Shulgi (𒀭𒂄𒄀 dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2094 – c. 2046 BC (Middle Chronology) or possibly c. 2030 – 1982 BC (Short Chronology).[5][6][7] His accomplishments include the completion of construction of the Great Ziggurat of Ur, begun by his father Ur-Nammu. On his inscriptions, he took the titles "King of Ur", "King of Sumer and Akkad" and "King of the four corners of the universe". He used the symbol for divinity (𒀭) before his name, marking his apotheosis, from the 23rd year of his reign.[8]


Cylinder seal of Shulgi. The inscription reads "To Nuska, supreme minister of Enlil, his king, for the life of Shulgi, strong hero, King of Ur, King of Sumer and Akkad, Ur-Nanibgal, governor of Nippur, son of Lugal-engardug, governor of Nippur, dedicated this."[1] Louvre Museum.
King of the Neo-Sumerian Empire
Reignc. 2094  BC – 2046  BC
IssueAmar-Sin, Liwir-Mitashu
Dynasty3rd Dynasty of Ur
King Shulgi foundation tablet
(c. 2094–2046 BC)
𒀭 𒐏𒋰𒁀
𒈗 𒋀𒀊𒆠𒈠
DNimintabba.............. "For Nimintabba"
NIN-a-ni..................... "his Lady,"
SHUL-GI.................... "Shulgi"
NITAH KALAG ga...... "the mighty man"
URIM KI ma............... "of Ur"
LUGAL ki en............... "King of Sumer"
gi ki URI ke................. "and Akkad,"
E a ni.......................... "her Temple"
mu na DU................... "he built"[4]
Foundation tablet of king Shulgi (c. 2094–2047 BC), for the Temple of Nimintabba in Ur. ME 118560 British Museum.[2][3] Inscription "For his Lady Nimintabba, Shulgi the mighty man, King of Ur and King of Sumer and Akkad, has built her Temple":[4] The traditional orientation is vertical, but modern transcription is based on the rotated script.

Life and reign edit

Shulgi was the son of Ur-Nammu king of Ur and his queen consort Watartum. Year-names are known for all 48 years of his reign, providing a fairly complete contemporary view of the highlights of his career.[9]

Shulgi is best known for his extensive revision of the scribal school's curriculum. Although it is unclear how much he actually wrote, there are numerous praise poems written by and directed towards this ruler. He proclaimed himself a god in his 23rd regnal year,[10] and was recognized as such by the whole of Sumer and Akkad.[11]

Some early chronicles castigate Shulgi for his impiety: The Weidner Chronicle (ABC 19)[12] states that "he did not perform his rites to the letter, he defiled his purification rituals". CM 48[13] charges him with improper tampering with the rites, composing "untruthful stelae, insolent writings" on them. The Chronicle of Early Kings (ABC 20)[14] accuses him of "criminal tendencies, and the property of Esagila and Babylon he took away as booty."

Name edit

Early uncertainties about the reading of cuneiform led to the readings "Shulgi" and "Dungi" being common transliterations before the end of the 19th century. However, over the course of the 20th century, the scholarly consensus gravitated away from dun towards shul as the correct pronunciation of the 𒂄 sign. The spelling of Shulgi's name by scribes with the diĝir determinative reflects his deification during his reign, a status and spelling previously claimed by his Akkadian predecessor Naram-Sin.[8]

Personal glorification edit

Text of the "Self-praise of Shulgi (Shulgi D)".

Shulgi also boasted about his ability to maintain high speeds while running long distances. He claimed in his 7th regnal year to have run from Nippur to Ur, a distance of not less than 100 miles.[15] Kramer refers to Shulgi as "The first long distance running champion."[16]

Shulgi wrote a long royal hymn to glorify himself and his actions, in which he refers to himself as "the king of the four-quarters, the pastor of the black-headed people".[17]

Shulgi claimed that he spoke Elamite as well as he spoke Sumerian.[8]

Some scholars note how he self identified as a "mathematical god" and considers the state he ruled over as the "first mathematical state", citing his praise poems that emphasize his abilities in subtraction, addition calculation and accounting.[18]

