The Tablet of Enkhegal

By: George A. Barton

Originally Published in 1913

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Enkhegal was one of the earliest kings of Lagash, the modern Telloh. The only inscription from his time which is known is in the University Museum where it bears the number 10,000. It was purchased by Professor Hilprecht in the summer of 1896, who wrote a brief description of the tablet for the Zeitschrift für Assyriologie of that year, and all that scholars have known of the king has been based on this description, as the tablet has hitherto never been interpreted.*1 Indeed interpretation has been hitherto almost impossible, as Enkhegal lived before Ur-Nina, the oldest king of Lagash whose inscriptions have been read, and the tablet is naturally in a more archaic script than that of the last mentioned king. According to our revised Babylonian chronology, the tablet comes from about 3100 B.C., about 500 years earlier than the inscriptions of Naram-Sin and Sargon.

Square stone tablet with inscriptions in lines, with lots of holes
Fig. 51.—The Tablet of Enkhegal
Museum Object Number: B10000

Believing that I have solved most of the problems connected with the writing of this tablet, I am happy to present to the readers of the JOURNAL a tentative translation of it. The tablet records the ownership of several tracts of land, for which payment was made partly in bronze and partly in grain. It reads as follows.

Transliteration.

  1. 1. X[XX]III BUR GAN
    2. [X]XII URUDU MA-NA
    3. XX Š SIG
    4. X AŠ SIG
    5. GAN [EN-HE-GAL]-KU LU- GAL PUR-ŠIR-LA
    6. VII BUR GAN
    7. XII URUDU MA-NA
  2. 1. XX. UR-ŠAM
    2.II ŠE SIG
    3. DU-SIG-LUGAL
    4. GAN-*2-RU
    5. XI BUR GAN-KI
    6. V URUDU MA-NA
    7. XX LXXII QA SE SIG
    8. GAN ŠAM-ŠUKUM-ME
    9. EN-SE-GAL-KU LUGAL PUR-ŠI R-LA
    10. DU-SIG-LUGAL
  3. 1. VIII BUR GAN
    2. II BAL
    3. XI GAB-ŠE SIG
    4. X LXXII QA ŠE SIG
    5. EN-SE-GAL LUGAL
    6. KAS E-KI
    7. LAL-KI
    8. LUGAL NIM UR-SAG LAL
    9. MAŠ NUN BAR NIG-GU
    10. XXX LAL II BUR GAN
    11. XII URUDU MA-NA
  4. 1. XL SE SIG
    2. XX LAL I BUR GAN
    3. VII URUDU NA-MA
    4. X LXXII QA SE SIG
    5. IV BUR LUGAL-KI
    6. III BUR LUGAL-KI KUR GIŠ-RU
    7. BAR SIT, GIŠ-GIŠIMMAR
    8. GU-GAN ZUR-KI
    9. EN-HE-GAL
    10. LUGAL BUR-ŠIR-LA
    11. XIV BUR GAN
    12. VICII
  5. 1. II ŠE SIG
    2. BAD-GIS-GI
    3. ŠIŠ IB-KURUN
    4. GIRIN GAL
    5. XXXVIC BUR GAN
    6. IIC URUDU MA-NA
    7. II ŠE SIG
    8. GAN-A-UŠ
    9. MAŠ NUN BAR NIG-GU
    10. ŠIŠ ŠID-MAL( ?)-RU APIN
    11. LUGAL NIM GIN SAG LAL
    12. KAT . . . . . . [LU]GAL
  6. 1. VIII BUR GAN
    2. III SE SIC
    3. GAN PAR-A-GAB-AB (?)
    4. CLX SIG ŠE APIN
    5. MAŠ NUN BAR NIG-GU
    6. DU-SIG-LUGAL
    7. XXI BUR GAN NIG UD-DU
    8. CUD GAN
    9. [C]XL URUDU [MA-NA]
    10. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  7. 1. X BUR GAN
    2. A-Š[A]
    3. VI URUDU NA-MA
    4. MAŠ-APIN
    5. III BUR URU-MUŠ
    6. II URUDU MA-NA
    7. MAŠ APIN
    8. GAN BUR-[ŠIR-LA]

Rev.

  1. 1. AN-GU-ZI
    2. CL BUR GAN
    3. XXXVIIICX URUDU MA-NA
    4. XXI LXXII QA SE SIG
    5. II BUR BAL
    6. GAN-SAM
  2. 1. LUGAL-KI-GAL-LA
    2. IṢIBᵈNIN-GIR-SU
    3. GAN-GAR

Translation.

