Third Dynasty of Ur
The Third dynasty of Ur (shortened in Ur III ) is, as its name indicates it, the third dynasty of the city sumérienne of Ur, according to the historiographic tradition Mésopotamie. But it is especially about a great empire rested by the sovereigns of this dynasty, which dominated all Mésopotamie lasting what one calls sometimes the Period néo-sumérienne, from approximately 2112 with 2004 av. J. - C. (average chronology).
In the middle of the 22e century, the Empire of Akkad is destroyed by the barbarians Gutis, who dominate as from this moment the country of Sumer and Akkad. But Sumériens were not let dominate a long time. Towards 2120, the king of Uruk, Utu-hegal, demolishes Tiriqan the king of Gutis. He can then exert his sovereignty on the south mésopotamien. But its reign was of short duration. In 2113, it is détrôné by the notable ones of the court, with the head of which Ur-Nammu is, governor of Ur, and which is perhaps his brother. This last seizes the power and transfers the capital in its city.
As of its establishment, Ur-Nammu affirms its domination on the territory directed before by Utu-hegal. It is made crown with Nippur, the Holy City of Sumer, and takes the title of king " of Ur, of Sumer and Akkad". Ur-Nammu shows its intention to join together under its cut all the powerful formerly rival cities of the south of Mésopotamie, and is presented as a continuator of the kingdom of Akkad. Its reign is especially known by the introduction of the code of laws that one allots perhaps to him (makes some written at the instigation of its Shulgi successor, with the result that the described events are not ascribable any more to Ur-Nammu). It informs us about the conquest of Low-Mésopotamie, of forwardings in direction of the Iranian plate, as well as an important peaceful work (restaurertion of large cities, many homages paid to the gods, agricultural development). He dies in 2095, seems he during a military forwarding.
It is then his/her son Shulgi who succeeds to him. It decided at the beginning of its reign to undertake several reforms which will be at the base of the Empire of Ur during long years. It unified the administrative system of its kingdom to make it more coherent, reformed the system of land ownership, reorganized the army. It was thus with the head of a State well organized, been useful by effective and devoted civils servant. Become a powerful and uncontested king, it could be made diviniser the twentieth year of its reign (2074), very rare fact in the history mésopotamienne. One can imagine that its capacity was consequently without limits.
In 2070, Shulgi returned in an expansionist foreign policy, and directed its army towards the north of Mésopotamie and the Élam. These wars were justified by a need to make safe the borders of the rich person country of Ur, which poked many covetousnesses. To north, the countries of Karkhar, Simurrum, Urbilum and Harshi (located in edge of the Zagros, in the area of both Zab), populated Lullubi and of Hourrites, are subjected at the end of eleven campaigns. To protect his country, the sovereign of Ur (or one of its predecessors) made build a wall, which goes from the Diyala to the Euphrate. The kingdoms élamites of Anshan, Marhashi and Simashki were subjected by the soft method (matrimonial alliances: Shulgi giving his/her daughters in marriage to rejoin certain kings with his cause) or strong (military campaigns). Shulgi seized the large city of Suse and integrated it into its empire.
Shulgi died in 2047, after 48 years of a quite accomplished reign. Causes of its death its as not very clear as those of his/her father: assassination or disease? At all events, his/her son Amar-Sîn succeeds to him then, and makes set up a splendid tomb with his father, worthy of his divine statute.
Amar-Sîn, Shu-Sîn and Ibbi-Sîn
The three wire of Shulgi will follow one another the head of the Empire of Ur. Elder Amar-Sîn (2046-2038) seized Assur, and continued the military work of his/her father in north and the east, for subduing risings. Its victories enabled him to ensure the calm one in these areas. Just like his/her father, Amar-Sîn was made déifier. He died in 2038, apparently of an infection due to a plantar bulb.
Shu-Sîn (2037-2029) must as of its establishment deal with revolts disputing its authority in north and attack Élam. But the principal danger did not come from these area weakened by long years of war, but rather of the west, from where those arrived which Sumériens called MAR.TU, the Amorrites. To face their intrusion, Shu-Sîn made build a large defensive wall. From now on, the powerful kingdom of Ur was on the defensive vis-a-vis the wandering hordes. It is Ibbi-Sîn (2028-2004), which goes up on the throne to dead of his/her brother, who will make the expenses of the rise to power of the adversaries of Ur, and will see the end of the kingdom.
The organization of the Empire of Ur III has a great interest, because it is one of the first great historical States to which one tried to give structures coherent and effective, and because this period knew a great prosperity.
The character highest placed is the king (LUGAL) of Ur. He is the elected official of Enlil, king of the Gods and owner of the Empire, which ensures a superiority to him on all its subjects.