Armed conflicts edit

While Der had been one of the cities whose temple affairs Shulgi had directed in the first part of his reign, in his 20th year he claimed that the gods had decided that it now be destroyed, apparently as some punishment. The inscriptions state that he "put its field accounts in order" with the pick-axe. His 18th year-name was Year Liwir-mitashu, the king's daughter, was elevated to the ladyship in Marhashi, referring to a country east of Elam and her dynastic marriage to its king, Libanukshabash. Following this, Shulgi engaged in a period of expansionism at the expense of highlanders such as the Lullubi, and destroyed Simurrum (another mountain tribe) and Lulubum nine times between the 26th and 45th years of his reign.[19] In his 30th year, his daughter was married to the governor of Anshan; in his 34th year, he was already levying a punitive campaign against the place. He also destroyed Kimaš and Ḫurti (cities to the east of Ur, somewhere in Elam) in the 45th year of his reign.[20][19] Ultimately, Shulgi was never able to rule any of these distant peoples; at one point, in his 37th year, he was obliged to build a large wall in an attempt to keep them out.[15]

Susa edit

King Shulgi carnelian bead
(c. 2094–2047 BCE)

DNinlil.......................... "For Ninlil" 
NIN-a-ni....................... "his Lady,"
DSHUL-GI.................... "Shulgi"
NITAH KALAG ga........ "the mighty man"
LUGAL URIM KI ma..... "King of Ur"
LUGAL kien-................. "King of Sumer"
gi kiURIke..................... "and Akkad,"
nam-ti-la-ni-sze3........... "for his life" 
a mu-na-ru................... "dedicated (this)"
Carnelian bead, elongated (7 cm), Harappan style, provenance unknown. Bearing a cuneiform commemorative inscription of Shulgi, dedicating the bead to the goddess Ninlil: "To Ninlil, his Lady, Shulgi, mighty man, king of Ur, king of the lands of Sumer and Akkad, dedicated (this bead) for his (own) life". British Museum, BM 129493[21][22][23][24] This type of carnelian bead was probably imported from India.[25]

Shulgi is known to have made dedications at Susa, as foundation nails with his name, dedicated to god Inshushinak have been found there.[26] One of the votive foundation nails reads: "The god 'Lord of Susa,' his king, Shulgi, the mighty male, king of Ur, king of Sumer and Akkad, the..., his beloved temple, built.".[27][28][29] An etched carnelian bead, now located in the Louvre Museum (Sb 6627) and inscribed with a dedication by Shulgi was also found in Susa, the inscription reading: "Ningal, his mother, Shulgi, god of his land, King of Ur, King of the four world quarters, for his life dedicated (this)".[30][31][32]

The Ur III dynasty had held control over Susa since the demise of Puzur-Inshushinak, and they built numerous buildings and temples there. This control was continued by Shulgi as shown by his numerous dedications in the city-state.[33] He also engaged in marital alliances, by marrying his daughters to rulers of eastern territories, such as Anšan, Marhashi and Bashime.[33]

Modernization edit

Shulgi apparently led a major modernization of the Third Dynasty of Ur.[8] He improved communications, reorganized the army, reformed the writing system and weight and measures, unified the tax system, and created a strong bureaucracy.[8] He also promulgated the law code known as the Code of Ur-Nammu after his father.[8]

Year names edit

One of the terracotta tablets listing the Year names of Shulgi, from year 6 (𒈬𒄊𒂗𒆤𒆠[𒋫...]: "The year the road from Nippur [was straightened]") to year 21a in this view, the other year names being inscribed on the back. A fragment is missing in this tablet (at the top), corresponding to the first five-year names and the last seven-year names of Shulgi.[36] This is an Old Babylonian copy (ca. 1900-1600 BC) of an Akkadian original.[36] Museum of the Ancient Orient, Istanbul.

There are extensive remains for the year names of Shulgi, which have been entirely reconstructed from year 1 to year 48. Some of the most important are:[37]

1. Year : Šulgi is king
2. Year: The foundations of the temple of Ningubalag were laid
6. Year: The king straightened out the Nippur road
7. Year: The king made a round trip between Ur and Nippur (in one day)
10. Year: The royal mountain-house (the palace) was built
18. Year: Liwirmittašu, the daughter of the king, was elevated to the queenship of Marhashi
21c. Year: Der was destroyed
24. Year: Karahar was destroyed
25. Year: Simurrum was destroyed
27. Year after: "Šulgi the strong man, the king of the four corners of the universe, destroyed Simurrum for the second time"
27b. Year: "Harszi was destroyed"
30. Year: The governor of Anšan took the king's daughter into marriage
31. Year: Karhar was destroyed for the second time
32. Year: Simurrum was destroyed for the third time
34. Year: Anshan was destroyed
37. Year: The wall of the land was built
42. Year: The king destroyed Šašrum
44. Year: Simurrum and Lullubum were destroyed for the ninth time
45. Year: Šulgi, the strong man, the king of Ur, the king of the four-quarters, smashed the heads of Urbilum, Simurrum, Lullubum and Karhar in a single campaign
46. Year: Šulgi, the strong man, the king of Ur, the king of the four-quarters, destroyed Kimaš, Hurti and their territories in a single day

