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In addition to the countries of Elam, Ebla, Mari, Egypt and Akkad, it is the Tello tablets in Mesopotamia, which introduced us to the major powers of the 3rd millennium, namely Kish Akshak, Uruk, Ur, Lagash and Umma. Therefore, these city-states were first be searched in the neighborhood, and all considered of Mesopotamia. But is it much with the results of archaeological excavations in the region?

It is far from clear: There is a striking contrast between the local history today accepted and regions of origin of the materials found. For example, there is now evidence that the stone of the statues of Gudea found on Tello comes from southern Arabia.

But the tablets of the site Niffer, Nippur, now give us a new light on this early period:

Akshak, Lagash and Umma are not mentioned on the tablets of Niffer. Also, in this blog, alternatives are proposed with another history, more global for this period, relying on probable trade routes of the 3rd millennium BC (clic on this link).

I propose the following reconciliations:

  • Kish is the land of Kush, ie Egypt until the early dynasties of pharaohs, who controled the ports of the Red Sea;
  • Lagash is the country of Lachish in the Levant ;
  • The country Upi / Opis during the 3rd Millennium is the same as during the 2nd millennium BC, south of the Levant;
  • Akshak is a town of Upi / Opis at tell es-Sakan, located therefore between Egypt and Mesopotamia.

And the facts reported by the Tello tablets are conflicts between southern Levant and the Mesopotamia, with the control of Egypt. This region of the Arabian Peninsula was less desert than today and the vast area of West Babylon to Damascus or to the Mediterranean Sea, was more inhabited and was probably the country of Umma (From Amman to Umm an-Nar).

Here is the history of Kish, given by the Mesopotamian texts with that of Egypt:

Kish has had a sort of dominance over other states to archaic times. A king of Kish, Mesalim, had refereed a border conflict between Lagash and Umma in 2600 BC.

The Kish kings bore the title of Lugal, which means "king" while neighboring sovereigns were called Ensi. This shows that it is more a region than a city. According to the list of the Sumerian Kings, Kish practiced kingship just after the Flood. Of the twenty-three kings of this semi-legendary dynasty, are present Etana, Enmebaragesi and Agga. The first is the hero of a Sumerian myth. The second is one of the first Mesopotamian kings to be historically attested by the sources, since we found at Nippur two vases bearing his name dating from the XXVII century BC. The third, Agga, is his son, he is known as an opponent of Gilgamesh of Uruk. His name is not very far from the Egyptian king Ahha. This is the last king of the dynasty, Kish was then dominated by Uruk. The Ancient Egyptian Empire was not yet started.

The biography of Sargon of Akkad shows that it was close to the king Ur-Zababa of Kish, he overthrew him, before defeating the king Lugal-zagesi of Umma. He makes Akkad his capital, and Kish became a provincial center of his empire.

During the Third Dynasty of Ur, to the nineteenth century, Kish becomes a provincial region of Mesopotamia. Egypt is then subject to the dynasties of the first interim period. After the fall of Ur around 2004, Kish depends of Isin for a period, then resumes its autonomy. Then begins the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. Kish is some time subjected to a king named Manana, before being confronted with Sumu-la-El of Babylon in the late nineteenth century. It is today considered part of the Babylonian kingdom, which experienced its first heyday during the reign of Hammurabi. When the city of Uruk was abandoned in the seventeenth century, some of its inhabitants have moved to Kish. It was at that moment that begins the Egyptian New Kingdom.

This parallel makes possible the connection between Kish and Egypt, as well as those proposed as detailed below:

  • Lagash, which I consider to be Lakish in the Levant, is a city-state that would have had a shorter history (200 years) and a border conflict with Umma. Around 2450 BC, Eannatum of Lagash has repelled a raid of the king of Zuzu of Akshak, and having then destroyed Akshak. And because qu'Inana loved him, Inana gave the master of Lagash the sovereignty over Kish. Then Eannatum had confronted Kish, Mari and Akshak.
  • Akshak is a city-state of importance: In fact, a list of tablet royal dynasties of Mesopotamia reveals a dynasty of 6 kings of Akshak who have reigned for 99 years, between two dynasties of Kish. In the chronic Weidner, one of the kings of Akshak is mentioned as a contemporary of Kug-Baba of Kish, the woman innkeeper, the only woman who reigned over all Sumer, and that would be contemporary with the construction of the pyramids. During 2350 BC, Akshak is mentioned in the Ebla tablets: Akshak was in the hands of Lugalzagesi of Umma.
  • A tablet of Tell el-Oheimir, dated by its finders of the time of Hammurabi of Babylon, evokes this ancient times: the dynasties of Kish and a so-called dynasty of Upi in Akkadian, Opis in Greek, with 6 kings who also ruled for 99 years, before a dynasty of Kish. This is probably the country which had the capital name of Akshak. The 6 sovereigns are Unzi (30 years), Undalulu (12) Ursag (6), Sir Basha (20) Ishuil (24) and Shu Enzu (7). This is the place of this discovery that makes us believe that this town was the ancient city-state of Upi. But the excavations of Tell el-Oheimir have not confirmed this. It is likely that it was a city Embassy of Upi or Kish. Which would explain such a designation of Tell el-Oheimir, but only since the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.

These geographical assumptions yield the following equivalences between sovereign of Mesopotamian texts and the Pharaohs of Egypt:

  • Zuzu of Akshak who Eannatum of Lagash  has repelled a raid would be Djedkare Isesi. The Pharaoh has left inscriptions at Wadi Maghara in Sinai. According to Nicolas Grimal, Djedkare is known to have conducted expeditions to Punt and Byblos. Indeed, the autobiography of Herkhuf living during the reign of Pepi II some 150 later, mentioned that in the reign of Djedkare Isesi, a Vizier has returned from Punt.
  • Eannatum of Lagash who claims to have repelled the raid by the king of Zuzu of Akshak, and has then destroyed Akshak and because Inana loved him, had sovereignty over Kish, would be the Pharaoh Unas. A vase in his name was found in Byblos. His family ties with his Egyptian predecessor and his successor have always been hypothetical. And it is perhaps because of its distance from his home region his brother became the ruler of Lagash.
  • Enshakushanna, who claims to have sacked Kish, is the Pharaoh of Egypt Userkare also named Sargon of Akkad.
  • Enbi-Eshtar, the King of Kish who was captured by Enshakushanna would be Teti.

There is no inconsistency there, nor any confirmation !


For an explanation on the colors of text, click here.

For French language, click here.

Tag(s) : #Empire of Egypt, #Kingdom:Mari, #Kingdom: Elam, #Kingdom : Upi, #Kingdom: Akkad, #Kingdom: Ebla, #Kingdom: Magan, #Kingdom: Dilmun

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