Highlights from the Garšana Collection

Garšana tablet exampleThe identification and publication of the Garšana archives in the collections of the Jonathan and Jeannette Rosen Seminar, Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University have provided the study of ancient Mesopotamia with a major new source. This archives consist of nearly 1600 records from a rural estate at or near the town of Garšana located somewhere in the territory of the Sumerian city of Umma, probably in the vicinity of ancient Zabalam and Karkar. The archives date to an eight year period in the years 2031-2024 BCE during the Third Dynasty of Ur. The estate was owned by Šu-Kabta, a physician and general, and his wife, the princess Simat-Ištaran. These documents record many of the daily functions of the estate and provide for the first time a comprehensive picture of life on such an estate. Detailed information on the construction and maintenance of the many buildings on the estate that included a brewery, textile and flour mills, leather working shop, and kitchen; the hiring and supervision of builders and laborers coming from various towns near and far; management of orchards; canal travel and trade between the estate and the cities of Sumer; and numerous other details of daily life. Particularly noteworthy are the funerary records of the family and the role of the princess Simat-Ištaran who assumed the control of the estate upon the death of her husband. In addition, the archive provides abundant new details on the role of women as supervisors and laborers. The publication of the documents took over seven years to complete and is followed by a complete concordance and supplementary commentary volumes  providing extensive analyses of the documents.