— Main year names of Shulgi[38]

Marriages edit

Shulgi was a contemporary of the Shakkanakku rulers of Mari, particularly Apil-kin and Iddi-ilum.[39][40] An inscription mentions that Taram-Uram, the daughter of Apil-kin, became the "daughter-in-law" of Ur-Nammu, and therefore the Queen of king Shulgi.[41][42] In the inscription, she called herself "daughter-in-law of Ur-Nammu", and "daughter of Apil-kin, Lugal ("King") of Mari", suggesting for Apil-kin a position as a supreme ruler, and pointing to a marital alliance between Mari and Ur.[43][44]

Nin-kalla was a queen at the end of the king's reign. Many texts show that she was running the palace in Nippur.[45] Another important royal woman, but not a queen, was Ea-niša. She appears in many texts and had an influential position at the royal court, perhaps as concubine.[46] A similar status had Shulgi-simti who is known from a high number of texts presenting evidence for her economic power. Another important woman was Geme-Ninlilla who appears in texts at the end of the king's reign. Other, less well known royal women are Šuqurtum and Simat-Ea.

Shulgi is known to have had five sons, Amar-dDa-mu, Lu-dNanna, Lugal-a-zi-da, Ur-dSuen, Amar-Sin as well as one daughter, Peš-tur-tur.[47][48] The name of another daughter, Šāt-Kukuti, is known from a cuneiform tablet.[49] A daughter, Taram-Šulgi was married to the ruler of Pašime, Šudda-bani.[41]

