A.2.1.02 – Dairy Production in Ur III Umma

The production and management of dairy products during the Ur III period (21st c. BCE) is documented in the administrative texts from the provincial archive of Umma[geogr=Umma], which in this regard represents the best source if compared to contemporary archives such as Ur [geogr=Ur]or Ĝirsu[geogr=Ĝirsu]. This dossier highlights the management of dairy products from the point of view of the provincial administration, the obligations of the herders towards the provincial government and its bookkeeping system. It offers also a quantitative assessment of the deliveries of butter and cheese on behalf of the provincial administration.

1. The Available Evidence and the Bookkeeping System

The provincial administration in Umma (as well as in Ur and Ĝirsu) entrusted cows and goats to herdsmen, and the latter assumed a series of obligations towards the provincial administration. Beyond the yearly increase of the herds in terms of calves or goat kids, these obligations were fulfilled with fixed quotas of dairy products. The provincial administration monitored these transactions by keeping track, that is, writing receipts and inspections, of the animals entrusted to the herdsmen as well as of each delivery of dairies from the herdsmen to their final destination on behalf of the administration. At the end of the year, the provincial administration collected all receipts and inspections and drew up the so-called „balanced accounts“ (niĝ2-ka9-aka) to determine to what extent the obligations had been fulfilled, i.e., to determine possible „surpluses“ (diri) or possible „deficits“ (la2-ni). In case of a deficit, the herdsmen did not fulfil their obligations toward the administration, i.e., they did deliver fewer dairy products than expected; in case of a surplus, the herdsmen exceeded their obligation toward the administration and could claim credits back. The balanced accounts determined the variance between the expenditures, i.e., the animals entrusted to the herdsmen and the deliveries of dairy products from the herdsmen to their final destination in terms of litres of „butter“ (i3-nun[glossary=i3-nun]) and of litres of „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4[glossary=ga-murub4]). In case the herdsmen fulfilled their obligations with other products, like sour milk or silver, the balanced accounts indicate the correspondent value in either butter or cheese. Butter and cheese thus functioned as a benchmark for bookkeeping (Englund 1995: 415).

Despite the fact that all these documents illustrate the administration’s own perspective, they represent the most important and sometimes the only sources about „butter“ (i3-nun) and „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) for the Ur III period. As mentioned in Dossier A.2.1.01 §1, they are not concerned with information about the manufacturing process. Therefore, we have to assume that this was carried out by the herdsmen themselves and remained largely undocumented1In this regard it is worth to notice that literary compositions as LSU (c.2.2.3) often refer to the herdsmen processing milk into butter and cheese.. As the manufacturing processes, also by-products like sour buttermilk (ga i(3)-te-er-da[glossary=ga i3-te-er-da]) and whey were left largely undocumented 2Only „(sour) buttermilk“ (ga) i(3)-te-er-da  is twice attested in administrative texts from Ur, UET 3 1219 and UET 9 0825. Instead, they are attested almost only in literary compositions (VS 10 123; LSU (c.2.2.3); Išbi-Erra E; Dumuzi and Enkimdu (ETCSL 4.08.33)). Hence we assume that the provincial administration had no interest in these by-products, which were very likely left to the herdsmen for their own use.

2. The Production of Butter and Cheese: Yield Rates

The documents on the management of milk products from Umma feature a constant relationship of 2:3 between the two main dairy products „butter“ (i3-nun) and „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) (compare the 1:1 relationship in Ĝirsu, Dossier A.2.1.03). The reconstruction of the manufacturing process of dairy products according to the sources from the Ur III period has been discussed in Dossier A.2.1.01 in detail. The Umma sources add important information on the yield rates of butter and cheese production from fermented milk.

