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The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC (
middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts customarily record events in terms of a succession of officials or rulers: "in the year X of ki ...
)
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
ian ruling dynasty based in the city of
Ur
Ur
and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to have been a nascent empire. The Third Dynasty of Ur is commonly abbreviated as Ur III by historians studying the period. It is numbered in reference to previous dynasties, such as the
First Dynasty of Ur The First Dynasty of Ur was a 26th-25th century BCE dynasty of rulers of the city of Ur in ancient Sumer. It is part of the Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia), Early Dynastic period III of the History of Mesopotamia. It was preceded by the earlie ...
(26-25th century BC), but it seems the once supposed Second Dynasty of Ur was never recorded. The Third Dynasty of Ur was the last Sumerian dynasty which came to preeminent power in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
. It began after several centuries of control by
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...
and Gutian kings. It controlled the cities of
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countrie ...
,
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
, and
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
and extended as far north as
Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation. Plains occur as lowlands along valleys or on the doorsteps of mountai ...
.


History

The Third Dynasty of Ur arose some time after the fall of the Akkad Dynasty. The period between the last powerful king of the Akkad Dynasty,
Shar-Kali-Sharri Shar-Kali-Sharri (𒀭𒊬𒂵𒉌 𒈗𒌷, '' DShar-ka-li-Sharri''; reigned c. 2217–2193 BC middle chronology, c. 2153–2129 BC short chronology The short chronology is one of the chronologies of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, ...
, and the first king of Ur III,
Ur-Nammu Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian: , ruled c. 2112 BC – 2094 BC middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions a ...
, is not well documented, but most Assyriologists posit that there was a brief "dark age", followed by a power struggle among the most powerful city-states. On the king-lists, Shar-Kali-Sharri is followed by two more kings of Akkad and six in Uruk; however, there are no year names surviving for any of these, nor even any artifacts confirming that any of these reigns was historical — save one artifact for
Dudu of Akkad Dudu may refer to: Places *Dudu, Hormozgan Dudu ( fa, دودو, also Romanized as Dūdū, Dodoo, and Dūdow) is a village in Band-e Zarak Rural District, in the Central District (Minab County), Central District of Minab County, Hormozgan Province, ...
(Shar-Kali-Sharri's immediate successor on the list). Akkad's primacy, instead, seems to have been usurped by Gutian invaders from the
Zagros Mountains The Zagros Mountains ( fa, کوه‌های زاگرس, ''Kuh hā-ye Zāgros;'' Luri language, Luri: کویل زاگروس‎, ''Koyal Zagros;'' Turkish language, Turkish: ''Zagros Dağları;'' ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyakani ...
, whose kings ruled in Mesopotamia for an indeterminate period (124 years according to some copies of the
king list A regnal list or king list is, at its simplest, a list of successive monarchs. Some regnal lists may give the relationship between successive monarchs (e.g., son, brother), the length of reign of each monarch or annotations on important reigns. Th ...
, only 25 according to others). An illiterate and nomadic people, their rule was not conducive to agriculture, nor record-keeping, and by the time they were expelled, the region was crippled by severe famine and skyrocketing grain prices. Their last king,
Tirigan Tirigan (''fl. ''Floruit'' (), abbreviated fl. (or occasionally flor.), Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from ...
, was driven out by
Utu-hengal Utu-hengal ( sux, , ), also written Utu-heg̃al, Utu-heĝal, and sometimes transcribed as Utu-hegal, Utu-hejal, Utu-Khengal, was one of the first native kings of Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately ...
of
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the for the . Uruk played a leading ...
. Following Utu-Hengal's reign,
Ur-Nammu Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian: , ruled c. 2112 BC – 2094 BC middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions a ...
(originally a general) founded the Third Dynasty of Ur, but the precise events surrounding his rise are unclear. The
Sumerian King List#Redirect Sumerian King List {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{Redirect from other capitalisation {{Redirect from move ...
tells us that Utu-hengal had reigned for seven years (or 426, or 26 in other copies), although only one year-name for him is known from records, that of his accession, suggesting a shorter reign. It is possible that Ur-Nammu was originally his governor. There are two
stelae A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ''stelæ''), ...

stelae
discovered in
Ur
Ur
that include this detail in an inscription about Ur-Nammu's life. Ur-Nammu rose to prominence as a warrior-king when he crushed the ruler of
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), or Shirpurla, was an ancient city state located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, ...

