Vie du programme REFEMA (2012-2014)

En 2012-2014, 4 workshops et un colloque international sont organisés dans le cadre du programme de recherche REFEMA.

Workshop n° 1 (Nanterre, novembre 2012): Femmes et économie en Mésopotamie antique: le cadre domestique

Workshop n° 2 (Tokyo, juin 2013): Le rôle économique des femmes dans l’espace public en Mésopotamie: de l’atelier au marché (1)

Workshop n° 3 (Carqueiranne, septembre 2013): Le rôle économique des femmes dans l’espace public en Mésopotamie: de l’atelier au marché (2)

Workshop n° 4 (Tokyo, mai 2014): Femmes et Patrimoine: Constitution, conservation et transmission des biens familiaux

Colloque final (Nanterre, novembre 2014): Travail et société: la part du féminin

Contributions mises en ligne 2012-2014

Attention: les contributions mises en ligne sur ce carnet de recherche n’ont pas le statut « d’articles publiés ». Il ne s’agit que de premiers résultats provisoires obtenus lors des travaux, présentations et discussions menés au cours des ateliers préparatoires du programme REFEMA et que ce blog propose de mettre sans attendre à disposition. Ils sont donc susceptibles à ce titre d’être en permanence modifiés, remaniés ou supprimés.

À fin 2013, la liste des 21 contributions disponibles et mises en ligne en 2012-2014 est la suivante (par ordre alphabétique des 12 auteurs ayant participé aux quatre ateliers REFEMA réunis en 2012-2014 à Nanterre, Tokyo et Carqueiranne):

Cousin, Laura
– Dowry management in the neo-Babylonian period: A case study
– Female perfume-makers in neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian documents

Joannès, Francis
– La place des femmes dans l’économie domestique néo-babylonienne
– The economic role of women in neo-Babylonian temples

Justel, Josué
– The Economic Role of Women during the Crisis in Emar, Syria

Karahashi, Fumi
– The Laws of Ur-Namma and Women’s Property
– Felt-makers, Doorkeepers, and Cantors in the Early Dynastic Lagash É-MÍ Corpus: Some Observations
– šu-í “Barber” and šu-í-munus “Female Barber” in the Early Dynastic Lagash Texts*

Lafont, Bertrand
– Women economic activities at home and outside home during the Ur III period
– State employment of women during the Ur III period

Lion, Brigitte
– Real Estate Dowries and Counter-Dowries in the Kingdom of Arrapḫe

Matsushima, Eiko
– Women in a Cultic Context
Women who played the role of interceder: Part 1
Women who played the role of interceder: Part 2

Michel, Cécile
– Women and Economy in the Family Sphere According to the Old Assyrian Sources
– Assyrian Women’s Contribution to International Trade with Anatolia

Nakata, Ichiro
– The Woman in Marriage as Reflected in the Code of Hammurabi
– nadītum-women in the Field Lease Contracts from Sippar

Tolini, Gauthier
– Women and family solidarities in the Murašû Archive (Nippur – Fifth century B.C.)
– The economic activities of Isḫunnatu, a slave woman of the Egibi Family

Watai, Yoko
– Project of prosopographical study of Neo-Babylonian women (french version)
– Project of prosopographical study of Neo-Babylonian women (japanese version)

Yamada, Masumishi
– The almattu-azibtu Formula in the Emar Texts
– On amīltūtu in Emar
– Because She is a Daughter of Emar
– The Women Designated ‘Man and Woman’ in Emar and Ekalte

Final Conference of the REFEMA research program (Nanterre, 5-7 November 2014)

Travail et société: la part du féminin

The Role of Women in Work and Society



Final conference of the REFEMA research program

Nanterre, 5-7 November 2014

Scientific Committee of the Conference:
Francis Joannès (Université Paris-1, Paris),
Fumi Karahashi (Chûo University, Tokyo)
Brigitte Lion (Université Lille-III, Lille, organisatrice)
Eiko Matsushima (Hôsei University, Tokyo)
Cécile Michel (CNRS, Nanterre, organisatrice)
Ichiro Nakata (Chûo University, Tokyo)

French historians were concerned by women since more than twenty years with the publication of the five volumes under the direction of Georges Duby and Michèle Perrot, L’Histoire des femmes en Occident (History of Women in Occident). However, as the title suggests, this important work did not included the Ancient Near East. For this extremely large domain, there is now a great deal of limited studies on women and gender history, but few syntheses. Moreover, in these studies, the topic work has not been much addressed.

In Greek Antiquity, Xenophon (Oeconomicus) makes a gender division of labor: women are “adapted” to inside works, and men to outside works. Since the middle of the 19th century, work consists in having an activity and being paid for this activity. Census in France thus distinguishes active people from inactive people. Farmers’ wives, for example, were not, until very recently, recognized as wage earners. So, even if they do not get out of their home, women work, they have occupations that are not necessarily socially recognized and not paid for their work, as for example their domestic activities.

It seems indispensable to make a distinction between women at work and women’s jobs. It could be also interesting to see if women’s jobs are different from men’s jobs, and to study the gender-based division of work. Moreover, economic occupations depend on the status of people (slave or free, religious or lay persons), and on the milieu in which they are born and live (city or countryside, private household or institutional organization), so it is important to cross-check all these data.

The idea of the workshop is not to have a comprehensive approach of all the existing women economic occupations, but the choice must be representative enough to address issues depending on various domains: social, economic, religious, etc. from varied point of view: archaeological, historical, sociological, ethnological, etc. and if possible, with a gender perspective.

The various sessions could be arranged around several themes, for example with

  • Women’s jobs?
  • The activities of women at home
  • Women of power
  • Women in men’s milieu
  • Knowledgeable women
  • Seals and specific marks of women, etc.

This conference is the closure event of the French-Japanese (ANR & JSPS) research program the Economic Role of Women in the Ancient Mesopotamia (Rôle Economique des Femmes en Mésopotamie Ancienne: REFEMA, 2012-2014). The goal of this project is to use the ancient Mesopotamian written sources (IIIrd-Ist millennia BCE) to study the various aspects of women as economic agents, inside and outside of the family structure. Inside the family, women were essential for the preservation and transmission of wealth and heritage. They were also the main actors of the production of goods necessary for everyday life. In some instances, their activities exceeded the simple needs of the family unit and were integrated within the production of large organizations or commercial channels.

Why a French-Japanese program? We are not neutral in our study of the past: the manner in which a researcher produces the History, that is to say his/her reconstruction of ancient societies, of systems of production, of the organization of power, is a particularly important mechanism. It seemed all the more interesting to take advantage of possible alternative approaches depending on whether we consider the Ancient Mesopotamian situation from contemporary Japanese or French point of views. In this perspective, four workshops have been organized dealing with the economic role of women in the household, in the public sphere and in the process of constitution, conservation and inheritance of family assets.

B. Lion (Lille III) and C. Michel (CNRS, Nanterre)

Participation au colloque sur invitation. Les 29 participants prévus sont les suivants:

France (14 participants)

Catherine Breniquet (Professeur Université Clermont-Ferrand 2)
Philippe Clancier (Maître de Conférences, Université Paris 1)
Laura Cousin (Doctorante, Université Paris 1)
Sophie Démare (Professeur Université Paris 2)
Francis Joannès (Professeur Université Paris 1)
Bertrand Lafont (Directeur de Recherche au CNRS, ArScAn Nanterre)
Camille Lecompte (Chargé de Recherche au CNRS, ArScAn Nanterre)
Brigitte Lion (Professeur, Université Lille 3)
Cécile Michel (Directrice de Recherche au CNRS, ArScAn Nanterre)
Julien Monerie (Doctorant et ATER, Université Paris 1)
Virginie Muller (Doctorante, Université Lyon 2)
Violaine Sébillotte (Professeur Université Paris 1)
Nele Ziegler (Directrice de Recherche au CNRS, Proche-Orient et Caucase, Paris)

Japon (6 participants)

Fumi Karahashi (Professeur Chûo University, Tokyo)
Eiko Matsushima (Professeur Hôsei University, Tokyo)
Ichiro Nakata (Directeur du Musée d’Orient et Chûo University, Tokyo)
Daisuke Shibata (Assistant Professor Tsukuba University, Tokyo)
Yoko Wataï (Post-doctorante Chûo University, Tokyo, et ArScAn Nanterre)
Masamichi Yamada (Lecturer Chûo University, Tokyo)

Europe (7 participants)

Adelheid Otto (Professeur Université de Mayence)
Katrien de Graef (Assistant Professor Université de Gand)
Agnès Garcia-Ventura (Post-doctorante Université de Barcelone)
Josué Justel (Post-doctorant Université de Saragosse)
Saana Svärd Teppo (Post-doctorante Université d’Helsinki)
Maria-Giovanna Biga (Professeur Université La Sapienza, Rome)
Matteo Vigo (Post-doctorant, CTR, University de Copenhague)

Etats-Unis (2 participants)

Jerold Cooper (Professeur Johns Hopkins University)
Massimo Maiocchi (The Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago)



Assyrian Women’s Contribution to International Trade with Anatolia

The Assyrian women* living in Aššur during the 19th century BC had own property in their own right, independent of their husbands and also distinct from their dowries.[1] Their capital originated, at least partially, from their contribution to the long distance trade with Anatolia, established by the Assyrians since the end of the 20th century BC. The following presentation is devoted to the involvement of women in this international trade and their income from the sale of their textiles.

Textile production is well-known in large scale manufacturing organised by Ur III or Old Babylonian palaces; archaeological material also documents the private sphere, with discoveries of spindle whorls and loom weights in houses. The Old Assyrian level has not been excavated at Aššur, thus to understand textile production in this city, we rely almost exclusively on written sources. Thanks to the numerous letters sent by women from Aššur to their family members at Kaneš, we can follow the private textile production in Aššur and the conditions of its sale in Anatolia. The sale of women’s textiles in Anatolia generated revenues for them. To estimate the women’s contribution to the international trade it is necessary to evaluate the income per garment and the number of textiles produced by a household.


1. Textile production

The cuneiform documentation excavated at Kültepe, with the help of other corpuses, allow the reconstruction in varying amount of detail of the textile production by Aššur women, from the purchase of wool to the sale of textiles in Anatolia, or their use for clothing family members.

1.1. Purchase of wool

From the letters they sent to Kaneš, we learn that the Assyrian women used large quantities of wool for the production of textiles, both for their households and for the long distance trade with Anatolia.[2] The wool was bought on the market in Aššur or at the city gate. The kutānum-textile, which was the most common type of fabric exported to the West by Aššur women, could be woven with expensive wool from Šurbu located in the Hamrin Mountains, Southeast of Aššur, in an area well-known for sheep breeding.[3]

Women’s letters refer regularly to the lack of wool on the market. According to the Royal archives from Mari dated to the 18th century BC, this could be caused by political tensions.[4] In a letter sent to the king, a high official, proposed that the plucking of the sheep should take place, not as it used to be, in the vicinity of Aššur, but where the flocks used to graze, in the Suhûm, Southeast of Mari: “The plucking (of sheep) from Suhûm must be done here, so that the Aššur people come and it must be here that they take the wool.”[5] This was a way for Mari to control the people of the Suhûm, and their contact with the Assyrians. As herds no longer came to Aššur, wool was lacking on the market.[6]

When they could not find wool at a reasonable price on the market, women wrote from Aššur to their relatives in Anatolia asking them for small quantities of wool: “(Here), in the City (of Aššur), wool is expensive” and “When you send the purse, enclose some wool”.[7] Lamassī complains that she did not receive the wool sent by her husband from Anatolia:[8] “You wrote me as follows: ‘Ahuqar and Ia-šar are bringing you each 5 minas of wool.’ (But) they gave me nothing! Ia-šar (said) as follows: ‘I will myself make one textile for him.’ ” Wool was then carried to Aššur on donkeys together with gold and silver.[9] But these wool shipments to Aššur concern only small quantities of wool, because of the cost of the transport.

1.2. Manufacturing of textiles

If the wool bought on the Aššur market was in the form of raw material, one had to remove from it dust and waste wool. It was aired, disentangled, cleaned by teasing, and could be combed before being spun into a thread.[10] None of these activities are attested by our documentation, but we can imagine that they were time-consuming. An Ur III text indicates that one woman could clean and comb 125g in a day.[11]

It has been presumed that spinning and weaving were the main activity of all the women of the house, including young girls, elderly women and female slaves.[12] Women’s letters sent to Anatolia contain allusions to the making of textiles, but data are scarce and technical details not always clear. The Assyrian merchants marketing the Assyrian products in Central Asia were able to judge the quality of the textiles and to give them technical advice. Puzur-Aššur sent a letter to the lady Waqqurtum insisting on the thinness of the textile and its density: “Add per piece one mina more of wool than you used for the previous textile you sent me, but they must remain thin!”, and giving its size, 4.5×4 metres: “A finished textile that you make must be nine cubits long and eight cubits wide.”[13] This implies that it was not woven in one piece. This letter which was sent to Aššur was found in Kaneš lower city, it could be a copy. Merchants’ remarks about the textile qualities were sometimes quoted by the women while answering back, as in this letter sent by Lamassī to her husband:[14] 

« Why do you write to me every time as follows: ‘The textiles which you keep sending me are not good?’ Who is this man who lives in your house and who is criticizing the textiles when they get to him? »

They also cite some received advice indicating that they followed it. But there could be some misunderstanding. When Lamassī wrote to her husband that she had reduced the size – i.e. put less wool – in her textiles, that was presumably not what Pūšu-kēn intended; he wanted denser, i.e. warmer textiles:[15]

As for the textiles about which you wrote to me as follows: ‘They are (too) small, they are not good!’ Was it not at your own request that I reduced the size? And now you write (again), saying as follows: ‘Process half a mina (of wool) more in each of your textiles.’ Well, I have done so.”

According to another letter, she added half a mina of wool per textile but alerts her husband that those she is sending were made previously:[16]

Those to which I am adding ½ mina (of wool) each, I will send you with Ia-šar. Those that Urani is bringing you, (were made) earlier, before you wrote to me.”

Assyrian women were thus producing textiles to be exported to Anatolia, their production was much appreciated there and it was improved by advice given by merchants aware of the demands of the local market.

1.3. Transport of textiles to Anatolia

Once woven, textiles needed to be finished, i.e. cleaned; this was done by the ašlākum, the “washerman”, usually a male specialist. It is not clear whether the textiles sent to Anatolia were finished in Aššur or not, but when they were sent as garments for the Assyrian merchants there, they were first cleaned in Aššur as we learn from this letter, again from Lamassī to her husband:[17] 

“As for the textile (made of wool) from Šurbu about which you wrote me as follows: ‘Send me a garment for me to wear’, the garment has indeed been made, but (it is) now with the washerman, so I have not yet sent (it) up to you. I will send up to you by a later (caravan) the textile (made of wool) from Šurbu for you to wear.”

Women of Aššur used to entrust several textiles to travellers going along with caravans of merchandise to Kaneš: “I will send to you with later caravans whatever textiles I can manage (to make).”[18] These transporters added the textiles to their own consignment and so would generally not accept more than ten textiles, often less; they also regularly refuse to take textiles as Lamassī complains:[19]

“Kulumaya is bringing you 9 textiles. Iddin-Suen is bringing you 3 textiles. Ela refused to accept textiles (for transport). Iddin-Suen refused to accept 5 textiles more (for transport).”

