Primitive Democracy in Ancient Mesopotamia Author(s): Thorkild Jacobsen Source: Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jul.

, 1943), pp. 159-172 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/542482 Accessed: 20/11/2009 16:17
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and the machinery for social co-ordination by means of power is as yet imperfectly developed. however." which so subtly merges into democracy and which so often functions in forms similar to it. AUTOCRATIC ORIENTATION CAL TIMES IN HISTORI- The political development in early historical times seems to lie under the spell of 159 . on the one hand." seems. rulers and magistrates obtain their positions with and ultimately derive their power from that same consent. many of which were flourishing in a predominantly tribal. We should perhaps add that the contrast with which we are primarily concerned is the one between "democracy" as defined above. less expressive than "primitive democracy" and tends in addition to sever the close ties which connect the Mesopotamian forms with similar primitive forms of government elsewhere. It may not be amiss. that these citizens constitute the supreme judicial authority in the state. Speiser's views agree with ours in important points. the power structure is loose. and "autocracy. One such word is "democracy. Some Sources of Intellectual Progress in the Ancient Near East ("Studies W in the History of Culture" [Philadelphia. can hardly. on the other. namely in all free. That sovereignty resides in these citizens implies that major decisions-such as the decision to undertake a war-are made with their consent. first to make clear in what sense we intend to use the word before we plunge in medias res. We shall use "democracy" in its classical rather than in its modern sense as denoting a form of government in which internal sovereignty resides in a large proportion of the governed." which denoted a form of government and now stands for a way of life. we understand forms of government which. p. 60. therefore. By "primitive democracy. though they may be considered as falling within the definition of democracy just given. setting. adult. the fears. Speiser has touched on the subject in a paragraph and Social of his paper. 1942]). "Oligarchy.JOURNAL NEAR Volume II OF STUDIES Number 3 EASTERN JULY 1943 PRIMITIVE DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA1 THORKILD JACOBSEN ORDS which embody the hopes." used as a general term for forms which tend to concentrate the major political powers in the hands of a single individual. and also that 1 The substance of this article was presented in a paper read at the meeting of the American Oriental Society held in Chicago in April. "politocracy. at the present stage of our knowledge of ancient Mesopotamia." furthermore. not urban. male citizens without distinction of fortune or class. A. 1941. differ from the classical democracies by their more primitive character: the various functions of government are as yet little specialized. Since then Professor E. the term which he suggests. and the values of generations are likely to lose in clarity what they gain in depth. be profitably distinguished.

1940]. and in efficiency.c.. II. Here too.3 he alone was personally responsible by contract with the city-god for upholding justice and righteousness.5 and. and executive. See my remarks in JAOS.d a . IX. that initiating the rebuilding of the temple Eninnu in Lagash. LIX (1939). As his date we gave ca. striving to become the one who would unite all of southern Mesopotamia into a single centralized state under a single ruling hand-his own.e." 5 See. the ruler. 98-100. p. permit us to fix on any of the available possibilities. From before the dawn of history7 through the soldier-kingdoms of Lugalzagesi and the early Sargonids to the highly organized bureaucratic state of the Third Dynasty of Ur. though autocratic. 11). autonomous city-states.b e k a e . 29). 487. 80.s i r: "Urukagena contracted with Ningirsu that he (i. The authority for new special law as well as for new general law was the will of the god of the state as communicated to the ruler through dreams and omens. however. We are therefore leaving the question open. Each ruler of a city-state was forever striving to subdue his neighbors. P1. enforced by its authority. 8 See for the time being my remarks ibid. and in each such state one individual. the material does not. he led the state in battle. the ruler may intervene. . the son of the ruler of Lagash seems to have been in command).6 he controlled the most powerful single economic unit within the state. were not absolute. and many others. and aimed at some immediate and specific situation. 7 There is reason to believe that successful attempts to unify southern Mesopotamia were made very early. 11 on p. in town and township. this principle had been realized-or was being realized-to a very substantial degree during the first centuries of Mesopotamian history. propelled in its domestic and foreign policies by the one urge for i n i m . Table II. and X. as administrator of the main temple complex. The divine orders leading to Urukagena's reforms are referred to in Cone B + C vii 20-viii 13. The main body of the "general law" which regulated Sumero-Akkadian society was presumably unwritten common law. in intensity. however. A detailed description of the genesis of a special law.. It drove Mesopotamia forward relentlessly toward the more distant aim: centralization of power within one large area.. Although the various new chronologies which have been proposed are undoubtedly in general nearer to the truth than was the old high chronology. 9 We are employing for the historical periods the terms proposed in The Sumerian King List. This means that the scale of time given in The Sumerian King List should be shifted downward by 275 years. ix 1-x 4 and the pictorial representations on that monument. A i 1-xii 20. etc. Only he could promulgate and carry into effect new law. judiciary.8 DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS IN THE JUDICIARY IN POSTIMPERIAL TIMES9 To find in a world so singularly autocratic in outlook. 489. upon which all absolute dates in the earlier periods depend. end of n.c. But the momentum of the autocratic idea was still far from spent with the realization of this idea within small separate areas. self-sufficient. is given in Gudea Cyl." No.. 111-20. 1792-1750 B. in The Sumerian King List ("O. 26. e. the battle in iii 5 ff. Since then. 495.2 The country formed a mosaic of diminutive. The ruler's powers. II. For such achievements the ruler gets-or takes-sole credit in the inscriptions. however. Eannatum's Stele of the Vultures obv.. as is evidenced by Urukagena's sweeping changes in the existing legal order (see his Cone B + C and Oval Tablet). 4 Urukagena nu -s ig Cone B + C xii 23: nu-ma-su lu-a-tuku nu-na-ga-ga-a Uru-ka-ge-na-ke4 dNin-gir-su-da supreme commander of all armed forces. in our opinion. Within small areas. united in his hands the chief political powers: legislative.g. waging of wars. the inscription of Utuhegal. 6 See Deimel in Analecta orientalia. Urukagena) would not deliver up the orphan and the widow to the powerful man. n.160 JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES one controlling idea: concentration of political power in as few hands as possible. 3 The major part of the legislative activities of early Mesopotamian rulers falls within the province of "special law" in the sense of commands issued by the state. accepting provisionally the date for Hammurabi proposed by Sidney Smith (Alalakh and Chronology [London.C.I. p.4 as 2 The beginning of history proper in Mesopotamia may be placed approximately at the time of Urnanshe. also the account of the wars between Lagash and Umma in Entemena's Cone A (on one occasion. RA. Here belong orders initiating the building and rebuilding of specific temples at specific times and places. must be radically lowered. we watch these efforts toward ultimate centralization steadily grow in power. 2800 B. repairs and digging of canals. new material and treatments have appeared making it highly probable that the date of the First Dynasty of Babylon.