Lagash
in battle, killing the king himself. After this battle, Ur-Nammu seems to have earned the title 'king of Sumer and Akkad.' Ur's dominance over the Neo-Sumerian Empire was consolidated with the famous
Code of Ur-Nammu The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time ...
, probably the first such law-code for Mesopotamia since that of
Urukagina Uru-ka-gina, Uru-inim-gina, or Iri-ka-gina ( sux, ; 24th century BC, middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts c ...
of
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), or Shirpurla, was an ancient city state located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, ...

Lagash
centuries earlier. Many significant changes occurred in the empire under
Shulgi Shulgi ( Dingir, dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2094 – c. 2046 BC (Middle Chronology) or possibly c. 2030 – 1982 BC (Short Chronology). His accompli ...
's reign. He took steps to centralize and standardize the procedures of the empire. He is credited with standardizing administrative processes, archival documentation, the tax system, and the national calendar. He captured the city of
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
and the surrounding region, toppling
Elamite Elamite, also known as Hatamtite, is an extinct language that was spoken by the ancient Elamites. It was used in present-day southwestern Iran from 2600 BC to 330 BC. Elamite works disappear from the archeological record after Alexander the Great ...
king
Kutik-Inshushinak Puzur-Inshushinak ( Linear Elamite: 90px ''Pu-zu-r Šu-ši-na-k'', Akkadian: , ''puzur3- dinšušinak'', also , ''puzur₄- dinšušinak'' "Calling Inshushinak Inshushinak ( Linear Elamite: ''i-n-shu-sh-na-k'', Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Lo ...
, while the rest of Elam fell under control of
Shimashki dynasty The Shimashki or Simashki dynasty (, ''lugal-ene si-mash-giki'' "Kings of the country of Simashgi"), was an early dynasty of the ancient region of Elam, to the southeast of Babylonia, in approximately 2200-1900 BCE. A list of twelve kings of Shim ...
.


The military and conquests of Ur III

In the last century of the 3rd millennium BCE, it is believed that the kings of Ur waged several conflicts around the frontiers of the kingdom. These conflicts are believed to have been influenced by the king of Akkad. As we have little evidence of how the kings organized their forces, it is unclear whether defensive forces were in the center or outside the kingdom. One of the things we do know is that the second ruler of the dynasty, Šulgi achieved some expansion and conquest. These were continued by his three successors but their conquests are less frequent with time. At the very height of the expansion of Ur, they had taken territory from southeastern
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
(modern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
) to the Iranian shore of the Persian Gulf, a testimony to the strength of the dynasty. The armies of Ur did bring back precious booty when they conquered a place. There are hundreds of texts that explain how treasures were seized by the Ur III armies and brought back to the kingdom after many victories. Also in some texts it appears that the Shulgi campaigns were the most profitable for the kingdom. It is most likely the main people who benefited from the spoils were the kings and temples that were back in the main parts of the kingdom.


Conflicts with northeastern mountain tribes

The rulers of Ur III were often in conflict with the highland tribes of the Zagros mountain area who dwelled in the northeastern portion of Mesopotamia. The most important of these tribes were the
Simurrum The Simurrum Kingdom ( akk, 𒋛𒈬𒌨𒊑𒅎: ''Si-mu-ur-ri-im'') was an important city state of the Mesopotamian Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Classical Syriac: ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ ...
and the
Lullubi Lullubi, Lulubi ( akk, 𒇻𒇻𒉈: ''Lu-lu-bi'', akk, 𒇻𒇻𒉈𒆠: ''Lu-lu-biki'' "Country of the Lullubi"), more commonly known as Lullu, were a group of tribes during the 3rd millennium BC, from a region known as ''Lulubum'', now the Shar ...

Lullubi
tribal kingdoms. They were also often in conflict with
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite Linear Elamite is a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Br ...

Elam
.


