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 Ancient Man and His First Civilizations




Two poems, the one at the bottom was written upon the death of Ur-Nammu




Upon the death of Utu-Hegal the king of Uruk, Ur-Nammu declared himself King and founded Ur III. He ruled all of Sumer and much of Assyria and Elam. Syria, including Ebla, paid tribute and may well have been part of the Empire. Even Phoenician Byblos was forced to pay.



City of the finest divine powers, lofty royal throne-dais! Shrine Urim, pre-eminent in Sumer, built in a pure place! City, your well-founded great wall has grown out of the abzu! City, beautiful as the sky, endowed with beauty, colourfully decorated in a great place! Shrine Urim, well-founded jipar, dwelling of An and Enlil! Your lofty palace is the E-kic-nujal, in which the fates are determined! Your pilasters heavy with radiance tower over all the countries! Its terrace like a white cloud is a spectacle in the midst of heaven. Its ...... like flashing lightning shines (?) inside a shrine. Like a single bull under the yoke, ....... Suen's beloved pure table; E-kic-nujal, Suen's beloved pure table. The king, ornament of the royal offering place, occupies the august courtyard; Ur-Namma the exalted, whom no one dares to oppose, ....... Urim, the wide city .......


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......, the authoritative, praised himself exultantly: Under Ur-Namma, king of Urim, for whom a favorable destiny was determined, the roads have been made passable. An opens his holy mouth, and because of me rain is produced. He directs it downward into the earth, and abundance is brought for me. Enlil treats me kindly, ....... Enki treats me kindly, bestowing early floods, grain and dappled barley. Nintud formed me; I am peerless. ...... brought me up well; I am the king of the Land. I am ......; under my rule the cattle-pens and sheepfolds are extended wide. Utu endowed me with eloquence (?); my judgments create concord in Sumer and Akkad. Ningubalag has given me strength. In the whole extent of heaven and earth, no one can escape from a battle with me.


I am Ur-Namma, king of Urim, the protecting genius of my city. I strike against those guilty of capital offences, and make them tremble. The fear I cause ....... My judgments make Sumer and Akkad follow a single path. I place my foot on the necks of thieves and criminals. I clamp down on evildoers, who will be caught like snakes. I ...... fugitives, and their intentions will be set right. I make justice apparent; I defeat wickedness. As if I were fire, even my frowning is enough to create concord. My word ....... ...... the lands, the foreign countries ...... Urim ....... Their food offerings make Nanna rejoice in E-kic-nujal.


After my seed had been poured into the holy womb, Suen, loving its appearance (?), made it partake of Nanna's attractiveness. Coming forth over the Land like Utu, Enlil called me by an auspicious name, and Nintud assisted at my birth. As I came forth from the womb of my mother Ninsun, a favorable destiny was determined for me.


In me, Ur-Namma, the lands of Sumer and Akkad have their protecting genius. I am a source of joy for the Land; my life indeed creates! ......, the fields are resplendent (?) under my rule. In the fields growing with ......, ...... did not multiply under my rule. In the desert, the roads are made up as for a festival, and are passable because of me. The owner of the fields ......; it rises (?) up to his chest. I have freed the sons of the poor from their duty of going to fetch firewood.


After the storm ......, and the month had been completed (?) for me, Enlil chose me by extispicy on a day very auspicious for him. He spoke fairly to Sumer, and caused me to arise (?) from my family (?). Because of my broad understanding and wisdom, An the king entrusted ...... into my hands. I am the foremost one of Sumer. I am ...... good ....... I am ....... I am ...... of the Land.


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I, the lord, .......


I, Ur-Namma, born on high, ...... shining. The people line up in front of me. Enlil has given me the task of keeping the Land secure, with unscathed (?) troops. I am clad in linen in the jipar. I lie down on the splendid bed in its delightful bedchamber. I cause the people to eat splendid food; I am their Enkimdu (i.e. the god of irrigation and cultivation) . I am the good shepherd whose sheep multiply greatly. I open the ...... of the cattle-pens and sheepfolds. I am peerless. ...... the pastures and watering-places of shepherds (?).


Since I have been adorned (?) with their rulership, no one imposes taxes on my abundant crops which grow tall. My commands bring about (?) joy in the great fortresses of the mountains. The joy of my city and the territory (?) of Sumer delights me. I release water into the canals of Sumer, making the trees grow tall on their banks. I have lifted the yoke of its male prostitutes.