An average of entrusted textiles could be five pieces according to Pūšu-kēn who writes to his wife: “Give to the servants good quality textiles in lots of five so that they carry (them) to me.”[20] Women usually specified in letters sent separately the number and quality of the textiles they sent: “Abatananum is bringing you 3 kutānum-textiles. Šumī-abia is bringing you 1 heavy textile.”[21] But they could not be always certain that their textiles arrived at the destination. In the following letter, Lamassī asks her husband to acknowledge the receipt of her textiles:[22]

“When you were still here, I gave to Aššur-malik 1 heavy textile, and upon his return, I gave him 1 kamdum-textile (and) 3 kutānum-textiles. Why, though I repeatedly send textiles to you (do you claim that you have not received any)? Send me a message saying if he did or did not bring (them) to you so that I know (about it)!”

We have no idea about the cost of the transport; perhaps the women had some agreements with the transporters, paying their services in kind. But taxes were deduced on the price of the textiles according to the following letter sent by Šūbultum: “Dān-Aššur is bringing you 7 kutānum-textiles (and) a tablet with my seal; they are not liable to dātum-toll and import tax.”[23]


2. An activity paid by piecework

The sale of their textiles by relatives in Anatolia assured an income to these women of Aššur. But only part of their production was commercialized.

2.1. Textile production for exports

In fact, the intensive production of textiles by Aššur women was intended both to dress the household members and for the international trade. We have no data about the existence of a centralized textile production in Aššur, as it is attested for example during the Middle Assyrian period.[24] There is also no mention of the purchase of large amounts of wool by local institutions. Textiles sold by Aššur eponyms could have previously been bought by the House of the eponyms or Town Hall to Babylonian merchants or to Aššur houses.[25] The import of numerous Babylonian textiles supplemented local production, and thousands of textiles were thus exported each year to Anatolia.[26]

It seems clear that the textile production of these Aššur households exceeded their needs; the surplus was sent to Anatolia, thus contributing to the international trade. The Assyrian merchants’ demand in Anatolia was very high as we understand from Ababaya’s letter to Kulia: “What is the purpose of constantly writing me as follows:  ‘Send me five textiles!’ ”,[27] or from Lamassī’s letters to her husband: “I try my best to make and send textiles to you!”.[28] As well, Tarām-Kūbi wrote to her husband Innaya that she could not follow the demand: “6You keep sending me consignments (of silver); but, here, I cannot send you (in return) each time textiles that (are) heavy.”[29]

Production of textiles intended for export to Anatolia was difficult to combine with weaving of textiles for home use.[30] With about a dozen of people to clothe at home, their need for textiles was important as explains Lamassī to her husband:[31]

“If you are my master, do not be angry on account of the garments about which you have written me and (which) I have not sent you. Since (our) girl has grown up, I have made a few heavy textiles for the wagon. And I also made garments for the household personnel and for the children, (this is why) I could not manage to send you some textiles. I will send you with later caravans whatever textiles I can manage (to make).”

Moreover, some of the garments made in Aššur and sent to Anatolia were not for sale but for the Assyrian men to wear, husbands, brothers and sons, and other relatives of the Aššur women. As mentioned earlier, Lamassī made for Pūšu-kēn a garment from expensive Šurbu wool. Some fabrics could even be sent as garment for the local family of the Assyrian traders. The daughter of Aššur-nādā sent a shawl for the Anatolian wife of her father, adding “(…) I shall (so) love your amtum-wife who is with you in Kaneš.”[32]

Wealthy households in Aššur could include about ten women, including the aged ones, young daughter-in-laws, children, and female slaves. A half-dozen or so of small size textiles could be necessary yearly to cloth both these women and their male relatives in Anatolia.

2.2. Payment for the exported textiles

As their textiles were sold on the Anatolian markets, Aššur women received back small amounts of silver.[33] This is quite clear from several letters sent by women who claim the price of their textiles, as, for example, Tarām-Kūbi in a letter to her brother Imdīlum: “Why don’t you send to me the proceeds from my textiles?”[34], or Lamassī to her husband: “Concerning the textiles that Aššur-malik brought with the previous caravan, why don’t you send me the silver?”[35] or “As for me, in order that from each caravan trip at least 10 shekels of silver accrue to your house, I try my best to make and send textiles to you![36]

Some letters give detailed accounts between husband and wife concerning the sale of textiles, as for example this message sent by Pūšu-kēn to Lamassī and for which we have a copy excavated at Kaneš:[37]

“The pri[ce] of your previous textiles has been paid to you. Concerning the 20 textiles that you gave [to] Puzur-Aššur: 1 textile for the import tax, 2 textiles as purchase, 17 textiles of yours remain. Ahuqar brought me 6 textiles, Ia-šar brought me 6 textiles, Iddin-Suen brought me 2 textiles; to these, I added 3 textiles for Puzur-Aššur. I made for him an upqum-packet of 20 textiles and I put (it) at his disposal. The remainder of [your textiles], 11 textiles, (are) on my account.
[For] these, Kulumaya is bringing you under my seal 1 ½ minas of silver – its import [tax] added, its transport tax paid for. You w[rote me] as follows: ‘In[cluded with] the textiles that I sent [you] (are) 2 textiles from Šūbultum.’ (So) of the 1 [½ minas] of silver that Kulumaya is bringing [to you], 1 mina of silver (is) yours (and) give ½ m[ina] to Šūbultum. They will bring me from Burušhattum the price of the heavy textile from Šūb[ultum]. I will get together the 7 shekels of silver from Ilī-bāni that the son of Kuzari has paid and the silver from the sale of the rest of your textiles and will send [(it) to you] by Iddin-Suen.”

Pūšu-kēn explains here to his wife how the 20 textiles she sent him have been sold and details the amount of silver she can expect from their sale. Among these, were some textiles made by Šūbultum who should get back their proceeds.

Letters often quote amounts of silver sent to women in Aššur.[38] Also, several private notices list šēbultum-consignments; these correspond to small amounts of silver or gold meant for women,[39] which could sometimes correspond to the payment for textiles they had sent to Kaniš for sale, even if this is not always indicated. With the silver they received, women of Aššur could buy grain for their household and wool to make more textiles: “The time is now, be sure to send me silver you have in exchange for my textiles, so that I can buy barley, about 10 ṣimdu measures (ca. 300 l.).”[40]


3. Evaluation of their contribution to the international trade

Part of the payment they received for their textiles increased the personal capital of women. It is almost impossible to give an evaluation of the percentage that was spent on food and daily life goods and that which they kept for them or reinvested in financial operations. But we can try to compute the income per garment as well as the textiles produced yearly by Aššur households. 

3.1. Income per garment

Because we lack documentation from Aššur, it is quite difficult to estimate the income per textile. However, some letters sent to Kaneš give indications about the amount of silver women hoped to receive or did receive for the textiles they sent. In a message addressed to her brother, Tarām-Kūbi complains that her textiles have been underpaid:[41]

“Kutallānum brought you 6 textiles in his previous transport. 7-8You sent me 1 mina 10 shekels of silver, 8-11but [si]nce you left, you have never sent me any other consignment. 11-14To whom else but me would you send (only) 1 mina 10 shekels for 6 textiles? 15-16(Now) Kutallānum is bringing you 6 kutānum-textiles. 17-18If you (are) my brother, you should not send me (less) than ⅓ mina per (textile)!”

The 6 textiles transported by Kutallānum were paid 1 mina 10 shekels, thus 11 2/3 shekels a piece, but Tarām-Kūbi claims 1/3 mina per textile (i.e. 20 shekels). In the following letter, Ištar-lamassī received 12 shekels of silver, plus another 5 shekels for a textile, thus 17 shekels: “Enna-Suen is bringing you a textile (…) Enna-Suen brought me 12 shekels of silver, and he also brought me another 5 shekels separately.”[42] As a matter of comparison, a list of expenses made in Anatolia for a wedding feast quote the purchase of 5 kutānum-textiles at a price of 5/6 minas, thus 10 shekels a piece.[43] But we know that such quality textiles could be sold at 15 shekels a piece in Kaneš; thus, after all the taxes deduced, women could hope to get back between 10 and 12 shekels for each textile they sent to Anatolia. Taxes were indeed levied on the textiles sent to Anatolia, and on the silver sent back to Aššur. According to the letter of Pūšu-kēn to his wife quoted above,[44] on an amount of 20 textiles, one piece was given to pay the import tax (5% of the textiles) and two others were bought by the palace at a low price (equivalent to the tithe of 10%). On the silver, proceeds of the textiles, a transport tax was levied by the kārum authorities of 1/60 and an import tax by Aššur Town Hall amounting to 4% of the precious metal. On the 1 ½ minas of silver sent, the transport tax has already being paid, and the import tax has been added. So Lamassī receives 1 ½ minas all taxes deducted for 11 textiles, i.e. a little more than 8 shekels each, which is quite low.

The fine and good quality textiles were more expensive according to a letter sent by Puzur-Aššur to Waqqurtum: “The thin textile you sent me, make (more) like it and send (them) to me with Aššur-idī and I will send you ½ mina of silver (apiece).”[45]

To compute the income per textile exported to Anatolia, we need to know the price of the wool at Aššur. Unfortunately, it is not given by texts from Kaneš. However, a royal inscription of Šamšī-Adad I (18th century BC) gives a list of basic commodities and the quantities that one could buy for one shekel of silver: “When I built the temple for the god Enlil, my lord, the prices in my city, Aššur, (were the following): 2 gur of barley could be purchased for 1 shekel of silver; 15 minas of wool for 1 shekel of silver; 2 bán of oil for 1 shekel of silver, according to the prices of my city Aššur.”[46] A price of 15 minas of wool per shekel of silver seems to be the average for Upper Mesopotamia during the first half of the 2nd millennium BC.[47] This price probably applied to raw material. So with 1 shekel of silver it was possible to acquire 15 minas of wool, which could be used to weave 3 textiles.[48] Indeed, according to a letter from Lamassī already quoted, one needed 5 minas of wool (2.5 kg) to make a textile.[49] During the cleaning of wool before spinning, there could be a waste of 20 to 30% of the original wool;[50] with 5 minas of wool it may have been possible to produce a textile weaving about 4 minas (2 kg).

Thus, with the income of one textile corresponding to 10-12 shekels of silver, a woman could buy wool to produce 30 to 36 textiles if she had no other expenses to make, although this was usually not the case. According to a letter sent by the consecrated woman Ištar-lamassī, a third of the sale price of a textile could be invested in the purchase of wool to make various quality textiles:[51]

“Šū-Anum, son of Hanu, brought me 12 shekels of silver (…) From the silver that the son of Hanu brought, I made 1 Abarnian-textile, 2 fine (textiles) and 4 medium quality (textiles), and they are deposited in the …”

With 12 shekels of silver, it was possible to buy 3 talents of wool. She made altogether 7 textiles. With an average of 5 minas per textile, she needed about 35 minas of wool, thus a little more than one fourth of the 12 shekels of silver available. The remaining silver was used to buy barley for the household – Šamšī-Adad’s inscription indicates that it was possible to purchase 2 gur (600 litres) for 1 shekel of silver – other food products, various utensils for the house, and perhaps some textiles to send to Anatolia.

3.2. Estimated number of textiles produced by a household

It is difficult to evaluate the total number of textiles sent annually by each Aššur household; these were supposedly counted in dozens, each weighing about 4 minas, plus or minus one or a half of mina of wool.[52] In fact, in such estimation, each parameter is based on assumptions. However, thanks to the data given in the Ur III corpus and experiments made at the Centre for Textile Research (Copenhagen), we can present a tentative estimation.[53] Our calculations will be based on pieces of textiles measuring 4 × 4.5 metres and weighing 4 minas (2.5 kg), but prepared from 5 minas of raw wool.

The women had first to prepare and comb the raw wool they have purchased. As seen above, a craftsperson would only prepare for spinning about 125 g of wool a day (op. cit. note 11). Thus, for 5 minas, it would have taken 20 days to prepare the necessary amount of cleaned and combed wool. Perhaps this estimation is a little pessimistic.

As for spinning, depending naturally on the thickness of the thread, it is possible to spin an average of 35 to 50 metres of thread per hour.[54] To weave a square metre of textile, depending on the density of the fabric, one needs about 2 km of thread, and some 2 to 5% more for the setting of the loom; one person had thus to spin for 5 days to obtain this 2 km of thread. For a 18 m2 piece (4 × 4.5 metres), at least 36 km of thread were necessary, thus some 3 months of spinning for a single woman.

The preparation of a loom to weave a 3.5 square metre textile needed, according to Ur III texts, the work of three women during three days, and two women could weave on this loom some 50 cm per day.[55] But according to experiments, one person is able to weave about 50 cm per 8 hours day of work depending naturally on the width of the loom.[56] The Assyrian textile measuring 4 × 4.5 metres would presumably not be woven in one piece and we must suppose that it was woven in at least two, preferably three, pieces which were then sewn together. To set up the looms, one needed at least some 9 women-days. If the textile was made from three strips of fabric of 1.5 metres wide each, a woman would achieve it in a minimum of 24 days (3 × 8 days), a number which needs to be double if women were working on the looms by pairs. Adding the different stages of work, we obtain the following results:[57] 

 Tasks / women-days  One woman per loom Two women per loom
 Cleaning and combing






 Setting of the loom(s)






 Total of working


[4 2/3 months]  


[5 months 1/2]  

We can thus reasonably suppose that, if textile production was performed almost throughout the year,[58] a women was able to weave the equivalent of 2 to 2.5 textiles (of 4 × 4.5 m) a year. A wealthy household such as the one of Lamassī could perhaps house a dozen active girls and women who would then be able to produce some 20 to 25 textiles a year, among which 4 or 5 would have been needed each year to clothe the members of the household.

According to the letters found in Kaneš, the shipments of textiles by Aššur women seem indeed quite regular.[59] Lamassī’s textile shipments to her husband can be summarized as follows:[60]


Shipments of textiles by Lamassī and names of transporters

165 Kulumaya: 9 textiles Iddin-Sîn 3 textiles    
166 Kulumaya: 9 textiles Iddin-Sîn 3 textiles    
163 Done : Kulumaya 3 kamsum + 6 kutānum Done: Aššur-malik 5 kutānum Urani = 8 (before adding wool) Ia-šar (later on + ½ mina)
164   Done : Aššur-malik1 heavy+1 kamdum + 3 kutānum    
167 Aššur-bāšti : 2 textiles      
168 Gave 20 textiles to Puzur-Aššur some from Šubultum Iddin-Sîn 2 textiles Ahu-waqar 6 textiles Ia-šār 6 textiles
169 Aššuriš-takil 1 heavy textile      

The first three texts (165, 166, 163) deal with the same shipment transported by Kulumaya, in the first two letters it is announced, according to the third letter, the shipment has been made. The third and the sixth texts both deal with a shipment by Ia-šar (163,168). Texts three and four refer to the same shipment transported by Aššur-malik (163, 164). It is not impossible that the last text refers to more or less the same period. Adding all these textiles together, we obtain a total of 33 textiles sent by Lamassī to Anatolia in a limited span of time, of perhaps a year or two. 