Five annual balanced accounts register the quantity of fermented milk delivered by the herders during a specific year and, for the purpose of bookkeeping, convert this quantity into a correspondent amount of both butter and cheese (MVN 15 108; Nisaba 06 20; AuOr 35 107; Nisaba 24 24; SET 130; the data are collected and discussed in more detail by Paoletti forthcoming). This conversion surely followed an administrative need to calculate surpluses and shortfalls in the deliveries of dairies by the herders. Nevertheless, it had basically an empirical background, i.e. it indicated the expected yield rate of „butter“ (i3-nun) and „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) expected from a quantity of „fermented milk“ (ga-še-a[glossary=ga-še-a]/ga-se12-a[glossary=ga-se12-a]) of both cows‘ and goats‘ milk. The rate amounts to 5 % of the fermented milk volume for „butter“ (i3-nun) and 7.5 % of the fermented milk volume for „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) per „cow“ (ab2 maḫ2) or „nanny goat“ (ud5) per year. The same rates are attested unregarded of the animal type – cow or goat – and sometimes it is not possible to discern if the rate attested was tied to a specific type. This shows that regarding yielding rates of butter and cheese, no distinction was made between goat’s or cow’s milk. Indeed, goat’s and cow’s milk are comparable in terms of major nutrient composition, flavour and appearance (Park 2017: 42 - 44 and passim; Redding 1981: 111-113, Table IV-1). These amounts are entirely consonant with those expected to result from the processing of fermented milk into butter and cheese (Dossier A.2.1.01 Stage 1), but more importantly, they provide significant empirical values (see Englund 1995: 418-422 + fn. 76, 77). The same rates of 5 % of the milk’s volume for butter and 7.5 % of the milk’s volume for „sour milk cheese“ are also attested in Irisaĝrig according to Nisaba 15/2 1034 i 3’-5’. The documentation from Ur reveals different rates (Dossier A.2.1.04): 6.5 % for „butter“ (i3-nun) and 10 % for „sour milk cheese“ (ga-ara3).

3. The Management of Dairy Products: The Delivery Quotas

3.1. Delivery Quotas of the Umma Cattle Herders

„Cattle herders“ (unu3) were due to deliver the equivalent of 5 litres of „butter“ (i3-nun) and 7.5 litres of „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) per „adult cow“ (ab2 maḫ2) per year (see BPOA 7 1729 and subsequent table). These amounts correspond to the processing of 100 litres of fermented milk per adult cow per year (see Table 1 above; Englund 1995: 380; e. g. MVN 15 108, AS.03.00.00; SET 130, AS.04.00.00). The remaining “excess milk” – the milk not required for the rearing of the calf – was probably kept by the herdsmen for their own use. Unfortunately, it is not possible to even just estimate how much excess milk was available to the cow herders nor how much they were left with after delivering the expected quotas3 Englund (1995: 378) pointed out that „cows under rudimentary care and not selectively bred for milking have been shown to produce just 700-800 litres per year“ and about the half of this amount – ca. 350 litres – „may be required for the rearing of the calf“. Though, these figures have to be taken with a certain degree of caution, as the annual production of bovine milk depends very much on geographical, climatological and environmental characteristics of the region as well as on feeding strategies and availability of specific pastures. Moreover, already since antiquity, cows have undergone a very long selection process for increasing milk and/or meat production. On the one hand, shorthorn cattle began to replace the original longhorn breed probably around 3000 BCE and evolved physiologically during the 3rd mill. towards higher milk production. On the other hand, cervico-thoracic-humped cattle (so-called „zeboid“ by Mason 1984) came from the Makran coast into the Persian gulf towards the end of the 4th mill. and spread into Mesopotamia at least until the first half of the 3rd mill. BCE. Nevertheless, in southern Babylonia, the original humpless (the shorthorn cattle), as well as the zeboid cattle, were almost completely replaced by the thoracic-humped zebus during the middle of the 2nd mill. BCE and this encounter with the original humpless cattle also formed intermediate breeds with small humps cervical or cervico-thoracic in position that spread among others in Iran and Iraq (Mason 1984: 6-16). These facts hence do not allow us to compare modern data from the Near East on the average milk yield per cow per year with data from the 3rd or first half of the 2nd mill. BCE (Legel 1990a: 67-71, tab. 4/1; 144-155; Mason 1984: 15-16)..