.). we are perhaps justified in assuming that the categories under which totality in this case was viewed were those of age and youth.." Our translation of sa nik-ka-si." XXIV. pp. Characteristically the clerk was not permitted to act at the bidding of any single individual and was severely punished if he did so. XXXV. the clerk shall pay 10 shekels (of) silver. Since 3ahrum and rabium when used of persons usually refer to age rather than to size (cf.. A loanword from Sumerian k a r. This gen10That is. 191 f. the period of the Old Babylonian Kingdom. then their organization. they will in their assembly give orders to the clerk concerning assembling young and old.PRIMITIVE DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA 161 concentration of power. as also the relation of the elders (rabiutum) to the group of seven which could represent the kdrum when it sealed documents (see G. Jahrtausend ("Der Alte Orient.-As a particularly striking example may serve the Assyrian merchant colonies in Asia Minor on the border of our cultural province. No. It should be noted. 4 [1925])." Vol.). "the younger son. Yet in the judiciary branch of government. 99) is not yet entirely clear. See also below. but Lewy may be right in taking it to denote a person (MVAG. Inscriptions from Alishar and Vicinity (Chicago. XI. kdrum originally denoted "quay. and the latter may not assemble young and old.F." While in most settlements the merchants and their organization. XXXIII. and they shall solve the case. ibid. 70-80.. in Asia Minor-karum is therefore best rendered. 2a-ua-sz-nu 3sa sahir rabi [u-ld i-pd]-su-rrul(!?) i-na a-na 4pu-ih-ri-su-nu pd-rhu-ril-im tupsarrim 5i-qd-bi4-ui-ma qahir rabi tupsarrum 6u-pd-ha-ar ba-lum a-ui-li 7rabi-i-tim nam-e-dim ue-dum sa sa-yi-lum a-na 9tupsarrim u-ld i-qd-bi4-ma lsOahir rabi nik-ka-si i-ld Ullu-ma ba-lum a-ui-li iu-pd-ha-ar tupiarrum 12rabi-d-tim i pi-i ue-dim 13sahir rabi up-ta-hi-ir 10 siqle kaspam 14[upsarrum i-sa-qal: "[if] they (i." in his History of Assyria. 224). either embrace the whole population or stand apart from the community as an autonomous unit. XXXIII. If the clerk without (the consent of) the seniors at the bidding of a single (man) has assembled young and old. VI [19171).. 1'-6' (see Lewy in MVAG. 2-14 (Stephens in JSOR.13 KAV 2 ii 10-11 and likewise Latin minor and major)."1Here in early postImperial times (Isin-Larsa period) the highest judicial authority was not vested in any one individual but resided in a general assembly of all colonists: "the colony. as "the colony. cf. Kleinasien (Miinchen.). ibid. p. "concerning settling of accounts. and Driver and Miles. The Assyrian Laws. 1-18. III [Weimar. pp. the kdrum. For our reading and restoration of 1.. with Landsberger. as Landsberger has pointed out. 378." takes it as a construction parallel to sa sahir rabi pahurim.F. 12 Since the name of this assembly is important for the light it throws on its character and composition. e. young and old. . 289. Vols." The qualification qahir rabi-literally "small and great"--renders. Assyrische Handelskolonien in Kleinasien aus dem 3. in settlements of certain types such as merchant colonies or towns grown out of emporia. Das altbabylonische Gerichtswesen ("Leipziger semitistische Studien.].' 102 f." as opposed to mar'u rabu-i. One single man may not without (the consent of) a majority of the seniors give orders to the clerk concerning settling of accounts.. even in the latest period of Sumero-Akkadian civilization.. 11 For general discussion see Landsberger. . XXXIII XXXV. 3). the seniors) do not solve their case. "concerning assembling young and old. Assyria. as a heterogeneous."12as it is called. it may be considered in more detail. 64-76.." in eral assembly was called into session by a clerk at the bidding of a majority of its senior members. 13 KTP 19 obv.]: "they shall [sahir] 6'rabi i pd-hu-[ri-im i-pd-su-ru the clerk shall divide them into three stand .] 2'upsarrum 5'7i-ld 4'i-pd-gu-ru a-ua-tdm] [a-ua-tdm] a-s[ar(?) .." "emporium. the idea of totality (ZA [N.) more nearly than the more recent rendering by Driver and Miles in The Assyrian Laws." in 1. 525-41." Our rendering assumes that this ordinance sets forth the procedure to be followed when a difficult case dealing with the settling of accounts was transferred from a lower court (that of the rabiutum alone?) to "the colony young and old. No." By a natural extension of meaning. 336.g. I. The elucidation of the word karum (also karrum) is due to Walther. unassimilated block. n. We follow Lewy's translation (MVAG. 1939]. A. "Die Altassyrischen Rechtsurkunden vom Ktltepe" and (MVAG. that the degree to which this grouping had become institutionalized in the organization of the karum.. XXXIII. however... Gotze.. it came to designate also the people who had their business on the quay. appear.10 features of a distinct and democratic character.e. pp. the kdrum would. and to Landsberger in ZA (N. Eisser in Festschrift Paul Koschaker." "harbor. The karum would thus exhibit the well-known grouping into elders and youths which underlies so many and so widespread forms of political organization and which-as we shall presently see-appears also in Babylonia. and the clerk will assemble young and old. 223-25. pp. can have formed only an entity within the organization of the community as a whole (the "town" [alum] or the "(general) assembly" [pubrum]).g. 1935). and I. 1933). 334-36. 3. "the merchant body. 41. pp. 122. For the later fate of these democratic strands and of the institutions in which they were embodied see Olmstead's chapter. transliteration and translation. Where they cannot solve the case (they shall) on assembling young and old. 376 f.. "The Imperial Free City. For the textual material see Eisser and Lewy. 2 compare TC 112 rev. Gelb. I (1924). When reference is made to a settlement of such to one of the Assyrian merchant colonies a type-e. pp." and a meeting of the latter body was to be called. "the older son. J... maru-u qe-eh-ru.. which appears to deal with a similar transfer: 'i-zaa-na [sdl-si-su] 3'i-zu-a-st-nu zu-no [. . however.. . The relevant portion of the text reads: . institutions based on diametrically opposite concepts is somewhat unexpected.

That the Old Babylonian assembly comprises. "The town" (alum) and "the elders" (sibftum) must-as urged by Koschaker-be kept distinct. VII. VI. 78-83. op. pp.. 232). While Walther's identification of assembly and town is undoubtedly correct (see below.l9 Similar evidence is given sembly" and "the elders" were identical. and even commissaries sent by the legal authorities of the mother-city Assur could not proceed. and in a wider sense "the elders" formed naturally part of the "town. Dil-batki 2 mA-pil_-i-li-u 3U E-ri-ba-am 4ki-a-am iq-bu-u um-ma 5mi-im-ma su-nu-ma nu-ma-tum 6ma-la ha-al-qd-at 7ma-har dIp-te-bi-tam s8-ul i-li-a-am 9i-na-an-na numa-tum rli-ta-li-a-am "ki-ma Dil-batki iq-bu-ti 12numa-at 1 GAt 13aal-na ki-is-sa(!)-a-tim 14[sa] dNin-urtama-an-si rkaleml 15iz-zi-iz-ma 16 mNu-_ir-dSamas 17 m dSsi. Anybody can turn to the king with complaints. and Cuq had earlier voiced the opinion (RA. "the town" and "the elders" could. if they met with resistance on the part of a colonist. function together as one tribunal. Koschaker in HG. VI. 234. and Lutz.. the letter which he quotes as indicating identity of town and elders (CT.). 27b) gives no basis for such a conclusion.-Turning from the "republican"15Assyrian colonies to the Babylonia of Hammurabi as it is revealed some generations later in documents of the Old Babylonian Kingdom." dealing out justice according to the "legal practice of the king. 11. Our sources furnish a vivid and interesting picture of the workings of this assembly. Eisser settle minor local disputes. 17 18 See Landsberger. "Cuneiform Law" (art. 1194 (= TCL.. 55 and 64) was inclined to identify "the assembly" (puhrum). "the town" (dlum). we shall comment.."'6 But it is worth noting that alongside of. of course. 715 (= Jean. The text reads: 1i-na pu-hur pp. follows Walther on this point)." for decision. IX in Studia et documenta Landsberger II. 58). by the texts cited loc." the ensuing actions are carried out "as Dilbat commanded.." The assembly of Dilbat is thus equivalent to the town itself. XXXV. the "assembly. 45-64. III). HG. and ad jura orientis Though distinct entities. 15 Thus Koschaker. III." 14 See CCT 49b and Landsberger's discussion in his Assyrische Handelskolonien . 145. V. p. as already mentioned. cit." Vol. XIII. 107.en-ma-gir rakbum mdr Ka-ma20 mIs-[m]a-tum nu 19 "nIm-gur-dSu. In the text VAS.en-erii s1 m dSu. Das altbabylonische Gerichtswesen. Now the property has turned . and Lewy in MVAG. 149. That town and elders are not the same thing is clearly shown.162 JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES The general assembly tried and decided lawsuits which arose in the colony. Lautner. after a report has been made "in the assembly of (the town) Dilbat.. we are very naturally struck first of all by the degree to which royal power is there in evidence. The city as such deals out justice according to its own local ideas of right and wrong. and HG. on two significant points onlyits composition and its competence. Legal and Economic Documents from Ashjdly. No. by Koschaker.. TCL. 87 ff. VII. VII [1909-10].) that "the as- bat did Apil-ilishu and Eribam speak thus: 'None of the property that had disappeared turned up before (the god) Ipte-bitam.'7 Town mayor and town eldersl8 336 ff. 49-51.. 3 (1930)... No. give orders to the clerk and the clerk may not etc. 214. "the town and the elders. which mention them as distinct entities: dlum i slibutum. except by authority of this local assembly. it merely states that "the town" had given the writer a field. die Streitbeendigung 16 See (1933)." 19 See Walther. I. Tell Sifr No. for instance. 164-65 and p. pp. Walther (Das altbabylonische Gerichtswesen. he looks into the matter and delegates the case to a suitable court for decision. pp. so that we should translate: "a single man in charge of the account may not . 148. Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences. other casesperhaps the more especially difficult or especially important ones-are brought before the town as a whole. on the other hand. II. the citizens of a given town or village is apparent from the use of "town" and "assembly" as alternatives in our documents. and "the elders" (stbiutum).en ra-bi-a-nu mar fil-li_dEn_lil 21mA-pil-i-li-su sangu 22sa iu-sa-am-nu-si 23 mE-ri-ba-am mar Ha-bi-it-Sin 24sa a-na ra-bi-sui-tim "In the assembly 2is-sa-ak-nu-si of Dil26ril-ta-ar-si. and integrated with.. half of which "the elders" have now taken away from him. At his service stands a corps of royal officials and "judges of the king. however. this judiciary organization centered in the king stands another having its center in the Babylonian city.14 Babylonia. On simdat sarrim as "legal practice of the king" see Landsberger in Studia et documenta . cit.). see esp. Die richterliche und Entscheidung im altbabylonischen Prozessrechte ("Leipziger rechtswissenschaftliche Studien." To these texts may now be added VAS. 220. 20. The texts just quoted suggest that they frequently did so. antiqui pertinentia.. 227. 40.p. Cf.