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I returned ...... to Urim. I made ...... return (?) to his country ...... like ....... I loaded its grain on barges, I delivered it to its store-houses. I returned its ...... citizens to their (?) homes. I ...... their earth-baskets. I ...... the savage hands of the Gutians, the ....... After I had made the evil-doers return (?) to their ......, I restored (?) the walls that had been torn down; my outstanding mind ....... ...... the shrine of Urim ....... I am the foremost workman (?) of Enlil; I am the one who ...... food offerings.


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...... at a banquet with me in the city. ...... joyful dance ....... I have brought abundance to Enlil's temple on the king's canal: I have directed ships both to the wine quay of Enlil and to the lapis-lazuli quay of Nanna. Alcohol and syrup have been poured out before Enlil. To me, the shepherd Ur-Namma, let life be given as a reward! For Nanna, my master, I have built his temple; as if it were a verdant hillside, I have set up the E-kic-nujal in a great place. I have surrounded (?) its terrace with a gold and lapis-lazuli fence.


I am the creature of Nanna! I am the older brother of Gilgamec! I am the son borne by Ninsun, a princely seed! For me, kingship came down from heaven! Sweet is the praise of me, the shepherd Ur-Namma!




Upon the death of Ur-Nammu, His son Shulgi became king.






The death of Ur-Namma translation

A version from Nippur


entire land ......, ....... struck, the palace was devastated. ...... panic spread rapidly among the dwellings of the black-headed people. ...... abandoned places ...... in Sumer. ...... the cities were destroyed in their entirety; the people were seized with panic. Evil came upon Urim and made the trustworthy shepherd pass away. It made Ur-Namma, the trustworthy shepherd, pass away; it made the trustworthy shepherd pass away.


Because An had altered his holy words completely, ...... became empty, and because, deceitfully, Enlil had completely changed the fate he decreed, Ninmah began a lament in her ....... Enki shut (?) the great door of Eridug. Nudimmud withdrew into his bedchamber and lay down fasting. At his zenith, Nanna frowned at the ...... words of An. Utu did not come forth in the sky, and the day was full of sorrow.


The mother, miserable because of her son, the mother of the king, holy Ninsun, was crying: "Oh my heart!". Because of the fate decreed for Ur-Namma, because it made the trustworthy shepherd pass away, she was weeping bitterly in the broad square, which is otherwise a place of entertainment. Sweet sleep did not come to the people whose happiness ......; they passed their time in lamentation over the trustworthy shepherd who had been snatched away.


As the early flood was filling the canals, their canal-inspector was already silenced (?); the mottled barley grown on the arable lands, the life of the land, was inundated. To the farmer, the fertile fields planted (?) by him yielded little. Enkimdu, the lord of levees and ditches, took away the levees and ditches from Urim.

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As the intelligence and ...... of the Land were lost, fine food became scarce. The plains did not grow lush grass any more, they grew the grass of mourning. The cows ......, their ...... cattle-pen has been destroyed. The calves ...... their cows bleated bitterly.


The wise shepherd ...... does not give orders any more. ...... in battle and combat. The king, the advocate of Sumer, the ornament of the assembly, Ur-Namma, the advocate of Sumer, the ornament of the assembly, the leader of Sumer, ...... lies sick. His hands which used to grasp cannot grasp any more, he lies sick. His feet ...... cannot step any more, he lies sick.

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The trustworthy shepherd, king, the sword of Sumer, Ur-Namma, the king of the Land, was taken to the ...... house. He was taken to Urim; the king of the Land was brought into the ...... house. The proud one lay in his palace. Ur-Namma, he who was beloved by the troops, could not raise his neck any more. The wise one ...... lay down; silence descended. As he, who was the vigour of the Land, had fallen, the Land became demolished like a mountain; like a cypress forest it was stripped, its appearance changed. As if he were a boxwood tree, they put axes against him in his joyous dwelling place. As if he were a sappy cedar tree, he was uprooted in the palace where he used to sleep (?). His spouse ...... resting place; ...... was covered by a storm; it embraced it like a wife her sweetheart (?). His appointed time had arrived, and he passed away in his prime.


