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
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Translation of a tablet (CDLI 222618) written after the reign of Urukagina, the king of Lagash, describing the misdeeds of Lugalzagesi, the king of Umma, in the war between them.
The events occurred during Lugalzagesi's attempt to conquer all of Sumer and Akkad.

The front of the tablet is shown above. The back is shown below. Click here to see the original line-drawing of both sides of the tablet.

The unusual thing about this tablet is that it has the rounded shape of an accounting tablet rather than the square shape commonly associated with historical or literary writing.

The repetition of the story is deliberate. It is meant to sound like a litany of the crimes committed by Lugalzagesi.

Although Lugalzagesi was originally the ruler of Umma, he had moved his capital to the city of Uruk. When this tablet was written, he called himself "the King of Uruk". On this tablet, he is pointedly called "the Man of Umma". Lagash and Umma had been at war for generations. The writers of Lagash often called an Ummaite king the "Man of Umma" as a way of saying "the enemy". Rather than calling Lugalzagesi by his rightful title, the King of Uruk, the scribe calls him the Man of Umma, as if to say, "Once an Ummaite, always an Ummaite." There is some bitterness and contempt in the title.


The Man of Umma

Obverse (front):

The Man of Umma {Lugalzagesi}
to the levee of the boundary territory he set fire.
To the Antasura {temple} he set fire,
and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
The palace of Tirash he plundered,
the Smaller Abzu he plundered,
the dais of Enlil, and the dais of Utu he plundered,
the Ahush he plundered, and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
The Ebabbar he plundered, and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
The temple terrace of Ninmah
of the sacred grove he plundered,
and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
The Bagara he plundered, and its silver and lapiz lazuli he bundled off.
To the Dugru he set fire, and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
The Abzu of the Levee he plundered.
To the temple of Gatumdu he set fire,
its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off,
and its statues he demolished.
To the oval temple of the Eanna of Inanna he set fire,
its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off,
and its statues he demolished.
The Chosen by the Heart (temple) he plundered,
and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.

In Henda, he overturned the shepherds(?).
In Ki'esh, the temple of Nindar he plundered,
and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
In Kinunir, to the temple of Dumuziabzu he set fire,
and its silver and lapis lazuli 



Reverse (back): 

he bundled off.
To the temple of Lugalurub he set fire,
and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
The E'engura temple of Nanshe he plundered,
and its silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off.
In Sagub, the temple of Amageshtina he plundered,
and from (the statue of) Amageshtina
her silver and lapis lazuli he bundled off,
and he threw her (the statue) into its well.
In the fields of Ningirsu, as many as were cultivated,
their barley he uprooted.

The Man of Umma, after Lagash he had sacked,
it is a sin against Ningirsu that he has committed.
The hand he brought against him he (Ningirsu) will cut off!
A sin of Urukagina, king of Girsu, it is not!
Lugalzagesi, the ruler of Umma,
for his goddess Nisaba
let that sin be borne on his neck! 




Note:  The last line is sometimes interpreted as "let that sin be borne on her neck", meaning Nisaba's. I thought this was unlikely because no Sumerian writer would be so sacrilegious.
I was convinced that the meaning was:  for the sake of Nisaba, let the sin be borne on the neck of Lugalzagesi, since his crimes are a disgrace to her. Then I noticed "ke4", which is
the sign written after her name. Ke4 means "of" or possessive, so a possible translation is "the sin of Nisaba" or "Nisaba's sin", implicating her in the crimes of Lugalzagesi, since
she is the patron goddess of his city. If this was indeed the writer's intent, it shows just how bitter he is toward Lugalzagesi for the destruction of Lagash. Hopefully the writer later recanted his blasphemy, because Nisaba is the goddess who invented writing and the patron deity of the scribes, so it's unlikely that she had anything to do with the destruction of anyone's city.