The Sacrificial Economy: On The Management Of Sacrificial Sheep And Goats At The Neo-Babylonian/Achaemenid Eanna Temple Of Uruk (c. 625-520 BC)
A Dissertation Presented to The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations by Michael G. Kozuh. The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Author: Michael G. Kozuh
Advisor: Matthew W. Stolper
Additional Committee Members: John Brinkman, Martha Roth Chicago, Illinois; March 2006
From c. 625 until 520 BC, the Eanna temple of the southern Babylonian city of Uruk had under its control herds totaling tens of thousands of sheep and goats. This dissertation analyzes the management of these herds on the basis of about 550 legal and administrative texts from the temple’s archive.
Production (i.e., the maintenance and growth of the herds) took place through share breeding contracts with temple outsiders. The temple fixed the annual amount due from the contractors (called nāqidus, “herdsmen”) in lambs, kids, wool, and goat hair and then over time calculated its share of each herd’s yearly increase. Yet the temple’s share was not collected every year. The contractors held back animals—mainly ewes—from the temple’s share, running balances that increased with the growth of the herd and decreased when the temple took male lambs for sacrifice. In practice, the temple stored its herds on the hoof with its contractors and periodically drew returns from them.
The Eanna’s regular animal sacrifices consumed 3,000 – 4,000 male lambs annually. The sacrifices were organized though two internal administrative bureaus whose staffs were supported by rations from the temple. The “Offering Shepherd” (re’i sattukki) and a vaguely defined bureau called the bīt urî supplied most of the animals for sacrifice, and the vast majority of these were animals taken in from the contractors.
The records of the transfer of animals between contractors and the temple, and among temple bureaus and administrators, were meticulous but difficult when read apart from a systematic context. They are reanalyzed on the basis of this division of management into an external sphere of herding contractors and an internal sphere of attached administrative bureaus.
The external sphere also intersected with the temple at the “bow obligation,” which required the temple to supply men for royal service. The contractors provided the men for this obligation, but the temple equipped and supplied them. Yet, apart from this obligation, there is little evidence that the crown and provincial governments, which regulated the temple’s herding economy, extracted regular returns from it.
The full text of this dissertation is available in pdf format at:
Michael G. Kozuh © 2006
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Revised: March 10, 2009