver, in which Lu-gula can be identified as the sanga.
§4. Lu-Ningirsu, the brewer of Namnun (?)
§4.2. The description lu2-dnin-gir2-su dnam2-nun occurs on two more tablets. In obv. 8 of Nisaba 7, 43 (IS 3/–/–), the text refers to kišib3 lu2-dnin-gir2-su dnam2-nun “the sealed tablet of Lu-Ningirsu of (the household of) the god Namnun.” “Lu-Ningirsu of (the household of) the god Namnun” also occurs in obv. ii 5 of NYPL 391 (IS 2/–/–).
§5. Lu-Ningirsu’s activity as judge
On BM 28850, Lu-Ningirsu’s simple seal occurs together with the Šu-Suen seal of Šu-ili. This particular panel of two judges is not attested on any ditila document.
§5.2. Table 1 shows the timespan of the recorded activity of the judges who occur together with Lu-Ningirsu on bullae, using the data of Falkenstein (1956: 34-45). If one assumes that Lu-Ningirsu used only one seal at a given time in his capacity as judge, then the data in Table 1 suggest that he could not receive his ARADzu seal from Šu-Suen earlier than the year ŠS 7. His activity as judge is recorded to start from ŠS 7 (see Table 2), so it is not an implausible assumption that his function as judge and the bestowal of an ARADzu seal upon him is somehow related. The issue, however, would need further research involving the study of the other judges’ activities. The main source of evidence of Lu-Ningirsu’s activity as judge comes from legal documents and pisanduba tags. Table 2 shows the occurrences of Lu-Ningirsu in various panels of judges in these texts in a chronological order.
Table 1: Bullae with the seal of Lu-Ningirsu
§5.3. Falkenstein asserted that the relative order of the judges within a panel is not accidental; he assumed that the judges’ order “took account of ... the official position of the judges and apparently also the official position of the father” (1956: 45). The dated tablets listed in Table 2 indicate a change in Lu-Ningirsu’s relative rank in ŠS 9: in texts dated from ŠS 7 to 8, he is consistently the third judge, while in texts dated to from ŠS 9 to IS 2 he is consistently second. If one accepts this pattern as reliable, then the texts that cannot be dated may be assigned to the first group. Note that the panel of judges included both Šu-ili and Ur-Ištaran in at least three of these texts. Ur-Ištaran’s recorded activity spans from AS 3 to ŠS 9, while that of Šu-ili is from ŠS 7 to ŠS 9 (Falkenstein 1956: 42-44). These data add further support to the assumption that texts without a date in which Lu-Ningirsu is listed as the third judge should probably be assigned to the first group.
§5.4. One wonders whether the apparent “promotion” of Lu-Ningirsu may indicate a change in his social status. Alternatively, his position may have depended on that of the other judges involved; this assumption is, however, contradicted by NG 223 and NG 8(?) (in which Lu-dingira is unexpectedly the second) and ITT 2, 944 (in which Lu-Šara is unexpectedly the third). In either case, Falkenstein’s original assumption can neither be proved nor refuted on the basis of the available evidence.
Table 2: Panels of judges including Lu-Ningirsu (pd = pisanduba tag)
§5.5. Although Šu-ili, Lu-Ningirsu, and Lu-Šara occur with their title di-ku5 “judge” in ITT 2, 944 (ŠS 9/–/–), they function here as bystanders. This text is about lost and recovered donkeys (dusu2), and the persons who recovered the donkeys are qualified on the envelope of the tablet (obv. 4) as engar ddumu-zi-me “who are plot managers of Dumuzi.” One therefore wonders whether the involvement of Lu-Ningirsu together with the two other judges in the case may have something to do with his former office as the chief temple administrator (sanga) of Dumuzi.
§5.6. Lu-Ningirsu with the title di-ku5 “judge” is mentioned on the unpublished, partially broken tablet L 6466 (date lost). This tablet records groups of people assigned to overseers (ugula). One of these groups under the overseer Lukalla consists of 64 builders (šitim), three servants (ARAD2) of Ur-Igalim, and one servant of Lu-Ningirsu, the judge (obv. i 4'-8'). The name of another judge, Lu-Šara (Falkenstein 1956: 40-41), is also mentioned on the tablet with his title; his three servants are mentioned in another group in rev. ii 17. Lu-Ningirsu and Lu-Šara sat together in several panels (see Table 1), and their seals occur together on two bullae (DAS 10 and RTC 431).
§5.7. Table 3 gives a summary of the functions fulfilled by Lu-Ningirsu. Note, however, that the identity of Lu-Ningirsu, the official of Namnun, and Lu-Ningirsu, the judge, is by no means certain.