* * *

 Thousands of textiles were exported each year by the Assyrians to Anatolia; the Aššur women production was complemented by textiles bought from the Babylonians and called “Akkadian” textiles. There is no reference to a possible centralized textile production with workshops belonging to the palace or to temples as attested elsewhere in Upper Mesopotamia or Babylonia. Thus, textile production was a private activity, done by women at home.

For one piece of textile, the expenses of wool amounted to 1/3 shekel of silver, and a woman needed some four two-thirds to five and a half months to prepare the wool, spin the thread and weave a 4 × 4.5 m textile weighing 2 kg. The income per textile, minus the price of its wool, was about 11 shekels per item. A woman was able to produce two to two and a half textiles per year, thus a household of a dozen of women could manufacture between twenty-five and thirty textiles per year, most of them being sold in Anatolia; this corresponded to an income average of 5 minas of silver, which was the price of a small house in Aššur.[61] A few texts from Late Bronze Age Aššur show that such a profitable business also went on during the Middle Assyrian period.[62]



Albayrak, İ.
2002     Kültepe’den Değişik Bir Masraf Listesi, Archivum Anatolicum 5, 1-10.

Andersson Strand, E.
2012     The Textile chaîne opératoire: Using a Multidisciplinary Approach to Textile Archaeology with a Focus on the Ancient Near East. In C. Breniquet, M. Tengberg & E. Andersson (eds), with the collaboration of M.-L. Nosch, Prehistory of Textiles in the Ancient Near East, Paléorient 38, 21-40.

Andersson Strand, E. & Cybulska, M.
2013     Visualising Ancient Textiles – how to make a Textile Visible on the Basis of an Interpretation of an Ur III Text. InM.-L. Nosch, H. Koefoed & E. Andersson Strand (eds), Textile Production and Consumption in the Ancient Near East, Ancient Textiles 12, Oxford – Oakville, 113-127.

Breniquet, C.
2008     Essai sur le tissage en Mésopotamie, des premières communautés sédentaires à la fin du IIIème millénaire avant J.-C., Travaux de la Maison René-Ginouvès 5, Paris.

Charpin. D & Durand, J.-M.
1997     Aššur avant l’Assyrie. Mari, Annales de Recherches Interdisciplinaires 8, Paris, 367-392.

Dercksen, J. G.
2004     Old Assyrian Institutions. Publications de l’Institut historique et archéologique néerlandais de Stamboul 98, Leiden.

Firth, R. & Nosch, M.-L.
2012     Spinning and Weaving Wool in Ur III Administrative Texts, Journal of Cuneiform Studies 64, 67-84.

Garelli, P.
1965     Tablettes cappadociennes de collections diverses (suite).  Revue d’Assyriologie 59, 19-48, 149-176.

Grayson, A. K.
1987     Assyrian Rulers of the Third and Second Millennia BC (to 1115 BC). The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Assyrian Periods 1, Toronto.

Günbattı, C.
1987     Ankara Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi’nde Bulunan Üç Tablet, Cumhuriyetin 60. Yıldönümü armaanı, Ankara, 189-199.

Lassen, A. W.
2010     The Trade in Wool in Old Assyrian Anatolia, Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap Ex Oriente Lux 42, 159-179.
in press Wool in Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Period. In C. Breniquet & C. Michel (eds) Wool Economy in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean: From the Beginnings of Sheep Husbandry to Institutional Textile Industry, Ancient Textiles 17, Oxford – Oakville.

Michel, C.
1998     Les enfants des marchands de Kaniš. In B. Lion, C. Michel & P. Villard (eds), Enfance et éducation au Proche-Orient ancien, Actes de la table ronde, Nanterre, Décembre 1997, Ktèma 22, 1997, 91-108. (
2001     Correspondance des marchands de Kaniš au début du IIe millénaire avant J.-C. LAPO 19. Paris.
2006     Femmes et production textile à Aššur au début du IIe millénaire avant J.-C. Techniques et culture 46, 281-297. (
2013     Women and Economy in the Family’s Sphere According to the Old Assyrian Sources, First International Workshop of the French-Japanese ANR programme Chorus REFEMA (Rôle économique des femmes en Mésopotamie ancienne), Nanterre, November 2012, online publication (
in press      Wool Trade in Upper Mesopotamia and Syria According to Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian Texts. In C. Breniquet & C. Michel (eds) Wool Economy in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean: From the Beginnings of Sheep Husbandry to Institutional Textile Industry, Ancient Textiles 17, Oxford – Oakville.
to appear      Women in Aššur and Kaniš according to the private archives of the Assyrian merchants at beginning of the IInd millennium B.C., Writings from the Ancient World, SBL, Baltimore

Michel, C. & Veenhof, K. R.
2010     The Textiles Traded by the Assyrians in Anatolia (19th-18th centuries BC). In C. Michel & M.-L. Nosch (eds), Textile Terminologies in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean from the Third to the First Millennia BC, Ancient Textiles 8. Oxford – Oakville, 210-271.

Postgate, J. N.
in press    Wool, Hair and Textiles in Assyria. In C. Breniquet & C. Michel (eds) Wool Economy in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean: From the Beginnings of Sheep Husbandry to Institutional Textile Industry, Ancient Textiles 17, Oxford – Oakville.

Thomason, A. K.
2013     Her Share of the Profits: Women, Agency, and Textile Production at Kültepe/Kanesh in the Early Second Millennium BC. In M.-L. Nosch, H. Koefoed & E. Andersson Strand (eds.), Textile Production and Consumption in the Ancient Near East. Archaeology, Epigraphy, Iconography. 93-112. Ancient Textiles Series 12, Oxford – Oakville.

Veenhof, K.R.
1972     Aspects of Old Assyrian Trade and its Terminology. Studia et  Documenta 10. Leiden.
1977     Some social effects of the Old Assyrian Trade. Iraq 39, 109-118.
2011     Houses in the ancient city of Assur, in B. S. Düring, A. Wossink & P. M. M. G. Akkermans, Correlates of Complexity. Essays in Archaeology and Assyriology Dedicated to Diederik J. W. Meijer in Honour of his 65th Birthday, PIHANS 116, 211-231.

Waetzoldt, H.
1972     Untersuchungen zur neusumerischen Textilindustrie. Roma.
2010     The Colours and Variety of Fabrics from Mesopotamia during the Ur III Period (2050BC). In C. Michel & M.-L. Nosch (eds), Textile Terminologies in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean from the Third to the First Millennia BC, 210-271. Ancient Textiles 8. Oxford – Oakville, 201-209.


* CNRS, ArScAn-HAROC, Maison Archéologie et Ethnologie, Nanterre. I would like to thank very much Richard Firth for his revision of my text.

[1] Michel 2013.
[2] Michel 2006b, 290-293; Michel in press.
[3] TC 2, 7:25-26 = Michel 2001, no. 108: “There is no Šurbu-wool available”. ‘Tablet Rendell’ = Michel to appear, no. 167, to Pūšu-kēn by his wife Lamassī: “As for the textile (made of wool) from Šurbu about which you wrote me (…) I will send up to you by a later (caravan) the textile (made of wool) from Šurbu for you to wear”. For good quality textiles made of this type of wool, see TC 2, 14:6. The location of Šurbu is discussed by Dercksen 2004, 16, note 32; Michel & Veenhof 2010, 221.
[4] Michel in press.
[5] Charpin & Durand 1997, 377 and 387-391, No. 4 (A 2459):rev.3’-6’, ù bu-qú-um Su-hi-im, an-na-nu-um li-ib-ba-qí-im-ma, ù lú-meš Aš-šu-ru-úki li-il-li-ku-nim-ma, an-na-nu-um-ma síg li-il-qú-ú.
[6]Another letter mentions the Assyrians complaining about the Suhûm people who prevented access for their traders, sheep, and wool, see Charpin & Durand 1997, No. 5 (A 4535-bis).
[7] BIN 4, 9 = Michel to appear, no. 163; Garelli 1965, 158, No. 25 = Michel to appear no. 147; BIN 6, 7 = Michel to appear.
[8] BIN 4, 9 = Michel to appear, no. 163.
[9] Prag I 554:9-10 mentions a shipment of silver to Aššur that includes “3 minas of wool for Waqqurtum”. Michel & Veenhof 2010, 216; Lassen 2010. There were important wool markets southeast of Kaneš, Michel 2006b; Dercksen 2004, 273-274; Lassen 2010, 167-170; Lassen in press.
[10] See Michel in press. “One comb” 1 mu-uš-ṭum , CCT 3, 31 = Michel to appear, no. 221:29.
[11] Waetzoldt 1972, T. 32, rev. i6-14, and Waetzoldt 2010, 207.
[12] Veenhof 1972, Michel 2006b, Michel to appear, chapters 3 and 4.
[13] TC 3, 17 = Michel to appear no. 162.
[14] BIN 6, 11 = Michel to appear, no. 165.
[15] BIN 4, 10 = Michel to appear, no. 164.
[16] BIN 4, 9 = Michel to appear, no. 163.
[17] Rendell = Michel to appear, no. 167.
[18] CCT 3, 20 Michel to appear no. 166.
[19] BIN 6, 11 = Michel to appear, no. 165. See also: texts 163 (Lamassī): “Urani is bringing you 8 textiles. Those to which I am adding ½ mina (of wool) each, I will send you with Ia-šar”.
[20] CCT 6, 11a = Michel to appear, no. 168.
[21] CCT 4, 8a = Michel to appear, no. 227 from Abaya to her brother-in-law Innaya.
[22] BIN 4, 10 = Michel to appear, no. 164.
[23]BIN 4, 85 = Michel to appear, no. 222.
[24] However, Dercksen 2004, 16 suggested that centralized and institutional production did exist. For the Middle Assyrian sources, see Postgate in press. It is attested also during the Old Babylonian period at Mari.
[25] Günbattı 1987, 197, and TPAK 1, 143; see Dercksen 2004, 14-15.
[26] Veenhof 1977, 114, note 18
[27] AKT 5, 9 = Michel to appear, no. 133
[28] BIN 6, 11 = Michel to appear, no. 165.
[29] CCT 3, 23b = Michel to appear no. 207.
[30] Veenhof 1972, p. 103-123; Michel 1998, p. 101-102; Michel 2006b; Michel to appear.
[31] CCT 3, 20 = Michel to appear no. 166.
[32] BIN 4, 88 = Michel to appear 172. See also text no. 221 for various textiles sent to women in Anatolia.
[33] Veenhof 1972; Michel 2001 (chapter 7); Michel 2006b; Thomason 2013.
[34] TC 1 5 = Michel to appear.
[35] RA 59 159 = Michel to appear. See also CCT 4, 21b = Michel to appear no. 169 to Pūšu-kēn and Aššur-malik from Lamassī: “Concerning the heavy textile that I sent you with the caravan of Aššuriš-takil, son of Sukkallia, it has arrived, (but) Pūšu-kēn (said) as follows: ‘He did not give (it) to me!’ There, make him acknowledge it and send me silver or the (equivalent of the) merchandise that is (waiting) for years!”
[36] BIN 6, 11 = Michel to appear, no 165. See also TC 3, 17 = Michel to appear, no.162 from Puzur-Aššur to Waqqurtum: “1 mina of silver – its import tax added, its transport fee paid – Aššur-idī brings you under my seal.” Then, it mentions the receipt of textiles.
[37] CCT 6, 11a = Michel to appear, no. 168.
[38] CCT 4, 13b = Michel to appear, no. 218 : Ab-šalim received successively 5 shekels by Ištar-palil, 5 shekels by Ataya and 3 shekels of silver by Nūr-kī-ilī. KTS 1, 2a = Michel to appear, no. Text 201: the same lady received 10 shekels more. See also BIN 4, 88 = Michel to appear, no. 172 written by a woman: “Ennam-Aššur br[ought me] ½ mina 5 shekels of silver. Puzur-Ištar brought me 5 shekels of silver (and) 3 shekels of gol[d]. Ṭāb-ṣilli-Aššur brought me 5 shekels of silver (and) 5 minas of copper.”
[39] See for example CCT 6, 27b = Michel to appear, no. 174, in which Lamassī and her daughter Ahaha receive 13 shekels of siliver, Šūbultum, 1 ½ shekels, Tarīš-mātum and Bēlātum, 1 ½ shekels and Lamassātum, 1 ½ shekels; or KTS 1, 50a = Michel to appear, no. 224 where Ab-šalim and Ahaha receive some silver as well.
[40] CCT 3, 24 = Michel to appear, no. 128.
[41] Or 50, no. 2 = Michel to appear, no. 170.
[42] LB 1201 = Michel to appear, no. 171.
[43] Albayrak 2002, p. 1-10 = Michel to appear, no. 14.
[44] CCT 6, 11a = Michel to appear, no. 168.
[45] TC 3, 17 = Michel to appear, no. 162. Confirmed by AKT 2, 52 = Michel to appear, no. 173, letter to to Mannum-kī-Aššur: thus (says) Šīmat-Sîn: “I gave one fine kutānum-textile to Šū-Enlil asa tadmiqtum-interest-free loan. He promised me ½ mina of silver.
[46] Grayson 1987, A.0.39.1:59-72, i-nu-ma é dEn-líl, be-lí-ia, e-pu-šu, ki-lam a-li-ia A-šur4ki, a-na 1 gín kù-babbar, 2 gur še, a-na 1 gín kù-babbar, 15 ma-na síg, a-na 1 gín kù-babbar, 2 bán ì, i-na ki-lam a-li-ia, A-šur4ki, lu-ú iš-ša-am.
[47] Michel in press.
[48] Rendell = Michel to appear, no. 167, cited above.
[49] BIN 4, 9 = Michel to appear, no. 163; Veenhof 1972, 89.
[50] According to an Ur III tablet, when the raw wool was very durty, the losses in cleaning could go up to 50%, see Waetzoldt Waetzoldt 1972, T. 32, rev. i6-14.
[51]LB 1201 = Michel 2001, no. 363 = Michel to appear no. 171.
[52] Veenhof 1972, 89-90. For the variation of the quantity of wool per textile, see the following texts: TC 3, 17 = Michel to appear, no. 162, “Add per piece one mina more of wool than you used for the previous textile you sent me, but they must remain thin!”; LB 1201 = Michel to appear, no. 163, “Those to which I am adding ½ mina (of wool) each, I will send you with Ia-šar. Those that Urani is bringing you, (were made) earlier, before you wrote to me.”; BIN 4, 10 = Michel to appear, no. 164, “Process half a mina (of wool) more in each of your textiles.”
[53] This research is in progress. It is carried out within the framework of the Projet International de Cooperation Scientifique (PICS) CNRS – DNRF Textiles from Orient to the Mediterranean from the Third to the First millennia BC (2012-2014), coordinated by C. Michel (France) and M.-L. Nosch (Danemark). A more detailed study will be presented in the forthcoming workshop Traditional Textile Craft – an Intangible Cultural Heritage (Jordan, March 2014).
[54] Andersson 2012, 34.
[55] Waetzoldt 1972, T. 32:iii4-rev i14, and Waetzoldt 2010, 205.
[56] Andersson Strand 2012, 35.
[57]As a matter of comparison, Firth & Nosch 2012 have made an estimate for the production of an Ur III túgguz-za fabric, measuring 3.5 × 3.5 metres and weighing 2 kg,  with the data of the text Waetzoldt 1972, T. 32, rev. i6-14: it amounted to 130 days including cleaning and combing. If we scale up to the size of a kutānum-textile, supposing a textile of a similar density, then this would become 192 days. For a different interpretation of the same Ur III text, see Andersson Strand & Cybulska 2013.
[58] According to Breniquet 2008, it was more a seasonal activity.
[59] See for example the two lettres to Innaya from Abaya, BIN 4, 10 = Michel to appear, no. 164, “Ilī-bāni is bringing him 1 namašuhhum-textile from Ahaha for the servant, and later, I will send him 1 nibrārum-textile.” CCT 4, 8a = Michel to appear, no. 227, “. Abatananum is bringing you 3 kutānum-textiles. Šumī-abia is bringing you 1 heavy textile.”
[60] Text numbers are those of Michel to appear.
[61] Veenhof 2011, 226.
[62] Postgate in press.

