The career of a high-ranking official in Larsa: on CUSAS 17, 54

CDLN 2012:2

Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (ISSN: 1546-6566)

Published on 2012-01-15

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LMU Munich

An inscribed fragment of an alabaster jar (MS 3268) has recently been published as CUSAS 17, 54 by Andrew R. George. Its fragmentary inscription relates that the jar was offered (‘brought in') by a certain Nawiram-šarūr for the life of king Rīm-Sîn. This short paper aims to identify the person whose name appears in the inscription, based mainly on prosopographical and chronological data provided by contemporary legal-administrative text material from Larsa.

Line 4' of the inscription contains the name of Nawiram-šarūr, identified by his father's name (line 5'). The editor reads the father's name as Qīšti(BA)-Šamaš. The logographic writing of the name element Qīšti- was, however, rather uncommon in the Old Babylonian period, and the inscription itself bears no similarity to BA, but is rather u-bar and thus the name is to be read u-bar-dutu, i.e., Ubār-Šamaš.

It seldom happens that a person mentioned in a votive inscription is also attested in legal and administrative documents. In case of Nawiram-šarūr, son of Ubār-Šamaš, however, one may connect the person with a person bearing a similar name occuring in a field lease contract. The combination of a person's own and his father's name identifies a person with near certainty—that is, assuming that, at a given place in a given period (a lifetime?), there were no men identified by the same prosopographical combination (so with Harris 1972: 104 and Kalla 2006: 19, on the material from the Sippar region).

The relevant text is MHET 2/5, 564 (dated to Hammurapi 33; see Woestenburg 1997-1998: 356). Though it has been published among hundreds of Sippar texts, it certainly comes from southern Babylonia; a Larsan origin has been suggested (Stol 1997: 718; Woestenburg 1997-1998: 356). The prosopographical data seems to support this assumption, since two of the three witnesses appear also in other texts from Larsa. The second witness is Ibbi-[Šamaš], son of Šamaš-muba[lliṭ]; the reconstruction is supported by the seal inscription indentifying the owner as ‘servant of Ha[mmurapi]' (for the collations see Woestenburg 1997-1998: 356). The same seal was impressed on the tablet YOS 12, 142 (Samsu-iluna 5). That text is prosopographically connected to L. 74.176, found in Larsa by French excavators (Charpin 1981: 538). The third witness is Šamaš-māgir, son of Ṣillī-Šamaš; his (former) sustenance field and his sons are dealt with in YOS 15, 35, a letter sent by Lu-Ninurta to Šamaš-hāzir (i.e., from Babylon to Larsa).

The first witness is Nawiram-[...], son of Ubār-[...]. The first name can be restored safely to Nawiram-[šarūr], due to the absence of other name types beginning with this element in Old Babylonian Larsa (on the various spellings see von Soden 1960: 166). The father's name cannot be restored with such certainty: there are names composed of the element Ubār- and various divine names, and there is also a hypocoristic form Ubārrum. However, the name Ubār-Šamaš is by far the most frequently used of them. The number of its occurrences well exceeds the number of all the others together. A restoration of the first witness's name as Nawiram-[šarūr], son of Ubār-[Šamaš] therefore appears to be fairly certain.

Considering the fact that not everyone will present an inscribed alabaster jar to (presumably) a god for the life of the king, Nawiram-šarūr must have been a man of some wealth and importance. In contracts, the witnesses were usually listed according to their status, i.e., the more important persons first, the others following. Ibbi-Šamaš, the second witness in MHET 2/5, 564, is identified in YOS 12, 142 as judge (presumably of the Šamaš temple). He also uses a seal dedicated to king Hammurapi, typical of royal officials and some higher-ranked members of the clergy (see Harris 1961). The title or office of Šamaš-māgir (the third witness) is not known; however, the four bur3 (ca. 0,26km2) of sustenance field he owned suggest a rather important person (cf. Kienast 1976-1980: 55). The fact that Nawiram-[šarūr] was listed as the first witness in MHET 2/5, 564, indicates his importance compared to the others, and therefore supports his identification with the person presenting the alabaster jar.

This identification may also help to resolve another problem with the inscription: the identification of the king called Rīm-Sîn. It is by no means certain which of the two kings called by this name is meant here. Unfortunately, the first part of the relevant line (line 2') on the jar fragment was broken off. Both the excellent handcopy and the photo suggest a restoration of the divine name determinative (the sign dingir) before the royal name. The presence of the divine determinative, however, does not help us either to decide whether Rīm-Sîn I or Rīm-Sîn II is meant. Its use before the name of Rīm-Sîn I became customary in the second third of his 60-year reign (see Van de Mieroop 1993: 67). In contrast, the name of the rebel king Rīm-Sîn II was always written with the determinative of divine names.

Assuming that Nawiram-[šarūr] of MHET 2/5, 564 is identical with Nawiram-šarūr who dedicated CUSAS 17, 54 for the life of his king, the date of MHET 2/5, 564 (Hammurapi 33) makes it very likely that the jar was granted for the life of king Rīm-Sîn I, presumably not so many years before the Babylonian conquest of Larsa.




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Cite this Article
Földi, Zsombor J. 2012. “The Career of a High-Ranking Official in Larsa: On CUSAS 17, 54.” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes 2012 (2).
Földi, Z. J. (2012). The career of a high-ranking official in Larsa: on CUSAS 17, 54. Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2012(2).
Földi, Z. J. (2012) “The career of a high-ranking official in Larsa: on CUSAS 17, 54,” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2012(2). Available at: (Accessed: May 22, 2024).
	note = {[Online; accessed 2024-05-22]},
	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {F{\" o}ldi, Zsombor J.},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Notes},
	issn = {1546-6566},
	number = {2},
	year = {2012},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {The career of a high-ranking official in {Larsa}: on {CUSAS} 17, 54},
	url = {},
	volume = {2012},

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