3.2. Delivery Quotas of the Umma Goat Herders

Umma „goat herders“ (sipa ud5, „herder“ na-gada) were due to deliver either 0.3 litres of „butter“ (i3-nun) and 0.5  litres of „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) or  0.5 litres of „butter“ (i3-nun) and 0.75  litres of „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) respectively per „nanny goat“ (ud5) per year (see AUCT 2 391 and subsequent table). These quotas are both attested as expected delivery quotas (e.g., AUCT 2 391) as well as quotas of deliveries effectively carried out by the goat herders (e.g., Nisaba 24 27), though the higher quota of 0.5 litres of butter and 0.75 litres of cheese per nanny goat per year is as yet more often attested than the lower one. Unfortunately, the available data is insufficient to discern if these different quotas were tied to specific variables, like the lactation period or the age of the animals. Nevertheless, according to the available sources, we can exclude any ties to specific goat breeds (the quotas of possibly different breeds are often calculated together, are the same, or the texts do not indicate a specific breed) or to a specific time period (both quotas are attested in the same period). These two quotas for goat milk products correspond to the processing of respectively 6 litres (for the lower quota) and 10 litres (for the higher quota) of fermented milk per nanny goat per year (see also Table 1 above). The question is now to estimate how much excess goat milk per nanny goat per year was available to the herders and how the expected delivery quotas weighed thereon. This can be done by gathering ethnographic data on goat milk production in modern Near Eastern regions and determining if they can – differently from the case of the bovine milk – be used to analyze the data from Umma in the Ur III period.

3.3. Ethnographic Data: A Comparison with Umma Ur III Sources

While in the case of cow’s milk, the development of cattle husbandry already in antiquity does not allow to use of ethnographic data for the analysis of the Umma sources, this is possible for the production of goat milk. According to Redding (1981: 12, 33, 107), the annual milk production of goats depends mostly on the output of milk per lactation and the length of the lactation period. Instead, the variability generally introduced by breed differences almost disappears with the use of data from Middle Eastern goat breeds as they feature a quite low genetic variation; the same is true if we take into consideration that animals kept under extensive husbandry will not feature differences in the nutritional state (Redding 1981: 107). Moreover, according to Redding (1981: 12), most of the ethnographic studies on goat husbandry in the Middle East were carried out on flocks maintained under extensive conditions, i.e., maintained on natural pastures with little or no supplementary feeding and absence of modern veterinary care as well as poor control of the breeding process. This allows the establishment of comparable values combining ethnographic and biological data that we can use to analyse the data documented in the Umma texts. Therefore, we can use the data on the total milk yield per lactation period of goat breeds held in Iraq at present times and documented in ethnographic sources. According to Redding (1981: 58, 109) and confirmed by Legel (1990b: 411-417), two breeds are mainly held in Iraq at present: the „Syrian Mountain“ goat (also known as Baladi, Mamber, Iraqi or Anatolian Black) and the „Damascus or Shami goat“. Despite being also kept under extensive conditions, the „Damascus goat“ yields much more milk than the Syrian Mountain, but this depends on good nutrition (green fodder), and it is restricted to well-watered valleys and areas around cities and villages (Redding 1981: 109). The total milk yield of goats responds better to the increased quality of livestock nutrition than the milk yield of sheep (Redding 1981: 109).

