People - Ancient Near East: Shulgi
Ancient Near East
Shulgi in Wikipedia
Shulgi (also formerly read as Dungi) of Urim was the second king of the "Sumerian Renaissance". He reigned for 48 years, dated to 2029 BCE–1982 BCE (short chronology). He built the Great Ziggurat of Ur.
Both the readings "Shulgi" and "Dungi" were known before the turn of the 20th century, but over the course of that century, the scholarly consensus gravitated away from "Dungi" and toward "Shulgi" as being the correct pronunciation.
Life and work
Shulgi was the son of Ur-Nammu king of Ur — according to one later text (CM 48), by a daughter of the former king Utu-hengal of Uruk — and was a member of the Third dynasty of Ur. Year-names are known for all 48 years of his reign, providing a fairly complete contemporary view of the highlights of his career.
Shortly after his father's death, Shulgi engaged in a series of punitive wars against the Gutians to avenge his father. The only activity recorded in the year-names for his first few years involved temple construction.
Shulgi is best known for his extensive revision of the scribal school's curriculum. Although it is unclear how much he actually wrote, there are numerous praise poems written by and directed towards this ruler. He proclaimed himself a god in his 23rd regnal year.
Some early chronicles castigate Shulgi for his impiety: the Weidner Chronicle (ABC 19) states that "he did not perform his rites to the letter, he defiled his purification rituals". CM 48 charges him with improper tampering with the rites, composing "untruthful stelae, insolent writings" on them. The Chronicle of Early Kings (ABC 20) accuses him of "criminal tendencies, and the property of Esagila and Babylon he took away as booty."
While Der had been one of the cities whose temple affairs Shulgi had directed in the first part of his reign, in his 20th year he claimed that the gods had decided that it now be destroyed, apparently as some punishment. The inscriptions state that he "put its field accounts in order" with the pick-axe. Following this, Shulgi engaged in a period of expansionism at the expense of highlanders such as the Lullubi, and others. In his 30th year, his daughter was married to the governor of Anshan; in his 34th year, he was already levying a punitive campaign against the place. Ultimately, Shulgi was never able to rule any of these distant peoples; at one point, in his 37th year, he was obliged to build a large wall, in an attempt to keep them out.
In addition to construction of defensive walls and the Great Ziggurat of Ur, Shulgi spent a great deal of time and resources in expanding, maintaining, and generally improving roads. He built rest-houses along roads, so that travelers could find a place to rest and drink fresh water or spend a night. For this last feat, Samuel Noah Kramer calls him the builder of the first inn.
Shulgi also boasted about his ability to maintain high speeds while running long distances. He claimed in his 7th regnal year to have run from Nippur to Ur, a distance of not less than 100 miles. Kramer refers to Shulgi as "The first long distance running champion."
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