The archives of Tellō/Ĝirsu[geogr=Ĝirsu] were excavated by Ernest de Sarzec in 1894 and, in addition to numerous Presargonic, Sargonic and Lagash II documents, they represented the first large group of documents from the Ur III period to be found. Although the documents must still have been discovered in their primary context, this was not documented by the excavators at that time. Moreover, the archaeologists could not recover all the texts within the official excavations, so thousands of documents were discovered under uncontrolled and undocumented circumstances by locals and ended up on the antiquities market. In the years 1898-1900 and 1903-1908, the archaeologists found further significant groups of documents in Tellō/Ĝirsu. Most of the texts from the archaeological excavations ended up in Istanbul and Paris, while the texts from the illegal excavations made their way to museums all over the world, among them prominently the British Museum. Since no other Ur III archives had been looted until 1909/1910, texts that were acquired before 1910 can be assigned to the Ĝirsu archives with certainty.
The texts from Tellō/Ĝirsu from the Ur III period cover a wide variety of fields, including agriculture and its organisation, husbandry, handicrafts, the management of the workforce and the so-called „messenger texts“. The governor of Ĝirsu plays a central role in all groups of documents and the archive can only be understood from his point of view. Therefore, we are obviously dealing here with the archives and the affairs of the provincial administration, which was undergirded by a network of temple households. The temples of the province, therefore, fell under the authority of the provincial administration, i.e. of the governor and not directly under the supervision of the crown.
The administrative sources document five governors in the decades for which we have written records (Šu.28-IS.04). As in other provinces like Umma and Irisaĝrig, Ĝirsu /Lagas used a local calendar too.
For a detailed introduction to and an analysis of the central text typologies of the written sources from Ĝirsu in the Ur III period, see Sallaberger 1999a: 201-202, 286-314 and further cited literature as well as Sharlach 2004: 61-102 and further cited literature specifically about the role of the province in the economy of the Ur III kingdom; for the calendar see recently Sallaberger 2021.
Ĝirsu/Lagas was the largest province in the Ur III state and also the main provider of cereals and sesame. Probably due to the larger size of the Ĝirsu/Lagas province, the cultivation of domain land was the responsibility of the temples, not of a series of bureaus as in Umma. Ĝirsu/Lagas supplied the Ur III kingdom with bulk commodities like barley during a period of two to four months according to the bala-obligation system, whereas no other province paid more than one month of bala-obligation (Sharlach 2004: 67). This obligation basically regulated the periods for which a province of the state owed resources to the crown (Sharlach 2004: 16-21 and passim and recently Garfinkle 2021: 76-78). The province paid large amounts of barley and various cereals, foodstuffs and equipment, as well as the fuel to cook it, but also non-food commodities, like bitumen (Sharlach 2004: 61-76.
Maekawa (2016b: 60-66) demonstrated that the governor of Ĝirsu opened an administrative branch at Susa in the early 30s of the reign of Šulgi. This seems to have been a prerogative exclusively granted by the king to Ĝirsu/Lagas because of the close ties of this province with the eastern regions (Maekawa 2016a: 60). It included the management of arable land with the cultivation of barley and sesame as well as the supervision of the workforce from Ĝirsu/Lagas stationed in the Susa farm (Maekawa 2016a: 60-63). The Ĝirsu/Lagas branch also managed a handicraft workshop at Susa that included a group of twelve craftsmen (Maekawa 2016a: 66). On the other hand, people from Susa quite likely settled in the territory of Ĝirsu/Lagas during the Ur III period, and a part of them were probably permitted to hold allotment plots in return for their services to the provincial administration (Maekawa 2016a: 74).
For the investigation of agriculture in the province of Ĝirsu/Lagas, see the numerous contributions by Maekawa 1985, 1986, 1987a, 1991, 1995, Maekawa 1996, 1999, 2016a, 2016b and recently Borrelli 2020; Pettinato 1967a and Pettinato 1967b; regarding the cultivation of sesame in the province of Ĝirsu/Lagas see in particular Dossier A.1.1.02, A.1.1.03, A.1.1.04.