Since Shulgi, the king is made diviniser, like had made before Naram-Sin d' Akkad. He thus has a prestige even larger, but its authority is however not without limits. With its death, he however is venerated like God. Shulgi was even made build a prestigious mausoleum, and was seen dedicated of the places of worships.
Administration of the kingdom
After the king, the second character of the central administration is the SUKKALMAH (the large chancellor). He directs the SUKKAL (messengers), which are inspectors having to have to control the local governments. The king thus has a network of faithful controllers who allow him to know all that it occurs in his country. Thanks to a system of relays located each one at one day of walk of another relai, these civils servant can move easily and square all the territory. The SUKKALMAH is also charged with the government of the steps, which are the most unstable provinces politically. The Empire of Ur was thus a strongly centralized and bureaucratic State.
The Empire was divided into about thirty provinces, having each one a governor at their head, was charged directing the civil administration and with returning justice, ENSI (old title resulting from the period of the Antiquated Dynasties) as well as a military governor, the ŠAGIN (Sumérien)/šakkanakkum (Akkadien). The external provinces sheltered military colonies intended there to maintain the domination of Ur and to defend the borders. The governors come often from the province which they direct, and it even arrives that this title is transmitted by heredity. The only difference with the before-Empire is that they from now on are subjected to the authority of king d' Ur. The sovereigns tried to stick them by a policy of matrimonial alliances. It could also happen that certain characters succeed in cumulating several functions d'ENSÍ. In the campaigns, the hazannum (the mayor) directs the small boroughs and the villages.
To direct the State, the king has grounds initially in Ur. But those are insuffusantes to allow the State subsisiter. It thus perceives taxes (in fact of the royalties on the agricultural produce or manufactured), paid mainly by the temples, but also by the private individuals, as well as tributes delivered by the overcome countries.
There exists also a sampling system specific to the Empire of Ur: the BALA (“cycle” or “rotation”). Each province of the KALAM (“Country”, i.e. the heart of the kingdom) is charged to in turn pay a tribute whose amount is negotiated by advance with representatives of the central capacity, according to the capacities of the area. They were generally animals, but also productions the province has abundantly (Céréale S, Bois). It seems that these taking away could then be stored in centers of redistribution, one of the candidates for this function being Puzrish-Dagan, close to Nippur, which would have been specialized in the breeding. But the tribute could also be directed directly towards another province having specific needs, or quite simply be preserved and used in the province even. This original system but which remains rather vague is in fact limited in time, since it was in place only under the reign of Shulgi and at the beginning of that of Ibbi-Sîn.
The provinces bordering (those which do not belong to the “Country”, primarily located in Zagros, until Suse in the south and Assur in north, were to discharge GUN.MADA (“tax on the area”), an annual tribute paid by the military colonies which are established there.
The company of the Empire of Ur is divided like any company mésopotamienne between free and nonfree. The administrative files as well as the Code of Ur-Nammu provide information on these categories.
The first are made up the top of the social scale, i.e. the members of the administration of the State, a minority which lives in ease, and especially of a majority of people living under less enviable conditions, the working classes. They work for the palates and the temples, and are grouped in production units. They have either a trade in which they are specialized, or they can be employed with different tasks according to needs (harvests, harvests, constructions, etc). There existed also a particular class, the EREN (" troupe"), whose first function was to be soldiers, but who could be mobilized for various work if need be.
The Esclave S (ÌR) were mainly prisoners of war, but also sometimes of the people having lost their freedom because of economic problems (debts, sales of children by the parents), or by legal decisions. The slaves were integrated in the troops of eren, or the production units of the palates and the temples. Domestic slavery is limited to the richest families. The free ones of the working classes did not have a better situation than thefree ones, which were to have living and working conditions similar, and which had many rights, in particular that of property, and to marry. The difference comes owing to the fact that the slave belongs to his Master, whose attitude will define the degree of freedom of this one. The slave could be freed.
The economy is directed by the great organizations, the temple and the palate. The administration of the temples is with the load of the ŠABRA (" préfet"), which is with the head of an administration parallel with that of the ministers of religion. The sovereigns of Ur imposed their authority on the temples, which serve the State according to its needs. The king monopolized many grounds of the temples taking itself charges the offerings with the large sanctuaries with them.
Grounds are given to owners (the GANA.URU.LA, " field affermé") The administration of the temple is independent only for its properly religious activities. It always has for that the " property of the seigneur" (GANA.NI.EN.NA), exploited by ENGAR (which direct a team of plowmen), and intended to nourish the personnel of the temple and to be useful for the worship of the god, as well as offerings redistributed between the priests. Another part of the field is consisted the " field of subsistance" (GANA.ŠUKURA), conceded with members of the administration of the temple to increase their own incomes. The king concedes on his side of the grounds of his field with the dignitaries of his kingdom, in exchange of leus services.