According to Ur III sources, goats were, differently from sheep or bovines, not intentionally fed with barley on a large scale (Stepien 1996: 33). We have only very few sources of the Ur III period documenting fodder (ša3-gal) for goats together with equids (anše), pigs and sometimes birds, but this fodder is destined either to the nakabtum (e.g. AAICAB 1/2 Ashm. 1971-259, Um) or to Ur (ša3 uri5ki-ma: e.g. OrSP 18 24, Um; Nisaba 15/2 0924, Gi). Therefore, for a comparison between ethnographic data and data from the Ur III period, we will consider the Syrian Mountain goat, which under extensive husbandry, is not regularly fed. Redding (1981: 109) refers to ethnographic studies on Syrian Mountain goats in Israel that document an average total yield per year of 77 kg (74.6 litres) per nanny goat kept under bad management and poor feeding, i.e., typical conditions of extensive husbandry4For the conversion kg to litres I follow Redding 1981: 108, who assumes the specific gravity of goat milk amounting to 1,0316 kg/m3.. These goats yeaned once a year, therefore, this figure corresponds also to the expected output per lactation. The lactation period of the Syrian Mountain goat lasts an average of 210 days (Redding 1981: 109-110; Marques de Almeida/Haenlein 2017: 23).

From the data illustrated in table 1 above, we know that the expected delivery quotas of goat herders attested in the Umma sources corresponded to the processing of respectively 6 and 10 litres of fermented milk per nanny goat per year. Unfortunately, data about the excess milk of goats are scarce and, if available, then only from breeds held under intensive husbandry (e.g. Legel 1990b: 461). For this reason, it is eventually and unfortunately not possible to estimate how much the expected delivery quotas of 6 and 10 litres per nanny goat per year weighed on the quantity of excess milk available to the herders of Ur III Umma nor how much milk they were left with in the end.

The herders were to fulfil the expected delivery quotas with „butter“ (i3-nun) and „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4), but could also deliver equivalent quantities of various other goods, like other dairy products or wool, or a correspondent amount of silver (e. g. Nisaba 09 273; SAT 3 1528; MVN 15 108; Englund 1995: 380-384; 394).

4. Dairy Products From Cow’s Milk and From Goat’s Milk: A Quantitative Description

The following data should give an impression of the largest quantities of „butter“ (i3-nun) and „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) registered in Umma documents, respectively, from cows’ and goats’ milk as well as an estimation of the total annual deliveries of these products to the provincial administration.

4.1. The Data Registered by the Umma Sources

The annual balanced account on butter and cheese management by the overseer of cowherds Atu (MVN 15 108, AS.03.00.00) registers 1,540 litres of „butter“ (i3-nun) and 2,310 litres of „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4). According to his seal, Atu was overseer of the cow herders of the Šara temple (Stepien 1996: 114). The text does not mention the number of cows engaged in primary milk production, but it can be estimated on the basis of the annual delivery quotas expected in Umma (§ 2 above). This results in min. 308 „adult cows“ (ab2 maḫ2) engaged in primary milk production. This agrees well with the analysis of Stepien (1996: 28, 61), who calculated that in the year Amar-Suena 7, a total of ca. 600 adult cows were held in the three major temples of Umma,  i. e., Šara, Ninnurra and Sulgi. The number of adult cows corresponds to 50.5 % of the total number of bovines. Following these calculations, he estimated that the total livestock in Umma amounted to ca. 2000 head of cattle, of which ca. 50.5 %, i.e., ca. 1000 were milk cows (Stepien 1996: 61). Therefore, assuming the cow herders of Umma held a total of ca. 1000 adult cows, they were due to deliver a total of ca. 5,000 litres of butter and ca. 7,500 litres of „sour milk cheese“ per year to the provincial administration5Due to the large margin of error in the estimation of the total milk production per adult cow per year in 3rd-millennium BCE Babylonia, it is not possible to estimate the total annual production of milk, butter and cheese in the province of Umma nor how much excess milk was left to the herders after delivering the due quotes to the administration..