Felt-makers, Doorkeepers, and Cantors in the Early Dynastic Lagash É-MÍ Corpus: Some Observations

1.     Preliminary

This paper examines three occupations: tug2-du8 “felt-makers” or rather “rope makers and braiders” (Waetzoldt 2007), i3-du8 “doorkeepers,” and gala “cantors” in which a small number of women worked as well as men. It will be seen that each of these occupations, as in the case of šu-i2 “barbers,” included both a group of landed men on one hand, and a group of landless men and women, who were often poorly compensated, on the other.

In this and previous papers, I have categorized people with land as belonging to higher socio-economic strata. These people occur in Type I ration lists, “barley rations given to those who were allocated prebend-land,[1] records of the allocation of prebend land (GAN2 šuku) and of leased land (GAN2 apin-la2), and/or records of assignments of obligatory work such as canal construction and maintenance. Landless workers received monthly barley rations: their names and the amount of barley they received were recorded in Type II lists “barley rations given to blind persons, carriers, and those registered in various tablets,”[2] Type III lists “barley rations given to women and children,” or Type IV lists “barley rations given to those of the households of royal children.”[3] The table below shows in what type of ration lists male and female members of šu-i2 “barbers,” tug2-du8 “felt-makers,” i3-du8 “doorkeepers,” and gala “cantors” can be found.

Types of ration lists and occupations

 Type of ration lists





 Type I

 še-ba lu2-šuku-dab5-ba





 Type II

še-ba igi-nu-du8 il2 ša3-dub-didli







 Type III

 še-ba geme2-dumu


 Type IV

 še-ba lu2-di4-di4-la-ne


M = male; F = female

*gišgal-si/ gala is referred to as a supervisor of weavers: see below 4.3 (2).

2.     tug2-du8 “felt-makers”

2.1. A pair of a male and a female felt-makers: E-ta-e11 and Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4

These two people were repeatedly listed as a pair of felt-makers in Type II ration lists (L6.9—UL5.3b),[4] as follows:

36/48 (sila3) e-ta-e11
36/48 (sila3) nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4

Although Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4 is certainly a female name, no expression such as tug2-du8-munus can be found.[5] In contrast with female barbers (šu-i3-munus) and female doorkeepers (i3-du8-munus), there was no feminine gender-marking for tug2-du8 but we should note that the MUNUS sign was not always written even in the former two cases. Both E-ta-e11 and Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4, regardless of their gender, received the same amount of barley rations, which was either 36 sila or 48 sila. At some point during UL6, Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4 disappeared from the ration list while E-ta-e11 kept his job.[6]

2.2. Felt-makers from higher socio-economical strata

In Type I ration lists, tug2-du8 professionals were not referred to by their individual names. Records just tell us “how many tug2-du8 received how much amount of rations”: for example, “72 sila of barley for a felt-maker”;[7] “four felt-makers with 72 sila of barley each”;[8] “48 sila of barley for a felt-maker, three felt-makers with 42 sila of barley each.”[9] This kind of recording convention is also seen in texts dealing with work assignments or field allotments: for example, “2.5 gi (of canal maintaining work assigned to) the felt-maker”;[10] “4 ¼ iku of prebend-land (allotted to) the felt-maker.”[11] Nevertheless we can collect over ten personal names of felt-makers. We will now take a closer look at one of them, named Al-la, who seems to be the most prominent,.

2.2.1. Al-la tug2-du8

DP 219, dated to L4, recorded that a ram was slaughtered for Bara2-ir-nun, wife of the felt-maker Al-la, in the kitchen when she gave birth to a child.[12] This draws our attention because it reminds us of another similar record: that of Bara2-nam-tara, wife of Lugalanda, who gave birth to a daughter (Munus-sa6-ga) in the same year (Nik 1 209 and DP 218). These are only two women for whom records of their giving birth have been preserved in the ED Lagash corpus. So who was this Bara2-ir-nun, who received as much attention as the queen?

We know that Bara2-ir-nun was already married to Al-la in L2. A document dating from that year listed her as the wife of Al-la and being among the mašdaria-gift-givers.[13] Her husband Al-la is most likely to be identified with Al-la the felt-maker.

In the documents dating from before her marriage, we can spot her among Lugalanda’s sisters,[14] who were also lukur-priestesses at the same time[15] (Steinkeller 1981:84-85, n. 47).

In the two documents where Bara2-ir-nun was referred to as a lukur, receiving 72 sila of barley and 72 sila of emmer (RTC 61 iii 8-9 and DP 134 iii 3-4), her future husband Al-la the felt-maker was also listed. One of these documents (DP 134 rev. ii after the break) recorded that he was given 36 sila of barley and 36 sila of emmer, half of her rations.[16] We know that he cultivated a leased land, and that 840 sila was his še-gub-ba “Gerstenabgabe.”[17] We can safely conclude that the felt-maker Al-la, who married a sister of the ruler, was himself belonged to the upper echelon of society.

3.     i3-du8 “doorkeepers”

3.1. Male and female doorkeepers

12 male and three female doorkeepers were mentioned by name in Type II and other ration lists, in which four to ten people—sometimes only men and sometimes a mixed group of men and women—worked at a given time.

3.1.1. Female doorkeepers

Three female doorkeepers, Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4, Nin-tigix-ni-dug3, and Nin-en-še3-nu-kar2-kar2 are attested.[18]

Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4 and her child daughter are referred to in:

(1) A barley ration list of “the personnel of prince-ship of the god Igalim” (lu2 nam-dumu dig-alim-ka) dating from UL1:[19] Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4, here abbreviated as Nam-šita, received 24 sila, and her daughter received 12 sila.

(2) A wool ration list dating from UL1[20]: Nam-šita received 3 mina and her daughter received ½ mina.

(3) Two emmer-flour ration lists of “the friends of royal children” (ušur3 nam-dumu) dating from UL2[21] and UL3:[22] she received 18 sila in both lists. These seem to indicate that Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4 and her work were at some point related to the household of royal children.[23]

(4) Type II barley ration lists dating from UL2.8b to UL6.4b[24]: she received either 18 or 24 sila, and her daughter received 12 sila.

Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4 was joined by Nin-tigix-ni-dug3 (the earliest attestation of this is UL3.6b) and these two women were listed side by side with the gender marking “(they are) women” (munus-me), immediately following their male counterparts (nita-me) (the latest attestation is UL5.3b).[25] Her ration was 18 sila.

The third female doorkeeper who joined the group was Nin-en-še3-nu-kar2-kar2. She was recorded, for a while (UL4.7b—UL6.8b), as an orphan living with the doorkeeper igi-dba-ba6-še3[26] and, lastly in the ration list dating from UL6.12b,[27] as female doorkeeper (i3-du8-munus-am6). Her ration was also 18 sila.

3.1.2. Male doorkeepers

Of 12 male doorkeepers attested in the Type II ration lists, I will discuss Amar-šuba3, Nam-mah(-ni), Nig2-gur11-kur-ra, and Ur-dinanna, in what follows.

(1) Amar-šuba3 was the only doorkeeper in the extant Type II lists who received 36 sila of barley,[28] and was placed first among this section of doorkeepers (L6.9b-L6.12b).[29]

(2) Nam-mah(-ni) and Nig2-gur11-kur-ra occupied the second and the third place respectively, while Amar-šuba3 seems to have been in charge. After Amar-šuba3 dropped out from the list, Nam-mah(-ni) in turn ascended to the head, and Nig2-gur11-kur-ra rose to the second place (UE2b—UE6b).[30] Later, the order of these two was reversed, with Nig2-gur11-kur-ra preceding Nam-mah(-ni) (UL2.8b—UL5.3b).[31] Both of them were given either 18 or 24 sila of barley rations.
Nig2-gur11-kur-ra and Nam-mah are also found in a Type I ration list dating from UE2b, both receiving 24 sila of barley.[32] This is surprising because, as we have seen above, they occur in the Type II list dating from the very same UE2b: there too their barley rations were 24 sila each. Was this double notation a scribal mistake? Before condemning this to an archival confusion, we should take a couple of documents into consideration.
One is DCS 8 dating from Lugal-an-da-nu-hun-ga2 1 (= L1). This is the record of emmer-flour rations distributed to the surx (ERIM) on the occasion of the festival of the goddess dBa-ba6 (ziz2-ba ERIM-ra ezem-dba-ba6-ka). Deimel (apud Prentice 2010:75, n. 323) equated the surx with those who hold the šuku-allotments (lu2-šuku-dab5-ba).[33] This document also mentions the doorkeeper Nam-mah-ni.[34]
Another relevant document is DP 623, dating from L3. This is a record of assignments of canal maintenance work.[35] In this document the doorkeepers Nig2-gur11-kur-ra and Ur-du6 are mentioned. Since this type of obligatory work was supposed to be carried out by šuku-holders, it is no surprise to find a person like Ur-du6, here specified as “palace doorkeeper” (see 3.2 (2) for more details), involved in it.[36] But what about Nig2-gur11-kur-ra? If he is to be counted as a šuku-holder, this and the aforementioned case of Nam-mah-ni might indicate changes that occurred in their socio-economical status.

(3) Ur-dinanna occurs in the Type II ration lists dating from L6[37] and from UL6.[38] During this period, he is mentioned in two documents, DP 133 (UL1) and TSA 5 (UL2), which recorded the givers and receivers of “pure milk and pure malt” (ga-ku3 munu4-ku3). He was listed as a giver following the elite doorkeeper Ur-du6, also a giver.[39] Again in UL2, Ur-dinanna was mentioned among those to whom Sasa, wife of Urukagina, sold sheep hide with fleece (kuš-udu-bar-gal2-la).[40]

3.2. Doorkeepers from higher socio-economic strata

(1) Doorkeepers with a specific title

Doorkeepers with a specific title, listed below, are found in the contexts of land allotment, leaseholds, work assignments, receiving special gifts, and Type I ration lists.[41]

Lu2-zi/ i3-du8 e2-PA(gidri)-ka[42]
Lugal-pirig/ i3-du8 nam-dumu[43]
Lugal-ušur3-ra/ i3-du8 dba-ba6[44]
Lum-ma-teš2-mu/ i3-du8 e2-gal[45]
Na-ni/ i3-du8 uru11ki[46]
Ur-du6/ i3-du8 e2-gal[47]
Ur-ddumu-zi/ i3-du8 bad3[48]
Ur-digi(-ama-še3)/ i3-du8 bad3[49]
Ur-dnin-gir2-su/ i3-du8 ti-ra-aš2ki[50]
Ur-šubur/ i3-du8 ganun-mah[51]

(2) Ur-du6 the Doorkeeper of the Palace

Ur-du6, sometimes called “doorkeeper of the palace” along with Lum-ma-teš2-mu,[52] is, without doubt, the most recurring/prominent figure among the elite doorkeepers. His earliest attestation can be found in E2, where is he listed among the witnesses in a purchase document of Dimtur (RTC 17; see Section 4 for more discussion). After this, he occurs in the records of wool distribution to “the supervisors and the igi-nigin2-people” (ugula-ne lu2 igi-nigin2-ne) dating from L2—UE[53] and in Type I (barley or emmer) ration lists dating from L6.2b—UL6.11b.[54] His barley ration was normally 36 sila (except for two occasions of 72 sila) and his emmer ration was 12 sila. Corresponding to his occurrence in Type I lists, he was allocated the šuku-land[55] and assigned obligatory work such as canal maintenance, harvesting the ruler’s fields, and so on.[56] He was also listed in one document (DP 130 vii 11-12) classified as lu2 ninda GAN2 maš-ba dba-ba6,[57] and in the other (CT 50 37 rev. ii 1-2) as še-gar ziz2-gar sa2-dug4 iti-da dba-ba6,[58] dating from UL3 and UL4, respectively. In the latter, he was one of the professionals who, though not a herdsman, took care of animals belonging to the E2-MI2 and received the grain to feed them with.[59] In the documents related to the “pure milk and pure malt” (ga-ku3 munu4-ku3) ceremony, Ur-du6 was listed as a giver.[60]

4.     Gala wailers and cantors

In the ED Lagash corpus, three groups of gala can be recognized: a large number of gala-wailers participating in the wailing activities such as funerals (4.1), male and female (regular) gala-cantors (4.2), and gala-cantors from higher socio-economic strata (4.3).

4.1. Gala-wailers

Two texts (TSA 9 and VS 14 137), both dating from UL2, recorded the food and drinks distributed to the participants of the two successive wailing ceremonies at Baranamtara’s funeral (lu2 ki-hul bara2-nam-tar-ra-(ka)/ er2-sig7-me) (Jagersma 2007:293). TSA 9, recording the first ceremony, listed 72 gala-wailers, 70 dam ab-ba,[61] 10 šeš-tu, and 148 (slave) women (geme2). VS 14 137, recording the second ceremony, listed 92 gala-wailers, 48 dam ab-ba, and 177 geme2. In the latter text, the chief gala-priest of Girsu (gala-mah gir2-suki) was mentioned,[62] indicating that he was in charge of these people.