g. Ishmatum the son of $illiEnlil. there is naturally some danger of going too far. 80. And this is borne out by a Babylonian proverb23 which prudently. will take it back (namely to Ninurta-mansi after it has been counted)." In an omen text. 50 (Giessen. "assembly"-shows again that the town constitutes the assembly." a statement which might refer to a normal session of the elders but more likely has reference to a joint session with the general assembly of the townspeople as "the town and the elders. and in the Old Babylonian hymn RA.20 In interpreting this evidence. but questions of importance to men and women alike were dealt with in a special assembly of both sexes (see Thurnwald in Ebert. Noteworthy parallels for participation of women in political assemblies furnish ancient Israel (see A. "the collegium of scholars." "assembly. read: [1916]." 21 schichte." and puhur ummdni. e.) Ishtar reproaches herself for having advocated the flood in the assembly of the gods. 711): a-lum ip-hu-ur-ma. also Jean. 29). their king." Puhrum is a general word for "gathering. xxi 28-29: u-ba-nam so as to give d-sa-at-ri-is- to have participated in the assembly.22 Even the men may not always have put in an appearance in numbers which we should consider adequate representation of the citizenry. Reallexikon der Vorge- Astronomie. 116 ff." and the letter YOS II u-pa-ah-hi-ir-sum-ma. citizen XVI. translation PSBA The relevant lines Note..g. Note in this connection that the puhrum of the gods was open to goddesses. Do not stray to the very place of strife.) Similarly Gudea calls on Inanna to curse in the assembly (u k k i n) the man who would remove his statue and destroy its inscription (Gudea Statue C iv 9-12). She is wise in (terms of) intelligence." dazdnum 20 Cf. she sits among them counting as much (with them) as Anum. "an assembly". p. "the town. when they gathered for deliberation." The elders likewise. 170-71. X [Berlin. Sachs. XXII (1925). VII op(CT." (The translation of 1. 46). 132) restored by K 3364 and Langdon's transliteration (1916). note. etc.PRIMITIVE DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA 163 by the letter TCL.. 89) and the Manchus. may be drawn from the fact that puhrum can alternate with the highly comprehensive term alum: participation in the puhrum and in the judicial functions which it exercised did not constitute the prerogative of some small favored class or group. Walther. III. 23 K 8282 obv. of Idamaras. 132 ? E and 113 ? E. K 2920 [BA V 705] rev. "in their (i. P1. 1925)]. XIII. i 25-29 (PSBA posite p. 33-35. ibid. Menes. is surpassing. e. the a-gi-il-tum mdrat I-da-ma-ra-a0ki. One inference. defining more precisely the manner or nature of the action expressed by the verb. 1927-28].. Though citizens21and therefore part of the alum. Tell Sifr No. The writer of this letter needed a tribunal before which to compose a legal dispute. 30. Sin-magir the son of Kamknu. ty elders of the city I gathered on his account. There were naturally other "assemblies" besides the one here considered. Among the latter the women formed an assembly parallel to that of the men. In the Gilgamesh Epic (Tablet XI. profundity.. Gerichtswesen. with whom we discussed this usage. His phrase-since the act puhhurum. the property was put (lit. and several other passages could be cited. we are told that si-bu-ut dli ana pubri uq-[su-ni]. pp. It is preciselyin strife that fate may overtake you. however. and knowledge." mentioned in VAS. formed a puhrum. e.. XVII. rev." where a-lum seems a mistake for a-lam (cf. A. suggested the term "-ma of specification. that constituted by "the town. "lady." and is used in other phrases such as ina puhur ahhtia." Beihefte No. iii 19). the words of the elders in the Gilgamesh Epic (Tablet III 11): i-na pu-uh-ri-ni-ma ni-ip-qi-dak-ka 50:8: 20 si-bu-ut sarra. 34 follows a Von Soden manuscript in the Oriental Institute. 22 We cannot be certain." Our translation of -ma as "but so that" is based on the fact that -ma after a verb frequently serves to give the following clause adverbial character. who was made commissary for it. and Apil-ilishu the shanga are the ones who will have it counted.g. Sin-erish the rakbu. "in the assembly of my brothers. Cf. 'took (its) stand') at the disposition of Ninurtamansi the kalu priest. so he "assembled the town" (a-lam iu-pa-hi-irma). Handbuch der babylonische Israels ["ZATW. Weidner. Cf.e." produces a puhrum." women are not likely up!' As Dilbat commanded. pp. "to assemble. "the elders of the town will go out to the assembly. 42 ( = HG. Dr. Die Vorexilischen Gesetze trusted the king unto thee. CU xxxiv 6-8: im-ta-ha-as-ma si-im-ma-am "has struck is-ta-ka-an-su. a-lim "in our assembly have we en"twen- the gods') assembly her word is highly esteemed. "the judge as(DI-KUR5) e-te-el qd-bu-ui-sa su-tu-ur 34a-na 33pu-uh-ri-is-su-un An-nim sar-ri-su-nu ma-la-am as-ba-as-su-nu 35uz-naam ne-me-qe-em ha-si-i-sa-am er-se-et. warns: Do not go to stand in the assembly. but so that (-ma) Nir-Shamash. Eribam the son of Habit-Sin. him a wound". 85 if. "has pointed the finger but so that he has not been able to prove it". though with conspicuous lack of public spirit. 25[ina pu]-uh-ri e ta-'i-ir Ui-zu-u2-za aal-t]im-ma e tu-ut-tag-ge-es 6[a-sar i-ra-ds-su-ka sim-ta 27[ina sal-tim]-ma 28[iU at-ta] a-na si-bu-ti-ds-nu tas-sak-kin-ma 29[a-na la di]-ni-ka ub-ba-lu-ka a-na kun-ni . 215). sembled the city. it must have been open to the citizenry at large. we hear that: ma la uk-ti-in. p. KAY 218 Aiii 19 (cf. 10. Imgur-Sin the mayor.