His (?) pleasing sacrifices were no longer accepted; they were treated as dirty (?). The Anuna gods refused his gifts. An did not stand by an "It is enough", and he could not complete his (?) days. Because of what Enlil ordered, there was no more rising up; his beloved men lost their wise one. Strangers turned into (?) ....... How iniquitously Ur-Namma was abandoned, like a broken jar! His ...... with grandeur like (?) thick clouds (?). He does not ...... any more, and he does not reach out for ....... "...... Ur-Namma, alas, what is it to me?" Ur-Namma, the son of Ninsun, was brought to Arali, the ...... of the Land, in his prime. The soldiers accompanying the king shed tears: their boat (i.e. Ur-Namma) was sunk in a land as foreign to them as Dilmun. ...... was cut. It was stripped of the oars, punting poles and rudder which it had. ......; its bolt was broken off. ...... was put aside; it stood (?) in saltpetre. His donkeys were to be found with the king; they were buried with him. His donkeys were to be found with Ur-Namma; they were buried with him. As he crossed over the ...... of the Land, the Land was deprived of its ornament. The journey to the nether world is a desolate route. Because of the king, the chariots were covered over, the roads were thrown into disorder, no one could go up and down on them. Because of Ur-Namma, the chariots were covered over, the roads were thrown into disorder, no one could go up and down on them.


He presented gifts to the seven chief porters of the nether world. As the famous kings who had died and the dead icib priests, lumah priests, and nindijir priestesses, all chosen by extispicy, announced the king's coming to the people, a tumult arose in the nether world. As they announced Ur-Namma's coming to the people, a tumult arose in the nether world. The king slaughtered numerous bulls and sheep, Ur-Namma seated the people at a huge banquet. The food of the nether world is bitter, the water of the nether world is brackish. The trustworthy shepherd knew well the rites of the nether world, so the king presented the offerings of the nether world, Ur-Namma presented the offerings of the nether world: as many faultless bulls, faultless kids, and fattened sheep as could be brought.


To Nergal, the Enlil of the nether world, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a mace, a large bow with quiver and arrows, an artfully made ...... dagger, and a multi-coloured leather bag for wearing at the hip.


To Gilgamec, the king of the nether world, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a spear, a leather bag for a saddle-hook, a heavenly lion-headed imitum mace, a shield resting on the ground, a heroic weapon, and a battle-axe, an implement beloved of Ereckigala.


To Ereckigala, the mother of Ninazu, in her palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a ...... which he filled with oil, a cajan bowl of perfect make, a heavy garment, a long-fleeced garment, a queenly pala robe, ...... the divine powers of the nether world.


To Dumuzid, the beloved husband of Inana, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a ...... sheep, ......, mountain ......, a lordly golden sceptre, ...... a shining hand. (1 ms. adds: He ...... a gold and silver ......, a lapis-lazuli ......, and a ...... pin to Dimpikug ....... )


To Namtar, who decrees all the fates, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered perfectly wrought jewellery, a golden ring cast (?) as a ...... barge, pure cornelian stone fit to be worn on the breasts of the gods.


To Hucbisag, the wife of Namtar, in her palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a chest (?) with a lapis-lazuli handle, containing (?) everything that is essential in the underworld, a silver hair clasp adorned with lapis-lazuli, and a comb of womanly fashion.


To the valiant warrior Ninjiczida, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a chariot with ...... wheels sparkling with gold, ...... donkeys, thoroughbreds, ...... donkeys with dappled thighs, ......, followed ...... by a shepherd and a herdsman. To Dimpimekug (1 ms. has instead: Dimpikug), who stands by his side, he gave a lapis-lazuli seal hanging from a pin, and a gold and silver toggle-pin with a bison's head.


To his spouse, Ninazimua, the august scribe, denizen of Arali, in her palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a headdress with the august ear-pieces (?) of a sage, made of alabaster, a ...... stylus, the hallmark of the scribe, a surveyor's gleaming line, and the measuring rod .......


To ......, the great ...... of the nether world, he gave

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After the king had presented properly the offerings of the nether world, after Ur-Namma had presented properly the offerings of the nether world, the ...... of the underworld, the ......, seated Ur-Namma on a great dais of the nether world and set up a dwelling place for him in the nether world. At the command of Ereckigala all the soldiers who had been killed by weapons and all the men who had been found guilty were given into the king's hands. Ur-Namma was ......, so with Gilgamec, his beloved brother, he will issue the judgments of the nether world and render the decisions of the nether world.


After seven days, ten days had passed, lamenting for Sumer overwhelmed my king, lamenting for Sumer overwhelmed Ur-Namma. My king's heart was full of tears, he ...... bitterly that he could not complete the wall of Urim; that he could no longer enjoy the new palace he had built; that he, the shepherd, could no longer ...... his household (?); that he could no longer bring pleasure to his wife with his embrace; that he could not bring up his sons on his knees; that he would never see in their prime the beauty of their little sisters who had not yet grown up.


