Andrew Pottorf

Title: Social Stratification in Southern Mesopotamia during the Third Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2100–2000 BCE)

University: Harvard University

Supervisor: Piotr Steinkeller


This dissertation addresses social stratification during the last century of the third millennium BCE when the Third Dynasty of Ur governed southern Mesopotamia and its neighboring regions. With over a hundred thousand administrative texts uncovered from this time, known as the Ur III period, its socioeconomic history can be thoroughly analyzed, including its social stratification. Three strata are proposed in this dissertation: (1) citizens, (2) serflike UN-il2 , and (3) slaves. In order to identify and elaborate upon these strata, several features are presented: native terminology, origins, family lives, housing, legal rights, and economic conditions. There is also a history of scholarship focusing on works by Soviet scholars, such as V. V. Struve, A. I. Tyumenev, and I. M. Diakonoff, which are generally challenged in this review, as well as on contributions by Ignace Gelb, Kazuya Maekawa, Marcel Sigrist, Piotr Steinkeller, and Natalia Koslova, which are fundamental to this dissertation. The three strata differ particularly in regard to their legal rights and economic conditions. Citizens were the most prevalent and had the fullest extent of legal rights and economic autonomy, whereas slaves were the least prevalent and had the least extent of legal rights and economic autonomy. UN-il2 were between these two strata, possessing some legal rights and limited economic autonomy. Occupations significantly impacted economic conditions, and they were unequally accessible to the three strata. Textual data are cited throughout, and prosopographical evidence is frequently utilized. Eight appendixes are included, which provide details about prosopography, family and house sizes, conscription, land tenure, and text collations, among other topics.

Keywords: Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Ur III period, social stratification, socioeconomic history, administration


Virginia Cara Girardi

Title: The Importance of Boat Transport for the Ur III Economy

University: University of Oxford

Supervisor: Professor Jacob L. Dahl

Using network analysis and similar data approaches to analyse frequency and capacity of cereal boat shipments across lower Babylonia, this study seeks to understand the importance of boat transport for the Ur III economy. This study aims at using datamining approaches to analysing the entire Ur III corpus for references to boat transports, in order to identify all products and raw materials transfers that occurred by boat throughout the Ur III state, either via the river courses or the canals. The corpus-wide analysis of records of boat-transfers will provide an opportunity to estimate the overall movement of products, and to identify the directionality of the flow of products. Due to the high volume of Ur III administrative documents concerning boat transport and a specialised and associated household, called the mar-sa in Sumerian, I am focusing my analysis on the provinces of Umma and Ĝirsu-Lagaš. Due to the importance of boat transportation for the smooth running of the complex Ur III ‘taxation’ system, the bala, I will draw heavily on texts concerning the bala, discussed extensively by T. Sharlach, and I hope to be able to contribute to the discussion of this enigmatic term and the system it describes.

My approach is complementary and I am not studying boat transportation in isolation. My study will include a section concerning watercrafts and navigation in the Ur III period, and a study of boat construction, and the materials and techniques employed to achieve the purpose. In addition, I will continue the analysis of the mar-sa begun by S. Alivernini as well as a study of the kun-zi-da, owing much to the recent studies of S. Rost. Through this approach, I will illustrate clearly the management of watercrafts and navigation in the Ur III.

Keywords: Ur III, mar-sa, administration, boat transport, bala, kun-zi-da.