The private sector is unknown, for lack of sources; its role was to be secondary beside that of the great organizations.
The period of Ur III delivered an abundant cadastral documentation, consistent in the descriptions of fields, sometimes even accompanied by plans. They were used to the administrators of the temples to evaluate the capacities of their field. All these documents were however not statements of real fields, some having a didactic value, aiming at showing the land-surveyors how to evaluate the capacity of a field well.
The study of these documents led Mario Liverani to propose a reconstitution of the agrarian landscapes of low fine Mésopotamie of the 3rd millenium. He notices a NORTH-SOUTH opposition between the country of Akkad and the country of Sumer: the first would present a landscape of fields of reduced size, with many villages and hamlets; the second would consist of fields distributed along the channels, which they are next to on their small side, extending in length perpendicular to the network from irrigation, and the habitat is especially made up of cities and large boroughs.
The craft industry
The craft industry is especially the fact of the palate. The simple craftsmen, who they are metallurges, carpenters, artists, etc work as small teams, supervised by foremen, and are subjected to taxes. However, the situations vary, and some work under better conditions that others.
Textile industry is definitely more imposing. The workmen are mainly women working in great manufactures. Certain production units were very important: a center of weaving of the province of Lagash employed more than 5.000 workers in 26 workshops, where they were subjected to an administration meddles which supervised carried out work, entered the entries and launches of products, took care of remunerations in food intakes (barley, oil and wool, serving to provide for the base as the daily needs).
The productions of wool and leather are of this fact imposing, reaching quantities ever reached before or afterwards in the history mésopotamienne. Certain great production units could also be general-purpose, and reconvert in spaces of food production (of the flour) once completed textile work. The workers could also be requisitioned for drudgeries (agricultural work especially).
The trade is directed by the palates and the temples. They employ merchants (DAMGAR), who had a role of intermediary. The organization finances forwarding, with products having to be sold (textile and food), and even, made new, with metal (money), which at that time starts to take importance. But the standard of the exchanges remains especially the grain of barley, the use of the money being especially limited to the great organizations, owing to the fact that its circulation was subjected to the control of the State.
Ur is a city which largely grew rich by the international business, grace in particular to the maritime trade, facilitated by the proximity of the sea at the high times. This explains the presence of two commercial ports in the city.
The “rebirth sumérienne”
The Period néo-sumérienne (which includes, in addition to the Third dynasty of Ur, the Second dynasty of Lagash, represented above all by the reign of Gudea) was characterized like one period of “rebirth sumérienne”. This expression can seem being unsuitable, in particular because it misses a decline sumérien preceding a rebirth, the period of the Empire of Akkad simply marking a political withdrawal of the element sumérien. Nevertheless the time néo-sumérienne knows an important cultural flowering, as well from the artistic point of view as literary.
The period of Ur III sees the written setting of many literary texts written in Sumérien, which remains the dominant literary language, even if it is declining as a vernacular language. It is of this period that date the written setting of many myths sumérien in the form which reached us, even if previous versions probably existed.
One can quote several myths constituting the pillars of the mythological literature of this period: the Flood sumérien, the Descent of Inanna to the Hells, the cycle of the kings of the First dynasty of Uruk, Enmerkar, Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh, whose version of famous the epopee was perhaps already put in writing at this period. This king is in any case a model for kings d' Ur, who are attached to his/her parents Ninsun and Lugalbanda.
The religious literature is also flourishing: anthems, prayers, and texts religious, in particular around the ritual of the crowned Marriage. Certain anthems are devoted to king Shulgi, who was divinisé and constituted a model for the posterity.
One also has many inscriptions and royal texts, above all the inscriptions of foundations, but also of other texts more developed like the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest known code of law mésopotamien, which provides invaluable historical details. From the point of view of historiography, a version of the royal Liste sumérienne already exists at this period.
The Pantheon d' Ur III is that of Mésopotamie of the south of the end of the 3rd millenium. To the head comes Enlil, the king of the gods, provider of the royalty from his city, Nippur, which is crowned. Come then Enki, Anu, Utu, Ninlil, Inanna, and the god-moon Nanna, guardian divinity of Ur.
Kings d' Ur divinisent themselves starting from Shulgi, while following in that the tradition founded by Naram-Sin d' Akkad, which probably was used to them as reference. Anthems are written in their honor, and one raises temples to them, like that of Shu-Sîn to Eshnunna.
The literature and religious constructions of this period are very abundant (see higher and low).
The period of the Third dynasty of Ur is rather not very outstanding on the artistic level. Little work of foreground reached us from this time. Art remains strongly inspired by the old tradition sumérienne.
