Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Stephen Tinney




Dan Patterson

Steve Tinney

The Neo-Sumerian (Ur III) period is known for having produced tens of thousands of tablets though, paradoxically, much of the history and culture of this period remains in the dark. One of these areas is the history and organization of the Ur III military. This dissertation is an investigation of selected issues and the terminology related to the military history of this period. It attempts to rectify the absence of monographic studies on this topic and to clarify problematic issues that recur in the secondary literature. Chapter one introduces the historical background of the Ur III period, focusing on the available sources and their associated biases. Chapter two establishes the framework for a military history of this period by utilizing year-names and textual references to plunder, and teases out some of the problems involved in using this data. This chapter utilizes the vast administrative corpus to build portraits of the enemy toponyms

mentioned in year-names and attempts to determine their organizational structure and political relationship to the kingdom of Ur. Chapter three discusses the primary terms for soldiers (eren2, aga3-us2, gar3-du) and the garrison system that was established in the

periphery. It demonstrated that the taxes on garrison settlements (gun2 ma-da) exhibited an array of formats and utilized a multiplicity of terms; this aids our understanding of the political statuses of a number of foreign toponyms. Chapter four investigates the context

of the messenger text genre and some of the military terminology found within. This resulted in the discovery that different provinces and their messenger text corpora dealt with different regions of the periphery. Additionally, it was discovered that foreign groups from the periphery traveled in greater numbers and with greater frequency than previously assumed. Lastly, selected military terms were investigated and some previous assumptions regarding their meaning were challenged. This dissertation increases and redefines our knowledge of the military and political contexts of the Third Dynasty of Ur and provides and provides a beginning point for further research into this area.

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