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Sumerian King List

Sumerian King List

Sumerian King List

The “Sumerian King List” is a clay prism with ancient Sumerian text that lists the kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties.

This clay cuneiform inscribed vertical prism is also called the Weld-Blundell Prism. The four sides, about 20 cm high and 9 cm wide are marked in the Sumerian language.

The prism lists the Sumerian kings with each side containing the text in two columns. The list begins with the antediluvian rulers and ends with the Dynasty of Isin (1827–1817 BC). 

The list includes the King’s reign lengths and the locations of the kingship, and the list of kings is sequential.

Many of the Kings were contemporaries, reflecting the belief that kingship was handed down by the gods and could be transferred from one Sumerian city to another in southern Mesopotamia.

 
Sumerian King List

The list blends mythical predynastic rulers enjoying lengthy reigns with later historical dynasties with realistic life spans.

Although the primal kings are historically unattested, they may have been actual rulers who were later mythicized. However, some Assyriologists view the predynastic kings as a later fictional addition.

Insights from the King’s List

  • Only one ruler listed is known to be female
  • The earliest named ruler whose historicity has been archaeologically verified is Enmebaragesi of Kish, 2600 BC
  • Reference to two historical Kings, from the list, appear in the Epic of Gilgamesh has led to speculation that Gilgamesh himself may have been a historical king of Uruk
  • Three dynasties are absent from the list due to political reasons
  • The final attested version of King List dates to the Middle Bronze Age
  • Some of the earlier dynasties may be mythical
  • The first archaeologically attested ruler on the list is Enmebaragesi (c. 2600 BCE)
  • The best-known dynasty that of Lagash is omitted from the list

Herbert Joseph Weld Blundell (1852 –  1935) was an English traveler and archaeologist. In 1922 he presented the Weld Blundell Collection, which included the Sumerian King List, to the University of Oxford.

Sumerian King List

Gold helmet of Meskalamdug, founder of the First Dynasty of Ur

Sumer

Sumer is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, now southern Iraq. Their prehistoric proto-writing dates back before 3000 BC.

It is also one of the first civilizations in the world, along with Ancient Egypt, Norte Chico, Minoan civilization, Ancient China, Mesoamerica, and the Indus Valley.

Living along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, Sumerian farmers grew an abundance of crops, and the surplus enabled them to form urban settlements.

The history of Sumer, including the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods, spans the 5th to 3rd millennia BCE, ending around 2004 BCE, followed by a transitional period before the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century BCE.

The first settlement in southern Mesopotamia was Eridu. The first people at Eridu brought with them the Samarra culture from northern Mesopotamia.

The last period of Sumer was the Third Dynasty of Ur  2047–1940 BC, after which the Sumerian identity decline, as the population became continually absorbed into the Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) population.

Sumerian King List

 

Sumerian King List

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Sumerian King List

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Sumerian King List

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“He who possesses many things is constantly on guard.”
– Sumerian Quote

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Photo Credit: Unknown author / Public domain ; M.atkinsonross / CC BY-SA (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0); Akieboy / CC BY-SA (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

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