3 - Early Dynastic Period

  • Created by: Pinksoda
  • Created on: 12-04-19 12:07

Why call it the Early Dynastic Period?

  • First historical period - up until now archaeological
    • Can be more specific now
  • Gap in knowledge for sometime after Uruk

Why is it called the Early Dynastic Period?

  • Excavations in Diyala valley - identified 3 types of stratta (phases of the dynastic period)
    • Abu Temple sequence (excavated 1934-1935)
    • Three distinct temple plans identified:
      • Early Dynastic Archaic Shrine
      • Square Temple - Worshippers on behalf of others 24/7
      • Single-Shrine Temple
    • These  (& roughly associated sculpture) used to define ED I, II and III
      • Archaism - not reliable as made to look old
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Early Dynastic Period Divisions

Early Dynastic divisions: Archaic Ur, "SIS" levels ca. 2900-2800 diagnostic: plano-convex bricks; very simple, styli ED 11 ED Illa three rulers in Uruk: ca. 2800-2700 Enmerkar -s Lugalbanda -> Gilgamesh diagnostic: plano-convex bricks; great city walls; I towns; warfare; Royal Graves of Ur Fara, Abu-Salabikh ca. 2600 BCE

  • Pottery in second level doesn't occur anywhere else - cannot get precise chronology
  • Anything in 3rd millennium can be off by 200 years
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Defining the Early Dynastic Period

  • Unlike many other historic periods in ancient Meso., Early Dynastic period =
    • Neither the existence of a particular political entity (such as the Old Akkadian or the Ur III periods),
    • Nor the extent of a particular cultural or ethnic group
  • It is best to define the Early Dynastic period according to three different dimensions:
    • (i) continuity of historical awareness
    • (ii) political structure (including various kinds of leagues and amphictionies)
    • (iii) archaeological remains
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  • 3rd M BC (2600) leads to creation to other genres
    • Could now talk about social history and not just literary genres 
      • E.g. Lagash gives explicit description of wars between them & Umma (VDM)
      • At first only royal names on stones. e.g. Mebaragesi - King of Kush (VDM)
      • Reveal State leaders interests only (VDM)
      • Some words only understood due to later docs - may have changed context (VDM)
  • Early Dynastic literary and religious genres
    • Administrative documents 
      • Largest - Girsu 1500 docs at end of period (VDM)
      • Later found in Syria - e.g 40 tablets at Mari (VDM)
    • Traditional lists of job titles, geographical locations and commodities
    • A new list genre: the Faragod-list
    • Temple hymns
    • So-called Zami hymns (largely hymns to particular deities)
    • The Instructions of Shuruppak(secular advice from father to son)
    • .GAL.NUN literature
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God-Lists, Temple-hymns and Secular Advice

God Lists

  • The Fara (ED IIIa) god-list - Anu, Enlil, Inanna, Enki, Nanna, Utu
    • Same list lasts about 2000 years 

Temple Hymns

  • Would last for millennia - some longer than god 
  • Every city had a temple - temple hymns can create a map in S. (Postgate)
  • Problem of decipherment - earliest dynastic temple hymn partially translated

Instructions of Shruppak - secular advice from father to son

  • Don’t buy an *** that brays; it will split your yoke!... Don’t place a well in your own field; the people will turn hostile against you.”
  • Alster, Wisdom of Ancient Sumer, pp. 58-59, nos. 14 and 17
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King Lists

  • Sumerian King list
    • written after but talks about the period (VDM)
    • Rulers concurrent from other evidence (VDM)
    • Listed as sequential as only 1 divinely legitimised ruler at a time (VDM)
  • Kingship from heaven  - supernatural to human lifespan. Kings of Uruk
    • Original 'impossibly long' 3600 year life span - e.g. Dumuzi (VDM)
    • Most famous = Emmerkar, Lugalbansa and Gilgamesh
    • Later mentioned as heroes e.g. Gilgamesh - epic literature!
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Jacobsen's Political Phases

  • No evidence for 1st phase, 2nd & 3rd phases are likely true
  • 1) Primitive Democracy - Soverignty to assembly, Sumerian ukkin, crisis leadership to King
    • Dry climate and immigration - secularisation of power (VDM)
  • 2) Primitive Monarchy - Permanent army, Kingship via  gods, constant war
    • Gods imagined as having a similar hosehold to Kings
    • Different bases of authority war and divine favour
  • 3) Primitive Empire - Hegemonical Power in Sumer
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The Stele of Vultures (Geierstele)

  • Shows increasing significance of Kingship and warfare
  • Vultures with human parts in beaks - must have been in a battle
  • Ningirsu holding onzu bird holding nets full of enemy soldiers from Umar
    • When battle depicted, show god fighting the war
  • Stelae depicts Lagash victory - first battle recorded
  • 7 miles distance from city to be part of city state.
    • Fighting over agricultural land to be more powerful state
    • Umar actually rules S. Mesopotamia in the end
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Common Religious System (VDM)