VII. VIII. No. seditious utterances. not tenable. this proverb presupposes that anybody who happened along and had a mind to could "stand"that is." never "nobles. "Two kings") will team up and will (will not) dominate the land ." Such a rendering is. 2.F. 2..29 Finally.26 or the case may be delegated to the assembly by the king27 or other high authority. the letter quoted by Dossin in Syria. 19 ff.. it may become dominated by a coalition of foreign kings or by a group of influential elders in the council of its own ruler. 2. 25 See Walther.32 power to pronounce sentence of death. "Shamash-hasir. listened to the document concerning the earlier oath by a deity. 27BE. 33 CH ?5. disposal of lost property (?). 2. HG. HGT 100 i 6-38 mony. "he (i. The "land" is presumably the land of the person receiving the omen. 30E. 24-27 (duplicate ibid. VI. 32 PBS."A different.. a-ua-ti-su-nu is-mu-i si-bi-su-nu i-sa-lu. 148. No. cf. where the statements. cf. 10. "took their place in the assembly. 92. p. 2. picture of the Old Babylonian assembly is given by Leo Oppenheim in Orientalia. Gerichtswesen." 29 HGT 100 iii 39 ff.. "They examined their i-mu-ru tup ni-is ilim ma-ah-ri-a-am . CT. The Code of Hammurabi decrees in paragraph 202 that "if a man has smitten the cheek of a man who is his superior (or "his senior"?) he shall be given sixty lashes with an ox whip in the assembly. nullification of contract entered into under duress. "patricians. in the early years of Hammurabi when a number of kinglets played for power in Babylonia through systems of alliances (cf. dispute about ownership of house and garden. 28 BE. asked their witnesses. VII.). 16." It is also worth noting that if a judge has committed fraud in the carrying-out of his duties he shall make twelve-fold restitution. VIII v8: izza-zu ina puhri u-sar-ra-hu ra-[ma- The cases tried by the assembly were. VI. essentially oligarchic. 117). Occasional infliction of punishment in the assembly may represent a survival from times when the people met in assembly as both judge and executioner at the same time. 650. Elders will team up and will (will not) dominate the land. 19. and "in the assembly they shall make him get up from his judge's seat not to return (ever) to sit in judgment with judges. 1938.. IV. ki-ma Dil-batki VAS. "to sit. VII. e.. BM 78176 obs.you may be made a witness for them So that they take you alongto testify in a lawsuit not your own. On uzuzzu cf. -e .g. 10. Bu 91-5-9. IV. (BE.. PBS. Criminal cases are CT. see above. Die 'Altesten' werden zusammentreten und das Land (nicht) regieren... We must-in view of the variant text presented by the duplicate-translate: "Kings (var. "they commanded" iq-bu-si in VI.28 hears testiigi-d technical terms for participating in the puhrum. 224-28. No.g. 141. 1936)." His evidence for this is primarily the omen passage Clay. The competence of the Old Babylonian assembly is in general that of a court of law. 31 Civil cases are BE. No. Landsbergerand Bauer in ZA (N. VI.e.30 24 Uzuzzu. n." and uasabu.25 A plaintiff may himself "notify the assembly" (puhram lummudum). Babylonian Historical an-su].. and may send one of the parties and his witness to some temple to prove their testimony by oath. VAS.. "In the assembly of Nippur they examined the statements. No. as shown by the records which have come down to us. it renders its decision (e or d un and qabu). e.31 The assembly had.. The same usage occurs with "town and elders" in TCL. 15.' " i. and the elders 'stood.. 1-2. "to stand. 10:16-17: pu-tihi-ru-um Nibruki-ka inim-inim-ma igi bf-in-duse s . Nabonidus) stands in the assembly and lauds himself". murder." The reference is apparently to conditions such as prevailed.m a."33 Of particular interest for the light it throws on the relation between these popular tribunals and the royal power is an Old Babylonian letter which shows that a man who had been arrested by a royal official for seditious utterances was placed before the assembly. participate-in24 the puhrum.. III.. Akkadian amdrum. 173. as proved by one such record dealing with a case of murder. HGT 100. As will be readily seen. Cf.e. 19." lugal-e-ne. 173. both civil cases and criminal cases.164 JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES Besides. 45 ff. however. VI. means "kings. 22-25) which he renders as "Die 'Patrizier' werden zusammentreten und das Land (nicht) regieren . VIII. P1. and Koschaker. pp. VIII. the town. 149:11. case about disputed paternity. 26HGT 100 iii 35-38. The asthe case (i n i m sembly investigates inimma U) . 40: mdSamas-ha-si-ira-lum A si-bu-tum iz-zi-zu." For the meaning of the phrase igi-dus. No. No.g. 2. Oppenheim thinks the assembly was limited to "elders" and "nobles.V (new ser. bi-i n-b 10:19).." The term used." are Texts. Sidney Smith. BRM.

is bent on resistance. lord of Uruk.." a field of to Esabad.en? Thus Professor Gelb) bit dGu-la 27Ki8iki ip-lu-ur-ma bi-ri-i-it 26E28 mIp-hur- valuable discussion of the text is given in ZA (N. 2. Such institutions are manifestly not of a piece with the period in which they are found-a period dominated by the very opposite principle: that of concentration of powers in the hands of one single individual. We refer.. to lay his proposal before them: beforethe eldersof his town Gilgamesh spokeup . 37[d]GIs-BIL-ga-mes ba-an-gar igi .). 38. ibid. BM 78176 obv. When we consult still older tradition. ka X. XIX (1935).. The name Iphurkish to which he objects as "kiinstlich" is now attested in an unpublished literary tablet from Tell Asmar (As.s gu giStukul ga-ga-an-d6-en -en A obv. V (new ser. since the entire drift of Mesopotamian political life and thought in the historical periods is wholeheartedly in the other direction. to PBS. internal sovereignty of the state would seem to be vested. in an assembly open to all citizens. 5. Note also that the king. A This inference is confirmed when we turn to the material which bears on earlier periods. No. No. as already mentioned. Gilgamesh. 31 :T. WIDER SCOPE OF ASSEMBLY OLDER TIMES IN In the "Common Enlil. 77-79.. 36 PBS. He first approaches the senate. tradition concerning Uruk in the time of Gilgamesh. Judicial powers are vested in the community as a whole. even more vital. XVI (1919). they raisedto kingship. The first alternative seems not very plausible. beyond the border line of history proper.729) of Agade date. IV. we find the ruler scrupulously refraining from action in the matter of peace or war until he obtains the consent of the assembly. 38 [e-gal] K i iki.. the elders of Uruk. Tradition relating to times no farther back than those of the kings of Akkad already shows that the assembly deemed it within its authority to choose a king :3 34 CT.the templeof Gula. i 8. i 3-4. 163 11:25-30: cf. (1934).a man of Kish. therefore. by Giiterbock. SEM. X. therefore. a stubborn survival. Throughout we find no signs of growing democratic ideas. seems the more likely: these judiciary institutions represent a last stronghold. Fish in Johns Rylands Library (Manchester). The second alternative. belonging Kish assembled and Iphurkish. 2. No.. The question then arises whether these institutions represent new ideas which are just beginning to gain momentum or something old which has been retained from earlier times. aspects of government. the judiciary organization here outlined is democratic in essence.34 As will be readily perceived. to the Johns Rylands text as A. 331-46. 206. The tradition in question36relates that King Agga of Kish sent messengers to Uruk. let us smite (it) with weapons!38 The elders consider the proposal in their assembly: kiwiki auil KiWiki 29mdr(?) ma rar (?)' tdr za ar ri ih tim 30a-na sa[r]-'rul-[t]im za(?) ratl es4is-su-ma.37 His address-urging reasons which are not yet entirely clear-ends in the plea: Let us not bowto the palaceof Kish. 29. for as we go back in time the competence and influence of the "assembly" appears to grow and to extend from judiciary functions to other.. SRT.. may delegate cases to the assembly. No. 1-2. Bulletin. p. following Witzel. 1936). 35 Boissier in RA. VIII. of ideas rooted in earlier ages. 19 if.PRIMITIVE DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA 165 charges were proved against him before he was committed to prison. [KA] 5 as B. The lines in question read: 35i-na UgardEn-lil sa-bad (or dSu.F. sig-en-d nam-ba-anga-am-ma- . who probably underrates the historical element in the tradition.. but the decision apparently does not rest with him. ab-ba uru-na- A obv. 362-72. in which. The text was edited in unsatisfactory transliteration and translation by Witzel in Orientalia.