One knows some steles representing the sovereigns of Ur III. Ur-Nammu is the object of two steles, presenting it paying homage to Nanna, commemorating the construction of the temple dedicated to this divinity, and another, found with Suse (where it was brought in spoils) the representative still in a pertaining to worship context.
One also has statues the period néo-sumérienne, undoubtedly of the Third dynasty of Ur. A diorite statue, it so found with Suse and originating in Eshnunna, represents a king babru sitted on a throne. The style of the statues of this time is very close to that of those found with Girsu dating from the reign of Gudea, which precedes or is contemporary beginning of the domination of kings d' Ur.
The Glyptique of the time of Ur III carries many representations of the sovereigns, often in pertaining to worship contexts. The topics engraved on the Cylinder seals, very repetitive, are generally monk, with the human ones paying homage to divinities.
The kings d' Ur III were large builders. Their capital of origin was in the center of their attentions, but they did not forget any therefore the other big cities of Sumer, that it is Nippur (which was often their place of residence), Uruk, Eridu, etc constructions remain within the framework of the tradition mésopotamienne: walls, palate, temples. The innovation is the appearance of the first large Ziggurat known, built by Ur-Nammu and Shulgi in the religious main cities of Low-Mésopotamie.
It is thus Ur which profited more of the attention from the kings of this dynasty. The most impressive monument built at that time is the ziggurat Etemenigur (“House with the imposing base”), which has a base of 62,50 X 43 meters. The low temple of the crowned complex of the city, named Ekishnugal (“House of the great light”), dedicated to the God-Moon Nanna is also rebuilt. The other buildings built in the central district of Ur are Giparu, residence of the large priestess of Chick, Enunmah (“House of the Almighty prince”), perhaps a warehouse, and Ehursag (“House-mountain”), perhaps the residence of the clergy of the temple of Chick. More in the south the mausoleums of Shulgi and Amar-Sîn were.
One owes in Shulgi several remarkable constructions. Initially a city, Puzrish-Dagan, perhaps intended to be its capital, in any case known for its very abundant documentation, especially relating to entries and exits of cattle. It been the subject of regular excavations forever. Then a great wall, located between the Euphrate and low the Diyala, named BÀD.IGI.HUR.SAG.GÁ, “wall which faces the mountain”. It was intended to suppress the incursions of the nomads MAR.TU into Low-Mésopotamie. His/her Shu-Sîn son reinforced this construction.
Fall of the kingdom
Ibbi-Sîn goes up on the throne in 2028 av.JC, and undertakes the first years of its reign of forwardings against Simmurum in north, and Suse and Anshan in the east in Élam. But they are only useless victories against adversaries which are not most dangerous. Indeed, Amorrites penetrate more and more deeply towards the heart of the country of Sumer, and weaken the capacity of Ur. Ibbi-Sîn quickly loses its sovereignty on several territories: Eshnunna in north, then Suse and DER in the east, like Umma and Lagash, in the country of Sumer even. The kingdom then knows the food shortage and inflation, caused by the loss of these rich person grounds, the disturbance of the trade and the devastations caused by Amorrites. In 2017 av.JC, a incusion of those causes the famine with Ur. Ibbi-Sîn sends then Ishbi-Wandered, one of its faithful, in the search of grain with Isin. Benefitting from the presence of nomad which limits the possibilities of armed intervention with king d' Ur, this last fact secession. It restores the order in its territories, and seizes Nippur, the holy city, and becomes thus the legitimate sovereign of the country, chosen by Enlil the king of the Gods.
Ibbi-Sîn is then weakened considerably, but, thanks to the faithful last, it preserves its authority on certain territories. But Ishbi-Wandered, if it cannot seize Ur, is however with the head of a kingdom more prosperous than it can better defend. It thus succeeds in getting rid of Amorrites. In 2007 av.JC, the king Kindattu of Simashki directs an army made up of Elamites and soldiers of the countries of Subartu (the north of Mésopotamie) and of Known (unspecified) towards the country of Sumer, which they devastate. But they are pushed back by Ishbi-Wandered. In 2004 av.JC, a new army returns in the area. It attacks this time weakest, i.e. Ibbi-Sîn. Ur holds the seat only a few days, and fall quickly. It is plundered, set fire to, and its king is taken along captive towards Élam where he finishes his days.
Thus the blow of thanks to the kingdom was carried which had risen higher than any other before him, and had left its rich person years an impression of golden age, which made that its fall was regarded as a disaster, the end of large a time. Ur will have posed the bases of the large kingdoms which will succeed to him, which will continue its model of organization and will improve it. While Sumériens will disappear, comparable by the Semites after the arrival of Amorrites, a new era opens in the history mésopotamienne, the paléo-Babylonian Period or amorrite.
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