  • Attested about 3000BC
  • Collective cult practice - tablets with multiple cities on them
  • Shifted to Nippur
    • Common Babylonian pantheon headed by Enlil (Nippur patron)
    • Late 3rd Millenium all Babylonian cities to provide for the cult
    • Early 2nd Millenium political control over it gave a king the right to claim sovereign rule
  • At least 2 languages spoken
    • Sumerian grammar influenced Akkadian - used both simultaneously
    • Semmetic names but wrote in Sumerian - spoke different language at home
    • Sumerian names prominent in South, Semetic in the North
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The Spectacle of the Royal Tombs of Ur

  • Way for Kings to consolidate power
  • Death - human sacrifice (only time this occurred)
  • Royal tombs and death pits - 2-3k in small space
    • Objects (lapis lazuli) and workers
  • 16 out 2000 Wooley excavated Early Dynastic IIIa (2600-2450 BCE) = royal
    • Normally have headdresses - high ranking women - must be priestesses? Seal words for Queen?
    • One grave have crown prince - 2 queens -
    • Also formed royal monuments
  • Lenoard Wooley - holes in ground = wooden harps
    • Often have bull names in Sumerian
    • Self referential
    • Looks like Uruk Vase but depicts netherworld not civilised/state world
    • Bottom = scorpion-man from Gilgamesh
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Puabi's Tomb

  • Puabi's Tomb PG 800
    • Entrance - 4 bodies - guards buried - maybe a supernatural threat, protect from robbers 
    • Oxen and attendants to maintain chariots
    • Big chest full of shelves
    • 10 women wearing earrings - choir. Instruments buried with them
    • Ostrich egg - imported and manufactured (lapis, carnelian and gold)
      • Loaded
      • Quite important as have trade networks
      • Could employ skilled people
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Great Death Pit

  • 74 People lined up like dominoes
  • Wooley's theory 
    • Attendants marched willingly to accompany royal into afterlife
    • Musician played to the end, drank poison but in a peaceful way
    • Found that they were executed not voluntary deaths
      • Some scared into submission while rest voluntary (Dickson)
  • Support for Wooley's Theory
    • Headdresses look like flowers (reference to poisoning people?)
    • New technology - led to scans. Bodies examined would have been at different parts of hierarchies - maybe differences in how they died
    • Bodies preserved in mercury - placed in specific places
    • Both scans = similar killings - no struggle
    • Would've been killed in different ways
    • Palace working - idea need food in afterlife so better to do that die on streets
  • Babylonia in early & uncertain stage, needed to confirm power (VDM)
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Burials - Ur as a City-State?

  • Ur as city state
  •  Influential, wealthy, trade network, women seen as important enough to have good monuments (loyalty to Royals?!)
  • Trade - Materials include gold carnelian and lapis lazuli
  • Skilled labour - intricate goods - means to support these skilled labourers (not just have everyone on food)
  • Hierarchy - established kingship - powerful enough to merit mass sacrifice
  • Religious Practices - mass human sacrifice, burial of grave goods for afterlife, preservation
  • Military  guards need to protect goods
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Funerary Rites of Kings in Later Periods

  • Royal funerals in admin docs
    • Handing our beer/bread for lamenters
  • Crucial evidence for dynastic continuity
    • At festivals sacrificed rams for dead ancestors - on certain days
  • Other documents were from much later (1800BCE)
    • Death of Ur-Namma
    • Theme of sacrificing animals continued
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Early Dynastic Society (VDM)

  • 3rd Milennium - organisation of society into households
  • Concept expanded form independent kinship groups as began to focus on gods/kings. 
    • Sumerian word for palace = egal - great household
  • Individual elites had own households (e.g. Queen of Lagash)
  • Households were hierarchical
    • City-God Ningirsu = large than wife Bau
    • Bau's = larger than 2 sons Shulshagana and Igalima
  • Rations according to status of worker - Men = 2x as much as women
    • Rations did not constiture a whole diet - veg and fish likely homegrown
    • Provided them with a means of survival
    • Centralised  - barley provided 10k daily rations for a year
  • High quotas - 1 woman had to produce 10 litres of flour/day
  • Used to be thought that temples = most important
    • Now acknowledge that there are likely undocumented economic participants
  • Agriculture in Ebla responsibility of Villages but instiutional labour forces used in Babylonia
  • Some inequality of wealth - 16 of 2k graves had elaborate chambers of stone/brick
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Scribal Culture (VDM)

  • Signs became increasing standardised - did not reflect pictoral origins
  • Growing use of syllabic signs made it possible to write languages other than Sumerian
  • Outside Babylonia people had abandoned technology, but people in Syria starting to take it up again
  • Ebla - use of Semmetic grammatical signs showed they pronounced the signs in the languages they spoke
  • 3rd Milennium - Babylonia = intellectual center
    • Syria/N. Meso adopted technique anew
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