Another text (DP 159), dating from UL5, is a similar document of food and drink distribution. However, here the rations were issued to “the women and children of gods” (geme2-dumu-dingir-ne) by Sasa, wife of Urukagina, in the E2-MI2, but with no specific information as to what occasion it was for.[63] There a total of 176 gala-wailers were listed, including two different types of wailers: 18 u18-di[64] and five um-ma-er2 (wailing women),[65] 174 women (geme2) serving various gods, and 68 babies (ša3-dug3). Gelb (1975:70-71) concluded that geme2 in this rubric (geme2-dumu-dingir-ne) corresponded to the geme2 plus the gala of the main text,[66] and noted that Deimel reached the same conclusion. We may deduce from this that some, if not all, of the gala-wailers performing at the Baranamtara’s funeral were also women. As for the question of who they were, Gelb (1975:67-68) wrote:

The very large numbers of… gala participating in the wailing activities at funerals in Pre-Sargonic times indicate a very low status of the gala. In fact, for may years I have often thought of these gala as “professional mourners” at the funerals, a class of people derived from beggars in modern times.[67]

4.2. Male and female (regular) gala-cantors

(1)  Nin-tigix-ni-dug3

DP 231 is a rather broken tablet: its first half deals with the first barley ration of the prebend (šuku)-land holders and its second half with the ninth ration of the non-land-holding professionals. Among the latter, a pair of gala-cantors was listed, Nin-tigix-ni-dug3 and Gu3-bi-dug3.[68] For Gu3-bi-dug3, see below (2). Apart from this tablet, Nin-tigix-ni-dug3 also occurs in Type III ration lists dating from L6 to UL6.12b,[69] where she was the only gala-cantor and received 18 sila of barley throughout her career. The sex of this person has been debated. For instance, Gelb (1975:71-74) assumed that Nin-tigix-ni-dug3, like some other gala-cantors,was a man with feminine inclinations, hence, “the gala who is listed among the women is not a woman” yet “he is still listed with women” (p. 72). But now scholars agree on Nin-tigix-ni-dug3’s female identity.[70]

(2) Gu3-bi-dug3

Nin-tigix-ni-dug3’s one-time partner Gu3-bi-dug3 is to be identified with the gala sold by his mother Gan-ki-ku3[71] to Dimtur, wife of Enentarzi, during the reign of her husband.[72] A barley-emmer ration list (BIN 8 347) dating from E2 listed a gala-cantor named Gu3-bi with 24 sila of emmer rations[73]: since this distribution was made to lu2-igi-nigin2 šub-lugal-ke4-ne, who later (during Lugalanda’s reign) found their way to Type I ration lists (Maekawa 1973-74:110), Gu3-bi should be seen as a prebend-land holder.

(3) Lugal-edin-ne2

A document (Nik 1 17) dating from L3 recorded that Lugal-edin-ne2 described as a “gala, young man”[74] was purchased by Baranamtara, wife of Lugalanda. He occurs Type II ration lists dating from L6.9b to UE2b.[75]

(4) Amar-dsamanx

Amar-dsamanx was another purchased gala (BIN 8 363): he was bought by a merchant from his father, Lugal-he2-gal2-su3, for Sasa, wife of Urukagina, in UL4.[76] He is attested in Type II ration lists dating from UL6.4b to UL6.12b.[77]

4.3. gala-cantors from higher socio-economic strata

(1)  Chief gala-cantors

In the “pure milk and pure malt” ceremony dating from L4 to UL2, the chief gala-cantors (gala-mah) of Lagaški, Gir2-suki, NINAki, and dNin-marki, or in their place, their wives were listed among the receivers.[78] The chief gala-cantor of Lagash was Ur-du6: he received a pair of two-year-old oxen from the governor;[79] in a record of the canal maintaining work he was called “gala of the Ebabbar temple,”[80] whereas in another list his title was abbreviated simply to gala.[81] The chief gala-cantor of Girsu was Ur-e2(-zi):[82] he was allocated prebend land (UL1),[83] and also leased land (UL4).[84] The unnamed chief gala-cantor of Nina (gala-mah NINAki) was recorded as receiving fleeces, cream,[85] and various other items.[86]

(2)  Other gala-cantors

Other gala-cantors, Lu2-zi,[87] Šubur-dba-ba6,[88] Na-ni,[89] Ur-sal,[90] En-ne2,[91] Gišgal-si,[92] and Lugal-nig2-ga2-ni[93] are mentioned in documents dealing with allocation of prebend-land, lease holding, assignment of obligatory work, and others. It should be noted that among the gala-cantors and the chief gala-cantors who were given land allotments and fulfilled their work obligations, only Gišgal-si seems to be found in the preserved Type I ration lists. In these he is described, as Maekawa (1973-74:106, n. 39) has already pointed out, as a supervisor of female textile workers.[94] We can be sure that this Gišgal-si was the gala-cantor is shown by a “lu2 ninda-ba” text from L1, where he was in charge of 12 weavers of wool and flax:[95] VS 25 8 v 1-3: 12 ki-siki ki-gu/ gišgal-si/ gala, and also in a document where he and the leader of the female personnel, E2-mete, were in charge of 14 weavers each: RTC 52 iii 6-10: 14 gišgal-si/ gala/ 14 e2-mete/ 4 gu-u9/ ki-siki-me.[96] Another record tells us of his shipment of ½ mina of white wool.[97] Selz (FAOS 15/1, p. 296, sub 4:5-6) states that “gišgal-si gala ist noch bezeugt in Nik 297 1:2-3 und RTC 52 3:6-7. Die letzte Kontext spricht dafür, daß gišgal-si zu den Frauen zu zählen ist” while interpreting either as “Gala-Priesterin(?)” (p. 295) or as “Gala-Priester” (p. 525). Unlike E2-mete, however, Gišgal-si is never unequivocally described as female, and therefore, I consider this person to be male (I will discuss E2-mete and her colleagues in our next meeting).

Lugal-nig2-ga2-ni was the gala-cantor who Baranamtara, wife of Lugalanda, bought and gave to her father Ne-sag in L6.[98] Two years earlier to this transaction, Lugal-nig2-ga2-ni had been assigned an obligatory work (see n. 93), which can be seen as an indication of his holding prebend land.

5.     Concluding Remarks

In each of the professions of tug2-du8 “felt-makers,” i3-du8 “doorkeepers,” and gala “wailers and cantors,” we can recognize two groups: one of (landed) men from higher socio-economic strata and the other of (landless) men and women, often living on a less than sufficient ration payment. This seems to have been the structural pattern for several professions, including these and barbers, in the ED Lagash.



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[1] Maekawa (1987:61) regards Type I rations as “food supplied at the time of collective projects such as canal construction” (see also note 46 in my paper on ED Lagash barbers).

[2] See Prentice 2010:40, n. 198 for various different interpretations of ša3-dub-didli that have been proposed by scholars.

[3] Igi-zi is an exception; see in my paper on ED Lagash barbers.

[4] The date of their first attestation is followed by that of their last attestation.

[5] Prentice (2010:41) does not specify Nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4 as being female.

[6] TSA 17 rev. ii 10-11 (UL6.?b) and HSS 3 18 ix 10-11 (UL6.12b)—these are Type II; HSS 3 24 iv 2 (UL6.11b) and TSA 13 iv 10 (UL6.12b)—these are še-ba geme2-dumu igi-nu-du8 ša3-dub-didli.

[7] RTC 54 vi 11: 1 tug2-du8 0.2.0 (L6.2b).

[8] Erm14346 iv 6’-7’: 4 lu2 0.2.0/ tug2-du8-me (UL5?). Although the rubric is broken, it is certain that this is a Type I text.

[9] DP 121 iii 12-iv 1: 1 tug2-du8 0.1.2/ 3 tug2-du8 0.1.1 (UL6.6b).

[10] DP 622 rev. ii 5: 2 gi kuš3 3 tug2-du8 (L2)

[11] HSS 3 38 iii 7: 4(iku) ¼(iku) GAN2 tug2-du8.

[12] For the translation, see Rosengarten 1960:342, n. 2.

[13] VS 14 159 vi 8-11: 1 udu/ 2 sa2-dug4 kas/ bara2-ir-nun/ dam al-la.

[14] DP 127 ii 11: nin ensi2-ka-me; the text is dated to Lugal-an-da-nu-hun-ga, the longer form of Lugal-an-da, which seems to have been in use during the first couple of years of his reign; see note 21 in my paper on the ED Lagash barbers.

[15] Nik 53 ii 3-iii 7 (L1)//RTC 61 ii 9-iii 12 (L1)//DP 134 ii 7-iii7 (L?).

[16] Cf. RTC 61 rev. iv 15-v 4: 0.1.0 [ziz2]/ [  ]/ 2 nig2-du3-a gishašhur/ al-la/ 0.1.0 ziz2 nigar-mud/ tug2-du8-me.

[17] DP 554 i 1-3: 6.0.0 la2 0.0.4 še-gub-ba gur-sag-gal2/ al-la/ tug2-du8.

[18] In an earlier document, dating from L2, a female doorkeeper was given wool rations along with four male ones but they were unnamed (DP 175 iv 1-2).

[19] Nik 1 18 rev. iii 6-8: 0.0.4 nam-šita/ 0.0.2 dumu-munus/ i3-du8-am6.

[20] VS 27 21 iii 5-7: 1 3 nam-šita/ 1 ½ ša3-du10-munus/ i3-du8-am6. Note that in this text four male doorkeepers, who received 2 mina of wool each (i 7: 4 2 i3-du8), were counted among the men of Ur-tar (ii 1: lu2 ur-tar-me). It is quite possible to identify Ur-tar with Ur-tar-sir2-sir2-ra, one of Lugalanda’s sons: DP 175 rev. ii 2-5 lu2 u2-rum/ ur-tar-sir2-sir2-ra/ dumu/ lugal-an-da (L2) and DP 59 vi 11-12: ur-tar/ dumu ensi2-ka (L3); however, ur-tar-sir2-sir2-ra was also the name of a son of Enentarzi, as shown in DP 173 rev. ii 2-6: lu2 u2-rum/ ur-tar-sir2-sir2-ra/ dumu en-en3-tar-zi/ ensi2/ lagaški-ka (E3).

[21] DP 128 v 8-9: 0.0.3 nam-šita/ i3-du8.

[22] DP 129 rev. i 1-2: 0.0.3 nam-šita-mu-bi2-dug4/ i3-du8.

[23] Note also that Lugal-pirig was “doorkeeper of prince-ship” in Nik 1 63 rev. i 9: i3-du8 nam-dumu (UL3); according to Selz, FAOS15/1, p. 271 sub 8:8-9, i3-du8 nam-dumu is only attested here.

[24] DP 113 (UL2.8b), CT 50 36 (UL3.6b), FAOS 15/2 121 (UL[ ].8b), HSS 3 17 (UL3.10b), FAOS 15/2 120 (UL4.2b), TSA 14 (UL4.4b), Nik 1 2 (UL4.6b), TSA 15 (UL4.7b), DP 114 (UL5.3b), DP 115 (UL6), and FAOS 15/2 122 (UL6.4b),

[25] Also MVN 3 26, but the date is broken.

[26] nin-en-še3-nu-kar2-kar2/ nu-siki-munus-am6/ igi-dba-ba6-še3/ e-da-ti in Erm 14348 (UL 6.5b), TSA 16 (UL 6.8b), and TSA 17 (UL6.[ ]b); a slightly different expression, “a female orphan named Nin-en-še3-nu-kar2-kar2lives with him (said of igi-dba-ba6-še3),” was used in TSA 15 (UL4.7b), DP 114 (UL5.3b), DP 115 (UL6), and FAOS 15/2 122 (UL6.4b).

[27] HSS 3 18.

[28] Other male doorkeepers were given 18 or 24 sila. Regarding the low amount of rations, Prentice (2010:44, n. 218) comments that “[p]ossibly doorkeeping was not considered a very arduous or skilled occupation” and refers to the possibility that “the doorkeepers were old men.” However, low rations are not only found here. According to Maekawa (1980:89), female weavers were usually given 18 or 24 sila of barley per month in pre-Sargonic Lagaš; male and female barbers also often received 18 or 24 sila. According to Ellison’s dietary study (1981:39-40), a monthly diet of 18 sila or even 24 sila was not adequate energy intake for a person, male or female.

[29] VS 25 71 (L6.9b), VS 25 11 (L6.10b), and RA 71 102 (L6.12b).

[30] MVN 3 2 (UE2b), HSS 3 15 (UE5b), and HSS 3 16(UE6b).

[31] DP 113 (UL2.8b), CT 50 36 (UL3.6b), HSS 3 17 (UL3.10b), FAOS 15/2 120 (UL4.2b), TSA 14 (UL4.4b), TSA 15 (UL4.7b), and DP 114(UL5.3b).

[32] HSS 3 6 rev. iii 2-4: 0.0.4 nig2-gur11-kur-ra/ 0.0.4 nam-mah/ i3-du8-me.

[33] However, it may not have been limited to the šuku-holders because two landless barbers were also included in the surx in DCS 8 (see 4.2.2 in my paper on ED Lagash barbers). Tis requires further study.

[34] DCS 8 rev. v 2-3: 0.0.3 nam-mah-ni/ i3-du8.

[35] DP 623 rev. iv 10-v 1: 2 gi nig2-gur11-kur-ra/ i3-du8; cf., DP 624 v 3-4: 2 gi nig2-gur11-kur-ra/ i3-du; DP 624—the obverse seems to have been partially crossed out and on the reverse three right-hand columns were left uninscribed though the summing information (šu-nigin2…) was placed in two left-hand columns—was this tablet discarded in antiquity?

[36] DP 623 rev. iii 8: 2 gi ur-du6; cf. DP 624 iii 8: 4 gi ur-du6.

[37] VS 25 71 (L6.9b), VS 25 11 (L6.10b), and RA 71 102 (L6.12b).

[38] DP 115 (UL6), FAOS 15/2 122 (UL6.4b), Erm 14348 (UL6.5b), TSA 16 (UL6.8b), TSA 17 (UL6.[ ]b), and HSS 3 18 (UL6.12b).

[39] ur-du6/…/ ur-dinanna/…/ i3-du8-me in DP 133 rev. vi 6-10 and TSA 5 rev. iv 12-v 4.

[40] Nik 1 230; interpretation after Selz (FAOS 15/1, p. 457).

[41] In a document dealing with reed-cutting, CDLI restores: [ur-d]pa-[bil3-sag]/ i3-du8 e[š3] (DP 352 ii 1-2). If it is the case, this doorkeeper can be identified with the namesake of the Type II ration lists.

[42] VS 14 180 rev. iii 13-iv 3.

[43] Nik 1 63 rev. i 8-9.

[44] Nik 1 102 i 4-5.

[45] VS 14 181 v 6-7; DP 622 iv 5-6; DP 623 rev. iii 9-iv 1; DP 624 iv 1-2; Nik 1 79 iii 5-6.

[46] TSA 7 rev. vi 4-6.

[47] See 3.2. (2).

[48] VS 27 15 ii 3-4.

[49] VS 25 21 i 1-3; DP 587 iii 3-4.

[50] DP 92 rev. ii 3-4; DP 354 i 1-3; VS 25 89 rev. i 6-7; TIM 9 94 ii’ 3’-6’; Tirash was one of the four temples situated in the city of Lagash (Suter 2000:87).

[51] VS 25 61 ii 2-3.

[52] DP 623 rev. iii 8-iv 1 and DP 624 iii 8-iv 2.

[53] DP 192 (L2), VS14 181 (L4), DP 193 (L6), and DP 194 (UE); VS 27 34 is another record of wool given to Ur-du6.

[54] RTC 54 (L6.2b), HSS 3 5 (UE), HSS 3 6 (UE2b), HSS 3 7 (UL2.2b), Nik 1 13 (UL2), HSS 3 8 (UL3.1b), FAOS 15/2 118 (UL3.2b), HSS 3 9 (UL3.3b), HSS 3 10 (UL3.4b), HSS 3 11 (UL3.[ ]b), FAOS 15/2 68 (UL3), FAOS 15/2 67 (UL6.[ ]b), DP 121 (UL6.6b), BIN 8 354 (UL6.9b), HSS 3 13 (UL6.10b), HSS 3 12 (UL6.11b), Erm 14004 ([ ].3b), Erm 14346, and Erm 14349.