Military rulers of Mari

In the northern area of
Mari Mari may refer to: Places *Mari, Paraíba, Brazil, a city *Mari, Cyprus, a village *Mari, Greece, a village, site of ancient town of Marius (Laconia), Marius *Mari, Iran (disambiguation), places in Iran *Mari, Punjab, a village and a union counci ...
, Semitic military rulers called the
Shakkanakku In the Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages''. Ed. Roger D. Woodard (2004, ...
s apparently continued to rule contemporaneously with the Third Dynasty of Ur, or possibly in the period that just preceded it, with rulers such as military governors like
Puzur-Ishtar Puzur-Ishtar (, ''Puzur4-Eš4-tár'', c. 2050–2025 BCE) was a ruler of the city of Mari, Syria, Mari, northern Mesopotamia, after the fall of the Akkadian Empire. He was contemporary of the Third Dynasty of Ur, and probably their vassal. He had ...
, who was probably contemporary with
Amar-Sin Amar-Sin ( akk, 𒀭𒀫𒀭𒂗𒍪: ''dingir, DAmardingir, DSin (mythology), Sîn'', after the Moon God Suen, Sîn", the ":Wikt:𒀭, 𒀭" being a silent honorific for "Divine"), initially misread as Bur-Sin (c. 2046-2037 BC middle chronology, or ...
.


Timeline of rulers

Assyriologists employ many complicated methods for establishing the most precise dates possible for this period, but controversy still exists. Generally, scholars use either the conventional (middle, generally preferred) or the low (short) chronologies. They are as follows: The list of the Kings of the Third Dynasty of Ur with the length of their reigns, appears on a cuneiform document listing the kings of Ur and
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countrie ...
, the "List of Reigns of Kings of Ur and Isin" (MS 1686). The list explains: "18 years
Ur-Namma Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian language, Sumerian: , ruled c. 2112 BC – 2094 BC middle chronology, or possibly c. 2048–2030 BC short chronology) founded the Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, following s ...
king, 48 years
Shulgi Shulgi ( Dingir, dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2094 – c. 2046 BC (Middle Chronology) or possibly c. 2030 – 1982 BC (Short Chronology). His accompli ...
king, 9 years Amar-Suen, 9 years Su-Suen, 24 years Ibbi-Suen."


Abraham

Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
, the common patriarch of the three
Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family ...

Abrahamic religions
, is often put forward as having been born in around this time, although estimated dates range from 2300 BC until 1960 BC (the date of the destruction of ), and the identification of Ur with the
Ur of the Chaldees Ur Kasdim ( he, ''ʾūr Kaśdīm''), commonly translated as Ur of the Chaldeans, is a city mentioned in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew ...
in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
is not entirely certain.


Fall of Ur III

The power of the Neo-Sumerians was waning.
Ibbi-Sin Ibbi-Sin ( sux, , ), son of Shu-Sin Shu-Sin, also Šu-Suen ( akk, 𒀭𒋗𒀭𒂗𒍪: ''dingir, DŠudingir, DSin (mythology), Sîn'', after the Moon God Suen, Sîn", the ":Wikt:𒀭, 𒀭" being a silent honorific for "Divine", formerly read Gim ...
in the 21st century launched military campaigns into
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite Linear Elamite is a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Br ...

Elam
, but did not manage to penetrate far into the country. In 2004/1940 BC (middle/short chronology respectively), the Elamites, allied with the people of
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
and led by
Kindattu Kindattu (, ''ki-in-da-tu'', also Kindadu, reigned ca. 2000 BC, middle Chronology) 6th king of Shimashki Dynasty The Shimashki or Simashki dynasty (, ''lugal-ene si-mash-giki'' "Kings of the country of Simashgi"), was an early dynasty of the anc ...
, king of the Elamite
Shimashki dynasty The Shimashki or Simashki dynasty (, ''lugal-ene si-mash-giki'' "Kings of the country of Simashgi"), was an early dynasty of the ancient region of Elam, to the southeast of Babylonia, in approximately 2200-1900 BCE. A list of twelve kings of Shim ...
, managed to sack and lead
Ibbi-Sin Ibbi-Sin ( sux, , ), son of Shu-Sin Shu-Sin, also Šu-Suen ( akk, 𒀭𒋗𒀭𒂗𒍪: ''dingir, DŠudingir, DSin (mythology), Sîn'', after the Moon God Suen, Sîn", the ":Wikt:𒀭, 𒀭" being a silent honorific for "Divine", formerly read Gim ...
into captivity, ending the
third dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC ( middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to h ...
. After this victory, the Elamites destroyed the kingdom, and ruled through military occupation for the next 21 years.
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
then fell under
Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian language, Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian language, Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic lan ...
influence. The Amorite kings of the
Dynasty of Isin The Dynasty of Isin refers to the final ruling dynasty listed on the ''Sumerian King List#Redirect Sumerian King List {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{Redirect from other capitalisation {{Redirect from move ...'' (''SKL''). The list of the Kings ...
formed
successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Successor'' (film), a 1996 film including Laura Girling * ''The Successor'' (TV program), a 2007 Israeli television program Mu ...
s to Ur III, starting the
Isin-Larsa period The Isin-Larsa period (circa 2025-1763 BCE, Middle Chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts customarily record events in ter ...
. They managed to drive the Elamites out of Ur, rebuilt the city, and returned the statue of Nanna that the Elamites had plundered. The Amorites were nomadic tribes from the northern
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
who were
Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have emerged from Common Semitic in the Early Bronze Age. It is first attested ...
speakers, unlike the native
Akkadians The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of ...

