The Great Fatted Bull
Tablet #36
Sumerian Images
Sumerian History
The Royal Tombs of Ur
The Standard of Ur:  War
The Standard of Ur:  King
The "Standard" of Ur?
Vulture Stele Translation
Sumerian War Chariots
War Chariot Deconstructed
Gudea Translation
The Face of Gudea
The Face of Ur-Ningirsu
The Face of Lugal-agrig-zi
Ur-Namma Translation
The Face of Ur-Namma
Face of Ur-Namma, part II
I am Ur-Namma
The Face of Shulgi
Who Were the Sumerians?
Other Sumerian Kings
The Princess Wife
The Great Fatted Jackass
Sargon's Victory Stele
Helmet: the King of Kish
The Standard of Mari?
The Invention of Writing
Adventures in Cuneiform
The Sumerian Scribe
A Masterpiece
Site Map

Translation of Tablet #36 in the Library of Congress Cuneiform Collection

by:  Jerald Jack Starr


Obverse:           [x-] = Missing or damaged text     {… } = explanatory comments

          [Unknown number of lines missing]

  1.     You  [x-x…]

  2.     Fate  [x-x…]

  3.     Lu-mah, the abundant lord, is a bull  [x-x…] 

  4.     May the fatted bull the abundant gift of fatherhood  [x-x…]  

  5.     Great Fatso is treasured. To the Great Fatso the workmen send  [x-x…]

  6.     He bellows: 

          To the bull, "Bring to me the gifts of food!"

          To the bull, "Now send to me my lady!"

  7.     Lu-mah declares, "My abundant fate is like the Majestic Shrine.

          "It's accumulating up to the heavens!"

  8.     He goes into the village, to make the rounds.

          He wanders through the marketplace, feeling most important.

          He passes by Grain Field #5 . . .

          He enters Grain Field #5, to fill his great bull hands!

  9.     “I proclaim this field a gift!  And this henbur grain I'll take!

          "With many different wives for my virile self.

10.     "And so with my labor, I'll support myself and my mother!”

11.     [x-x…]  He gets into a huge argument with everyone.  {the owners of the field}

12.     [x-x…] . . . goes the angry lord.

13.     [Lord (?)]  [x-x] [something, something]    {The tablet is heavily damaged in this area.}

14.     Then the Lord Fatso returns to his village. He proclaims,

          “I'm the man who yoked the bandits!”

15.     He drags the slave women and their captive kinsmen into his fortress.

16.     Lu-mah commands, “I order the father to trample his fields into mash!”

          {He says to Su-ba, "the shepherd brother", son of the unfortunate father

          and brother of the slave women: } 

17.     "l'll sell you Pasture #5. Give me all your heaps of grain.”

18.     [x-x…]-like, the shepherd brother.

Bound prisoners of war, yoked in neck stocks, are paraded before a victorious king.


Reverse:        [x-]  =  Missing or damaged text     {… }  =  explanatory comments

          {The shepherd brother speaks: }

  1.     "I will not bow before the man who seizes everything but wisdom.

          "He is not a strong man.

  2.     "Earth and the heavens feel troubled

          when this man is bellowing for plunder!”

  3.     Beating ribs, beating back and shoulders, like a storm arose the angry lord! 

          {The lord beats (kills?) the shepherd brother.}

          {Later, at the victory celebration. . . }
  4.     He eats his food like a pig. The Pig divides the fodder into five big bowls,

          and with his hand, he crams it into his mouth and chokes it down.

  5.     "My flanks grow fat!" he bellows, while eating all the food his hands can grab.

  6.     A man, clothed in darkness, climbs in through the window.

          The slave women rush to his side.

  7.     The man says, “Here’s a gift to anoint the bull!  To make him permanently bellow

          with great burning indigestion!”

  8.     Nose to nose, the lord and the "man not his servant"  {rebel, enemy}

          throttle each other.

  9.     The lord opens his mouth and swears two oaths to his adversary.

10.     He gasps, “Feed-grain . . . to abandon!  This great eating to diminish!”

11.     His mother says, “The Fatted Lord is not a lordly one.

          "As for me, I know that I don't place great trust in him.”

12.     His wife shares his Mountain of Grain with his slave women

          and their slave companions.

13.     The fatted bull reaps one single twig of his henbur grain.

14.     “What? Only one?”  His stomach knows a great hunger.

          {Then . . .  }

15.     An unmarried woman offers him a garden,

          with acres and acres of grain . . . 

          Grain Field #4!

          In pasture he grows fat again.

16.     The man goes to do his work. He walks in the pasture,

          completely satisfied  [x-x]

17.     He converses with the neighbor woman  [x-x]

18.     The man is not strong, the woman not virtuous . . . 

          [Rest of the tablet missing]


Take a moment to solve this murder mystery. Who tried to kill the Great Fatted Bull?
How did they do it?  Be prepared to cite your evidence. You should be able to reconstruct the crime in its entirety, using the clues provided. The answers are given in the Annotations

The "War" side of the Standard of Ur.

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