The Secret Life of Lu-Ningirsu, the Judge

CDLB 2017:2

Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin (ISSN: 1540-8760)

Published on 2017-09-30

© 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.

Sumerian, Ur III, legal, prosopography


§1. Introduction
In her dissertation on Ur III legal procedures, Laura E. Culbertson bemoans that ditila documents “rarely provide patronymics when rendering the names of persons identified as judges, impeding specific identification of most of these persons or of their regular official professions” (2009: 125-126).[1] This short paper is a prosopographical study of one of these judges, Lu-Ningirsu, the son of Lu-Baba, aiming to add as many details about his activity as possible on the basis of seal impressions and documents unearthed in Girsu. A number of records from Girsu relate to the career of Lu-Ningirsu, the scribe, son of Lu-Baba, and they indicate that he was an official of high status in the Lagaš province.


§2. Lu-Ningirsu’s ARADzu seals
 Lu-Ningirsu was the owner of two so-called ARADzu seals. One is from the time of Šu-Suen (CDLI S006024 = ETCSRI’s “Šu-Suen 2069add”). This seal was impressed on two bullae: DAS 2 and DAS 10. His seal from Ibbi-Suen (CDLI S005950 = ETCSRI’s “Ibbi-Suen 2036”) is known also from a bulla: RTC 431.[2] The seals are inscribed with this legend:

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

Šu-Suen/Ibbi-Suen, the powerful king, king of Ur, king of the four quarters: Lu-Ningirsu, the scribe, son of Lu-Baba, is your servant.

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
 A third seal of Lu-Ningirsu (CDLI S003158) contains only his name, profession, and patronymic: lu2-dnin-gir2-su, dub-sar, dumu lu2-dba-ba6 “Lu-Ningirsu, the scribe, son of Lu-Baba.” Pictures of the seal impression on BM 28850 can be found in Altavilla 2005: 95-96 fig. 2a-2b. The seal, which is probably the recut of a seal from the Akkadian period, shows “[t]wo rams in a heraldic posture. A bull-man on the right of the scene is fighting one of them. There is a small lion … next to the legs of the bull-man and a crescent moon … between the [head of] two animals” (Altavilla 2005: 61). This seal is attested on the tablet TCTI 2, 3854 (ŠS 2/–/–),[3] and on the undated bulla BM 28850, on which it occurs together with the seal of another judge: the ARADzu seal of Šu-ili from Šu-Suen (see §5 below).


§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.[4]


§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/-),[5] TCTI 2, 2658 (ŠS 4/xii/-),[6] TCTI 2, 4248 (ŠS 5/–/–),[7] TCTI 2, 3891 (ŠS 6/–/–),[8] TÉL 208 (ŠS 6/–/–),[9] L 5941 (ŠS 7/–/–),[10] Nisaba 17, 90 (ŠS 7/–/–),[11] BPOA 2, 1883 (ŠS 8?/–/–),[12] TÉL 94 (ŠS 9/i/-),[13] L 4867 (IS 2/–/–),[14] ASJ 17, 214 18 (= BM 27777) (date broken).[15]


§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.[16]


§4. Lu-Ningirsu, the brewer of Namnun (?)
 A fourth seal (CDLI S003183) may also belong to “our” Lu-Ningirsu. It has the following legend: lu2-dnin-gir2-su, lu2 lunga d[…], dumu lu2-dba-ba6. This seal is attested on just one tablet: Nisaba 7, 30 (ŠS 9/–/–). In rev. 8-9, the document is labeled as nig2-ka9-ak, lu2-dnin-gir2-su dnam2-nun “balanced account of Lu-Ningirsu of (the household of) the god Namnun.” Given the description in rev. 9 of Nisaba 7, 30, one wonders whether divine name on this seal is to be reconstructed as d[nam2-nun].


§4.2. The description lu2-dnin-gir2-su dnam2-nun occurs on two more tablets. In obv. 8 of Nisaba 7, 43 (IS 3/–/–),[17] 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
 Three of the seals of Lu-Ningirsu were rolled on bullae. These objects provide additional evidence of his best documented activity as judge (di-ku5) in Ur III Girsu: they were, namely, used to seal containers that held ditila documents, and the seals rolled on the bullae belonged to the judges involved in the cases.

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.