Akkadians
of southern Mesopotamia and
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
, who spoke
East Semitic The East Semitic languages are one of three divisions Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. ...
. By around the 19th century BC, much of southern Mesopotamia was occupied by the Amorites. The Amorites at first did not practice agriculture, preferring a semi-nomadic lifestyle, herding sheep. Over time, Amorite grain merchants rose to prominence and established their own independent dynasties in several south Mesopotamian city-states, most notably
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countrie ...
,
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
,
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
,
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), or Shirpurla, was an ancient city state located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, ...

Lagash
, and later, founding
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
as a state.


Dating systems

When Kings of the Third Ur dynasty ruled they had specific dates and names for each period of their rule. One example was "the year of Ur-nammu king" which marked the time that Ur-Nammu became king. Another important time was the year named "The threshed grain of Largas." This year name tells us of the time that Ur-Nammu attacked the territory of Largas and took grain back to Ur. Another year-name that has been discovered was the year that Ur-Nammu's daughter became ''en'' of the god Nanna and was renamed with the priestess-name of En-Nirgal-ana. This designation as ''en'' of Nanna makes the year's designation almost certain.


Social and political organization


Political organization

The land ruled by the Ur III kings was divided into provinces that were each run by a governor (called an
ensí Ensi (cuneiform: , "lord of the plowland"; Emesal, Emesal dialect: ''umunsik''; akk, iššakkum, script=Latn, italic=yes) was a Sumerian language, Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city-state. Originally it may have designated ...
). In certain tumultuous regions, military commanders assumed more power in governance. Each province had a redistribution center where provincial taxes, called bala, would all go to be shipped to the capital. Taxes could be paid in various forms, from crops to livestock to land. The government would then apportion out goods as needed, including funding temples and giving food rations to the needy.


The city of Nippur and its importance

The city of
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian l ...
was one of the most important cities in the Third Dynasty of Ur. Nippur is believed to be the religious center of Mesopotamia. It was home to the shrine of
Enlil Enlil, , "Lord Wind" later known as Elil, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with wind, air, earth, and storms. He is first attested as the chief deity of the Sumerian pantheon Sumerian religion was the religion Religion is a ...
, who was the lord of all gods. This was where the God Enlil spoke the king's name and was calling the king to his existence. This was used as a legitimacy for every king in order to secure power. The city is also believed to be a place where people would often take disputes according to some tablets that were found near the city. Politically it is hard to say how significant Nippur was because the city had no status as a dynastic or military power. However, the fact that Nippur never really gave kings any real political or military advantages suggests to some that it was never really conquered. The city itself was more viewed as "national Cult Center." Because it was viewed this way it was thought that any conquest of the city would give the Mesopotamian rulers unacceptable political risks. Also as the city was seen as a holy site this enabled Nippur to survive numerous conflicts that wiped out many other cities in the region.