Artifacts and inscriptions edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Full transcription: "CDLI-Archival View".
  2. ^ "Nimintabba tablet". British Museum.
  3. ^ Enderwitz, Susanne; Sauer, Rebecca (2015). Communication and Materiality: Written and Unwritten Communication in Pre-Modern Societies. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. p. 28. ISBN 978-3-11-041300-7.
  4. ^ a b "(For the goddess) Nimintabba, his lady, Shulgi, mighty man, king of Ur, king of Sumer and Akkad, her house, built." in Expedition. University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. 1986. p. 30.
  5. ^ The Oxford companion to archaeology. 1. Ache-Hoho. Oxford University Press. 2012. p. 458. ISBN 9780195076189.
  6. ^ "Shulgi | king of Ur". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  7. ^ "Ur III Empire – Oxford Reference".
  8. ^ a b c d e f Potts, D. T. (1999). The Archaeology of Elam. Cambridge University Press. p. 132. ISBN 9780521564960.
  9. ^ "T6K2.htm". Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  10. ^ Van De Mieroop, Marc. (2005). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000–323 BC, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, p. 76
  11. ^ Woolley, C. Leonard. The Sumerians. New York: W. W. Norton. pp. 132. ISBN 0-393-00292-6.
  12. ^ "The Weidner Chronicle (ABC 19)". Archived from the original on 28 February 2006.
  13. ^ "The kings of Ur (CM 48)". Archived from the original on 10 May 2006.
  14. ^ "Chronicle of early kings (ABC 20)". Archived from the original on 28 February 2006.
  15. ^ a b Hamblin, William J. Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  16. ^ See his History Begins at Sumer, Chapter 31, "Shulgi of Ur: The First Long-Distance Champion".
  17. ^ "I am the king of the four-quarters, I am a shepherd, the pastor of the "black-headed people"" in Liverani, Mario (2013). The Ancient Near East: History, Society and Economy. Routledge. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-134-75084-9.
  18. ^ "Red Traces, Part 11: The social origins of early mathematics". counterfire.
  19. ^ a b Samuel Noah Kramer (17 September 2010). The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-45238-8.
  20. ^ Ghobadizadeh, Hamzeh and Sallaberger, Walther, "Šulgi in the Kuhdasht Plain: Bricks from a Battle Monument at the Crossroads of Western Pish-e Kuh and the Localisation of Kimaš and Ḫurti", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 113, no. 1, pp. 3-33, 2023
  21. ^ (RIME 3/2, p. 161-162)
  22. ^ "DINGIR.NIN.LILA / NIN-A-NI / DINGIR.SHUL.GI / NITA-KALAG.GA / LUGAL URI/ .KI-MA / LUGAL.KI.EN / GI KI-URI3.KI / NAM.TI.LA NI.SHE3/ A MU.NA.RU." Inscription Translation: "To Ninlil, his lady, Shulgi, mighty man, King of Ur, King of Sumer and Akkad, has dedicated (this stone) for the sake of his life." "cylinder seal / bead". British Museum.
  23. ^ "CDLI-Archival View".
  24. ^ Sb 6627 Potts, Daniel T. (1999). The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State. Cambridge University Press. p. xiv. ISBN 978-0-521-56496-0.
  25. ^ Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2003. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-58839-043-1.
  26. ^ Potts, Professor Daniel T. (1999). The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State. Cambridge University Press. p. xiv. ISBN 978-0-521-56496-0.
  27. ^ "CDLI-Found Texts Louvre Museum Sb 2881".
  28. ^ "Votive Foundation Nails".
  29. ^ Potts, Daniel T. (1999). The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State. Cambridge University Press. p. 133, Plate 5.1. ISBN 978-0-521-56496-0.
  30. ^ Potts, D.T (29 July 1999). The Archaeology of Elam. p. 134, Plate 5.2 Sb 6627. ISBN 9780521564960.
  31. ^ "Site officiel du musée du Louvre".
  32. ^ "Shulgi perle (color image)". Louvre Museum.
  33. ^ a b Potts, Daniel T. (2012). A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. John Wiley & Sons. p. 746. ISBN 978-1-4051-8988-0.
  34. ^ "Site officiel du musée du Louvre".
  35. ^ "BnF – L'Aventure des écritures".
  36. ^ a b "Šulgi Year Names (Ist Ni 00394)".
  37. ^ Hamblin, William J. (2006). Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC: Holy Warriors at the Dawn of History. Routledge. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-134-52062-6.
  38. ^ "Šulgi Year Names".
  39. ^ Unger, Merrill F. (2014). Israel and the Aramaeans of Damascus: A Study in Archaeological Illumination of Bible History. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-62564-606-4.
  40. ^ Abusch, I. Tzvi; Noyes, Carol (2001). Proceedings of the XLV Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale: historiography in the cuneiform world. CDL Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-883053-67-3.
  41. ^ a b Sharlach, T. M. (2017). An Ox of One's Own: Royal Wives and Religion at the Court of the Third Dynasty of Ur. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-5015-0522-5.
  42. ^ Eppihimer, Melissa (2019). Exemplars of Kingship: Art, Tradition, and the Legacy of the Akkadians. Oxford University Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-19-090303-9.
  43. ^ Lipiński, Edward (1995). Immigration and Emigration Within the Ancient Near East. Peeters Publishers. p. 187. ISBN 9789068317275.
  44. ^ CIVIL, Michel (1962). "Un nouveau synchronisme Mari-III e dynastie d'Ur". Revue d'Assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale. 56 (4): 213. ISSN 0373-6032. JSTOR 23295098.
  45. ^ T. M. Sharlach: An Ox of One's Own, Royal Wives and Religion at the Court of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2017, ISBN 978-1-5015-1447-0, 102-115
  46. ^ T. M. Sharlach: An Ox of One's Own, Royal Wives and Religion at the Court of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2017, ISBN 978-1-5015-1447-0, 140-157
  47. ^ Changyu Liu, "Prosopography of individuals delivering animals to Puzriš-Dagan in Ur III Mesopotamia", Akkadica 142/2, 2021, pp. 113-142
  48. ^ [1]Changyu Liu, "Prosopographical Statistics Appendix of the article 'Prosopography of individuals delivering animals to Puzriš-Dagan in Ur III Mesopotamia'", Cuneiform Digital Library Preprints, 24.0, 1 April 2022
  49. ^ Ali, Basil Bashar, and Khalid Salim Ismael, "Šāt-kukuti The Daughter of King Šulgi in a New Text from the Iraqi Museum", Athar Alrafedain 8.2, pp. 266-280, 2023
  50. ^ Edzard, Dietz Otto (2003). Sumerian Grammar. BRILL. p. 36. ISBN 978-90-474-0340-1.
  51. ^ "CDLI-Archival View".
  52. ^ a b Ward, William Hayes (1910). The seal cylinders of western Asia. Washington : Carnegie Inst. p. 27.
  53. ^ a b Simo Parpola, Asko Parpola and Robert H. Brunswig, Jr "The Meluḫḫa Village: Evidence of Acculturation of Harappan Traders in Late Third Millennium Mesopotamia?" in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient Vol. 20, No. 2, 1977, p. 136-137
  54. ^ "Collections Online British Museum".

External links edit

Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Ur, Sumer and Akkad
ca. 21st century BCE
Succeeded by