Episode 16 – Lagash 2 Reform and Corruption in Lagash

Last time was the rise, this time is the fall of the city of Lagash, into corruption and military defeat. Can the hero of the people, great reformer Urukagina, save his city from certain destruction? No, he can’t, but he will try. The three big names today are Enmetena, Urukagina, and Lugalzagesi as witness the dramatic end of an era.

Again, I need to put my disclaimer up saying that many of these events have different interpretations, I have just chosen the one that seems best to me. I am not a scholar and am only working from other people’s translations, but the story I am telling seems like the best interpretation here. So have a picture of Enmetena from Wikipedia:

Look at this, he hasn’t even got a head. The name is inscribed though, so we know who the body is supposed to be.

Look at this, a good hundred years of history, the golden age of Lagash, dismissed in a pair of episodes and almost completely forgotten outside dusty books and whatever the internet equivalent of dusty books it. Dusty podcasts. I have family members who were literally weeping after the last election, convinced that the most horrible thing possible had just happened and the world was falling apart around them, but Trump will be as forgotten as Urukagina and Lugalzagesi soon enough, whether for better or worse, because if there is anything the study of Sumerian history has shown us it is that nothing you do matters, and even if you leave behind a good story it will grow to be obscure eventually.

Above are a few secondhand accounts of Urukagina’s laws, laws which surely the politicos of the age were wailing and gnashing their teeth over, but which didn’t even last a decade, and may not have even lasted a year.

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