On DAS 2, Lu-Ningirsu’s Šu-Suen seal occurs together with the seals of Lu-dingira (son of Ur-gigir) and Ur-Ištaran (son of Lugal-ušumgal). This particular panel of three judges is not attested on any ditila document.

On DAS 10, Lu-Ningirsu’s Šu-Suen seal occurs together with the seals of Gudea (son of Lu-Baba, the city elder), and Lu-Šara. This particular panel of three judges is not attested on any ditila document.

On RTC 431, Lu-Ningirsu’s Ibbi-Suen seal occurs together with the seals of Lu-Šara, Gudea (son of Lu-Baba, the city elder), and Danu(w)e. This particular panel of four judges is attested on NG 25 (IS 1/–/–) and NG 224 (IS 1/–/–, 2/–/–).

§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.


  BM 28850 DAS 2 DAS 10 RTC 431
Lu-Ningirsu seal no. 1 seal no. 2 seal no. 2 seal no. 3
  (simple) (from ŠS) (from ŠS) (from IS)
Šu-ili ŠS 7-ŠS 9      
Lu-dingira   AS 4-IS 1    
Ur-Ištaran   AS 3-ŠS 9    
Gudea     IS 1-2 IS 1-2
Lu-Šara     AS 7-IS 2 AS 7-IS 2
Danu(w)e       IS 1-2

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.


ŠS 7/–/– NG 3 Šu-ili [Ur]-Ištaran [Lu]-Ningirsu [Lu]-dingira
ŠS 8/–/– NG 223 pd Šu-ili Lu-dingira Lu-Ningirsu
ŠS 8/–/– BM 95539[18] Šu-ili Ur-Ištaran Lu-Ningirsu
ŠS 9/–/– NG 76 Šu-˹ili˺ ˹Ur-Ištaran˺ Lu-Ningirsu ˹Lu-dingira˺
ŠS 9/–/– ITT 2, 944 Šu-ili Lu-Ningirsu Lu-Šara
ŠS -/–/– NG 106 Lu-Šara Lu-Ningirsu Lu-dingira
IS 1/–/– NG 67 Lu-[Šara] Lu-[Ningirsu] Lu-[dingira]
IS 1/–/– NG 103 Lu-[Šara](?) [Lu-Ningirsu](?) [Lu-dingira]?
IS 1/–/– NG 25 ˹Lu˺-Šara ˹Lu˺-Ningirsu ˹Gudea˺ ˹Danu(w)e˺
IS 1-2/–/– NG 224 pd Lu-Šara Lu-Ningirsu Gudea Danu(w)e
? NG 8 [Šu-ili](?) [Lu-dingira](?) [Lu]-˹Ningirsu˺
? NG 147 Šu-ili Ur-Ištaran ˹Lu˺-Ningirsu Lu-˹dingira˺
? VAT 12823 Šu-˹ili˺ Ur-˹Ištaran˺ Lu-Ningirsu
? DAS 332bis Šu-ili Ur-Ištaran Lu-Ningirsu

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.[19]


§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.


sanga ddumu-zi “chief temple administrator of Dumuzi’s household”   from ŠS 2/–/– at least until ŠS 4/i/-; the office is already held by Lu-gula in ŠS 4/xi/
di-ku5 “judge”   from ŠS 7/–/– at least until IS 2/–/–
official acting for the god Namnun (perhaps as brewer, lu2 lunga d[nam2?-nun?])   from ŠS 9/–/– at least until IS 3/–/–

Table 3: Lu-Ningirsu’s attested functions


§6. More potential suspects
 Here follows a list of further occurrences of persons named Lu-Ningirsu who might be identical with “our” Lu-Ningirsu, but their identity cannot be demonstrated convincingly.

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:

ku3-dnanna, u3-na-a-du11, lu2-dnin-gir2-su-ra, ˹ki˺ di ku5-še3 ḫa-mu-da-˹gen˺

Tell Ku-Nanna that he must come with me to Lu-Ningirsu, to the place of judging! [20]

ii) In ITT 5, 6764 (date lost), a Lu-Ningirsu receives three logs of gešu3 suḫ5 tree, each four meters long, to be used for the law court door (ig e2 di-ku5-še3) from a shipyard.

iii) A Lu-Ningirsu qualified as one of the sons of a Lu-Baba occurs in obv. ii 17 of BM 17745 (Š 43/viii/–), a list of personnel of the Eninnu.[21] Since the persons listed on this tablet appear to be of low status, this Lu-Ningirsu is probably a different one.


§7. Lu-Ningirsu’s family
 In comparison with the brief description given by Falkenstein (1956: 39-40), more is now known about the family of Lu-Ningirsu. The key text is BPOA 1, 33 (IS 2/–/–). According to obv. 1-3 of this text, Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir, receives 300 liters of sesame (še-geš-i3) through his son, Lu-Ningirsu (lu2-dba-ba6 dumu ur-gešgigir, giri3 lu2-dnin-gir2-su dumu-na).[22] This text provides us thus with the piece of information that the grandfather of Lu-Ningirsu was called Ur-gigir.


§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.[23]

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.

ii) Rochester 216 (Š 46/xi/–) 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 S002803) 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).

SNAT 26 rev. 7 (Š 43/v/–) records that Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir, receives various goods (silver, sesame, and sun-dried apples for the god Utu).

§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 [127] 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. Summary
 Raymond Westbrook in his survey of the cuneiform sources related to judges asserts that “[t]he term ‘judge’ might … cover a variety of situations, from one among many duties of an administrator to the sole occupation of a person dedicated to that vocation” (2005: 30). The evidence discussed in this paper and listed in Table 4 indicates that Lu-Ningirsu was not only a judge but also an official of high status in the Lagaš province. Moreover, it is probable that his function as judge was precisely the result of his high status.


§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?


  date tablet text type Lu-N’s function seal
1. ŠS 2/–/– TCTI 2, 3854 adm., receipt sanga, receiver no. 1
2. ŠS 3/–/– TCTI 2, 4004 adm., receipt sanga, recipient other[24]
3. ŠS 3/iv/– TCTI 2, 2620 adm., receipt sanga, disburser
4. ŠS 4/–/– TCTI 2, 4293 adm., receipt sanga, disburser other[25]
5. ŠS 4/i/– PPAC 5, 1114 adm., receipt sanga, disburser
6. ŠS 6/xi diri/- AAICAB 1/3, pl. adm., receipt conveyor of his
    204, Bod B 20 (127)   father
7. ŠS 7/–/– NG 3 legal, ditila judge
8. ŠS 8/–/– NG 223 legal, pisanduba judge
9. ŠS 8/–/– BM 95539 legal, ditila judge
10. undated DAS 332bis legal, ditila judge
  (before ŠS 9)
11. date br. NG 8 legal, ditila judge
  (before ŠS 9)
12. date br. NG 147 legal, ditila? judge
  (before ŠS 9)
13. date br. VAT 12823 legal, ditila? judge
  (before ŠS 9)
14. ŠS 9/–/– NG 76 legal, ditila judge
15. ŠS 9/–/– ITT 2, 944 legal (judge), bystander  
16. ŠS 9/–/– Nisaba 7, 30 adm., balanced lu2 lunga, account no. 4
      account maker
17. undated BM 28850 legal, bulla judge no. 1
  ŠS 7-ŠS 9)
18. undated DAS 2 legal, bulla judge no. 2
  (not earlier
  than ŠS 7)
19. undated DAS 10 legal, bulla judge no. 2
  (not earlier
  than ŠS 7)
20. ŠS -/–/– NG 106 legal, ditila judge
  (not earlier
  than ŠS 9)
21. IS 1/–/– NG 67 legal, ditila judge
22. IS 1/–/– NG 103 legal, ditila judge
24. IS 1/–/– NG 25 legal, ditila judge
25. IS 1/–/– NG 224 legal, pisanduba judge
  IS 2/–/–
26. undated RTC 431 legal, bulla judge no. 3
  IS 1-IS 2)
27. IS 2/–/– NYPL 391 adm., ration list? lu2 lunga, receiver
28. IS 2/–/– BPOA 1, 33 adm., receipt conveyor of his father
29. date br. L 6466 adm., assignment (judge)
  (not later   of workers
  than IS 2)
30. IS 3/–/– Nisaba 7, 43 adm., balanced account? lu2 lunga, receiver

Table 4: Documents associated with Lu-Ningirsu




1 Cf. also Falkenstein (1956: 33): “The position of judges in the period of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur can only be properly judged ... if we account for the official positions they held beyond their judicial activities, for their relationship to each other and to the highest offices of state administration. Unfortunately, the available material offers only limited information in this regard.”

2 Irene Winter (1991: 65, 86-87, 89) assumes that Lu-Baba, the courier (ra2-gaba), the owner of an ARADzu seal of Šulgi (CDLI S006139), “our” Lu-Ningirsu, and Ur-Kununa, son of Lu-Ningirsu, the fattener (kurušda), owner of an ARADzu seal of Šu-Suen (CDLI S000466) represent three generations of a family. In fact, there is no prosopographical evidence to support this assumption, while the personal names Lu-Baba and Lu-Ningirsu are very common. Note, in particular, that no seal of the real father of “our” Lu-Ningirsu, Lu-Baba, son of Ur-gigir, is known; “our” Lu-Ningirsu is never attested with the profession fattener; and the activity of Ur-Kununa, son of Lu-Ningirsu, the fattener, is recorded exclusively in documents from Puzriš-Dagan.

3 Figulla, Sigrist & Walker (1996: 141) state that BM 19472 (IS 3/ii/–) also carries the third seal of “our” Lu-Ningirsu. On my request, M. Molina collated the tablet on 16 March 2017; he stated that the tablet carries in fact the seal of Lu-Ningirsu, the scribe, son of Ur-Baba (CDLI S003172). My thanks to him for his kindness.

4 Lu-gula, the successor of Lu-Ningirsu as sanga, receives a huge amount of barley from the granary of this field, as recorded on TCTI 2, 4248 (ŠS 5/–/–).

5  L 5170 is the receipt of barley disbursed by al-la-gu10 to lu2-gu-la sanga ddumu-zi (rev. 1). 7,380 liters of grain are for workers (erin2), plot managers (engar), and oxen-drivers (ša3-gu4), 3,300 liters are for KA-flour (zi3 KA), made from loan barley (še ur5-ra). I am grateful to Bertrand Lafont for his kindness and generosity in providing me with transliterations of this and other unpublished texts (L 4768, L 4867, L 5941, L 6466; see below) to be published in TCTI 3.

6 TCTI 2, 2658, is the receipt of barley, disbursed by al-la-gu10 for the use of Lu-gula. Neither Lu-gula’s title nor the household of Dumuzi is mentioned in this text, but the disburser is probably the same person as on L 5170, dated a month earlier. Moreover, the barley is said to come from the granary of the Egibile field (rev. 1-2); note that on L 4768 (AS 9/x/–) the 420 liters of barley, received by ab-ba-kal-la, sanga uru11ki (rev. 1), is qualified as še sanga ddumu-zi, i3-dub e2-gibil-le (obv. 3-4).

7 On TCTI 2, 4248 rev. 1-2, Lu-gula’s title is not mentioned; the text says only: kišib3 lu2-gu-la, e2 ddumu-zi. The text is sealed with Lu-gula’s seal: lu2-gu-la, dub-sar, dumu e2-ki-ag2, dub-sar “Lu-gula, son of E-ki’ag, the scribe” (CDLI S002901). Lu-gula, son of E-ki’ag, also occurs on NG 42 (ŠS 4/–/–). Three female slaves are confirmed to him after he had made an assertory oath that these persons had to satisfy a debt. The judges of the trial are Lu-Šara and Ur-Ištaran, who later sit together with Lu-Ningirsu, Lu-gula’s predecessor as sanga, in several panels of judges (see Table 1).

8 TCTI 2, 3891, is the receipt of 202,575 liters of barley for seeding (še-numun-še3), sealed with Lu-gula’s seal. Neither Lu-gula’s title nor the household of Dumuzi is mentioned in the text, but the seal and the date make it certain that the actor is “our” Lu-gula. Note that Lu-gula is both disburser and receiver of the barley.

9 This long, fragmentary text appears to be a balanced account mentioning several households of the Lagaš province. Lu-gula is mentioned in rev. ii 10'-11' in fragmented context: […] lu2-gu-la, [e2] ddumu-[zi].

10  L 5941 is the receipt of 3,060 liters of grain from the Ambartur field, disbursed by lu2-gu-la sanga ddumu-zi (rev. 1-2) to produce KA-flour (zi3 KA) used as wages of female weavers in Girsu (a2 geme2 uš-bar, lagaški-ka-še3).

