The Great Fatted Bull
Introduction
Tablet #36
Translation
Annotations
Transliteration
Sumerian Images
Sumerian History
The Royal Tombs of Ur
The Standard of Ur:  War
The Standard of Ur:  King
The "Standard" of Ur?
Eannatum
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 Shepherd Kings
The Kings of Uruk
Enmetena
War: Umma and Lagash
Enmetena Vase
Enmetena Tablet
Enmetena, not Urukagina
Urukagina
Urukagina Liberty Cones
The Man of Umma
Lugalzagesi
Lugalzagesi Translation
Ur-Ningirsu
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
Miscellaneous
Links
Contact
Site Map
   
 



A Urukagina foundation cone. A second cone is shown below. The matched pair is Urukagina's declaration of his social reforms for his citizens. Enlarge. The first cone describes the prevailing conditions at the time. The second cone announces Urukagina's reforms.



Line art of the inscriptions on the cones. Enlarge. This translation is from the CDLI 222607.

{ ... } = explanatory comments by jjs.


The Oxen of the Gods the Garlic Plots of the Ruler did Plow

For Ningirsu, the hero of Enlil,
Urukagina, king of Lagash,
the palace Tirash he built,
and the Antasura {temple} he built.

The temple of Bau he built for her,
the pantry(?), her house of regular provisions,
he built for her,
and her sheep-plucking shed of the Holy City
he built for her.

For Nanshe, the Canal Going to Nigin,
her beloved canal, he dug,
and its outlet into the center of the sea
he extended.

The wall of Girsu he built for him (Ningirsu).

From distant times,
from when the seed (of life first) came forth,
in those days
by the chief of the boatmen boats were seized,
donkeys by the head herdsman were seized,
sheep by the head herdsman were seized,
fish stores by the fisheries inspector were seized,
{Officials could seize private property.}

By the lustration priests {excessive} grain taxes
in (the locality of) Ambar were measured out.

The shepherds of wool-bearing sheep
instead of a pure(?) sheep put silver.
{Rather than making a costly offering of pure (flawless} sheep,
 a bribe to the temple administrators was given instead.}
The surveyor, the chief lamentation singer,
the steward, the brewer, and all the foremen
instead of a young lamb put silver.

The oxen of the gods
the garlic plots of the ruler did plow,
and in the best fields of the gods
were where the garlic plots and cucumber plots
of the ruler were located.
{The ruler took the best plots of land for himself
 and used the temple oxen to plow his fields.}

Team donkeys and unblemished oxen
were the ones that for the temple administrators
were harnessed,
and the barley of the temple administrators
to the teams of the ruler was distributed.
{The temple administrators also used the temple oxen to plow
 their personal tracts of land, and gave a “kickback” of grain
 for the ruler to look the other way.}

A mongoose-ear garment, a ...-holding garment,
an outer(?) garment, a draped(?) linen ...,
naked(?) flax, flax tied with cord,
a bronze helmet, a bronze arrowhead,
a bronze ..., gleaming leather,
wings (feathers?) of a yellow crow, cumin,
...,
a goat with its fleece,
(the preceding) by the temple administrators
(as payment) for the il-tax  were delivered (to the palace).
{Taxes were collected from the people by the temple administrators,
 then given to the ruler.} 
  
The ... administrator in the orchard of the poor
cut down trees, and with reed twine tied them (in bundles).
{The fruit trees of the poor were cut down for firewood.}
    
{The following records the high cost of burial in Sumer.
 The fees were paid in barter to the priests: “death and taxes”.}
For a corpse being brought to the grave,
his beer was seven jugs, and his bread 420 loaves.
Two barig (72 l.) of hazi-barley, one woolen garment,
one lead goat, and one bed the undertaker took away,
and one barig (36 l.) of barley the person(s) of ... took away.
When (for burial) into the reeds of Enki a person was brought,
his beer was seven jugs and his bread 420 loaves.
Two barig of barley, one woolen garment, one bed, and one chair
the undertaker took away,
and one barig of barley the person(s) of ... took away.
The craftmen {ferry boatmen} were the ones who did get,
and it was paired-workmen who
the ferry toll for the main gate (of the netherworld) did get.

The household of the ruler and the fields of the ruler,
the household of the Woman's House and the fields of the Woman's House,
and the household of the (royal) children and the fields of the children
were all set side by side(?)
{This added up to a large estate for the ruler. Generally, land was allotted 
 only to adult male heads of household, not to women and children.
 This is a direct reference to Urukagina’s predecessor, Lugalanda,
 who appropriated land in the name of his wife and children.}

{There was a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy.}
From the border territory of Ningirsu to the waters of the sea
ones who served as (court) officers were present (everywhere).
When a royal subordinate on the narrow side of his field
built his well, blind workers were appropriated for it,
and for the irrigation channels(?) located within the field
blind workers were (also) appropriated.
As the customs were, it was.




