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Sumerian King List

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Euphrates · Tigris
Eridu · Kish · Uruk · Ur
Lagash · Nippur · Ngirsu
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Sumer (king list)
Kings of Elam
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Babylon
Enûma Elish · Gilgamesh
Assyro-Babylonian religion
Sumerian · Elamite
Akkadian · Aramaic
Hurrian · Hittite

The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship. Kingship was believed to have been handed down by the gods, and could be transferred from one city to another, reflecting perceived hegemony in the region.[1] Throughout its Bronze Age existence, the document evolved into a political tool. Its final and single attested version, dating to the Middle Bronze Age, aimed to legitimize Isin's claims to hegemony when Isin was vying for dominance with Larsa and other neighboring city-states in southern Mesopotamia.[1]


The list blends prehistorical, presumably mythical predynastic rulers with implausibly lengthy reigns with later, more plausibly historical dynasties. Although the primal kings are historically unattested, this does not preclude their possible correspondence with historical rulers who were later mythicized. Some Assyriologists view the predynastic kings as a later fictional addition.[1][2] Only one ruler listed is known to be female: Kug-Bau "the (female) tavern-keeper", who alone accounts for the Third Dynasty of Kish.

The earliest listed ruler whose historicity has been archaeologically verified is En-me-barage-si of Kish, ca. 2600 BC. Reference to this individual in the Epic of Gilgamesh has led to speculation that Gilgamesh himself may be historical.

Three dynasties are notably excluded from the list: the Larsa dynasty, which vied for power with the (included) Isin dynasty during the Isin-Larsa period; and the two dynasties of Lagash, which respectively preceded and ensued the Akkadian Empire, when Lagash exercised considerable influence in the region. Lagash in particular is known directly from archaeological artifacts dating from ca. 2500 BC.

For lack of a more accurate source, the list is central to the chronology of the 3rd millennium BC. However, the fact that many of the dynasties listed reigned simultaneously from varying localities makes it difficult to reproduce a strict linear chronology.[1]

The oldest extant inscriptions containing the list, such as the Weld-Blundell Prism,[3][4][5] date from the early 2nd millennium BC.[1] The later Babylonian and Assyrian king lists that were based on it still preserved the earliest portions of the list well into the 3rd century BC, when Berossus popularized the list in the Hellenic world.

The list


Sites mentioned in the Sumer Kinglist before the flood

The spelling follows the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature[6]

Early dates are approximate, and are based on available archaeological data; for most pre-Akkadian rulers listed, this king list is itself the lone source of information. Beginning with Lugal-zage-si and the Third Dynasty of Uruk (which was defeated by Sargon of Akkad), a better understanding of how subsequent rulers fit into the chronology of the ancient Near East can be deduced. The short chronology is used here.

Early Bronze Age I

None of the following predynastic "antediluvian" rulers have been verified via archaeological excavations, epigraphical inscriptions, or otherwise. It is possible that they correspond to the Early Bronze Age Jemdet Nasr period culture which ended approximately 2900 BC, immediately preceding the dynasts.[7] It is also possible that they were fictional creations to make the kingdom seem more legitimate and ancient to its subjects which would explain the exaggerated lifespans and recurring and composite characters that have overwhelming similarities with their predecessors.

Antediluvian Rulers

The following reigns were measured in Sumerian numerical units known as sars (units of 3600), ners (units of 600), and sosses (units of 60).[8]

Early Bronze Age II

First Dynasty of Kish

First Dynasty of Uruk

Early Bronze Age III

First dynasty of Ur

Dynasty of Awan

Second Dynasty of Kish

The First Dynasty of Lagash (ca. 2500 – ca. 2271 BC) is not mentioned in the King List, though it is well known from inscriptions

Dynasty of Hamazi

Second Dynasty of Uruk

Second Dynasty of Ur

Dynasty of Adab

Dynasty of Mari

Third Dynasty of Kish

Dynasty of Akshak

Fourth Dynasty of Kish

Third Dynasty of Uruk

Dynasty of Akkad

Fourth Dynasty of Uruk

(Possibly rulers of lower Mesopotamia contemporary with the Dynasty of Akkad)

Early Bronze Age IV

The 2nd Dynasty of Lagash (before ca. 2093–2046 BC (short)) is not mentioned in the King List, though it is well known from inscriptions.

Gutian Rule

Fifth Dynasty of Uruk

Third Dynasty of Ur

Middle Bronze Age I

Independent Amorite states in lower Mesopotamia.

The Dynasty of Larsa (ca. 1961–1674 BC (short)) from this period is not mentioned in the King List.

Dynasty of Isin

* These epithets or names are not included in all versions of the king list.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Van De Mieroop, Marc (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East. Blackwell. pp. 41. ISBN 0631225528.,M1. 
  2. von Soden, Wolfram; Donald G. Schley, translator (1994). The Ancient Orient. Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 47. ISBN 0802801420.,M1. 
  3. [1] Stephen Langdon, Historical inscriptions, containing principally the chronological prism, W-B 444, Oxford University Press, 1923
  4. "WB-444 High Resolution Image from CDLI". 
  5. "WB-444 Line Art from CDLI". 
  6. Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Flückiger-Hawker, E., Robson, E., Taylor, J., and Zólyomi, G. (1998) Translation of the Sumerian King List (alternate site), The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (, Oxford
  7. Wright, Henry. "The Earliest Bronze Age in Southwest Asia (3100-2700 BC)". Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  8. [2] Christine Proust, Numerical and Metrological Graphemes: From Cuneiform to Transliteration, Cuneiform Digital Library Journal, 2009, ISSN 1540-8779
  9. Harriet Crawford, Sumer and the Sumerians, Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-521-53338-6
  10. 10.0 10.1 [3] Gilgameš and Aga Translation at ETCSL


  • Jacobsen, Thorkild. The Sumerian King List. Oriental Institute, Assyriological Studies 11, University of Chicago Press, 1939
  • Rowton, M. B. The Date of the Sumerian King List, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 156-162, 1960
  • P. Steinkeller, An Ur III Manuscript of the Sumerian King List. In Literatur, Politik und Recht in Mesopotamien: Festschrift fur Claus Wilcke, ed. W. Sallaberger et al., Harrassowitz Verlag, pp. 267-92, 2003
  • Young, Dwight W. The Incredible Regnal Spans of Kish I in the Sumerian King List, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 23-35, 1991
  • Hallo, William W. Beginning and End of the Sumerian King List in the Nippur Recension, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 52-57, 1963
  • Vincente, Claudine-Adrienne, "The Tall Leilan Recension of the Sumerian King List", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 50 (1995), 234–270
  • Friberg, Jöran. "The Beginning and the End of the Sumerian King List", in A remarkable collection of Babylonian mathematical texts: Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection Cuneiform Texts I, Springer, 2007, ISBN 0-387-34543-4
  • Michalowski, Piotr. History as Charter Some Observations on the Sumerian King List, Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 103, no. 1, pp. 237-248, 1983
  • Jean-Jacques Glassner, Mesopotamian Chronicles, Brill, 2005, ISBN 90-04-13084-5
  • J. J. Finkelstein, The Antediluvian Kings: A University of California Tablet, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 39-51, 1963
  • Albrecht Goetze, Early Kings of Kish, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 105-111, 1961

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