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Title: Feeding the people : the social and economic role of the granary in Ur III Umma
Author: Johnson, H.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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The late third millennium BCE saw the unification of Mesopotamia͛s independent city-states under a dynasty of kings known as the Third Dynasty of Ur, and the centralisation of the means of production and redistribution of foodstuffs and other produce. The quantity of texts left by the complex administrative network offers a wealth of data unparalleled in the ancient Near East. One aspect of the redistributive system that remains mostly unstudied is the granary, guru7, and the extent of its control over barley, the principal foodstuff and method of payment for workers during the period. Using quantitative analysis techniques on >1000 cuneiform texts, and focusing on one province, Umma, this thesis takes a broad view of the functioning of the granary within the Ur III society and economy, proving that the granary was an administrative unit, rather than a central warehouse as has been previously suggested, controlling a network of storage facilities in various locations in the province. The quantitative methodology has led to some striking conclusions, including my original observations on the nature of the guru7 institution; firstly, that it was primarily a state institution, operating to provision state livestock and the main cult of the province, that of the god Šara, but not called upon to provision the general population directly. Secondly, the findings have demonstrated the differences between the storage facilities in use at Umma, and have shown the extent of authority of the ka-guru7, the head of the guru7 institution, over them. Finally, this thesis also highlights various changes in guru7 and in wider administrative practice that occurred over time, proving that a broad-spectrum quantitative methodology is an efficacious one for studying administrative textual data. Though the results may seem specific to the province and institution studied, they contribute to a broader understanding of the Ur III economy and administration. Some assumptions about grain storage and the administration thereof have been revised, and it has contributed to our understanding of the character of provincial administration in the Ur III state.
Supervisor: Widell, M. ; Baird, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral