Suggestions and corrections to ATFU – 1. On goats and sheep during the ED I-II period

CDLN 2014:20

Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (ISSN: 1546-6566)

Published on 2014-07-15

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The following notes intend to improve the edition of the 65 archaic tablets from Ur published in Nisaba 25 and to present an overview on the terms used for goats and sheep in the ED I-II tablets.


The terminology relating to goats in the archaic texts from Ur, which shows slight differences from the Uruk period (Green 1980: 3-6; Englund 1998: 149), also presents some affinities with the Neo-Sumerian documentation and the Drehem sources (see for instance Steinkeller 1995b: 54). The sign MAŠ, in particular, does not seem to be attested in archaic Ur as a “male kid,” whereas the term maš2 nita2 (UET 2, 298. O0101), refers to a buck/billy goat. In comparison to the terminology known from the Uruk, ED IIIb and Ur III periods, the goats enumerated in UET 2 and ATFU can be more precisely determined as follows (Table 1):

  Female Male
Adult Uruk:  UD5 Uruk: MAŠ2
ED I-II: ud5 = nanny goat ED I-II: maš2 nita2 = billy goat/buck
      (maš2 = billy goat)
ED III Lagaš: ud5 ED III Lagaš: maš (1)
Ur III Drehem: ud5 Ur III Drehem: maš2 (gal) (nita)
Juvenile Uruk: EŠGAR Uruk:  MAŠ
ED I-II: 2-gar3 = female kid ED I-II: maš2 = male kid? (2)
ED III Lagaš: mi22-gar3-(ša3-du10 / gaba) ED III Lagaš: maš ša3-du10 / gaba / sig
Ur III Drehem: 2-gar3 Ur III Drehem: maš2
(1) It must also be noted that in Pre-Sargonic tablets from Lagaš, maš designates a (junger) Ziegenbock, “billy goat,” according to the translation of Bauer 1972: 625; see Selz 1993: 82 = AWAS 4: “Ziegenbock, auch Ziege allgemein.”
(2) In UET 2, 298, two kinds of goat are registered: maš2 nita2 and maš2, which may therefore respectively refer to billy goat and male kid.
                                                       Table 1: Terminology for goats


For aš2-gar3 represented in the archaic texts from Uruk by the sign EŠGAR, see Green 1980: 4 and Englund 1998: 149. The sign GAR3 in the ED I-II texts may indeed be a later variant of EŠGAR, rather than a form of DU8.gunû, as suggested in ATFU. At least three other contemporary documents mention “female kids”: UET 2, 223. O0102: 1N142-gar3; UET 2, 237. O0101. 3N1 [aš2] gar3; W 17887 (ZA 72 = Green 1982, Text 6). O0101. 2N1 2 -gar3?⌝ ud5, which probably refers to a female kid still with a nanny goat (see in Pre-Sargonic Lagaš, BIN 8, 366 = AWAS 93, Obv. I. 3. 1 kuš maš ud5, translated by Selz 1993: 594: “1 Haut von einem Ziegenbock (noch bei der Mutter)zicke”). Also note that the sign S. 276 in UET 2 was considered to be identical with EŠGAR by the authors of ATU 2 (ZATU149, Green and Nissen 1987: 201, see also Green 1980: 4). Whereas the second variant of the aforementioned sign (S. 276b in the list of E. Burrows) is different and may be assigned another value, the first form (S. 276a) is attested in only two texts:

  • UET 2, 209. O0104. 1N14 1N1 g̃eš gi S. 276a gid2
  • UET 2, 350. O0203'. 1N1 lugal-nig̃2-S. 276a (see also Andersson 2012: 373)

Therefore, the assignment of the value EŠGAR to this sign in the archaic texts from Ur seems unlikely. In the lexical lists from Fāra, it can be compared with LAK779, apparently only attested in the list Lu2 B: SF 70. Obv. IV. 2. SAL LAK779 DIM2 (MSL 12: 13).

The second variant of the aforementioned sign (S. 276b in the list of E. Burrows) is different and might be assigned another value:

  • UET 2, 87. O0403'. 1N14 (=1 bur3) S. 276b IGI+GU4 AMA? AK. The sign IGI is slightly erased, but the faintly visible traces do not seem to belong to the sign SIG7. Moreover, a small sign similar to AMA was drawn upon GU4 but erased. S. 276b might be here similar to NA2.
  • UET 2, 159. O0103. 2N14 S. 276b MA A. Sign S. 276b seems in this last occurrence to be different to the former.

The translation of ATFU 2 (for which the generic terms “kid” and “goat” were chosen, according to Burrows 1935: 6-7) should therefore be: “[x] female kid: Me-en-[x(?)], [x] nanny goats: Zurzur, [...] 2 billy goats: En-kul-aba4-si, 1 female kid: Nannax-mud, 1 female kid: Igi-gi-gi, 2 billy goats [...].”

According to the data from ED I-II texts from Ur, the terminology for sheep is as follows (Table 2):

  Female Male
Adult Uruk:  U8 Uruk: UDUNITA
ED I-II: u8 = ewe ED I-II: udu (nita2) = ram
ED III Lagaš: u8 (ama) ED III Lagaš: udu nita
Ur III Drehem: u8 Ur III Drehem: udu (nita)
Juvenile Uruk: KIR11 Uruk:  SILANITA
ED I-II: kir11 (SAL-sila4) = female lamb ED I-II: sila4 nita2 = male lamb (2)
ED III Lagaš: MI2 U8 (?) (1) ED III Lagash: sila4 nita
Ur III Drehem: kir11 Ur III Drehem: sila4
(1) Although Selz 1997: 193, fn. 119 considers Bauer's suggestion (1972: 295, AWL 97, I. 4) to be uncertain, it has to be noticed that the term kir11 is seemingly not attested in the Pre-Sargonic texts from Girsu/Lagaš.
(2) See UET 2, 16. R0101-0102 for kir11 and sila4 nita2.
                                                          Table 2: Terminology for sheep


Other terms attested are:

gukkal = fat-tailed sheep; udu niga = grain fed sheep; udu gu7= fed sheep; udu ur4: “sheepshearing”. Uncertain: ḪI udu (Burrows 1935: 6); TAK4 udu A (Burrows 1935: 6). Note that in ATFU 18. O0203, the signs udu and ud5 follow each other, which could demonstrate that the former was also used as a generic designation.



Andersson, Jakob
  2012 Kingship in the Early Mesopotamian Onomasticon 2800-2000 BCE, Studia Semitica Upsaliensia 28. Uppsala Universitet: Uppsala.
Bauer, Josef
  1972 Altsumerische Wirtschaftstexte aus Lagasch, Studia Pohl 9. Biblical Institute: Rome.
Burrows, E.
  1935 Archaic Texts, UET 2. Harrison and Sons: London.
Englund, Robert K.
  1998 “Texts from the Late Uruk Period”. In: P. Attinger and M. Wäfler (ed.) Mesopotamien: Späturuk-Zeit und Frühdynastische Zeit (OBO 160/1; Academic Press, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht: Freiburg, Switzerland and Göttingen):13-233.
Green, M. W.
  1980 “Animal Husbandry at Uruk in the Archaic Period”. JNES 39:1-35.
  1982 “Miscellaneous Early Texts from Uruk”. ZA 72:163-177.
Green, M. W. and H. J. Nissen
  1987 Zeichenliste der archaischen Texte aus Uruk, ATU 2. Gebr. Mann Verlag: Berlin, Leipzig.
Lecompte, Camille
  2013 Archaic Texts and Fragments from Ur (ATFU). From L. Woolley's excavation at the Royal Cemetery, Nisaba 25. Di.Sc.A.M.: Messina.
Selz, Gebhard J.
  1993 Altsumerische Wirtschaftsurkunden aus amerikanischen Sammlungen, FAOS 15/2. Franz Steiner Verlag: Stuttgart.
  1997 “The Holy Drum, the Spear, and the Harp. Towards an understanding of the problems of deification in Third Millennium Mesopotamia”. In: M. Geller & I. Finkel (ed.) Sumerian Gods and Their Representations (CM 7; Styx: Groningen):149-194.
Steinkeller, Piotr
  1995b “Sheep and Goat Terminology in Ur III Sources from Drehem”. BSA 8:49-70.
* ATFU refers to the tablets edited in Lecompte 2013; UET 2: texts published in Burrows 1935; S. X = sign number in the list of Burrows 1935: Plates 1-34.
Cite this Article
Lecompte, Camille. 2014. “Suggestions and Corrections to ATFU – 1. On Goats and Sheep during the ED I-II Period.” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes 2014 (20).
Lecompte, Camille. (2014). Suggestions and corrections to ATFU – 1. On goats and sheep during the ED I-II period. Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2014(20).
Lecompte, Camille (2014) “Suggestions and corrections to ATFU – 1. On goats and sheep during the ED I-II period,” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2014(20). Available at: (Accessed: April 14, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-04-14]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Lecompte,  Camille},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Notes},
	issn = {1546-6566},
	number = {20},
	year = {2014},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {Suggestions and corrections to {ATFU} -- 1. {On} goats and sheep during the {ED} {I}-{II} period},
	url = {},
	volume = {2014},

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