  1. 1. 33 (?) Burs of land;
    2. 22 (?) manas of bronze;
    3. 20 (gurs) of winnowed grain
    4. 10 (gurs) of cleansed ash-plant;
    5. a field for Enkhegal, king of Lagash.
    6. 7 Burs of land;
    7. 12 manas of bronze;
  2. 1. 20 (gurs) of ur-plant;
    2. 2 (gurs) of winnowed grain
    3. of the royal standard of putity-
    4. a rain-prepared field;
    5. II burs of unimproved land,
    6. 5 manas of bronze;
    7. 20 gurs 72 qas of winnowed grain-
    8. a field of shukummê-plants
    9. for Enkhegal, king of Lagash-
    10. of the royal standard of purity.
  3. 1. 8 Burs of land;
    2. 2 burs of ploughed land;
    3. t t (gurs) of winnowed gab-grain;
    4. 10 (gurs) 72 qas of winnowed grain;
    5. (for) Enkhegal, the king,
    6. improver (?) of the land’s irrigation,
    7. uniter (?) of the land,
    8. the exalted king, the warrior who subdues,
    9. princely leader, great lord.
    10 to. 28 Burs of land;
    11. 12 manas of bronze;
  4. 1. 40 (guts) of winnowed grain;
    2. 19 burs of land;
    3. 7 manas of bronze;
    4. 10 (gurs) 72 qas of winnowed grain;
    5. 4 burs of royal land;
    6. 3 burs of royal land, captured from Umma (?),
    7. bordering on the old palm trees
    8. of Gu-edin, the cherished land
    9. of Enkhegal,
    10. king of Lagash.
    11. 14 Burs of land;
    12. 602 manas of bronze;
  5. 1. 2 (guts) of winnowed grain;
    2. of Badgishgi,
    3. brother of Ibkurun.
    4. Larger sections:
    5. 3600 burs of land;
    6. 200 manas of bronze;
    7. 2 (gurs) of winnowed grain;
    8. (for) Ganaush,
    9. princely leader, great lord,
    10. brother of Shidmal(?)ru, the shepherd.
    11. the exalted king, chief counsellor, the subduer,
    12. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  6. 1. 8 Burs of land;
    2. 3 (gurs) of winnowed grain-
    3. a field of Paragahab (?),
    4. (160 [gurs] of winnowed grain),
    5. princely leader, great lord-
    6. of the royal standard of purity.
    7. 21 Burs of Iand, belonging to Uddu,
    8. an ox-irrigated held,
    9. 140 manas of bronze.
    10. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  7. 1. 10 Burs of land,
    2. a field.
    3. 6 manas of bronze,
    4. (for) the leader, the shepherd,
    5. (3 Burs) Urumush.
    6. 2 manas of bronze
    7. (for) the leader, the shepherd
    8. of the field of Lagash (?),

Rev.

  1. 1. Anguzi.
    2. 150 Burs of land;
    3. 3810 manas of bronze;
    4. 21 (gurs) 72 qas of winnowed grain,
    5. 2 burs of ploughed land;
    6. land purchased
  2. 1. (for) Logalkigalla,
    2. priest of Ningirsu.
    3. Real estate holdings.

The last line is the name of the account. It designates the kind of account to which the tablet belongs. Similar names are found in the accounts of later time.

On the edge is scratched LUGAL-SAG-NE BA-NU . . . . . . . . ., or, “Lugalsagne made it (?).” As a part of the verb may be broken away, we are not able to complete the statement with certainty.

Some of the lines might be translated in more than one way, but a discussion of the technical reasons for the renderings adopted would be out of place here. But a few points of general interest can be noted. The reader will observe that at this early time it made no difference in what order the syllables of a word were written, provided they were all put down. Mana, for example, is sometimes spelled MA-NA, and sometimes NA-MA. A similar freedom was exercised in the order of the sentences. The phrase “of the royal standard of purity ” is sometimes far removed from the grain to which it applies.
Two or three points of historical interest may be noted. Shid-mal(?)ru, who is described in col. V, 10 as “the shepherd, the exalted king,” was apparently a predecessor of Enkhegal. It is his brother whose purchase of land is recorded in this tablet. I have tentatively read in col. IV, 6 the name of the city Umma, which was a near neighbor of Lagash, with which she was often at war.*3 Umma in later texts is spelled by the picture of a bow and arrow held in the hand, and this name by the picture of a bow alone, but the reference is probably to the same city in each case.

Again in col. IV, 8 a field is described as GU-GAN, “bank of the field.” I take this to he a variant description of the field called in later texts GU-EDIN, “bank of the plain.” It was a field which lay between Umma and Lagash, over which the two cities frequently fought.* It was because the men of Umma invaded this plain that Ennatum, a later king of Lagash, undertook the war which is celebrated in the famous stele of Vultures, most of which is preserved in the Louvre, though one fragment of it is in the British Museum.

The reader will notice that along with grain, bronze was used as a medium of exchange. Apparently at this early time the use of silver or gold for this purpose had not begun. We begin to trace their use in the reign of Ur-Nina and his successors, though bronze was sometimes employed for a long time afterward. In Egypt bronze was used. as a medium of exchange much longer than it was in Babylonia.

 

GEORGE A. BARTON.

*1 See Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, XI, 330, and XV, 403; also L.W. King, History of Sumer and Akkad, 106
*2 The correct translation of this sign is unknown. See Meissner’s Sellene assyrische Idea-gramme, No. 3781-2.
*3 Sec L.W. King, History of Sumer and Akkad, p. 121 ff

Cite This Article

Barton, George A.. "The Tablet of Enkhegal." The Museum Journal IV, no. 2 (June, 1913): 50-54. Accessed February 21, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/journal/203/


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