Archaische Verwaltungstexte aus Uruk: Die Heidelberger Sammlung

by Gonzalo Rubio
Archaische Verwaltungstexte aus Uruk: Die Heidelberger Sammlung
Gonzalo Rubio
Journal of the American Oriental Society
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Reviewed work(s): Archaische Verwaltungstexte aus Uruk: Die Heidelberger Sammlung by Robert K. Englund; Hans J. Nissen

Archaische Verwaltungstexte aus Uruk: Die Heidelberger Sammlung. By ROBERT K. ENGLUND and HANS J. NISSEN. Archaische Texte aus Uruk, vol. 7. Berlin: GEBRUDER MANN, 2001. Pp. 71, plates. DM 104.
The present volume includes a catalogue, transliteration, and copies of all the archaic or "protocuneiform" texts at the University of Heidelberg. These tablets and fragments were unearthed at Warka between the twelfth (1953-54) and the twenty-sixth excavation campaigns (1968). The texts date to the Uruk IV and Uruk III periods, with one exception (W 19412,1; plt. 7) dating to Early Dynastic I. Photographs of all these texts, along with transliterations and catalogue descriptions, are now available on line as well, as part of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative ( The sixteen seal impressions included in this corpus are studied by Rainer M. Boehmer (pp. 11-13) and appear reproduced in photographs at the end of the volume.
Although the vast majority of texts are administrative, eight are lexical. The contexts of these textual witnesses of archaic lexical lists can now be explored through Niek Veldhuis' on-line Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Texts ( Five of these eight lexical fragments belong to well-attested archaic lexical lists: List of Officials (HD 5, 6, 7; cf. ATU 3 pits. 25-27), List of Animals A (HD 10; cf. ATU 3 pits. 28-30), and List of Vessels (HD 11, cf. ATU 3 pits. 39, 54-67, MSVO 1: 242). Another (HD 9) may have a parallel in the Early Dynastic corpus from Abu Salabih (OIP 99: 459), both fragments including the sequence UR.UR, concerning which see A. Cavigneaux and Farouk N. H. Al-Rawi, Gilgames et la mort: Textes de Tell Haddad VI (Groningen, 2000), 50-51. The remaining two lexical fragments (HD 8 and 12) may correspond to lists of metals.
The transliteration system employed in all the ATU and MSVO volumes attempts to convey the smallest variations in sign shapes. These careful conventions sometimes result in questionable distinctions, as when two slightly different realizations of the same sign (ZATU-219) are identified respectively as [GIR.sub.3] (W 19948,16: p. 41 plt. 28) and [GIR.sub.3]-gund (W 20044,7; p. 42 plt. 31). This is most likely the ancestor of the sign ALIM ("aurochs"). Moreover, the reading of ZATU-297 as KIS (W 20274,52; pl. 48 plt. 46; W 20274.125; p. 51 plt. 53) should be substituted for [GIR.sub.3]/ANSE. The sign KIS did not really exist on its own in the Uruk period. Most likely, by the Early Dynastic period, ZATU-219 had evolved into two different signs, KIS (LAK-248) and ALIM (LAK-249). The two results of this split looked like variants of the Early Dynastic-version of ZATU-297, LAK-253 ([GIR.sub.3]/ANSE). Thus, in terms of shape, the newly created KIS (LAK-248) ended up as a sort of umbrella sign for the other two: [GIR.sub.3]/ANSE (LAK-253, -239, -240) was KIS-gunu, and ALIM (LAK-249) was KIS preceded by a phonetic complement LIM. See P. Steinkeller, "Studies in Third Millennium Paleography; 4: Sign KIS," ZA 94 (2004): 175-85; C. Mittermayer, Die Entwicklung der Tierkopfzeichen (Munster, 2005), 22-52.
In spite of the fragmentary state of many of the texts edited in this volume, there are some intriguing curiosities. For instance, the reverse of one small tablet (W 21742; p. 64, plt. 79) notes a large amount of TI: 1[N.sub.48] 2[N.sub.34] 2[N.sub.14] TI = 60 2x60 2x10 TI ("740 bows and arrows"). There is another Uruk IV text that also refers to a large number (over 1,190) of bows and arrows (W 9656,g; ATU 5 p. 93, plt. 86). Whereas Uruk texts use different sexagesimal and bisexagesimal notations, proto-Elamite texts can resort to either the sexagesimal or the decimal system. In proto-Elamite, sexagesimal notation seems to be used mostly for vessels and other crafts. Interestingly enough, at least one proto-Elamite text uses sexagesimal notation to refer to a large number of items written with a sign very similar to the Uruk-period TI (i.e., "bows and arrows"). See R. K. Englund, "The State of Decipherment of Proto-Elamite," in The First Writing, ed. S. D. Houston (Cambridge, 2004). 100-149 (esp. 100 and 146).
One should congratulate the authors for this carefully edited addition to the corpus of archaic texts, as well as for making this wealth of materials available to all of us on the web.
COPYRIGHT 2006 American Oriental Society


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