Social system

This is an area where scholars have many different views. It had long been posited that the common laborer was nothing more than a serf, but new analysis and documents reveal a possible different picture. Gangs of labourers can be divided into various groups. Certain groups indeed seem to work under compulsion. Others work in order to keep property or get rations from the state. Still other laborers were free men and women for whom social mobility was a possibility. Many families travelled together in search of labor. Such laborers could amass private property and even be promoted to higher positions. This is quite a different picture of a laborer's life than the previous belief that they were afforded no way to move out of the social group they were born into. Slaves also made up a crucial group of labor for the state. One scholar estimates that 2/5 of chattel slaves mentioned in documents were not born slaves but became slaves due to accumulating debt, being sold by family members, or other reasons. However, one surprising feature of this period is that slaves seem to have been able to accumulate some assets and even property during their lifetimes such that they could buy their freedom. Extant documents give details about specific deals for slaves' freedoms negotiated with slaveowners.


An early code of law

One salient feature of Ur III is its establishment of one of the earliest known law-codes, the ''
Code of Ur-Nammu The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time ...
''. It is quite similar to the famous
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, purportedly by Ham ...

Code of Hammurabi
, resembling its prologue and bodily structure. Extant copies, written in
Old Babylonian Old Babylonian may refer to: *the period of the First Babylonian dynasty (20th to 16th centuries BC) *the historical stage of the Akkadian language of that time See also

*Old Assyrian (disambiguation) {{disambig ...

Old Babylonian
, exist from
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian l ...
,
Sippar Sippar (: , Zimbir) was an ian and later n city on the east bank of the river. Its ' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near in 's , some north of and southwest of . The city's ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sis ...
, and also itself. Although the prologue credits
Ur-Nammu Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian: , ruled c. 2112 BC – 2094 BC middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions a ...
, the author is still somewhat under dispute; some scholars attribute it to his son,
Shulgi Shulgi ( Dingir, dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2094 – c. 2046 BC (Middle Chronology) or possibly c. 2030 – 1982 BC (Short Chronology). His accompli ...
. The prologue to the law-code, written in the first person, established the king as the beacon of justice for his land, a role that previous kings normally did not play. He claims to want justice for all, including traditionally unfortunate groups in the kingdom like the widower or the orphan. Most legal disputes were dealt with locally by government officials called mayors, although their decision could be appealed and eventually overturned by the provincial governor. Sometimes legal disputes were publicly aired with witnesses present at a place like the town square or in front of the temple. However, the image of the king as the supreme judge of the land took hold, and this image appears in many literary works and poems. Citizens sometimes wrote letters of prayer to the king, either present or past.


Industry and commerce

The Ur III kings oversaw many substantial state-run projects, including intricate
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
systems and centralization of agriculture. An enormous labor force was amassed to work in agriculture, particularly in irrigation, harvesting, and sowing. Textiles were a particularly important industry in Ur during this time. The
textile industry The textile industry is primarily concerned with the design, production and distribution of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, ...
was run by the state. Many men, women, and children alike were employed to produce
wool Wool is the textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitt ...
and
linen Linen () is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is very strong, absorbent, and dries faster than cotton. Because of these properties, linen is comfortable to wear in hot weather and is valued for use in garments. It also h ...

linen
clothing Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long ...

clothing
. The detailed documents from the administration of this period exhibit a startling amount of centralization; some scholars have gone so far as to say no other period in Mesopotamian history reached the same level.


Trade With the Gulf Region

Trade was very important to the Ur Dynasty because it was a way to ensure that the empire had enough ways to grow its wealth and care for those Ur ruled. One of the areas that Mesopotamia traded with was the Persian Gulf area. With the Gulf trade some of the most important things that were traded a lot were raw materials like metal, wood, ivory, and also semi-precious stones. One specific kind of item traded with the two regions were conch shells. These were made by craftsmen who would turn them into lamps and cups dating back to the 3rd millennium. They have been discovered in graves, palaces, temples, and even residential homes. The fact that this item was mostly found in upper class contexts could show that only the wealthy at the time had access to the item. Additionally, Ur consumed jewelry, inlays, carvings, and cylinder seals in significant amounts. The high demand for these items shows a heavy trade relationship with the Gulf region.


