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Terracotta vase


Height: 19.500 cm
Diameter: 6.200 cm (lip)
Diameter: 6.200 cm (lip)

ME 140889

Room 56: Mesopotamia

    Terracotta vase

    Probably from Umma, southern Iraq
    Early Dynastic period, around 2330 BC

    The final account of a war which had raged for decades

    There are many ancient documents referring to a conflict between the city-states of Umma and Lagash in ancient Sumer. The dispute raged for generations and concerned ownership of a piece of farm land lying on the border of the two states. The most famous account is on the so-called 'Stele of the Vultures', now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. But these versions are all composed by the rulers of Lagash and present the conflict as a victory for that kingdom. This vase presents the alternative view, as seen by Umma.

    Although there is no mention of the ruler of Umma in the text, the vase probably dates to the time of Lugalzagezi who conquered many of the cities of Sumer. His inscription talk of him being given the kingship of the nation by Enlil, the supreme Sumerian god. This text lists the detailed distances to the frontiers and ends by cursing any other king who damages the stele mentioned in the text: 'May poisonous fangs bite that ruler in his ruined palace.'

    It was probably dedicated in a temple as a memorial to Lugalzagezi's achievements. Umma was eventually captured by Sargon, the ruler of another rival city called Agade (or Akkad). Lugalzagezi was captured, placed in a wooden collar and paraded at the gate of the conqueror's city.

    J.S. Cooper, Reconstructing history from an (Malibu, Undena, 1983)

    J.S. Cooper, Sumerian and Akkadian royal in (New Haven: The American Oriental Society, 1986)


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