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.