1 above). ..k e en inim ab-ba uruki[.a dGIs-BiL. we seem to have portrayed ab-ba uru-na-ke4 39[ukkin]-gar-ra m u . 1. Assembled they would therefore represent an aggregate of the patria potestas in the community. B obv.44 44Other evidence contributes in some measure to the picture of the two groups which the above text presents. ." originally the heads of the various families which made up the population of the large town. they are later. the men of the town must be heard on the issue: beforethe men of his town Next Gilgamesh spoke up . for in Sumerian m e s denotes the man in his prime). and Gilgamesh is again highly pleased: lord Onthat day (as for) Gilgamesh. B obv. 43U4. let us42 smite it with weapons. uru.] nir-gal-Ila-e] na-ke4 al-hul urs-ra-ni basa-ga-ni a n . The "assembly" to which Gilgamesh turns after he has obtained the consent of the elders is composed of the "men" of his town. has n a m . . 3'-4'." This term." LVIII. literally "father. Truly paternal is also the solicitude for the young king which inspires their words to Engidu.k e4 [inim gurus uru]rkil -n a an-hul urs-ra-ni ba-an-sa4 sa-ga-ni B obv. presumably by dittography from the preceding form. and the "men of his town. is in the older inscriptions the usual designation of an individual as a unit in the apparently identical labor and military organization of the city state (see "O. ..g a ." answer it. 297).his liver was made bright.a b aki . before he can act. . * . which like g u r u s is rendered as etlum in Akkadian. to judge from the Sumerian terms abba. Being at first opposed to letting Gilgamesh set out against Huwawa." and abba "town fathers.40 But he is not yet through.).." "hero. of Kullab. at the word of the men of his town his heart rejoiced..b a . The Sumerian word used.. 25' rev. .. . and he immediately sets about arming for the coming conflict. then the assembly of the townsmen. The elders were. the assembly appears to be the ultimate political authority. won over to the plan so that he leaves with their blessings and much paternal advice as to how one should behave on a long journey (YOS IV 3 vi 19 ff. the craftsmen and the elders?" [mi-na-m]i lu-pu-ul dlu um-ma-nu iu i-bu-tum (Tablet XI 35." and abu. thou wilt entrust the king to us again" (i-na pu-uh-ri-ni-ma ni-ip-qi-dak-ka garra tu-tar-ramma ta-paq-qi-dan-na-si sarra. They appear once more in the Gilgamesh Epic when Gilgamesh gives vent to his sorrow over Engidu's death to them (Tablet VIII ii 1 ff.the eldersof his town it. different. occurs in the compound ukkin-mes (Deimel.his liver was made bright.m a . . interpretation of this line see Speiser's paper quoted in n. In the same direction points also another term which can be used to designate the members of the assembly. "father. 41 m i n .n i . and Utanapishtim refers to them in the flood story when he asks Ea what explanation he shall give for building his big ship: "What shall I answer the town. .i b .43 Now the road is clear before him. "Gilgamesh listened to the words of his counsellors" (Old Babylonian version. 40dGIS-BIL..m e s en K ul a b aki ..m e s K ul.. YOS IV 3 v 20). In the Gilgamesh Epic they are once explicitly so named: is-me-e-ma dGIS zi-ki-ir ma-li[ki]-su. 41 His plea here is a word-for-word repetition of the plea before the elders. It greatly pleases Gilgamesh: (As for) Gilgamesh. and since the assembly has been convened to consider a line of action which will almost certainly lead to war it is not unlikely that we should view it as essentially a gathering of the male population bearing arms (parallels for "the male population bearing arms" as the original nucleus of legislative assemblies are many. who is to guide and guard Gilgamesh: "In our assembly we have entrusted the king to thee. g u r u s. . 42The text.m e s KA ba-an-gar igi rgurusl [uru-na-ka] B obv.g a . .g idGIS-BILga-mes-ra g i4 A obv. first the elders.s e dGIS-BIL.. exactly repeating Gilgamesh's words and ending in the same exhortation.k a m . we may mention the Roman comitia as an example). namely m e s "man.166 JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES After an assemblyhad been established. "old man.. and obtain their consent.P.n a . Tablet III 11-12). Here. In other words.g a .). . 14'. i 15. a state in which the ruler must lay his proposals before the people.39 concerning gave answerunto Gilgamesh This answer is in the affirmative.for expected g a ." cannot be original.. With differently worded reasons they urge the same course of action: "May you not bow to the palace of Kish. it seems.b i .lord of Kullab.s i g5 A obv.I. . Their relation to the king appears to have been that of counselors. It mesum appears also-as loan-word in Akkadian-as in Enama elis Tablet VI 166-67 u-si-bu-ma ina ukkin- at the wordof the eldersof his town his heart rejoiced. SL 40:7) "assembly-man" (the connotations of age suggested by the Akkadian translations pursumu. then." "after an assembly had been established. For a daring and interesting." They add a declaration of confidence and faith.a m. i 9-10." "elder.

and there was general embracing.e. 133-38.. quoted in n. however. R. They ate bread (and) drank(?)[wine]. p. n." Lastly we may point to the use of puhrum. 49With the banquet which here serves as introduction to the session of the assembly of the gods may be compared the banquet with which each session of the Greek Boule commenced in Homeric times (see Glotz. in the gathering of all the (staunch) men they were mentioning his name. bat. to which Pro- . "Enlil opened his mouth and spoke in the assembly of all the gods. A peculiar circumstance. governed by human emotions. democratic form of political organization in Mesopotamia all point back to a time before the earliest historical inscriptions. A. don. "they (i. theirheartwas Exceedingly exalted. XV. 48 Compare also the older English translation by LangThe Babylonian Enuma Epic III elis Tablet of Creation (Oxford. as so often in Mesopotamian mythology. comes to our aid. as a matter of course. As the gods arrived. the important decisions originate when the gods are in their cups. they met friends and relatives who had similarly come from afar to participate in the assembly. The Babylonian Genesis (Chicago. Since this process began relatively early. 3 i 7: dEn-lil pa-su i-pu-sa-am-ma i pu-uh-ri ka-la i-li iz-za-ak-ka-ar. The assembly which we find in the world of the gods rested on a broad democratic basis. an "assembly of all na-su-nu i-nam-bu-u su-nu u-zak-ka-ru-ni ina ml-e-si si-ma-a-su nag-basum-su. In similar fashion must we explain the fact that the gods are organized politically along democratic lines. "assembly. according to the Adad myth in CT." 46 See above. the gods) sat the gods. HW 520b puhrum 1 a). fears and worries vanished. The sweet drinkdispelledtheir fears. to mention only one example. 47).PRIMITIVE DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA PROJECTIONS OF THE OLD ASSEMBLY THE WORLD OF THE GODS INTO 167 Since the traces of this older. [andsat They set (their)tongues(in readiness) down]to the banquet. early features would. and living in the same type of world as did men. essentially different from the autocratic terrestrial states which we find in Mesopotamia in the historical periods. An even more striking parallel." for "army. be retained in the world of the gods after the terrestrial counterpart had disappeared."45 Nor was participation limited by sex: goddesses as well as gods played an active part in its deliberations. XV. 1930].49 45 See CT." a usage which is especially frequent in Assyrian sources (for this use of puhrum see Del.g. For Marduk. Heidel.48 The description is psychologically interesting. and since man is by nature conservative in religious matters. 3. it was. Le Poeme babylonien de la creation (Paris. The Greek City and Its Institutions [New York. In the toilsome earthbound life of the primitive Sumerians wine and beer were evidently necessary to lift the spirit out of the humdrum existence of everyday cares to original thought and perspective.47 In the sheltered court the gods then sat down to a sumptuous meal. they decreedthe destiny. La1935). See the literature down in their assembly to proclaim his destiny. 1923). In almost every particular the world of the gods is therefore a projection of terrestrial conditions. (So that) they sang for joy as they drankthe strongdrink. Thus in the domain of the gods we have a reflection of older forms. and the meeting was ready to settle down to more serious affairs. of the terrestrial Mesopotamian state as it was in pre-historic times. 22. were pictured as clad in a characteristic tufted (sheepskin?) garment long after that material was no longer in use among men. 47Enama elis Tablet III 130-32. We have quoted the passage in Heidel's rendering.their champion. wine and strong drink soon put them in a happy and carefree mood. Here. See.46 The assembly was usually held in a large court called Ubshuukkinna. it would normally be impossible to gain closer insight into its details and workings simply because we lack sources for the time when it was flourishing. carefree werethey. 1942). e.. The gods. 47. The Sumerians and Akkadians pictured their gods as human in form.

