Ur III Susa

1. Susa during the Ur III period

1.1. The available sources

Most data on Susa [geogr=Susa]during the Ur III period are based on Mesopotamian sources, in particular, royal inscriptions and administrative documents (De Graef 2015: 289 and fn. 4). The written sources from Susa itself often lack year names or have as yet unattributed year names, most probably to be assigned to the Shimashkean rulers (De Graef 2008; for the Susa calendar, see Hunger 1980: 302, Reiner 1973 and Cohen 2015: 344ff as well as De Graef 2008). The sources dating to the Ur III period are rather scanty: De Graef (2015: 289) indicates 49 texts for the Ur III period, among them 38 belonging to the archive of Igibuni (De Graef 2005 and De Graef 2015: 290). The remaining 11 texts are of administrative nature and can be in part connected with the Igibuni archive via commonly mentioned individuals. One of them explicitly mentions Zariqum, governor of Susa at least between the years Amar-Suena 04 and Šu-Suen 04 (see De Graef 2015: 290-293 and fn. 20 with further literature). It is, therefore, possible that these sources were also linked to, or stem from, the provincial administration itself. For the few records from Susa documenting sesame or sesame oil during the Ur III period, see, in more in detail, the Dossier A.1.1.06.

1.2. Susa and the Ur III kingdom

The city of Susa was part of the Ur III kingdom from the reign of Ur-Namma until the first years of the reign of Ibbi-Suen, i.e., the end of the Ur III kingdom (Sallaberger 1999a: 158; De Graef 2015). Various administrative sources from Ĝirsu and Puzriš-Dagān document at least three „governors of Susa“ (ensi2 šušinki) between the year Šulgi 33 (RA 5 92 AO 03466, Šu.33.04.00) and the year Šu-Suen 08 (TCTI 2 03561, ŠS.08.01.00). Although Susa was located far in the east of the Ur III kingdom, it enjoyed a special status, being included in both the bala-obligation system and also paying the so-called „tax of the land“ (gu2-un ma-da) (Sallaberger 1999a: 160, 190-199; Sharlach 2004: 6-8; Garfinkle 2015 and 2021). Moreover, Maekawa (2016b) demonstrated that the governor of Ĝirsu opened an administrative branch at Susa in the early 30s of the reign of Šulgi. This included the management of arable land, together with the cultivation of barley and sesame. In particular, several administrative sources from Ĝirsu (among them prominently „messenger texts“) document frequent boat trips to and from Susa to supervise sesame cultivation and to supply the Ĝirsu province with the sesame cultivated there by its branch (Dossier A.1.1.02, A.1.1.04 and A.1.1.06). Taking into account all these data, the procurement of sesame from Susa cannot be considered an import but rather one of the various sources of sesame within the Ur III kingdom itself, either produced under the supervision of local households or of the administrative branch from Ĝirsu.

2. Susa at the end of the Ur III kingdom and beyond

There are 13 texts that date to the short reign of Ebarat I when he gained control over Susa between IS 04 and IS 08; another 5 administrative texts mention Igibuni, but they do not belong to the archive of his household, and date to the very end of Ur III rule at Susa, or to the beginning of the Shimashkean rule (De Graef 2015: 293-294). Further, three texts might be attributed to Idattu I, grandson of Ebarat I, and one text to Tan-Ruḫuater, son of Idattu I. Only this last one mentions the local cultivation of sesame (MDP 28 121 505, […].00.00, Dossier A.1.1.06).

According to De Graef 2015: 296, it is possible that Ebarat I established the first Shimashkean period of rule over Susa for a short time during the reign of Ibbi-Suen (ca. IS.04-IS.08) followed by various military attempts by Ibbi-Suen to recapture the city (IS.09-IS.14). Idattu I and Tan-Ruḫuater, respectively grandson and great-grandson of Ebarat I, retook power over Susa at the end of Ibbi-Suen’s reign and established the Sukkalmaḫat in Susa (De Graef 2015: 296).


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