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The Sacrificial Economy: Assessors, Contractors, and Thieves in the Management of Sacrificial Sheep at the Eanna Temple of Uruk (ca. 625-520 B.C.).

The Sacrificial Economy: Assessors, Contractors, and Thieves in the Management of Sacrificial Sheep at the Eanna Temple of Uruk (ca. 625-520 B.C.). By MICHAEL KOZUH. Explorations in Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations, vol. 2. Winona Lake, Ind.: EISENBRAUNS, 2014. Pp. xii + 324, CD-ROM. $69.50.

The Sacrificial Economy by Michael Kozuh treats the internal and external workings of animal husbandry (primarily sheep and, to a lesser extent, goats) in the Eanna temple in Uruk. It covers the timespan from the Neo-Babylonian to the beginning of the Achaemenid period. Kozuh's observations are based on around 950 published and unpublished texts. The volume, the author's revised Ph.D. thesis, includes a CD-ROM with good photographs of the thirty-five unpublished texts edited in the book. It concludes with indices for texts and topics. As Kozuh states himself (p. ix), this book came into being at a time when major research was being conducted in the field of Neo-Babylonian studies, also touching on his avenue of research. This is understandably a difficult framework to work in; yet it was a deliberate decision, due to timing, not fully to include the findings of AOAT 377 (Jursa 2010, which he calls a "capstone," p. 20).

Chapter one deals with the internal and external administrative spheres of the Eanna connected to sheep herding. The author treats the basic question of whether the purpose of its herds was meat or wool production. He suggests that limitations on the herdsmen's profit in wool--which the Eanna basically took in full as its cash crop--led them to raise herds for meat production and quantity, not quality, of wool. He considers the number of animals the Eanna owned and kept on-site and devises a livestock calendar.

In chapter two, Kozuh describes his source material and gives a cursory overview of previous scholarship. He introduces a classification of textual material from the Eanna tailored to his research needs and discusses several types of assessment texts in detail. Chapter three treats the Eanna's relationship with its external herdsmen, focusing on the contract employed and its terms in theory and practice. Kozuh defines the difference between the mathematical model used in the contract and the actual number of inspected and extracted animals in audit texts as rehu, which he translates as "balance" (p. 92) and discusses in detail in various contexts in chapter four.

Chapter five expands further on this, taking wool as an example and stating that the Eanna normally did not enforce these "balances," but used them as a means to keep herdsmen in check. The author also discusses advantages that these contracts had for the herdsmen, viz., in his opinion, not only possible profit but also legal protection, as well as their disadvantages. Additionally, he deliberates on the branding process.

Chapter six focuses on two offices, the rab buli, "herd supervisor," and the sa muhhi rehani, the "one over the balances" (p. 153). Since the latter position was held by the notorious Gimillu, his case is covered here as well. In Kozuh's view, Gimillu derived power from his intermediate status between the temple and the crown, controlling the flow of information. He also remarks on hitu, "punishment" (p. 176) of the king or his subordinates, treating the role of the crown in the context of herding contracts.

Chapter seven deals with entrepreneurs and debt, distinguishing between debt in theory and practice. Moreover, Kozuh discusses risk for both contracting parties and the fragility of the Eanna's administration when confronted with unexpected stress, exemplified elegantly by the royal visit to Abanu. Considering the time frame, one could add that the situation was probably exacerbated by the famine that Kristin Kleber (2012) has demonstrated for the first years of Cambyses. Chapter eight treats the Eanna's internal livestock management, especially the offering shepherd and the fattening stable. The author discusses temple income in animals from various sources, including royal donations, and its internal allocations for various purposes. Chapter nine sums up the main findings of the book, partly by applying them to a case study, and concludes with a treatment of royal involvement in the Eanna's sacrificial economy.

The book is a substantial contribution to current research, and the presentation of new, previously unpublished, material as well as numerous references to additional unpublished texts is much appreciated. Nonetheless, some of Kozuh's arguments--though elegant--do not solve the issues he raises. I will mention just a few examples pertaining to his notion of rehu. For instance, in his discussion of livestock inventory texts (pp. 34ff.), he presents some of the rare examples of these texts wherein the enumeration of animals is followed by an earlier rehu (texts 4, 5, and 6, the latter mentioning rehu for years 19-23 Nbk). He suggests, because instances of these second balances are rare, that "the Eanna regularly disregarded yearly balances," and that "the fact that each text of this sort lists the herdsman's two obligations separately, rather than folding the earlier balance into the later obligation, is an indication that balances did not regularly roll over from one year to the next" (p. 44).