Reality may order immediately so to conforms itself to his command.F.: quoted in n.n a .). 1-2) as dingir galninnu-ne-ne nam-tar-ra gal dingir i m i n . . 22 above. a discussion between An. Pinches in Chiera. n. he whereby anything comes true. and knowledge. at times espousing proposals which they later bitterly regretted. King. 39-42) says of Shamash (obv. Translating these mythical concepts into "political" terms. 30. it would seem. 51 Cf. Enlil. BMS."53 as the Babylonians expressed it-the issues were clarified and the various gods had opportunity to voice their opinions for or against. BMS 1 obv. and Shamash is preserved in the Hittite version of the." With the group of "senior" gods should undoubtedly be compared the "seniors" (rabiitum) in the kdrum of the Assyrian merchant colonies. as Eisser has shown (see above. senior gods sat down. "to talk with one another" (e. which also comes true. Bu 88-5-12. the literature quoted in n. by the Persian customs described i. pp. SEM 77 ii 5'-6'. Meissner viii 12': ina Ub-u-rukkin-na-ki1 ki-sal pubur ildni "in Ubshuukkinna. V. rev." Enima elis mentions them in Tablet III 130: ilani rabati ka-lisu-nu mu-sim-mu simati. (1925). der indogerReallexikon lage." The functions of "the seven gods who determine destinies" may be deduced from the term itself. profundity. They belong with ideas such as "le verbe createur" and the "wish come true. 214 rev. 133. when she saw the results of the decision: Ishtarshriekslike a womanin birth-pangs.. 19. we must define the seven gods "who determine destiny" as gods whose words are "authoritative" or "decisive. 22). No. which quotes also the Germanic parallels (Tacitus Germ. "the senior gods. "all the senior gods. 33 f.g." whose number is said to have been fifty. then that it again be whole. the (DINGIR-MES) su-bat si-tul-ti. 80 (cf. "Mahlzeit und TrinkgeSee. 15 izzazu us-ta(GUB-BU) pu-hur-su-nu mu-u ina sapli (KI-TA)-ka. XXVI. the "great gods" or. An or Enlil'usually broached the matters to be considered. to An. rev. VAS. 50 The two groups which stand out from the ordiof the pubrum. are mentioned MBI ready in the myth of Enlil and Ninlil (Barton." The assembly described in Tablet III is convoked with the express purpose of of fates. and the seven gods of fates fixed fates for Marduk. ip-ta-ah-ru il-ta-lu. but with him or alone appears also Enlil. over all things in the universe. BecauseI myself in the gods' assembly Gave the ill counsel! which comes true. note also ina puhri King. "In the assembly senior gods his utterance is listened to". The concepts that expression are clear underlying from the account in Enuma elis (cf. and we may assume-our evidence does not allow us to decide the point-that the discussion which followed would be largely in the hands of the so-called ilu rabiutum. speak automatically When the gods have conferred this power on Marduk word of mouth. 4 ii 13-14." 53 The terms are: situlum.." terminers and again in Tablet IV 80: ilu rabuti ha-am-sat-su-nu u-li-bu-ma ilfu stmti sibittisu-nu a-na [dMarduk "The fifty simdti] uk-tin-nu. Tablet IV. "Let my word be listened to in the assembly. Gilgamesh Epic.n e ." ? 6 in 0. and ability to make the others listen to one's words is a prized gift. whose giving Marduk power as a determiner word is decisive. while the seven deciding gods may well have their counterpart in the group of seven which. 12)." The god who can "determine destiny" possesses a power. testifying to "intelligence. god of heaven and "father of the gods"'. "they gathered and sutauum." The language of the texts just quoted would seem to indicate that they were separate and Yet it is possible-and to us more parallel groups. 52 KAR No. 40). 78 (cf. 169-77. perhaps better. god of the storm.168 JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES The leadership of the assembly belonged by right. a magical and absolute authority. command the intrinsic merit of a proposal which gave it weight: wise counsel. the abode of discussion. the deof fates. the seven gods who determine likely-that destiny formed merely a part of "the senior gods. Such regrets befell Ishtar. the ilu rabiitum and nary members the ilu simdti or musimmu alismdti. 190f. who had supported the proposal to wipe out mankind with a flood. 21): ina puhur ili rabati (DINGIR-MES of the GAL-MES) si-ma-[a]t qi-bi-su. XXII. they test it-an by of early instance the "experimental technique''-by bringing a garment and having Marduk that it be destroyed. where a man prays: lu se-mat qi-bi-ti. furthermore. 1919. "They stand (in) their asA vivid account of sembly and discuss under thee"). "to ask one another" and Rost in BA III 331. i 14: and discussed"). (2d ed.52 Through such general discussion-"asking one another. "all the fifty senior gods and the seven gods who determine fates. Schrader. by Herodotus the article. No. the duplicate BM 78242 published by Langdon in R A.50 In this discussion it was fessor Cameron is furnished called our attention. see Friedrich in ZA (N. Leipzig."51is much admired. manischen Altertumskunde 1929). could represent the kdrum when it sealed documents.n e. court of the assembly of the gods. The lovely-voiced lady of the godsyells aloud: "Thetimes beforeare indeedturnedto earth." and the Agushaia song. 16-19. We have little evidence the mutual concerning relation of "the senior gods" and "the seven gods who determine fate. RA. X. II. JRAS.

