Episode 25 – Ur 3 The Last Sumerian Ibbi-Sin

Sumer is in a bad state, with enemies on all sides, and just as they are crying out for good fortune they instead receive Ibbi-Sin, a blustering fool. We will read the letters he wrote as the world collapsed around him and then part of the famous lament for Sumer and Ur.

There are some who claim the letters, including those written by king Shulgi, are purely literary in nature, later fabrications and purely fictional. It is clear that the letters were used as common examples in schools to be copied and learned from by scribal students, but I am of the opinion that at the very least the look like what real letters would have looked like and they contain accurate information as to the events they portray, and are therefore useful and valid, and more than that I suspect they originate from real letters written by the actual people they claim to be from, and since we have no other “voice” from history, I stand by my use of these letters as the authentic voices of Ibbi-Sin, Ishbi-Erra, and the other actors.

The text from these letters and the lament, like nearly all my translations, comes from http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/, a fantastic resource run by Oxford.

Cylinder seals are so cool. To the left is the actual seal, and to the right is what it looks like rolled out on clay. The man on the throne is, of course, the last Sumerian king, Ibbi-Sin.

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