Although the final administrative subscript is not preserved, we can safely assume that the account Nisaba 24 27 (XX.XX.00.00) was a balanced account of shepherds and goat herders of various temples in Umma because of what is still preserved of its structure (it is very similar to the balanced account Nisaba 06 08). The temples (partially) preserved on this account are the temples of Inana of Zabalam, Sulgi, Ninurra and Šara. The section of the text documenting the herds of nam-en-na-goats probably of the Šara temple is almost entirely preserved and offers the following data: it lists a total of 1,548 nam-en-na-goats of which 566 were nanny goats (ud5), i.e., 37 %, very likely involved in the primary milk production. The text also registers 402.5 litres of „butter“ (i3-nun) and 606.6 litres of „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4) as the delivery quota of dairy products expected from these 1,548 nam-en-na-goats.6 The term nam-en-na cannot refer to a particular breed because it can specify various types of animals, among them caprines (sheep, e.g., BPOA 1 1733 o. 2; goats, e.g., YOS 04 237 o. ii 16) and bovines (TCL 2 5483), as various types of herders (e.g., OrSP 2, p. 56 MM 171 o. i 5′). Moreover, among the „shepherds of the nam-en-na (caprines)“ (sipa nam-en-na-ke4-ne) occur herders of goats and sheep without any specification as well as of ga-za-pi-goats (OrSP 47-49 348). Stepien (1996) interpreted nam-en-na as a „term signifying native sheep“ yet cites it also in connection with goats, without further explanations. He also refers to the phrase sipa nam-en-na-ke4-ne as „shepherds of temple stocks“ (Stepien 1996: 83). Van De Mieroop (1993: 168) suggested that nam-en-na may be a group of goats that the herder „agrees to supervise for another owner“. Nevertheless, the documents never specify his name. Moreover, among the herders specified as nam-en-na occur many various herders of the Umma province, who were in charge of provincial herds made of various types of animals. Greco (2021: 4-5, 7) has thoroughly analyzed the management of herds and grazing land in the province of Girsu documented by a group of balanced accounts and showed that among the provincial herds, there were also herds or parts of them falling under royal concern, yet managed and held by provincial herders. Hence nam-en, literally meaning „sovereignty“, in Umma could refer to herds or parts of them that pertained to the royal sector as well as to herders that were entrusted with such animals apart from the provincial livestock but were employed by and accounted to the provincial administration of Umma. Yet, only a comprehensive assessment of the herding management in Umma with a particular focus on the possible interaction between different sectors or institutions could confirm or contradict this hypothesis.

This results in an annual delivery quota of 0.47 litres of „butter“ (i3-nun[glossary=i3-nun]) and 0.70 litres of „sour milk cheese“ (ga-murub4[glossary=ga-murub4]) per „nanny goat“ (ud5). Unfortunately, the sections documenting other categories of goat herds or of possibly specific breeds, with or without their delivery of dairy products, are not entirely preserved in the text and do not allow an assessment of the number of goats documented in the text. This information is necessary to estimate the amount of dairy products annually delivered by the goat herders of Umma to the provincial administration. In this regard, the administrative sources documenting and monitoring the herds falling under provincial concern offer valuable information.

4.2. The Structure of the Caprine Herds in Ur III Umma and the Annual Delivery of Dairy Products

Either the total number of goats involved in the primary milk production in Umma in the Ur III period or the total number of goats held in the province of Umma, unregarded of their age, are necessary to estimate the annual delivery of butter and cheese from the goat herders of Umma. Unfortunately, these figures are either not recorded at all, or they are not entirely preserved in the texts (Stepien 1996: 24-25; 191-192; 211-212). Therefore we have to estimate them according to other data offered by the available sources. In particular, the Umma sources that assess the structure of the caprine herds according to sex and gender enable us to calculate two significant rates:

  1. the average sheep:goat ratio (Stepien 1996: 25; Redding 1981: TTT).
  2. the average percentage of nanny goats per herd.

Moreover, the Umma sources allow estimating either the total number of caprines or the total number of sheep held by the province. Combining the sheep:goat ratio and the average percentage of nanny goats per herd with either of these estimations enables us to calculate how many nanny goats might have been involved in the primary milk production.