[55] VS 25 40 (L3), VS 25 70 (UL1), HSS 3 40 (UL1), Erm 15776, and HSS 3 38.

[56] DP 622 (L2), DP 623 (L3), DP 624 (L3), VS 25 20 (L6), VS 25 99 (L6), VS 25 41, DP 637 (UL1), TSA 23 (UL1), VS 25 74 (UL1), VS 25 79 (UL2), DP 638 (UL2), VS 27 96 (UL2), and DP 647 (UL4).

[57] “Leute der Baba, denen das ‘Brot’ der ‘Zinsfelder’ zugeteilt wird” (Selz 1995:72).

[58] “Gerstenlieferungen (und) Emmerlieferungen, regelmäßige Aufwendungen des Monats der Baba” (Bauer, AWL, p. 190).

[59] Two more doorkeepers, Lugal-sag and Lugal-pirig (i3-du8 nam-dumu), had a similar task: the former is mentioned in Nik 1 67 (E4), DP 145 (L1), BIN 8 372 (L1.6g), VS 14 77 (L1.10g), and Nik 1 62 (L1.12g); and the latter in Nik 1 63 (UL3.1g).

[60] VS 14 173 (L4), DP 132 (L5), DP 133 (UL1), and TSA 5 (UL2).

[61] Meaning unknown (Gelb 1975:65); “wives of elders” (Jagersma 2007:293).

[62] VS 14 137 ii 4-6.

[63] DP159 rev. iv 5-12.

[64] A man named Ur-dba-ba6 was u18-di and a leaseholder (DP 591 iv 3-5); another u18-di is found in CT 50 29 rev. ii 1-2: 0.2.0 lugal-lu2-zi/ u18-di.

[65] Corresponding to ama-er2 in Gudea St. B v 4 (Gelb 1975:65).

[66] Even if there were certain number of men among the gala-wailers, it would not affect the conclusion, as the case of še-ba geme2-dumu “barley rations given to women and children,” where recipients were almost entirely women and their children, although a small number of men was included.

[67] Cf., weaving women performing lamentation at the funerary in the Ur III Garšana, see Lafont’s paper (Carquiranne, September 2013).

[68] DP 231 rev. iv 4’-6’: 0.0.3 nin-tigix-ni-dug3/ 0.0.3 gu3-bi-dug3/ gala-me.

[69] TSA 10 (L6), CT 50 33 (UE1b), HSS 3 21 (UL2.9b), DP 112 (UL2.11b), Nik 1 1 (UL2.12b), TSA 11 (UL3), BIN 8 345 (UL3.6b), DP 229 (UL3.10b), CTNMC 4 (UL3), CT 50 34 (UL4.4b), Nik 1 6 (UL4.9b), TSA 12 (UL5), HSS 3 22 (UL5.4b), VS 25 69 (UL[ ].9b), and HSS 3 23 (UL6.12b).

[70] Although, somewhat later, two Old Akkadian letters published by Al-Rawi (1992) clearly show that the office of gala could be occupied either by a man or woman; a summarized discussion on the sex of gala at that time can be found in pp. 182-184. See further Cooper 2006, Michalowski 2006, and Gabbay 2011.

[71] Gan- is a female name incipit (Foxvog 2011:61-62).

[72] RTC 17 i 1-ii 3: dim3-tur/ dam en-en3-tar-zi/ ensi2/ lagaški-ka-ke4/ gan-ki-ku3-še3/ gu3-bi-dug3/ gala/ dumu-ni/ e-še3-sa10.

[73] Gu3-bi was a short name of the full form Gu3-bi-dug3 (Foxvog 2011:64).

[74] Nik 1 17 i i-3: lugal-edin-ne2/ gala/ guruš-am6.

[75] VS 25 71 (L6.9b), VS 25 11 (L6.10b), RA 71 102 (L6.12b), and MVN 3 2 (UE2b).

[76] BIN 8 363 i 5-ii 4: nig2-sa10 amar-dsamanx/ gala-še3/ lugal-he2-gal2-su3/ ab-ba-ni/ ba-DU. There is a gala named Lugal-he2 (Nik 1 111 i 1-4), who may or may not be linked with Lugal-he2-gal2-su3.

[77] FAOS 15/2 122 (UL6.4b), Erm 14348 (UL6.5b), TSA 16 (UL6.8b), HSS 3 18 (UL6.12b), DP 115 (UL6), and TSA 17 (UL6).

[78] VS 14 173 (L4), DP 132 (L5), DP 133 (UL1), and TSA 5 (UL2). In addition to these chief gala-cantors, two more named utu-mu-kuš2 and inim-ma-nizi occur as witnesses in a house-sale document dating from Enmetena (Hallo 1973:236).

[79] BIN 8 349 rev. ii 11-iii 2: 2 gud [mu] 2/ ur-du6/ gala-mah lagaški.

[80] VS 25 103 ii 8-9: ½ eš2 ur-du6/ gala e2-babbar2. Ebabbara was one of the four temples situated in the city of Lagash (Suter 2000:87).

[81] VS 25 105 i 1-3: 6 gi kin-du3-a/ [  ] x ur-du6/ gala; also in DP 32 iii 7-8 (a house sale document).

[82] TSA 2 rev. i 8-9: ur-e2/ gala-mah gir2-suki.

[83] VS 25 70 rev. iv 1: 1 bur3 gala-mah gir2-suki.

[84] TSA 7 rev. i 16-18: 2(eše3) 3 ¼(iku) GAN2 5-tuku/ ur-e2-zi/ gala-mah.

[85] VS 27 78 i 6-8.

[86] DP 220 i 1-8.

[87] VS 25 61 rev. i 1-2: 5 ½ iku of newly cultivated taxable land (GAN2 su3-la-maš) for lu2-zi/ gala (E3); for GAN2 su3-la-maš “abgabepflichtiges Newbruchfeld,” see Selz, FAOS 15/1, p. 192. Lu2-zi/ gala was also listed in another document dating from Lugalanda-nuhunga as someone who received barley and emmer rations (DP 127 vi 3-5).

[88] VS 14 72 iii 2-3: 1 bur3 of šuku-land for dšubur-ba-ba6/ gala (L4); he was listed in two documents (VS 25 19 ii 1-2 and VS 25 54 ii 1-2) of wool rations given to the royal family/acquaintances (lu2-su-a-ne); he was also given several items in DP 134 v 3-10.

[89] DP 592 rev. i 2-4: X iku of newly cultivated land ([GAN2] su3-la) for na-ni/ gala.

[90] DP 591 rev. iv 5-8: 4 iku of land with its harvest being 5 gur-sag-gal2 per iku (4 GAN2 5-tuku) and 5 iku of newly cultivated taxable land for ur-sal/ gala; Foxvog (2011:79) interprets the name Ur-sal as “delicate dog.”

[91] DP 637 rev. ii 6-7: 2 kuš3 of canal work assigned to en-ne2/ gala igi-gal2.

[92] VS 25 40 i 4-5: 4 iku of ki-uzug5-field for gišgal-si/ gala; 20 gur of barley (Nik 1 79 iv 5-6) and 35 gur of barley (VS 25 41 rev. ii 3-4) brought back by gišgal-si/ gala to the E2-MI2.

[93] VS 25 85 rev. i 3-4: 1 gi of orchard wall construction (kin im-du3-a kiri6) assigned to lugal-nig2-ga2-ni/ gala.

[94] 0.2.0 gišgal-si/ 0.2.0 dnanše-da-nu-me-a/ ugula ki-siki-ka-me in HSS 3 10 rev. i 3-5 (UL3.4b) and HSS 3 11 rev. iii 3-5 (UL3.[ ]b); note also that both Gišgal-si and dNanše-da-nu-me-a, designated as ugula ki-siki-ka-me, were allocated prebend land (DP 578 rev. iv 2-4 and HSS 3 40 ii 3-5).

[95] ki-gu: “spinning women” (Maekawa 1973-74:93, n. 23); “weavers…of flax” (Maekawa 1980:89); “Leinenweberin” (Selz, FAOS 15/1, p. 279).

[96] The two are also in VS 25 89 rev. iv 7-9.

[97] Nik 1 297 i 1-ii 1: ½ ma-na siki-u2-babbar2/ gišgal-si/ gala-e/… ba-gi4.

[98] VS 25 13 ii 5-iii 1: …/ nig2-sa10/ lugal-nig2-ga2-ni gala-kam/ bara2-nam-tar-ra/ dam lugal-an-da/ ensi2/ lagaški-ka-ke4/ ne-sag/ ab-ba-ni/ e2-gal-ta/ e-na-šum2.

šu-í “Barber” and šu-í-munus “Female Barber” in the Early Dynastic Lagash Texts*

1.     Preliminary[1]

About 23 names of barbers, both male (šu-i2) and female (šu-i2-munus), occur in the Lagash E2-MI2 corpus of the Early Dynastic period,[2] from Enentarzi year 2 through Lugalanda to the end of Urukagina lugal-year 6.[3] The organization called E2-MI2 was in charge of the three wives of the Lagash rulers around the middle of the 24th century B.C.E. Nearly 1,800 clay tablets, which were unearthed at Girsu, record various different kinds of economic activities undertaken by this organization for about 20 years.[4]

Naturally the professional work of these barbers involved grooming—cutting, shaving, trimming, and coiffuring—of hair. The word for one of their tools, šu-i-gir2 “barber’s knife/razor,” is found in a lexical text from Abu Salabikh (OIP 99 33 vi 11′). Pictorial representations from around the mid-third millennium B.C.E. often depict elite men and especially women wearing elaborate hairstyles, and also men with clean-shaven heads and faces (Collon 1995:507).

What makes the ED Lagash texts remarkable is the occurrence of šu-i2-munus “female barbers.”[5] This contrasts with Ur III times (including the Garšana and Iri-Sagrig documents), in which no female barbers have been identified to date.[6] This paper collects references to male and female barbers in the ED Lagash E2-MI2 corpus, examines their status and functions, and argues that they can be placed in three groups under the E2-MI2 administration. One group consists of landed male barbers who belonged to high socio-economic strata. The other two groups are landless male and female barbers, one group working for the E2-MI2, and the other for the royal children’s households.

2.     Barbers in the Fara Texts

Before going into the Lagash material, it will be helpful to look briefly at barbers (šu-i) in the earlier Fara administrative texts.[7] A quick survey shows that female barbers do seem to occur there, and that the Fara šu-i had some administrative tasks as well as barbering proper, as we will see shortly.

2.1. Munusgeshtin the Barber

Munusgeshtin—the name is most likely female—is identified as a barber in WF 22[8] rev. i 8–9: munus-geštin šu-i; and in TSŠ 558[9] ii 1–3: munus-geštin šu-i sa12-du5 “Munusgeshtin, the barber of/under the chief administrator.”[10]

2.2. Administrative Roles of šu-i in Fara Texts

TSŠ 881[11] is a text concerning the allocation of barley and different types of goods, in which a barber named Lubarasi acted as deputy (x 5′–7′: lu2-bara2-si/ šu-i/ maškim), along with various officials. They seem to have been “responsible for the personnel involved in journeys to and from Šuruppak” (Pomponio and Visicato 1994:186).

It should be noted en passant that, in later texts from Ur (ED IIIb) and Nippur (Akkad period), barbers also acted as deputies (maškim): UET 2, Supp 35 3–4: lugal-dingir-mu šu-i2/ maškim-bi (from Ur); BIN 8 154 (= Edzard SR 91) iii 7–9: lugal-UN-e/ šu-i2/ maškim-bi (from Nippur); TMH 5 159 (= Edzard SR 99) iv 4–6: ur-e2-mah/ šu-i2/ maškim-bi and vi 7–9: šudx(KA׊U)-gal2-la/ šu-i2/ maškim-bi (from Nippur). The last text is a Sammentafel with 17 cases of river ordeals: a deputy/commissioner (maškim) was assigned to each case: in the sixth and the tenth cases, two barbers acted in this role.[12]

3.     References to Barbers in Lagash E2-MI2 texts

 3.1. Formulaic Expression

As has already been mentioned, male and female barbers occur in the ED Lagash texts regularly from the times of E2 through Lugalanda to UL6. In general, the male barber is identified as PN šu-i2[13] andthe female barber as PN šu-i2-munus.[14] However, female barbers are sometimes identified simply as šu-i2, without the gender-specifying sign MUNUS “womam/ female.”[15] In one case, the female barber Ninigigateshmu, which there is written as Ninigigateshbi,[16] is presented bearing no profession name and is simply labeled munus-me along with another woman: DP 119 rev. i 9-ii 3: 0.0.4 ga2-ka-nam-he2-ti/ e2-gal-la/ i3-ti/ 0.0.3 nin-igi-ga2-teš2-bi/ [U2-U2] agrig-da/ e-da-ti/ munus-me “24 sila for Gakanamheti, she lives in the palace; 18 sila for Ninigigateshbi, she lives with agrig-official [U2-U2]; they are women.”[17]

When a male and female pair of barbers is concerned, they are often described as NUM PN/ nita-am6/ NUM PN/ munus-am6/ šu-i2-me.[18] However, sometimes the plural marking -me is not specified, as in DP 115 Rev. i 1–5: 0.1.0 dingir-al-sa6/ nita-am6/ 0.0.3 geme2-du6/ munus-am6/ šu-i2. In some cases, the gender of neither barber is specified, as in DP 231 rev. vi 5′–7′: 0.1.0 dar-da/ 0.1.0 nin-al-sa6/ šu-i2-me “36 sila for Darda, 36 sila for Ninalsa; they are barbers.” This kind of abbreviated writing makes it difficult for us to determine the number and sex of the ED Lagash barbers.

3.2. List of ED Lagash Barbers

The following is a list of 23 names of barbers (by gender, in alphabetical order), attested in about 80 texts, which are mainly various types of ration distribution accounts, but also include records of field-allotment, lease-holding, and obligatory work assignments as part of the duty of the land-holders, as well as other documents dealing with miscellaneous administrative tasks.

Male Barbers

Igi-zi/ Igi-zi-bar-ra

Female Barbers

dInanna-menx-zi-pa4-pa4/ dInanna-menx
Nin-igi-ga2-teš2-bi/ Nin-igi-ga2-teš2-mu

4.     ED Lagash Barbers: Status, Functions, and Structure

4.1. Barbers of Higher Socio-Economical Status

At least seven male barbers, attested in documents dating from E2 to UL6.11b, form a distinctive group. They belonged to higher socio-economical strata, were allocated prebend land (classified as GAN2 šuku), and/or held leased land (classified as GAN2 apin-la2). They often received 72 sila of rations—the largest quantity in the standard ration system of the ED Lagash,[19] and carried out certain administrative functions. We will now briefly examine each of them in turn.