When Ningirsu, the hero of Enlil,
to Urukagina the kingship of Lagash had given,
and from the myriad people had grasped his hand,
the fates of former times he restored,
and the commands which his master
Ningirsu had spoken to him he seized upon.

From the boats the chief of the boatmen he removed,
from the donkeys and from the sheep
their head herdsmen he removed,
from the fish stores the fisheries inspector he removed,
from (control over) the grain taxes of the lustration priests
the granary supervisor he removed,
for the instead of pure(?) sheep and instead of young lambs
the officers (responsible) for it he removed,
and as for the taxes which the temple administrators
to the palace had delivered, the officers (responsible) for them
he removed.
   
Over the household of the ruler and the fields of the ruler
Ningirsu as their master he assigned.
Over the household of the Woman's House, and the fields of the Woman's House,
Bau as their mistress he assigned.
Over the household of the children and over the fields of the children
Shulshagana was their master.
{Urukagina confiscates the property of the ruler
 and places it under the jurisdiction of the temples.}
From the border territory of Ningirsu
to the waters of the sea
no {corrupt?} persons shall serve as (court) officers.
{Surely not all of the officials were dismissed.}

{Urukagina decrees lower burial costs.}
For a corpse being brought to the grave,
his beer will be 3 jugs and his bread eighty loaves.
One bed and one lead goat the undertaker shall take away,
and three ban (18 l.) of barley the person(s) of ... shall take away.
    
When to the reeds of Enki a person has been brought,
his beer will be 4 jugs  and his bread 420 loaves.
One barig (36 l.) of barley the undertaker shall take away,
and three ban of barley the person(s) of ... shall take away.
One woman's head band(?), and one sila (1 l.) of princely fragrance
the eresh-dingir priestess shall take away.

{New “wage controls”:}
420 loaves of bread that have sat are the bread duty,
40 loaves of hot bread are for eating,
and 10 loaves of hot bread are the bread of the table.
5 loaves of bread are for the persons (in charge) of the levy,
2 mud vessels and 1 sadug vessel of beer of Girsu.

490 loaves of bread, 2 mud vessels and 1 sadug vessel of beer
are for the lamentation singers of Lagash.
406 loaves of bread, 1 mud vessel and 1 sadug vessel of beer
are for the (other) lamentation singers.
    
{Charity for the poor: }
250 loaves of bread and 1 mud vessel of beer
are for the old wailing women.
180 loaves of bread and 1 mud vessel of beer
are for the old men of Nigin.

The blind one who in ... stands,
his bread for eating is one loaf,
five loaves are his bread at midnight,
one loaf is his bread at midday,
and six loaves are his bread at evening.
    
60 loaves of bread, 1 mud vessel of beer, and three ban of barley
are for the person who is to perform as the sagbur-priest.

The ferry toll for the main gate of the paired-workmen he revoked.
The craftsmen's bread for the Raised Hand (ritual) he revoked.
By the ...-administrator the orchard of the poor was not carried away.

{Urukagina decrees that people cannot be forced to sell to their superiors,
 they can name their own price, and they are protected against retaliation.}
When to a royal subordinate a fine donkey has been born,
and his foreman: "I want to buy it!" has said to him,
whether he lets him buy it from him
and: "The silver that will satisfy me pay me!" he has said to him,
or whether he does not let him buy it from him,
the foreman in anger must not strike him.

When to the house of an aristocrat
the house of a royal subordinate lies adjacent,
and that aristocrat: "I want to buy it from you!" has said to him,
whether he lets him buy it from him,
and: "The silver that will satisfy me pay me!" {or} 
"My house is a cauldron, fill it up with barley for me!" he has said to him,
or whether he does not let him buy it from him,
that aristocrat the royal subordinate in anger he must not strike.

(All these things) he commanded.
As for the citizens of Lagash,
the one living in debt,
the one who had set up a (false) gur measure
and had lowered (the amounts of) barley,
the thief, and the one who had killed,
their prison he cleared out,
and their remission (of obligations, ama-gi4) he established 
{It sounds as if an amnesty was declared for everyone, even thieves and murderers.}

That the orphan or widow to the powerful will not be subjugated,
with Ningirsu Urukagina made a binding agreement as to that command.
{Two hundred years later, Gudea would make a similar decree: 
  “To provide protection for the orphan against the rich, and to provide 
  protection for the widow against the powerful.”}

In that year
The Little Canal Which Girsu Had Gotten,
for Ningirsu he dug, and its former name he restored.
Canal Ningirsu Has Authority from Nippur
Urukagina named it for him,
and the Canal Going to Nigin he extended it for him.



  Urukagina