The Earliest Reformer? Urukagina of Girsu and His New Order

Category: Lecture

Length: 46:45
Video Date 10/06/2021
Film Description As society became more complex and cities developed in southern Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq) around 5000 years ago, the opportunities for abuse of power increased. The written record is largely silent on this topic for hundreds of years, except for an inscription written by a king of Girsu, whom we conventionally call Urukagina. This text, often called “Urukagina’s Reforms,” claims that Urukagina reversed the abuses of former times and offered new protections to the weak. In this talk, we take a deeper look at Urukagina and his times, and try to understand the motivations behind these reforms and who really benefitted from them.

Stephen J. Tinney, Ph.D., is Clark Research Associate Professor of Assyriology, Deputy Director of the Penn Museum, Associate Curator of the Babylonian Section of the Penn Museum and director of the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project. He holds a B.A. in Assyriology from Cambridge University, England, and a Ph.D. in Assyriology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His research interests include all aspects of Sumerian language, literature, and culture. Much of his current work is devoted to developing and publishing Sumerian texts and to analyzing and presenting the Sumerian language. This work is primarily focused on the creation of two major projects, the online Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (ePSD), a project he began work on when he joined Penn in 1991 as a postdoctoral research assistant and which he now directs, and the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative based at UCLA.
Video Category Lecture