The same textual evidence, though, could just as easily be understood in the light of the necessity of recording new responsibilities while at the same time mentioning older rehu in such a manner that the two not be confused and considered to have been paid off by one and the same delivery, which would be the opposite of what the author states, and overall more in line with what is known of late Babylonian accounting.

Kozuh's rejection of the accumulation of rehu under normal circumstances is also based on his comparison of two other texts, YOS 7, 39 and 83 (pp. 99ff.), which is not fully convincing. These are ledgers of rehu, several years apart, and, in comparison, show increases and decreases, not an accumulation of rehu. But the context of his first set of numbers, YOS 7, 39, is not mentioned at this point. It was drawn up for Gimillu, the sa muhhi rehani, which could affect the accounts of the herdsmen on this tablet by transferring responsibility. Contrary to previous scholarship, Kozuh suggests that Gimillu refused this tablet in order to keep information from the crown (p. 172) instead of avoiding responsibility for the amount mentioned. This is an interesting idea, but at this point, the information has already been recorded on a tablet. By refusing to accept the tablet, Gimillu leaves this crucial piece of information in the hands of the administration, which runs counter to the author's assumption that Gimillu's power stemmed from controlling the flow of information to and from the crown.

On the other hand, Gimillu's personal responsibility for huge sums of silver is evident from, for example, the letter YOS 3, 19, which clearly states that the amount due from him is from the rehu of the herdsmen, and not a fine, as Kozuh suggests (p. 171). In general, I think that the careful consideration of letters could add new layers to his discussion. He consciously (p. 23 n. 19) disregards most of the information in letters because of the uncertainties in identifying the senders and addressees and, therefore, dating, which is a valid concern. But even without filiations, thorough study of personal names can achieve a high degree of probability, bordering on certainty, in their identification. Despite his concerns, the author treats some letters in detail and some in passing, but this could certainly be expanded on and would provide additional information.

One example is the topic of the fattening stable, where the letter references he gives for its departments are by no means exhaustive. One could add YOS 3, 17, 41, and 98, YOS 21, 72, and perhaps YOS 3, 137, just for the latter half of the period treated. Though Kozuh tries to examine the internal workings of the fattening stable, which he sees as an administrative department containing sub-departments including the bit immeri and the bit alpi, he does not mention the connection to the provisioning of manpower for various temple projects, which is one of the reference points for the bit alpi in letters. This does not touch directly on the main topic of the book, but would add to the picture of the inner structures of the fattening stable. Kozuh's treatment of YOS 3, 56 (p. 222 n. 26, 272-73, probably based on Ebeling 1930-34: 48-49) does not necessarily require the emendation he suggests for 1. 7 (ta-as-pur (!)-ra), since the form could be taken as written on the tablet, ta-as-sap-ra, a written variant of tasappar instead of taspur used anomalously in a positive main clause in letters, with the present tense emphasizing repeated action. I agree with the suggestion for 1. 9, though I would transcribe the verbal form as ta-ka-as-da (!)(T:GA) instead of "-da (?)." The sender is the qipu of the Ebabbar of Larsa, Nadin-ahi (Beaulieu 1991: 77), the recipient probably Nadin, the temple scribe, which dates this letter to the period from 12 Nbn until before the accession of Cambyses.

Though one might not agree with all his findings, Michael Kozuh raises numerous interesting issues in his discussion of the Eanna's sacrificial economy. This book presents a number of newly published texts and many references to further material, and is likely to infuse the discussion of the complicated issue of livestock management in the Eanna with new vigor.




Beaulieu, P.-A. 1991. Neo-Babylonian Larsa: A Preliminary Study. Orientalia 60: 58-81.

Ebeling, E. 1930-34. Neubabylonische Briefe aus Uruk. Berlin.

Jursa, Michael. 2010. Aspects of the Economic History of Babylonia in the First Millennium BC. AOAT 377. Munister: Ugarit-Verlag.

Kleber, K. 2012. Famine in Babylonia: A Microhistorical Approach to an Agricultural Crisis in 528-526 BC. Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie 102: 219-44.
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Author:Schmidl, Martina
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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