11 Nisaba 17, 90, is the receipt of 8,160+ liters of barley from the granary of the Ningirsu-azida-Nanše-field. The disburser is Lu-gula, the receiver dutu-a, the granary supervisor (ka-guru7). Neither Lu-gula’s title nor the household of Dumuzi is mentioned in the text, but the date, the field name, and the name of the receiver, known also from TCTI 2, 2565 (ŠS 4/–/–) (see below), make it fairly certain that disburser is “our” Lu-gula. Utua, the granary supervisor, may be identified as Utua, son of Ur-Nanše, the scribe, based on TCTI 2, 3950 (ŠS 6/–/–), which is sealed with his seal (CDLI S005737).

12 BPOA 2, 1883 obv. ii 15', mentions lu2-gu-la sanga with 27,000 liters of repaid (su-ga) grain.

13 TÉL 94 is the receipt of 2 cows and a suckling calf to be used by [lu2]-gu-la, sanga ddumu-zi (rev. 1-2). Virolleaud reconstructed the name of Dumuzi’s sanga as [ab?-ba?]-gu-la; this reconstruction is now to be corrected to [lu2]-gu-la, a suggestion made already also by Maekawa (1995: 184-185).

14  L 4867 records 228,600 liters of barley, received by Lu-gula: kišib3 lu2-[gu]-la, sanga ddumu-˹zi˺ (obv. 2-3), to be delivered (tum3-dam, rev. 1) by Urnig, whose seal (CDLI S004589) is rolled on the tablet.

15 ASJ 17, 214 18 obv. 6, mentions lu2-gu-la e2 ddumu-zi (see Maekawa 1995: 184-185 for a description of the tablet).

16 Note that the texts identified as related to Lu-gula, the sanga of Dumuzi, demonstrate clearly the difficulties inherent in prosopographic studies of Ur III administrative texts. The same person is mentioned in the texts in five different ways: i) lu2-gu-la; ii) lu2-gu-la sanga; iii) lu2-gu-la sanga ddumu-zi; iv) sanga ddumu-zi; v) lu2-gu-la e2 ddumu-zi.

17 For the interpretation of this text, see Wilcke 2006.

18 I thank Manuel Molina for his kindness in providing me with a transliteration of this unpublished text.

19 See Molina 2013: 128-139 for an analysis of the function of bystanders in legal affairs. He argues that bystanders may occasionally be people who are involved in some way in the case.

20 BPOA 1, 1221 (ŠS 8/i/–), records that a certain amount of bronze (zabar) is measured out “for the door of Lu-Ningirsu’s place of judgement” (mu gešig ki di-ku5 lu2-dnin-gir2-su-še3). Since this text is from Umma, one wonders whether it may be related to this text in any way; if not, the mention of the same name in connection with a similar location is simple coincidence.

21 See Studevent-Hickman 2006: 142-144 for an analysis of the text.

22 Rev. 3 of BPOA 1, 33, states that “these are merchants” (dam-gar3-me). It is unclear whether this qualification is meant to apply to all four of the receivers mentioned in the text.

23 A third text in which the names are mentioned together is OTR 166 (?) obv. 5-6: se12-a lu2-dingir-ra dumu ur-geš[gigir], 1(barig) lu2-dba-ba6. This tablet is a ration list, and Lu-dingira is qualified as blind (se12-a; cf. Heimpel 2009), so it is unlikely that he is identical with the long-serving judge.

24 Sealed with the seal of Urnig, the scribe, son of Ursaga, the overseer (CDLI S004593).

25 Sealed with the seal of Ur-Nanše, the scribe, son of Nabasa (CDLI S005160).




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Version: 30 September 2017  

Cite this Article
Zólyomi, Gábor. 2017. “The Secret Life of Lu-Ningirsu, the Judge.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2017 (2).
Zólyomi, Gábor. (2017). The Secret Life of Lu-Ningirsu, the Judge. Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2017(2).
Zólyomi, Gábor (2017) “The Secret Life of Lu-Ningirsu, the Judge,” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin, 2017(2). Available at: (Accessed: April 21, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-04-21]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Z{\' o}lyomi,  G{\' a}bor},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin},
	issn = {1540-8760},
	number = {2},
	year = {2017},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {The {Secret} {Life} of {Lu}-{Ningirsu}, the {Judge}},
	url = {},
	volume = {2017},

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T2  - Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin
TI  - The Secret Life of Lu-Ningirsu, the Judge
UR  -
VL  - 2017
Y2  - 2024/4/21/
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