and her host of monment had at last been reached in this man. the command of An and Enlil.. See Sidney Smith's restoration of the text in RA."56 The executive duties. A parallel Sumerian story is HGT No. Marduk) in Ubshuukkinna. 67 f. 1. Note that the word u k k i n / pubrum is not explicitly used. carrying they have taken up the fight. The functions of this divine assembly Mother Hubur. great danger threatened: TPiamat. the abode of discussion. 190 f. bly of the gods.57 planningthe combat.60 But the functions of the divine assembly which go beyond those of a court of sea!"54 law are the ones that command our greatA group of seven powerful gods. 57 In the Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur In this emergency young Marduk proved willing to champion the case of the gods. Here has added irresistible has (thereunto) weapons. on all humanity because the constant noise which they made was obnoxious to so that he who looks upon them shall perish from terror divine ears.61 ed Leonard's Old lonia. No. 60For the myth of Enlil and Ninlil see Barton. and 37 if. To decreethe fight For the destructionof my mankind? I alone give birth to my mankind. they fume. Luckenbill. We have quotbreastsnot be turnedback. with unsparing fang.. like the spawn of fishes. they have established an assembly and are seem to have rested with Enlil. and let me whenI openmy mouth (havepower to) determinedestinyeven as you. rendering (Gilgamesh. 55See n.est attention: the assembly is the authoren gods who determine destinies"-that ity which grants kingship. 58 Meissner and Rost in BA III 331. Enuma elis. whom the inscription was dedicated she has filledtheirbodieswith poisonforblood.S. and keep you alive. .the primeval waters. Now they fill. we are is. XXII (1935). Epic of by Ellery BabyLeonard How could I in the gods' assembly Give such ill counsel. Once. XV.PRIMITIVE DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA 169 against Enlil in his youth. 12). the word of the assem. a Rendering in Free Rhythms. 4. may he order that he live not a full day. make bad his case. also HGT liv9-10: di-til-la inim pu-tihdun-d u -ga ru-[um dingir-re-ne-ka] An dEn [-lil-1-ka-ta] . Seat yourselves together gladly in Ubshuukkinna. p. Bu 88-5-12. but he demanded absolute authority: If I am to be your champion. and Pinches in JRAS. it would told. 1934].55and when an agree. then establishan assemblyand proclaimmy lot supreme. 50 above. 18-19 (see below. 1919. the court of the assembly of the gods. n.e. iii 4 if. Tablet II 16-26. vanquishTiDmat. STVC 25 obv. they rest not night and day. The is a technique of much later ner-voting gods learned that origin-it was announced by An and Enlil as "the verdict. 56 Chiera.who fashionsall things. and the deity to sharpof tooth.sters planned war against the gods. 11. 64-65). speaks against him and "makes bad his Dragonsgrim she has clothedwith terror.). Chiera. 78 viii 12' ff. the crime of a man who destroys an inbornemonsterserpents scription is taken up. 00)..They are angry. whose word is decisive-had. "the sev." No. 113. it is Enlil who gives the detailed orders concerning the destruction. the final say. 49. 39. the [New York. "May he (i. were in part those of a court of law. p.59 Another cause celebre was so that their bodies shall rear up and their 54Gilgamesh Epic. they rage like lions. Tablet XI 116." 59 Related in the story of Ea and Atar-basis (CT. (cf. when he was ostracized by "the fifty senior gods and the seven gods who determine destiny" for raping young Ninlil. they are plotting."58 Here sentence was once passed has crownedthem with glory and made them like gods. pp. 171 if. 61 ("A. case. pp. into effect the decisions of the assembly. MBI. See The Sumerian King List. AR II ? 658): ina Ubki-sal pu-hur ilani su-utkkin-na-kil bat si-tul-ti a-mat-su li-lam-min4-ma (DINGIR-MES) Su- u4-mu iste-en la ba-lat-su liq-bi. seem. SEM 77.

The Babyloni- an Genesis. SL 9:1. (offices) which N. kisalbappir bur m a u h ("court-sweeper"). king of Akkad appeared in the palt of Ishtar" (L. Fromthis day onwardthy order(s)shallnot be altered. usum-gal-ke4 (lit. We have quoted the Gene(The Babylonian passage in Heidel's rendering sis. and twelve months mentioned in the following lines. and see also ITT III 6575 and ITT II 1010 + V 6848)." be-el pa-ar-si. ("brewer"). It is therefore improbable that his powers should have voided theirs. having armed himself. the ruler's term of office was conceived as the total period during which he served. two. Tablet IV 28-32. thy thy status is unequaled." As nomen actionis of the verb b a 1. following a suggestion ip-su pi-ia ki-ma ka-tu-nu-ma the utI through as "May terance of my mouth determine the destinies. 127. si-ma-tam lu-sim-ma.b a N-a (k). by Delitzsch. For the contrast see PBS. none amongthe gods shall encroachupon thy rights." 67 mSarru-ken(Du) May the windscarryher blood to out-of-theway places. it can also take it back.. Akkadian borrowed the Sumerian word as palu and restricted it to "term of royal office. 3. obv." Though possible. p. "Sargon. gods. weaponto smite They gave him an unrivaled the enemy. "offices to which N. g u b . W. 'stepped into by N.6 Similarly kingship would be given for a time to one city and its god. bought with money. and we have accordingly retained the translation "as." its basic meaning would seem to have been "turn. Inherited offices were called bala e. 1..170 JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES (so that) whateverI frameshall not be altered of (and)the command my lips shall not return (void). the throne. 'of') the temple of (the god) Igalima lasting six months does Urlamma the son of Lugalushumgal hold" (RTC 288:2-3. i. it applies to temple offices: g u d a. CT." in HGT 147:14. Besides being used of the royal office. 2. 113. bala gub-ba. Such an office was held in turn by various individuals throughout the year each holding it for a stated period (b a l a) . 1]). an office to be held by each incumbent for a limited period. shall not be changed. to meet the exigencies of the situation. the b a 1 a' s of four. they gave Marduk supreme authority: Thou carriestweightamongthe seniorgods." for kima. Chronicles Babylonian Kings. A palt of Enlil is mentioned in an omen text. "67 light which it throws on the origin and early nature of the Mesopotamian kingship. Heidel. p. chosen by the general assembly to provide unified leadership in the emergency. The following may serve as an example 6 dI g-alim-ka of the use of the word: bala 6 -m Ur-dlamma dumu itu Lugal"The term of office in i-dab. The gods continue to "determine destinies" long after Marduk has received the powers he here desires. translates. The period-to mention an example-during which Inanna's two cities. 65 The account which Enima elig gives of how Mar- sdr A-ga-dki King.65 62 Ibid. Marduk led the gods to battle with TiPamat.s ax N-a (k) . True shall be what(ever)thou dost utter. 22 10. The years of a true king . the more so since that is the meaning which kima usually has. obv. i. p. ("elder").t a .. etc. Tablet IV 3-10. thy status is unequaled. aptly compares Latin turnus.62 So the call to assembly went out. commandis (like that of) Anu. "holder of office. The right to hold a specific office for a specific period of the year (b a l a) was inheritable and could be transferred by sale. 1 [cf." Since in the older Assyrian royal inscriptions this term is one year. cf." For the semasiological development involved Deimel." "like unto. nedu ("janitor").. palA there means "regnal year. 27). "to turn. has succeeded (lit. 64 Ibid. 182. held sway over Mesopotamia was "the term (bala) of Inanna. 13-16. "man of a bala. pale dEn-lil sandti (MU-ME8) sarri keni(GI-NA) ina mdti i-sab-sd tarbdsu duk became king is of the greatest importance for the su irappil. hence pall has there the meaning "reign.and the pala."64 Then.e. The holder of a b a 1 a was designated as a translated as 1u bala. to exalt and to abase-this shall be thy power. Vol. however." In Babylonia. ina pale dIs-tar i-lamconcerning Early ma. XXVII P1.." as contrasted with k . Tablet II 123-129. the gods gathered in Ubshuukkinna. (saying:) "Go and cut off the life of TiDamat As the assembly is the authority which grants kingship. II [London. then it would be transferred to another city and god. The Sumerians counted kingship as a bala. 66The word b a a means "term of office. this interpretation seems unlikely. instead of you. 1907].63 They acclaimed him king and invested him with the insignia of royalty: They rejoiced (and) did homage. No.e. We hope to treat of it in detail in a later article..g. and there.'). "Palf of Enlil. 63 Ibid.thy commandis (like that of) Anu. (saying:) "Marduk king!" is They bestowed upon him the scepter. not shall thy word provevain (ever). VII. Kish and Akkad. thou carriest weight amongthe senior Marduk. It shows the king as primarily a leader in war. 27.

