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Neo-Sumerian Messenger Tablet, 2028 BC

A clay pillow-shaped messenger tablet from an important palace archive of the Sumerian city Iri-Saĝrig, dated to 2028 BC, with cuneiform text on both sides: “120 quarts of barleyfor Namhani, a royal messenger; 120 quarts for Dadatabum; 120 quarts for Ur-diĝira; 120 quarts for Puzur-Sin; 120 quarts for Iti-Sin; 120 quarts for Zuzaya; 120 quarts for Utul-Mama; 120 quarts for Ur-Šulpa’e; 120 quarts for Nabi-Sin; 120 quarts for Ahu-țab; 120 quarts for Ahu-baqar; 120 quarts for Igi-anakezu; 120 quarts for Lu-gula; Total: 13 royal messengers, 120 quarts for each; their barley 1,560 quarts; barley salary of royal messengers when they were stationed to surveythe farmers’ field; (the rations) were receivedIlum-asu, the scribe, was responsible; withdrawal in the month of kir11-si-ak; Year when Ibbi-Sin (became) king.”

This text dates to the first year of King Ibbi-Sin, the last king of the Ur III. The text is important because it records huge quantities of barley (total 1560 quarts is equal to 1384 l) distributed by the government to royal messengers. The barley was meant to be rations or salaries in return for their service. According to prof. David Owen the Iri-Saĝrig archive is probably the archive of governor whose office was in the local palace. The king and other members of the royal family occasionally traveled to Iri-Saĝrig, perhaps on their way to or from Nippur or other towns. No town in Sumer was visited more often by the king than Iri-Saĝrig. This may explain the presence of so many royal functionaries associated with the town.