4.1.1. Lugaltemen

Lugaltemen was certainly one of the prominent barbers in the ED Lagash corpus. He is first mentioned in BIN 8 347 (E2), which is the record of barley-emmer rations (še-ba ziz2-ba) distributed to “the palace/E2-MI2 personnel and the core military and labor force” (lu2-igi-nigin2 šub-lugal-ke4-ne) (Maekawa 1973-74:110) for the occasion of the festival of the goddess Baba.[20] There, he was given 36 sila of barley and 36 sila of emmer: 72 sila in total. He is also found in DP 127,[21] recording “barley-emmer rations of the festival of Baba” (še-ba ziz2-ba ezem dba-ba6-ka) dispensed to the elite members of society, starting with the ereš-dingir-priestess of the goddess Baba (possibly the queen herself),[22] Geme’ubkuga (the queen’s mother),[23] and several sisters of the governor (nin ensi2-ka-me). Lugaltemen was listed among these dignitaries, again receiving 36 sila of barley and 36 sila of emmer-flour, or 72 sila in total.

Three documents, VS 25 61 (E3), VS 27 12 (L1), and VS 25 40 (L3), testify that Lugaltemen held parcels of apin-la2 (leased) land. Specifically, more than two and a half iku of taxable newly cultivated land (GAN2 su3-la-maš)[24] was measured out (gid2) for him (VS 25 61 iii 2–3); he paid two goats as tax on the field leased from the governor (VS 27 12 i 1–2)[25]; and also received three iku of ki-uzug5-field from Lugalanda’s land (šuku lugal-an-da) (VS 25 40 i 1–3).[26]

A certain Lugaltemen had a kind of living or working arrangement with some of the barbers of the households of Urukagina’s children for more than two years during the reign of Urukagina (UL2.?b–4.7b): NP1+n lugal-temen-da e-da-ti/se12 (the verb ti is used for the singular subject and se12 for the plural subject).[27] Although this Lugaltemen is not labeled by his profession, it is not unreasonable to identify him with the barber Lugaltemen, especially because those who were assigned to live/work with him were all barbers (see below 4.3.2 for details of living/working arrangements).

4.1.2. Ninmumadaag

A document (DP 199) dating from L4 reports that Ninmumadaag carried out an administrative task: he brought with him (e-da-DU) from the animal fattener (kurušda) two sheep that were meant to be Baranamtara’s offering at the festival of Ninmar.[28] The name Ninmumadaag could be understood to be a woman’s name.[29] Rosengarten (1960:244) translated nin-mu-da-ag2/ šu-i2 as “la coiffeuse N” (DP 199 ii 3-rev. i 1). However, we can deduce that Ninmumadaag was actually a male barber from DP 111, in which this person, first listed with 72 sila (iii 1–2), was counted in the sum section (šu-nigin2) as the only person (1 lu2) who received 72 sila of barley (rev. ii 4). On the other hand, the 17 women (DP 111 iii 5-rev. ii 1) and one woman from Umma (rev. ii 2–3) are counted as 18 female servants, each receiving only 18 sila (rev. ii 7: 20 la2 2 geme2 0.0.3).[30] Hence, the Ninmumadaag in question is most likely a man, although the term lu2 does not always refer to a male, as can be discerned from DP 176, in which a group of women, PNf1–PNf15, are counted as lu2; for the groups of women in DP 111 and DP 176, see 4.2.1 below.

4.1.3. Lugalmatum

RTC 60 (L3) records that three people brought with them various goods as “the offerings of the ruler to the kianag,[31] in the festival of Baba, for Enentarzi.”[32] Lugalmatum was listed as the first of these three people.[33]

4.1.4. Igizi(-bara)

Igizi is the best-attested barber of those discussed in this paper. On one occasion, in DP 624(L3), his name was listed in a longer form, Igizibara.[34] This document, dealing with the work of canal maintenance that was one of šuku-field holders’ duties (Maeda 1984), assigned to him the maintenance work of the length of 4 gi (= ca. 12 m).[35] That he was from higher socio-economical strata is made apparent further by his occurrence in VS 14 173 (L4), DP 226 (L4), and DP 132 (L5), which are documents classified as lu2 igi-nigin2 lu2 ga-ku3 munu4-ku3 ba-me.[36] In this—perhaps a ceremonial gift exchange (Selz 1995:73) or a transfer (Magid 2001:314, n. 6)—pure milk and malt was given from one person to another, and the majority of both givers and receivers seemed to belong to higher social strata.[37] Igizi the barber was listed as eighth among the givers. About the same time, in L5 (BIN 8 353 ii 7–8) and in L6 (VS 25 41 v 3–4), he carried out a crop-related task, another duty of šuku-holders, on behalf of the governor.

From UL3.12b to UL4.10b, Igizi the barber was listed as receiving the “barley rations of the personnel of the princes” (ša-ba lu2-di4-di4-la-ne), and repeatedly received 72 sila.[38] In UL4, he provided 620 sila of barley (DP 563 ii 2–3: 5.0.0 igi-zi/ šu-i2) for the purchase of low quality wool (še siki mug-a sa10-a-am6).

His status as a šuku-holder is again clearly shown by several texts dated to UL6. According to DP 584, a parcel of šuku-field was measured out (gid2) for him (rev. i 3–4: ½(iku) GAN2 igi-zi/ šu-i2).[39] In addition to this, the four texts recording the sixth, ninth, tenth,and eleventh “barley rations of šuku-holders” (še-ba lu2-šuku-dab5-ba) listed him as repeatedly receiving 72 sila.[40]

Although the classification is not preserved, Erm 14349 (rev. ii 5–6: 0.2.0 igi-zi/ šu-i2) and Erm 14346 (rev. ii 8–9: [0.2.0 igi]-zi/ [šu]-i2) may well pertain to the text group of še-ba lu2-šuku-dab5-ba.

4.1.5. Sheshkura

VS 14 72 (L4), whose classification reads GAN2 šuku še mu2-a gid2-da lu2 didli “barley planted šuku-field—measured—of various people” records that a large parcel of land was measured out for Sheshkura (rev. i 1–2: 1(eše3) 3(iku) šeš-kur-ra/ šu-i2).[41] He is found in DP 465 (L6) carrying out a certain administrative task, probably overseeing the transportation of ten beams that Eniggal, the chief administrator (of the E2-MI2), had taken out from the Mesandu-storehouse.[42]

4.1.6. Ursag

Erm 14371 reports that Ursag along with other officials played the role of deputy (maškim) in a business transaction involving barley (transfer of barley?): ii 4–6: 0.1.0(?) ur-sag/ šu-i2/ maškim-bi “36(?) sila (of barley)—Ursag the barber (is) its deputy.”

4.1.7. Enudana

DP 591 records that “Shubur the smith received a parcel of crop planted šuku-field[43] measuring 3½ iku, (previously) held by Enudana the barber” (ii 9–iii 3: 3(iku) ½(iku) GAN2/ GAN2 en-ud-da-na/ šu-i2-kam/ šubur/ simug/ e-dab5).

4.2. Barbers Working for the E2-MI2

4.2.1. Ninuma and Ninalmah

DP 176 (wool rations: siki-ba tur-mah-ba ar3-du2 u2-rum dim3-tur) and DP 110 and DP 111 (both barley rations: še-ba geme2-dumu) contain the lists of 15, 16, and 17 women, respectively.[44] The membership of the groups, over about two years, increases by two but otherwise stays the same. In DP 176 and DP 110, Ninuma is the last name on the list and the profession name šu-i2 “barber” follows immediately afterward, while in DP 111, Ninuma was joined by Ninalmah and their names were followed by šu-i2-me “barbers”:

PNf1–PNf14/ nin-u3-ma/ šu-i2 (DP 176; E3)
PNf1–PNf15/nin-u3-ma/ šu-i2 (DP 110; E3.12b)
PNf1–PNf15/nin-u3-ma/ nin-al-mah/ šu-i2-me (DP 111; E4.6b)

Now, it seems rather inconceivable that all of these women were barbers. Even in Urukagina’s reign, when the E2-MI2 organization has increased its size (Maekawa 1973–74:101), the attested number of male and female barbers is around ten (see below for more details). Therefore, DP 176, DP 110, and DP 111 should have included all female workers with various specializations including barbers. This is also implied by the rubric of DP 176, indicating the women were part of the bigger group labeled “servants/personnel, property of Dimtur.”[45] It is reasonable to think that, in DP 176 and DP 110, šu-i2 refers to Ninuma and, in DP 111, šu-i2-me refers to Ninuma and the newly employed Ninalmah. In this way, the use of the plural marking -me can be explained.

4.2.2. Darda and Ninalsa; Darda and Dingiralsa

A pair of a male and a female barber, Darda and Ninalsa, occurs in DP 231 rev. vi 5′–7′: 0.1.0 dar-da/ 0.1.0 nin-al-sa6/ šu-i2-me “36 sila (of barley) for Darda; 36 sila (of barley) for Ninalsa; (they are) barbers.” The text clearly indicates that they received the ninth ration, while the šuku-field holders (lu2-šuku-dab5-ba-me) received the first ration.[46] So, in contrast to the aforementioned high-ranking barbers, these two were not šuku-holders: in other words, they were landless. As for the date of this text (which is not preserved), Maekawa (1973–74:108) proposes the first half of Lugalanda’s reign, while CDLI, with reservations, proposes L1.

In DCS 8, dated to Lugalanda-nuhunga 1 (= L1), Darda and, rather than Ninalsa, Dingiralsa occur as barbers, both receiving a ration of 12 sila of emmer (rev. iv 9–11) at the festival of Baba, which was the last or penultimate month of a year (Cohen 1993:38).[47] This Dingiralsa is to be identified with the Dingiralsa who repeatedly appears as a barber in the service of the E2-MI2 after L6 (see 4.2.3 below). If we assume that Dingiralsa worked continuously, it would place Ninalsa ahead of him in time, and would thus mean that DP 231 precedes DCS 8.[48]

4.2.3. Dingiralsa and Inannamen(-zipapa)/ Meme/ Gemedu

From L6.9b to UL6.12b, there was a pair of male and female barbers who received 36 (or 48) sila and 24 (or 18, and once 36) sila of barley rations, respectively. The pair was usually registered on the “palace tablet” (ša3-dub-e2-gal) on the ration distribution accounts classified as še-ba igi-nu-du8 (il2) ša3-dub-didli (once, še-ba ša3-dub-e2-gal ša3-dub-didli: P387452 in CDLI).[49] The formula that expresses the entry is:

NUM PNm/ nita-am6/ NUM PNf/ munus-am6/ šu-i2-me

PNm is always Dingiralsa, while PNf changes from Inannamen(-zipapa)[50] (L6.9b–UL2.8b)[51] to Meme (UL3.6b–4.6b)[52] to Gemedu (UL5.3b–6.12b).[53] A document dating from UL3.10b (HSS 3 17) informs us that in addition to the amounts of rations given to Dingiralsa and Meme, some kind of living/working arrangement was made for them with U2-U2.[54]

4.3. Barbers Working for Royal Children’s Households

Barbers are included in the personnel of the households of royal children and their rations are recorded in the lists classified as še-ba lu2/geme2-dumu (lu2) di4-di4-la-ne.[55]

4.3.1 Barber of Munussaga: Lugalmutu

Lugalmutu was the barber belonging to the household of Munussaga, one of Lugalanda’s children. He received 24 sila of barley at the ninth(DP 157 rev. ii 9–10), the tenth(VS 25 37 rev. i 10–11), and the eleventh(VS 25 14 rev. i 7–8) expenditures, all dated to L6.

For the ninth and the tenth rations of L6 and for the seventh ration of UL4, both the ration lists of the personnel of the royal children’s households (še-ba geme2-dumu/lu2 di4-di4-la-ne) and those of the other workers (še-ba igi-nu-du8 il2 ša3-dub-didli) are preserved, thus clearly showing that there were two separate groups of barbers.

4.3.2. Barbers of Gemebaba, Gemetarsirsir, and Aenramugi/Aenekiag

Seven barbers in total are attested to the three households of Urukagina’s children, Gemebaba, Gemetarsirsir, and Aenramugi/Aenekiag,[56] from early UL2 to UL5.7b. There were three to five barbers working at a given time. Barbers of Gemebaba: Lugalenlile, Babadingirmu, and Ninsaggatuku

Lugalenlile repeatedly received 36 sila, which was the second largest ration out of the seven barbers, the largest being that of Igizi (see below). Judging from this quantity of rations (minimum but livable) and also from the lack of a record of a living/working arrangement with anyone else, Lugalenlile seems to have been independent. On the other hand, Babadingirmu received 18 (on one occasion 24 sila) and had a kind of living/working arrangement, at one point, with Lugaltemen,[57] and, the rest of the time, with U2-U2.[58] As I mentioned above, this Lugaltemen and the Lugaltemen the barber whom we have already discussed were most likely the same person; U2-U2 was once identified as an agrig-official. Sometime after UL3.9b and before UL4.10b, Babadingirmu was replaced by Ninsaggatuku, who was likewise given 18 (on one occasion 24) sila.[59] No living/working arrangement is reported for the latter, nor for the other barbers after UL4.10b. Barbers of Gemetarsirsir: Sagmuabtuku, Agilsa, and Igizi

Sagmuabtuku received 24 (on one occasion 30) sila throughout his career. His one-time female partner was Agilsa, who received the same amount of rations (24 sila), and at one point, both of them had a kind of living/working arrangement with Lugaltemen.[60] Sagmuabtuku kept this relationship with Lugaltemen for more than two years[61] (DP 116 [UL4.7b] being the last attestation of this) and continued working as a barber for another year until UL5.7b (Nik 1 20 vii 4–5). After Agilsa’s disappearance, Igizi entered into the service toward the end of UL3. This Igizi, who repeatedly received 72 sila of barley rations, should be identified with Igizi, the high-ranking and šuku-holding barber (see above 4.1.4). Barber of Aenramugi/Aenekiag: Ninigigateshbi/mu

This barber’s name is written either as nin-igi-ga2-teš2-bi or nin-igi-ga2-teš2-mu (see n. 16). She was the only barber of the household of Aenramugi/Aenekiag, received 18 or 24 sila, and presumably had a kind of living/working arrangement with Lugaltemen at one point[62] and, the rest of the time, with U2-U2[63] as the other female barbers did.[64]

5. Concluding Remarks

Although the ED Lagash E2-MI2 corpus does not reveal what the professional duties of the barbers were, we can draw a rough picture of how they might have been organized. At any given time, more than one high-ranking barbers would be at the top of the organization: they were among the elite of Lagash society, received parcels of šuku-field or of apin-la2 field, and in return fulfilled their obligations as land-holders and carried out miscellaneous administrative tasks. Under these, a pair of barbers, nomally a male and a female, was kept on the palace register, and worked for the E2-MI2. This pairing is attested until the end of UL6. Also under the E2-MI2’sadministration, male and female barbers worked among the personnel of the royal children’s households. The last attestation of these barbers is UL5.7b, somewhat earlier than that of the E2-MI2 barbers.


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* I thank Lluis Feliu, Frederick W. Knobloch, and Manuel Molina for their helpful discussion and comments. Gebhard J. Selz kindly provided me with his manuscripts of AWAB 71, 78, and 175.

[1] Abbreviations used: nb = the nth ration; En = Enentarzi year n; ED = Early Dynastic; Ln = Lugalanda year n; NUM = Number; ProfN = Profession Name; UE = Urukagina ensi-year; ULn = Urukagina lugal-year n; E, L, UL are placed in italic (E, L, and UL) when they are inferred.