Table 3: Lu-Ningirsu’s attested functions
§6. More potential suspects
i) Annuaire EPHE 1978-79 no. 2 (undated), is a letter- order in which a person called Ku-Nanna is instructed to go to a Lu-Ningirsu at the place of judging:
§7. Lu-Ningirsu’s family
§7.2. We have a similar tablet from five years earlier. AAICAB 1/3, pl. 204, Bod B 20 (127) (ŠS 6/xi diri/-), records that Lu-Baba, the scribe (dub-sar), receives 10 liters of sesame oil (i3-geš) from the storehouse (e2-kišib3-ba). The conveyor (giri3) is here again Lu-Ningirsu, his son (lu2-dnin-gir2-˹su˺ dumu-na). Although here the name of Lu-Baba’s father is missing, it is plausible to assume that the same Lu-Baba and Lu-Ningirsu who occur on BPOA 1, 33, five years later are involved. With the help of the information that Ur-gigir, Lu-Baba, and Lu-Ningirsu represent three generations of one family, we can suggest that, in NG 180 (ŠS 1/–/–) obv. 6, the person Lu-Baba who swears an assertory oath is probably the father of Lu-Ningirsu.
§7.3. The father of one of the longest serving judges in Ur III Girsu, Lu-dingira (AS 4–IS 1), is also called Ur-gigir. He sat together with Lu-Ningirsu in various panels (see Table 1). Unfortunately, we have no documents that would prove unambiguously that Lu-Baba, the father of Ur-Ningirsu, and Lu-dingira were brothers—all three names were frequent in Girsu. Nevertheless, we have some evidence that makes this assumption a possibility. Two texts dated to Š 46, in which Lu-dingira, son of Ur-gigir, and Lu-Baba, without paternal name, are listed next to each other.
i) MVN 12, 78 (Š 46/x/-) obv. 4-5: kišib3 lu2-dingir-ra ugula, nu-banda3 lu2-dba-ba6. The tablet is a receipt of grain; the seal rolled on it (CDLI S002802) identifies Lu-dingira as the son of Ur-gigir.
§7.4. The earliest records about the activity of a Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir, who may be the father of “our” Lu-Ningirsu, are dated to Š 43:
MAH 16520 rev. 2 (Š 43/–/–) is a balanced account (nig2-ka9-ak) of Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir. Note that the conveyor (giri3) recorded on the tablet is Gudea, a city elder (ab-ba iri), who is also known as a judge (Falkenstein 1956: 36-37).
§7.5. On MVN 6, 395 (date broken) rev. 8, a Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir, is listed as one of the scribes. On HMA 9-2823 (date broken), a Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir, is named as a person related to Ur-mes, the šabra, “chief administrator,” in obv. ii 7'-9'. BM 22859 (date broken), a list of personnel, mentions two persons identified as Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir (obv. ii 5-6 and 12), indicating what slippery ground we tred with the identification of a person solely on the basis of his name and patronym.
§7.6. Including the two other occurrences mentioned above (BPOA 1, 33, and NG 180), the documented activity of Lu-Baba, presumably the father of “our” Lu-Ningirsu, might have lasted from Š 43 to IS 3. The timespan of his recorded activity overlaps therefore with the activity of Lu-Baba, who occurs together with Lu-dingira, son of Ur-gigir.
§7.7. The documents that may be related to Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir, the father of “our” Lu-Ningirsu, indicate that Lu-Ningirsu’s father was also an official of the provincial administration; he is referred to as scribe (dub-sar) on two tablets (AAICAB 1/3, pl. 204, Bod B 20  and MVN 6, 395), just like his son. If Lu-Baba and Lu-dingira were brothers, then Lu-dingira sat in a number of panels together with his nephew; and it is not an implausible assumption that it was he who introduced the young relative into the intricacies of this trade.
§8.2. His recorded activity spans from ŠS 2 to IS 2, or perhaps to IS 3, if he is also the chief brewmaster of Namnun. His best documented activity was that of a judge, attested from ŠS 7 until IS 2. Twenty of the thirty documents listed in Table 4 relate to this function. In the year ŠS 9, something happened to him: from being the third judge in a panel he became a stable second.
§8.3. Between ŠS 2 and 4, for about two years, he was the holder of the office of Dumuzi’s chief temple administrator. A Lu-Ningirsu, son of Lu-Baba, is attested as the brewmaster of the god Namnun between ŠS 9 and IS 3. Lu-Ningirsu is attested to function as conveyor twice, in the year ŠS 6 and IS 2, for his father, who was also an official of the provincial administration.
§8.4. At least three seals of Lu-Ningirsu are known; a fourth one, the seal of Lu-Ningirsu, the brewer of Namnun, may have also belonged to him. His ARADzu seals from Šu-Suen and Ibbi-Suen (seals no. 2 and 3) were used only in his capacity as judge. He used his simple seal (no. 1) both as sanga of Dumuzi and as judge. He may have received his ARADzu seal from Šu-Suen not earlier than the year ŠS 7, around the time when he is attested in the capacity of judge for the first time.
§8.5. This may not seem to be a lot of information about Lu-Ningirsu, but will as much be remembered about us in AD 6000?
Table 4: Documents associated with Lu-Ningirsu
Version: 30 September 2017