da-gal-la.1 a = aar emuti and asar kimati. ibid. 27.[its] term [has cal term for submitting to the jurisdiction of a court.. loc. quoted below. Nanna's conBy verdict. Enlil now reminds him that this bound him to accept its verdict. Ur's)kingship. decided upon beforehand by the gods.. e. 68 Chiera. 1. however. ba-an-t 21U4-ul um] kalam 22bala n a m [. sobbing. obv. glossed s u . XXVII.."68 submitted to the jurisdiction of that court.g a An d[ingir-re-ne-ka] dE n . in the Old Assyrian texts from Asia Minor as a techni(as for) its (i. XX. end of the fourth song. 17 ba-an-ak].. that Ur's fall was a normal end to its term of reign. 10. Its rule ended tragically in a savage attack by invading Elamites which all but wiped out the city. pl. His complaint. For the structure of the poem as also for its date and historical background see my review in AJSL. see Deimel. Pl. throughthy own 'submission' the decision was made and witness the [thou didst accept(?)]the 'Let it be!' of Ningal. Reduplicated s u b... by commandof An and Enlil [.en-ra 15uruf lil-la mu-un-[na-ni-ib-gi4-gi4] i.ably to be read as s ul + fi b) .. STVC 25 obv. In 1. p.g a 1 .. 1. Pl. "the term of the righteous temple. 172. 22-23 compare the phraseology of PBS. Among the texts which deal with this catastrophe we may first quote one in which the god of Ur.. Ur had dominated all of southern Mesopotamia. 152-64. and everything bad. Since it is once ..] of [wasthe]k[ing]ship Ur [ . as may be seen most clearly in a group of texts dealing with the fall of Ur. XXXI.] pu-fiuh-ru-um 19d ui . P1. the view which it takes of the fall of Ur stands out. underlies also the lament BE. by a decision of the assembly of the gods. X. Vol. Under its famous Third Dynasty.m a [. (now) been changed for a different It seems probable that Nanna. appears to be s u b (KA + KU. No.. he will cause to be in the land.69 There. enemy uprising. 22. cit.1 a . we are taken to in it [thoupassest]in sobs the day. 78. 70 Kramer. Clavis cuneorum 129:34. however.S. Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur." cf. sag = nise.] ki-gar-ra-ta bala [ u lugal-la ba-an-ak-ak] balakufr-ra 23nam-lugal-bi [bi bala su bala The third sign in 1.. that fold will grow large. it is synonymous with tyranny. finds more frequently mention in omen texts. carried away]. and this or a similar [are] the terms of kingship [constantly meaning may be assumed also for the unreduplicated word.] in Akkadian (Deimel. 12 [Chicago. p. 14-rev. ibid. 152. This same view. is translated as su-kin-nu "proskynesis" ed [." 69Kramer. 1940]).s u b..wee[ps after the disaster. 33) on minor points only.g. 21: 6-zi-da bala-kur-ra bala-bi su-bal-ak-ab i.] n a m .. It finds." "(one's) folks. Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur ("A.d ul . p.. For the term "Let it be" see the passage from the Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur. "people. See. 23. 32. Vol. our translation differs from his (ibid.. 9 1. 152-53. the "Let it be!" which the assembly pronounced.u b.. which has been changed for a different term. it is presumSinceoldendayswhenthe countrywasfound. Howardy.[ugal-bi . LVII (1941). the god of the nether world. Its use in our phrase recalls the use of sukenum changed]. and it was brought about in the proper fashion. CT. Nanna.k a ..es -es] sa-bi a-nir-ra ir(! ?)-[gig 6s a-bi-a a-nir-ra U4 mi-ni-[ib-zalni17dNanna za he-me'subl zal-en] 18di-til-la inim b[i. the] g[ods]. 3. and kis a g . is complaining to his father Enlil about what has happened. we must read ki sag ki-a baFor sag.. whose case was adjudged by the assembly of the gods.." No. iv 18.1 i 1 . 15.). 2. fortunately. CT.by the word [of]the assembly[of passionate plea for mercy for the doomed city:70 sort. its heart. toward the bitterly]. quite clearly: it was the normal end of Ur's-and of Nanna's-term of kingship. evokes only a cool response: Though the text here quoted has suffered considerable damage.e. 11. Except for 11. SL 33:6. s u b .. 219-24." A palt of Nergal. the very assembly of the gods in which (But. had first formally term]. its most vivid expression in the long Lamentation over the Destruction of it: his Enlil [answere]d son Sin concerning Ur.PRIMITIVE DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA 171 The authority which determines when such a royal bala is to end is the assembly.. 451: 75-76." "(the) members of a family. composed only a few generations "The desertedcity. 31-33.rt a' 2U r iki ... 34. With our restoration of 11. since p u h r u m does not take the determinative KI...) Nanna. The passage reads: 14dEn-lil-le dumu-ni dSf. etc.

Encyclopaedia of the Social Altertumskunde Sciences. point to a form of government in which the normal run of public affairs was handled by a council of elders but ultimate sovereignty resided in a general assembly comprising all members-or. The Greek City and Its Institu- tions [New York. The indications which we have. as was historic Mesopotamia. kingship. of the destruction Ur they verilygave in commission. did I verilystretch out (my) arms. especially in a situation of war. 1930]. I "Maymy city not be destroyed!" saidindeed to them. Reallexikon der indogermanischen (2d ed. Part I.and in time of wara warleaderor chieftain. No. 355. for which we may quote two summaries by W. Noteworthy. 1928)].such as peace and war. 609-11).. that its peoplebe killed. chap." pp. "The Old Hittite Kingdom. 214-15). still more striking: The significantpolitical institutionsof the primitiveTeutonic tribes who overranWestern Europewere a folkmoot. it may be added. not. perhaps better.as its fate they verily determined. in no way unique but can be abundantly paralleled from elsewhere. to one of its members for a limited period. The councilof eldersprepared questionsto be submitted to the folkmoot and decided minor matters. 620-21) and article "Volksversammlung" (II. I verily pouredout my tears beforeAn. 50 (Giessen. verily I myself mournedbeforeEnlil. We call attention especially to the early European material.let it be!" never soothedmy heart. ORIENTAL INSTITUTE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO 72 In Our material seems to preserve indications that prehistoric Mesopotamia was organized politically along democratic lines. Enlil with a "It is pleasing. Again.W. esp. a council of elders. along autocratic. 11. There can thus be no doubt that the assembly had power to revoke. Compare also O. LVIII [1941].. if need arose. IX. Schrader. were decided by the folkmoot. 1917-29) article "Konig" ? 14:1-3 (I. as it had power to grant." Beihefte. Such a form of government is. where the people were still (tarrying)on the ground. pp. It was a rude form of democracyin which governmentwas not differentiatednor law clearlydistinguishedfrom religiousor social custom. the chapter "Der Staat und seine Organe. 71It seems likely that this phrase refers to a promise by which the members of the assembly bound themselves to abide by the decision taken in the assembly. decided on such major issues as war and peace. Closely parallel patterns are found also in ancient Greece where the institutions of the Homeric age are especially pertinent (see Glotz. and esp." AJSL. Shepard:72 Amongall the primitivepeoplesof the West thereseems to have beensomekind of popular assemblywhich sharedwith the tribalchiefor king and with a councilof lesserchieftainsthe powersof social control. the Anunnakkigods being still seated after they had given the bindingpromise.A. 88-96). grant supreme authority. Leipzig. and could. pp. J. and VII. though less striking. i. are the parallels found in the organization of the Hittite state (see Hardy. The destructionof my city they verily gave in commission. Menes. But An the while never bent toward that word. It need hardly be stressed that the existence of such close parallels in other societies lends strong support to the correctness of the reconstruction here proposed and promises valuable help in the interpretation of the fragmentary Mesopotamian data. "May Ur not be destroyed!"I said indeedto them. "Mayits peoplenot be killed!"I saidindeedto them.7' did I verilydrag(my)legs. CONCLUSIONS kingship.or meetingof all the adult males bearing arms. . 21-23. All importantquestions. all adult free men-of the community. Die vorexilischen Gesetze Israels ["Z. This assembly settled conflicts arising in the community. 39-57) and in ancient Israel (see A.172 JOURNALOF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES Next unto the assembly.

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