[2] The texts write the word šu-i2 with the sign I2, which is the sign I turned some 45° clockwise. Cf. šu-i in Fara (e.g., TSŠ 1 v 17; TSŠ 558 ii 2; WF 5 ii 2 and others) and Abu Salabikh (OIP 99 60 iii 10; OIP 99 61 vii 5; OIP 99 74 vi 6; and OIP 99 33 vi 11′). Texts from ED Nippur either have šu-i (TMH 5 2 i 4; TMH 5 67 ii 10; TMH 5 123 2; and TMH 5 136 i 2) or šu-i2 (TMN 5 159 iv 5 and vi 8). Ur III texts mostly use šu-i, with sporadic use of šu-i2: for an example of the Ur III i2, see Molina 2008:130, No. 3, rev. 7 (here the sign I2 is the sign I turned almost 90° clockwise).

[3] Excluded from our discussion are two “barbers” listed among the witnesses in a sale document of a house sold by a woman (Hallo 1973:238, ll. 51-53: Ilugal-igi-tab/ Ie-da-hul/ šu-i2-me) from a slightly earlier period. The sign read by Hallo with an exclamation mark as šu-i(!)-me is the sign I2 according to the current method of transcription. The date of the composition was expressed as “at that time… Dudu was sanga-priest” (ll. 65 and 68: ud-ba… dudu sanga) and can be safely placed during the reign of Enmetena, as CDLI does; RIME1.9.5.27 reads “his (= Enmetena’s) servant Dudu, the temple administrator of the god Ningirsu” (iii 1-3: ir11-ra-ni/ du-du/ sanga dnin-gir2-su2-ka-ke4). See Maekawa 1973-74:137-38, with n. 82, for Dudu and the placing of his tenure as the sanga of Ningirsu just before Enentarzi.

[4] For the most recent update of the text information, see Voxvog 2011:59, n. 2.

[5] In the ED Lagash texts, in addition to the typical women’s jobs related to the textile industry, we find women working as gate-keepers (i3-du8), wailers/cantors (gala), rope makers and braiders (tug2-du8), and in other roles. I will address questions about these women in our September workshop.

[6] M. Molina, personal communication; for barbers of Iri-Sagrig, see Kleinerman 2013.

[7] For its date, see Krebernik 1998:257-259 and Krebernik 2002:5.

[8] Classified as “Registers of equids” in Pomponio and Visicato 1994:4 (18).

[9] Dealing with two strings of apples; classified as “Registers of fruit” in Pomponio and Visicato 1994:3 (6).

[10] The structure “PN ProfN1 ProfN2” can be considered a variation of the type PN1 ProfN PN2, meaning “PN1, the ProfN of PN2,” discussed by Pomponio (1986:64), since the office of sa12-du5 is a “very high office,” which “must have been held by a single person for the period to which the available Fara documentation refers and it would render the addition of his personal name superfluous” (Pomponio and Visicato 1994:208).

[11] Classified as “Registers of various goods” in Pomponio and Visicato 1994:3 (15).

[12] Other people who played the role of maškim were either cupbearers (sagi) (in the first, fourth, and ninth cases), or bore no profession name.

[13] E.g., BIN 8 347 rev. iii 13-14: NUM lugal-temen/ šu-i2.

[14] E.g., Nik 1 22 iv 1–2: NUM dba-ba6-dingir-mu/ šu-i2-munus-am6; HSS 3 25 rev. i 10–11: NUM nin-igi-ga2-teš2-mu/ šu-i2-munus-am6.

[15] E.g., TSA 18 iii 14–15: NUM dba-ba6-dingir-mu/ šu-i2-am6; BIN 8 359 rev. i 10–11: NUM nin-igi-ga2-teš2-mu/ šu-i2-am6; compare them with the examples of n. 14.

[16] Ninigigateshmu (five times); Ninigigateshbi (four times).

[17] Gakanamheti is a female servant (ar3-du2-munus) who lived in the palace together with other people, according to DP 116, rev. iii 2–5: (PN…) ga2-ka-nam-he2-ti/ ar3-du2-munus-am6 e2-gal-la/ i3-se12.

[18] E.g., Nik 1 9 vii 4–8: 0.1.0 dingir-al-sa6/ nita-am6/ 0.0.4 dinanna-menx-zi-pa4-pa4/ munus-am6/ šu-i2-me “36 sila for Dingiralsa, male; 24 sila for Inannamenzipapa, female; they are barbers.”

[19] Rations were issued to individuals; rations for children were recorded along with those of their mothers; for an overview of the ration system in the Ur III period, see Waetzoldt 1987.

[20] Cf. Selz, FAOS 15/2, p. 545: “Gerstzuteilungen (und) Emmerzuteilungen für die Leute (von) ‘Ansehen,’ (und zwar)? die Untergebenen des Königs.”

[21] This text is dated to Lugalandanuhunga (= Lugalanda) but no year number is given. According to Selz 1995:24, lugal-an-da is a short form for lugal-an-da-nu-hun-ga “der König, der sich für An nicht beruhigt.” For more discussion, see Selz FAOS 15/1, p. 544.

[22] Maekawa 1996:179.

[23] VS 27 81 i 3-4: geme2-ub5-ku3-ga/ ama munus.

[24] AWAB 71: “abgabepflichtiges Newbruchfeld”; also see Selz, FAOS 15/1, p. 192.

[25] AWAB 78.

[26] AWAB 71.

[27] Maekawa (1973-74:122, n. 74) translates ti as “work” or “work under the direction of someone (-da-)”; see also Magid 2001.

[28] For the festival of Ninmarki, see Cohen 1993:60 and Selz 1995:258-59, with n. 1243.

[29] According to Foxvog 2011:61-2, nin “lady, sister” is one of the gender-specific name incipits, and is borne by 189 females, 4 males, and 7 unknown people in the ED Lagash corpus of 121 names beginning with nin-. Gelb (1975:72) also observed that a great majority of the names composed with the element nin- are feminine.

[30] According to Ellison 1981:39–40, a monthly diet of 18 sila (= 0.6 sila = 0.50 liters daily) or even 24 (= 0.8 sila = 0.66 liters daily) is not an adequate energy intake for a person, male or female; for more discussion on small ration amounts, see my REFEMA 3 paper.

[31] ki-a-nag “mortuary chapel” (Jagersma 2007:296); the feast in honor of the dead (Brunke 2011:177).

[32] RTC 60 rev. i 5-ii 2: nig2-giš-tag ensi2-ka/ ki-a-nag!-še3/ ezem dba-ba6-ka/ en-en3-tar-zi-ra. Actually, the noun phrase nig2-giš-tag ensi2-ka “the offerings of the ruler” is the object of the predicate mu-na-DU (rev. ii 3).

[33] RTC 60 ii 4–iii 2: lugal-ma-tum2 šu-i2 e-da-DU “Lugalmatum the barber brought with him” (sheep, bread, roasted grain, dairy products, fruits, and beer).

[34] Inannamen(-zipapa) (see 4.3.2 below) is another example of name-shortening (Foxvog 2011:64).

[35] Regarding the šuku-field holders, Maekawa 1973-74:88 says, “[p]laying a central role in collective labor or war, the lu2-kur6-dab5-ba formed the backbone of the city.”

[36] “‘Leute von Ansehen,’ Leute, die (kultisch) reine Milch (und) reines Malz schenken, sind sie” (Selz 1995:74); “the malted-milk offering” dubbed in his class but “not too seriously” (Gelb 1975:72).

[37] Gelb (1975:72-3) schematically described this as offerings “by about 50 men to the wives of 50 other men.” However, neither the givers nor the receivers were exclusively of the same sex. The former included some of the female palace personnel (ar3-tu2-munus-me) such as Altush (um-me), Geme’edam (um-me-da), Gemeshu (nu-gig), and others, headed by Emete. For a recent discussion on um-me, um-me-da, and nu-gig, see Civil 2011:281–84.

[38] HSS 3 27 vi 11–12, Nik 1 16 vi 4–5, DP 116 vii 12–13, DP 117 vii 4–5, and DP 118 vii 11–12; as the date of DP 118, which is not preserved, CDLI suggests UL5(?).

[39] Cf. MLVS 8 rev. iii 7-8.

[40] 0.2.0 igi-zi/ šu-i2 in DP 121 rev. ii 10–11, BIN 8 354 rev. ii 5–6, HSS 3 13 rev. ii 7–8, and HSS 3 12 rev. ii 8–9.

[41] For še mu2-a, gid2, and other šuku-field-related terminology, see Yamamoto 1980.

[42] DP 465 i 1–ii 4: 10 giš-ur3 za3-gu2-la2/ en-ig-gal/ nu-banda3/ ganun dmes-an-du-ta/ e-ta-gar/ šeš-kur-ra/ šu-i2/ ba-DU.

[43] DP 591 iii 4-5: šu-nigin2…GAN2 šuku še mu2-a/ GAN2 šuku-am6.

[44] DP 176, DP 110, and DP 111 have been discussed by Maekawa (1973–74:101–109) in conjunction to the development of the E2-MI2.

[45] Maekawa (1973–74) discusses some of the women (Me-nigar-ta, Nin-al-sa6, Nin-e-an-su, Ama-bi-a-ra2-nu2, Šeš-e-a-na-ak, Nin-šer7-zi, and dBa-ba6-na-nam) on p. 102, n. 30; p. 107, n. 41; and pp. 128–29, with n. 70.

[46] The lu2-šuku-dab5-ba “were given barley for four or five successive months from the eighth or ninth month up to the end of the year” while others were given barley once a month throughout the year” (Maekawa 1987:51); however, during UL6, they were issued barley rations every month of the year (Prentice 2010:20 and 78 with n. 338).

[47] Its bookkeeping rubric reads ziz2-ba surx (ERIM)-ra ezem dba-ba6-ka; for the reading surx (ERIM), see Balke 2013:9 (sub Vs. I i).

[48] The name Ninalsa, which occurs in the lists of the female personnel in DP 176, DP 110, and DP 111, however, is not to be identified with Ninalsa the barber (following Maekawa 1973–74:102, n. 30). On the other hand, the Darda who is listed among eight men (bearing no profession name), receiving 36 sila in DP 110 iv 4 and DP 111 ii 3 might be the same individual as Darda the barber.

[49] Cf., še-ba geme2-dumu igi-nu-du8 il2 ša3-dub-didli dating from UL6.11b (HSS 3 24 iii 11–12) and UL6.12b (TSA 13 iii 15–16), where Dingiralsa occurs alone by himself on the miscellaneous register (ša3-dub-didli-am6).

[50] The name Inannamenzipapa is shortened to Inannamen (UL1–).

[51] VS 25 71 viii 6–10, VS 25 11 viii 2–6, RA 71 102 viii 12–rev. i 2, MVN 3 2 viii 11–rev. i 4, Nik 1 9 vii 4–8, HSS 3 15 vi 14–18, HSS 3 16 vii 1–5, DCS 4 vii 1–5, FAOS 15/2 123 vi 4–8, P387452 viii 2–6, and DP 113 ix 8–12. The pair also received wool rations in DP 171 (rev. v 9–12), a document classified as siki-ba lu2 u2-[rum] dba-ba6.

[52] CT 50 36 rev. i 4–10, HSS 3 17 viii 17–rev. i 6, FAOS 15/2 120 ix 2–6, TSA 14 viii 17–ix 2, and FAOS 15/1 2 ix 1–5.

[53] DP 114 ix 10–14, DP 115 rev. i 1–5, TSA 17 ix 9–13, FAOS 15/2 122 rev. i 2–6, TSA 16 viii 13–17, and HSS 3 18 vii 13–viii 3.

[54] HSS 3 17 viii 17–rev. i 6: 0.1.2 dingir-al-sa6/ nita-am6/ 0.0.4 me-me/ munus-am6/ šu-i2-me/ U2-U2/ e-da-se12.

[55] See Maekawa 1973-73:131–134, especially, n. 74, for the development of this type of ration list.

[56] Aenramugi apparently changed his name at some point to Aenekiag; so Beld 2002:17, but, in p. 78, he regards them as two different persons. In contrast to these three,  Shuburbaba, another child of Urukagina’s, has no barber listed among his personnel.

[57] Nik 1 22 iv 1–4: 0.0.3 dba-ba6-dingir-mu/ šu-i2-munus-am6/ lugal-temen-da/ e-da-ti.

[58] 0.0.3 dba-ba6-dingir-mu/ šu-i2-(munus)-am6/ U2-U2/ e-da-ti (BIN 8 359 iii 15–iv 3, HSS 3 25 iii 15–iv 2, TSA 18 iii 14–17 (0.0.4), HSS 3 26 iii 12–15, and FAOS 15/2 124 iii 12–15; for the name U2-U2, see Balke 2013:10 (sub Rs. I 9, II 2) and Foxvog 2011:61.

[59] DP 117 iv 6–7, CT 50 35 xx–iv 1′, DP 118 iv 12–13, and FAOS 15/1 20 iv 6–8.

[60] Nik 1 22 v 14–vi 6: [sag-mu-ab-tuku]/ nita-am6/ a-gil-sa/ munus-am6/ šu-i2-me/ lugal-temen-da/ e-da-se12.

[61] 0.0.4 sag-mu-ab-tuku/ šu-i2-(am6)/ lugal-temen-da/ e-da-ti in DP 119, BIN 8 359 v 13–vi 1, HSS 3 25, TSA 18, HSS 3 26, FAOS 15/2 124, Nik 1 16, and DP 116.

[62] Nik 1 22 rev. ii 1–4: [0.0.3 nin-igi-ga2-teš2-bi/ šu-i2-munus]-am6/ lugal-temen-da/ e-da-ti.

[63] DP 119 rev. i 9–ii 3: 0.0.4 ga2-ka-nam-he2-ti/ e2-gal-la/ i3-ti/ 0.0.3 nin-igi-ga2-teš2-bi/ [U2-U2] agrig-da/ e-da-ti/ munus-me (UL2.4b) (see above 3.1), NUM nin-igi-ga2-teš2-bi/mu/ šu-i2-munus-am6/ U2-U2/ e-da-ti in TSA 18 rev. iii 16–iv 3 (UL3) and DP 116 rev. iii 11-14 (UL4.7b).

[64] According to Magid (2001:325), when texts talk about, for example, a barber living with another barber, a servant living with another servant, or a miller living with another miller, we are dealing with overseer-subordinate pairings. This might be the case with Lugaltemen and the four barbers: we have seen that Lugaltemen himself was a barber. However, we face a problem with U2-U2 because he is not described anywhere as a barber, but is at one point identified as an agrig-official, provided that the restoration by CDLI is correct. Accordingly, the nature of their arrangement may not have been professional. I wonder whether Lugalanda and U2-U2 were somehow responsible for feeding or compensating for the nutritional shortage of the people who received a less than sufficient ration. This idea, however, is undermined by the fact that Dingiralsa, whose ration (48 sila) was enough to live on, also had an arrangement with U2-U2 (HSS 3 17 viii 17-rev. i 6). So, we are back to the starting point. In any case, this ti/se12 arrangement for the barbers seems to have come to an end sometime during the two months of UL4.7b–10b.