A partial set of data is offered by the list YOS 4 237 (Stepien 1996: 52) that registers 956 nam-en-na-goats in the year Šu-Suen 7 in eight temples of Umma, of which 447 were „nanny goats“, i.e., ca. 47 % (r. iii 15-18). The herds of ga-za-pi-goats are documented in this text, too, yet without distinction of age.7

Unlike for the nam-en-na-goats, the administrative documents of the province of Umma rarely differentiate the age or gender of the animals when documenting the herds of or with ga-za-pi-goats. To my knowledge, this occurs only in AUCT 2 391 and possibly in AAICAB 1/3 Bod. S 144.. The total at the end of the text registers 1,488 goats and 4,378 sheep, with a sheep:goat ratio of 2.9:1. These herds were supervised by Kas and Uree. According to Stepien (1996: 50), this text does not register all herds of the Umma province because the total number of goats (and sheep) is too small. Another balanced account on shepherds and goat herders (Nisaba 06 08) assesses goats and sheep of the eight principal temples of Umma in the year Ibbi-Suen 3, distinguishing the animals according to gender and age. In the totals at the end, it lists 828 goats, of which 408, i.e., 49 %, were nanny goats (ud5). The total number of sheep amounted to 1,430 pieces, resulting in a sheep:goats ratio of 1.7:1 (Nisaba 06 08). Another balanced account on herds in Umma that distinguishes the livestock according to gender and age features a similar average of nanny goats: 49 %. Unfortunately, the text is partially damaged and does not allow us to calculate the sheep:goat ratio (Nisaba 06 31).  Regarding the total number of goats, the balanced account SET 130 indicates 1,449 goats (no distinction of age or gender) (o. vi 5) under the responsibility of Uree in the year Amar-Suena 4 (no distinction of temple affiliation), resulting in a sheep:goats ratio of 1.6:1.

Stepien (1996: 25-26) compared the sheep:goat ratios of individual herds documented by various Umma sources, and after excluding extreme values, he calculated an average sheep:goat ratio of 3.6:1. If we instead calculate the average sheep:goat ratio considering all the data collected by Stepien, then we get a ratio of 3.9:1. Stepien himself doubted whether this data is indicative of Umma herds in general (Stepien 1996: 26). Indeed, Redding (1981: 148-206; 251) stated that the sheep:goats ratio is very much influenced by the herding strategies followed by the herders and can therefore vary a lot even from herd to herd, from herder to herder. In this respect, he refers to, e.g., an ethnoarchaeological study of the herd structure in Hasanabad, a village in western Iran. According to this study, the sheep:goat ratio is 5:1 if the goal is energy production (protein) and 1.8-4:1 if the goal is the maximization of herd security. A study of the herd structure by the Yomut Turkmen in northeastern Iran also showed that the wide variation in the sheep:goat ratio and the concentration of values at 1:0 and 0:1 indicate that the herders sought multiple goals (Redding 1981: 253-254)8According to archaeozoological studies, the sheep:goat ration for south-western Asia varies between 1:1 and 3:1 and no clear trends are visible its development (Becker/Benecke/ Küchelmann 2020: 88). Moreover, the data of kill patterns observed in the bone collections of caprines from archaeological investigations of sites in south-eastern Asia exhibit great variability in the age structure of sheep/goats, revealing that the herders sought multiple strategies and kept the small cattle for a broad spectrum of products (Becker/Benecke/ Küchelmann 2020: 90-92). Nevertheless, as far as the sex ratio of sheep is concerned, from 4000 BCE onwards, the proportion of male sheep kept to an older age increased significantly, documenting a shift from milk-and-meat-oriented sheep husbandry to one with more focus on wool production (Becker/Benecke/ Küchelmann 2020: 92). . Eventually, one has to bear in mind that, on the one hand, these data on herd structure and the possible strategies followed by each herder are very specific to each and every group analyzed by the ethnographers and are subject to variations depending on the type of subsistence economy practised in the region under consideration. On the other hand, the sheep:goat ratio calculated according to the available sources from Umma may vary due to the very fluctuating number of goats held by the herders year after year. And these fluctuating numbers of goats may result from various conditions, such as e.g. higher or lower mortality linked to occasional diseases. Notwithstanding all these margins of error, one can try to follow the estimation according to the average sheep:goat ratio of 3.6:1 as calculated by Stepien (1996: 25-26)  and keep in mind that the figures obtained may have varied from year to year. To do so, we need the percentage of nanny goats per goat herd as documented in the sources that distinguish the age and sex of the animals. According to these sources9SET 130; Nisaba 06 31; YOS 04 237; Nisaba 06 08; AAICAB 1/3 Bod. S 144; Nisaba 24 27; AUCT 2 391, it amounted on average to ca. 45 %.