Commercial relations with the Indus

Evidence for imports from the Indus to can be found from around 2350 BC. Various objects made with shell species that are characteristic of the Indus coast, particularly ''Trubinella Pyrum'' and ''Fasciolaria Trapezium'', have been found in the archaeological sites of Mesopotamia dating from around 2500-2000 BC. Several Indus seals with Harappan script have also been found in Mesopotamia, particularly in and
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
. About twenty seals have been found from the Akkadian and Ur III sites, that have connections with
Harappa Harappa (; Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit o ...

Harappa
and often use the
Indus script The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta Terracotta, terra cotta, or terra-cotta (; Italian language, Italian: "baked earth", f ...

Indus script
. These exchanges came to a halt with the extinction of the
Indus valley civilization The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation, was a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is ...

Indus valley civilization
after around 1900 BC.


Art and culture

Sumerian dominated the cultural sphere and was the language of legal, administrative, and economic documents, while signs of the spread of Akkadian could be seen elsewhere. New towns that arose in this period were virtually all given Akkadian names. Culture also thrived through many different types of art forms.


Literature

Sumerian texts were mass-produced in the Ur III period; however, the word 'revival' or 'renaissance' to describe this period is misleading because archaeological evidence does not offer evidence of a previous period of decline. Instead, Sumerian began to take on a different form. As the Semitic Akkadian language became the common spoken language, Sumerian continued to dominate literature and also administrative documents. Government officials learned to write at special schools that used only Sumerian literature. Some scholars believe that the Uruk ''
Epic of Gilgamesh The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' () is an epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with ...
'' was written down during this period into its classic form. The Ur III Dynasty attempted to establish ties to the early kings of Uruk by claiming to be their familial relations. For example, the Ur III kings often claimed Gilgamesh's divine parents,
Ninsun In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun (also called Ninsumun, cuneiform: dNIN.SUMUN2; Sumerian: ''Nin-sumun(ak)'' "lady of the wild cows") is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh Gilgamesh ( akk, 𒀭𒄑𒉋𒂵𒈨𒌋 ...
and
Lugalbanda Lugalbanda was a deified Sumer, Sumerian king of Uruk who, according to various sources of Sumerian literature, Mesopotamian literature, was the father of Gilgamesh. Early sources mention his consort Ninsun and his heroic deeds in an expedition ...
, as their own, probably to evoke a comparison to the epic hero. Another text from this period, known as "The Death of Urnammu", contains an underworld scene in which Ur-Nammu showers "his brother Gilgamesh" with gifts. File:Cuneiform tablet impressed with cylinder seal. Receipt of goats,ca. 2040 B.C. Neo-Summerian.jpg, Cuneiform tablet impressed with cylinder seal. Receipt of goats, c. 2040 BC, year 7 of
Amar-Sin Amar-Sin ( akk, 𒀭𒀫𒀭𒂗𒍪: ''dingir, DAmardingir, DSin (mythology), Sîn'', after the Moon God Suen, Sîn", the ":Wikt:𒀭, 𒀭" being a silent honorific for "Divine"), initially misread as Bur-Sin (c. 2046-2037 BC middle chronology, or ...
. Neo-Summerian. File:Cuneiform tablet impressed with cylinder seal. Receipt of goats,ca. 2040 B.C. Neo-Summerian (drawing).jpg, Cuneiform tablet impressed with cylinder seal. Receipt of goats, c. 2040 BC. Neo-Summerian (drawing). File:Administrative Tablet, Third Dynasty of Ur, 2026 BC.jpg, Administrative Tablet, Third Dynasty of Ur, 2026 BC.


See also

*
List of Mesopotamian dynasties Mesopotamian dynasties range from the periods between 2900-2800 BCE (Dynasty I), 2800-2600 BCE (Dynasty II) and 2600-2334 (Dynasty III). The first Dynastic period can be referred to as the Early Dynastic Period Early Dynastic period Late ...


References


Further reading

*Jacob L. Dahl, "The ruling family of Ur III Umma. A Prosopographical Analysis of an Elite Family in Southern Iraq 4000 Years ago", Nederlands Instituut Voor Het Nabije Oosten, 2007 * * * *


External links


The State of Ur III Research
{{DEFAULTSORT:Third Dynasty Of Ur States and territories established in the 3rd millennium BC States and territories disestablished in the 3rd millennium BC States and territories disestablished in the 20th century BC Sumer Ur Levant Middle Eastern royal families 22nd-century BC establishments