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Dynasty of Lagash

Lagash was one of the most important kingdoms in southern Mesopotamia during the second half of the Early Dynastic Period, about 2500-2300 BC. The kings of this dynasty built many temples and went to war with neighbouring city-states. They recorded their achievements in Sumerian cuneiform on clay tablets and also on stone and metal objects deposited in the temples.

Inscriptions describe the ruler as the protector of the city in the name of the patron god (Ningirsu) for whom he cared by building and maintaining temples. Another crucial role of the ruler was as military leader. The best recorded conflict was between Lagash and the kingdom of Umma. The dispute over local farmland which went on for generations. The dynasty was eventually brought to an end by the ruler of Umma who conquered Lagash.

Much of what we know of the dynasty comes from excavations by the French at the site of Girsu (modern Tello), which was clearly a major city within the kingdom of Lagash. It has been possible to reconstruct the order of kings in this dynasty: Ur-Nanshe, Akurgal, Eanatum, Enanatum I, Entemena, Enanatum II, Enentarzi, Lugalanda, Uruinimgina.

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Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99

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