According to Stepien (1996: 212), the 30 to 40 shepherds hitherto documented in the Umma sources would hold about 23,000 to 26,000 sheep in total. Now, if we consider an average sheep:goat ratio of 3.6:1 (Stepien 1996: 25), we obtain ca. 6,000-7,000 goats. Considering now an average percentage of 45 % of nanny goats in total, it results in ca. 2,700-3,100 nanny goats that might have been involved in the primary milk production.  This results in an annual delivery of a maximum of ca. 1,500 litres of butter and a maximum of ca. 2,300 litres of cheese to the provincial administration of Umma if we consider the highest delivery quota of 0.5 litres of butter and 0.75 litres of cheese per nanny goat per year.

Stepien (1996: 212) also estimated that the total of caprines held in Umma could have reached, on average, 50,000 – 60,000 pieces of livestock. Considering an average sheep:goat ratio of 3.6:1 again (Stepien 1996: 25), we obtain ca. 13,000 – 16,000 goats, 45 % of which results in about 5,800 – 7,200 nanny goats that might have been involved in the primary milk production. This results in an annual delivery of a maximum of 3,600 litres of butter and a maximum of 5,400 litres of cheese to the provincial administration of Umma if we consider the highest delivery quota of 0.5 litres of butter and 0.75 litres of cheese per nanny goat per year.

These numbers are nonetheless to be taken as great estimations due to the large margin of error caused by the lack of data and the fluctuations in the number of goats documented by the few available sources(Stepien 1996: 24-26).

4.3. The Annual Delivery of Butter and Cheese in Umma: An Estimation

Adding the estimated annual delivery of butter and cheese from the cow herders (ca. 5,000 litres of butter and ca. 7,500 litres of „sour milk cheese“) to that of the goat herders (ca. 2,500 litres of butter and ca. 3,800 litres of „sour milk cheese“) we obtain following figures: ca. 7,500 litres of butter and ca. 11,300 litres of „sour milk cheese“ could have been annually delivered to the provincial administration of Umma.

5. Provincial Management of the Herders

„Cowherder“ (unu3), „goatherders“ (sipa ud5) and „herders“ (na-gada) were accountable for the province-controlled livestock and its products towards „flock overseer“ (šuš3) (Stepien 1996: 40, 52-53, 61, 114, 122-124, 138-139, 150, 173-175; e. g. SNAT 382, AS.07.00.00). „Balanced accounts“ (niĝ2-ka9-aka) and „inspections“ (gurum2 aka) by „flock overseers“ (šuš3) monitored herds management and its dairy products from the provincial point of view (e. g. „balanced account on fat and cheese“ niĝ2-ka9-aka i3-nun ga-ara3 MVN 15 108; „balanced account on PN flock overseer of the governor“ niĝ2-ka9-aka PN unu3 ensi2-ka Santag 6 254; „inspection of the cattle of the governor“ gurum2 aka gud ensi2 MCS 8 88 BM 105375). Though, cattle and goat herders could also account for their management of animals and dairy products directly to Uree, responsible for the collection of animals and related goods in Umma (Englund 1995: 50; e. g. SET 130, AS.04.00.00, r. vii 1-2 „balanced account on small cattle, fat and wool (by) Uree“ niĝ2-ka9-aka udu i3 siki / ur-e11-e ).


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