All posts for the day June 11th, 2019

Naram-Sin and Shulgi  

Published June 11, 2019 by amaic
Image result for shulgi ur iii


Damien F. Mackey


“… [Shulgi] seems to have purposefully presented himself to his subjects

as a new Naram-Sin of Akkad …”.

Joshua J. Mark



The so-called Ur III dynasty (beginning c. 2110 BC, conventional dating) seems to have perpetuated the legacy of the famous Akkadian (Sargonic) dynasty, thought to have terminated some decades earlier (c. 2150 BC, conventional dating).

Ur III’s master king, Shulgi, divinised, emerges as something of a ‘reincarnation’ of the likewise divinised Naram-Sin.

Thus, for instance, Joshua J. Mark writes (in “Shulgi of Ur”), “… Shulgi went further in proclaiming himself a god, as Naram-Sin had also done …”:


The historian Bertman writes, “Ur-Nammu’s imperialistic dreams were fulfilled by his son Shulgi” in the expansion of the Kingdom of Ur from southern Mesopotamia near Eridu up the Tigris River valley to Nineveh in the north (57). This area corresponds roughly to modern-day Kuwait in the south to northern Iraq. The kingdom was maintained efficiently through the unified central administration instituted by Ur-Nammu, which Shulgi improved upon, and was protected and enlarged by the standing army which, since it needed no mobilization, could respond quickly to any disturbance on the borders. With his state secure, Shulgi could devote himself to encouraging art and culture, as his father had done.


He introduced a national calendar and standardized time-keeping so that the whole of his kingdom recognized the same day and time, replacing the old method of different regions reckoning dates and times in their own way. He also instituted agricultural reforms and standardized weights and measures to ensure fair trade in the market place. Prior to Shulgi’s reforms, prices varied – sometimes widely – between trade goods in Ur and the same goods in Nippur. All documents were written in Sumerian (instead of the traditional state language, Akkadian), perhaps in an effort to differentiate Shulgi’s reign from those of the past. Even so, he seems to have purposefully presented himself to his subjects as a new Naram-Sin of Akkad, the last great ruler of the Akkadian Empire. Ur-Nammu had also understood the value of linking his reign to that of the legendary Akkadian kings, but Shulgi went further in proclaiming himself a god, as Naram-Sin had also done, and signing his name to documents with the divine determinative. ….


Similarly, at: we read:

“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. ….”.


Benjamin R. Foster has, in The Age of Agade: Inventing Empire in Ancient Mesopotamia, provided numerous examples of Ur III’s upholding of the Akkadian legacy – with Shulgi’s reforms being “characteristic … of Naram-Sin” –

For example, Foster writes on p. 275:

At Ur, one of the clearest signs of Akkadian influence may be seen in the “Reforms of Shulgi. These include deification of the king, change of his title from “King of Sumer and Akkad” to “king of the four world regions,” construction of temples in honor of himself, worship of his statues, and celebration of an annual festival in his honor. Among the administrative and military reforms attributed to Shulgi by some scholars are adoption of the bow and arrow, creation of a standing army, strengthening of political connections between Nippur and Ur, standardization of weights and measures with new “royal” or “Shulgi” units, calendar reform, reorganization of temple households into the state apparatus, growth of a royal domain, expansion of industrial complexes, centralization of bureaucracy, promulgation of collected laws, founding of scribal schools, reform of the writing system, and development of new accounting methods, as well as taxation and redistribution procedures….. Nearly all of these were characteristic of the Akkadian period, especially the administrative reforms enacted during the reign of Naram-Sin. …”.