The trustworthy shepherd ...... a heart-rending lament for himself: "I, who have been treated like this, served the gods well, set up chapels for them. I have created evident abundance for the Anuna gods. I have laid treasures on their beds strewn with fresh herbs. Yet no god stood by me and soothed my heart. Because of them, anything that could have been a favourable portent for me was as far away from me as the heavens, the ....... What is my reward for my eagerness to serve during the days? My days have been finished for serving them sleeplessly during the night! Now, just as the rain pouring down from heaven cannot turn back, alas, nor can I turn back to brick-built Urim.


"Alas, my wife has become a widow (?)! She spends the days in tears and bitter laments. My strength has ebbed away ....... The hand of fate ...... bitterly me, the hero. Like a wild bull ......, I cannot ....... Like a mighty bull, ....... Like an offshoot ....... Like an ass ......, I died. ...... my ...... wife ....... She spends the days in tears and bitter laments. Her kind protective god has left her; her kind protective goddess does not care for her any more. Ninsun no longer rests her august arm firmly on her head. Nanna, lord Acimbabbar, no longer leads (?) her by hand. Enki, the lord of Eridug, does not ....... Her ...... has been silenced (?), she can no longer answer. She is cast adrift like a boat in a raging storm; the mooring pole has not been strong enough for her. Like a wild ass lured (?) into a perilous pit she has been treated heavy-handedly. Like a lion fallen into a pitfall, a guard has been set up for her. Like a dog kept in a cage, she is silenced. Utu ...... does not pay heed to the cries "Oh, my king" overwhelming her.


"My tigi, adab, flute and zamzam songs have been turned into laments because of me. The instruments of the house of music have been propped against the wall. Because I have been made to ...... on a heap of soil (?) instead of my throne whose beauty was endless; because I have been made to lie down in the open, desolate steppe instead of my bed, the sleeping place whose ...... was endless, alas, my wife and my children are in tears and wailing. My people whom I used to command (?) sing like lamentation and dirge singers because of her (?). While I was so treated, foremost Inana, the warlike lady, was not present at my verdict. Enlil had sent her as a messenger to all the foreign lands concerning very important matters."


When she had turned her gaze away from there, Inana humbly entered the shining E-kur, she ...... at Enlil's fierce brow. (Then Enlil said:) "Great lady of the E-ana, once someone has bowed down, he cannot ...... (?) any more; the trustworthy shepherd left E-ana, you cannot see him any more." My lady ...... among the people ...... (1 ms. has instead: like ......). Then Inana, the fierce storm, the eldest child of Suen, ......, made the heavens tremble, made the earth shake. Inana destroyed cattle-pens, devastated sheepfolds, saying: "I want to hurl insults at An, the king of the gods: Who can change the matter, if Enlil elevates someone? Who can change the import of the august words uttered by An, the king? If there are divine ordinances imposed on the Land, but they are not observed, there will be no abundance at the gods's place of sunrise. My holy jipar, the shrine E-ana, has been barred up like (?) a mountain (some mss. have instead: like the heavens). If only my shepherd could enter before me in it in his prime -- I will not enter it otherwise! (some mss. have instead: Why should I enter it otherwise?) If only my strong one could grow for me like grass and herbs in the desert. If only he could hold steady for me like a river boat at its calm mooring." This is how Inana ...... a lament over him (1 ms. has instead: ...... Ur-Namma ......)


Lord Ninjiczida ....... Ur-Namma, my ...... who was killed,

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Among tears and laments, ...... decreed a fate for Ur-Namma: "Ur-Namma ......, your august name will be called upon. From the south to the uplands, ...... the holy sceptre. Sumer ...... to your palace. The people will admire ...... the canals which you have dug, the ...... which you have ......, the large and grand arable tracts which you have ......, the reed-beds which you have drained, the wide barley fields which you ......, and the fortresses and settlements which you have ....... Ur-Namma, they will call upon ...... your name.


Lord Nunamnir, surpassing ......, will drive away the evil spirits ......"


After shepherd Ur-Namma ......, Nanna, lord Acimbabbar, ......, Enki, the king of Eridug ....... ...... devastated sheepfolds ...... (the other ms. has instead: ...... the foremost, the flood ......). ...... holy ......, lion born on high (the other ms. has instead: ...... basket (?) ......). ...... your city; renders just judgements. ......, lord Ninjiczida be praised! My king ...... among tears and laments; ...... among tears and laments.






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