The study of flight provides insight into life at the bottom of society during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100-2000 bce). Examples of individual rebellion and its consequences display the perspectives of members of non-elite and elite, advancing Adams’s conclusion (2010, §6.1) that the boundaries between slaves and other lower-stratum individuals were fluid and poorly defined. This study also references the earliest known attestation of the concept of reform through detainment.
AdamsRobert McM, 'Shepherds at Umma in the Third Dynasty of Ur: Interlocutions with a World beyond the Scribal Field of Ordered Vision' (2006) 49(2) Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient: 133-169.
CivilMiguel, 'On Mesopotamian Jails and Their Lady Warden', in M.E. Cohen, D.C. Snell and D.B. Weisberg(eds), The Tablet and the Scroll: Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William W. Hallo, (CDL Press, Bethesda MD1993) 72-78.
CulbertsonLaura, 'A Life-Course Approach to Household Slaves in the Late Third Millennium b.c.', in L. Culbertson(ed), Slaves and Households in the Near East, (Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Chicago2011) 33-48Oriental Institute Seminars 7.
DahlJacob L., 'A Babylonian Gang of Potters', in L. Kogan, N. Koslova, S. Loesov and S. Tishchenko(eds), City Administration in the Ancient Near East: Proceedings of the 53e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, (Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake IN2010) 275-305.
Dal LagoEnricoKatsariConstantina, 'The Study of Ancient and Modern Slave Systems: Setting an Agenda for Comparison', in E. Dal Lago and C. Katsari(eds), Slave Systems: Ancient and Modern, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge2008) 3-31.
GelbIgnace J., 'From Freedom to Slavery', in D.O. Edzard(ed), Gesellschaftsklassen im Alten Zweistromland und in den angrenzenden Gebieten: xviii Rencontre Assyriologique internationale, (Beck, Munich1972) 81-92.
GelbIgnace J., 'Quantitative Evaluation of Slavery and Serfdom', in B.L. Eichler, J. Heimerdinger and A. Sjöberg(eds), Kramer Anniversary Volume: Cuneiform Studies in Honor of Samuel Noah Kramer, (Butzon and Becker, Kevelaer1976) 195-207aoat.
HansenDonald P., 'Through the Love of Ishtar', in L. al-Gailani Werr, J. Curtis, H. Martin, A. McMahon, J. Oates and J. Reade(eds), Of Pots and Plans: Papers on the Archaeology and History of Mesopotamia and Syria presented to David Oates in Honour of his 75th Birthday, (NABU, London2002) 91-112.
KopytoffIgor, 'The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process', in A. Appadurai(ed), The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge1986) 64-91.
KoslovaNatalia, 'Bezeichnungen der Arbeitskräfte in Umma der Ur iii-Zeit' Proceedings of the First and Second Ur III Workshops at the 49th and 51st Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, July 10, 2003, LondonChicago July 19, 2005.
LafontBetrand, 'Les Textes judiciaires Sumériens', in Francis Joannès(ed), Rendre la justice en Mésopotamie: Archives judiciaires du Proche-Orient ancien (iiie-ier millénaires avant J.-C.), (Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, Saint-Denis2000) 35-68.
MillerJoseph, 'Slaving as Historical Process: Examples from the Ancient Mediterranean and the Modern Atlantic', in E.D. Lago and C. Katsari(eds), Slave Systems: Ancient and Modern, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge2008) 70-102.
PattersonOrlando, 'Slavery, Gender, and Work in the Pre-Modern World and Early Greece: A Cross-Cultural Analysis', in E. Dal Lago and C. Katsari(eds), Slave Systems: Ancient and Modern, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge2008) 32-69.
RengerIohannes, 'Flucht als soziales Problem in der altbabylonischen Gesellschaft', in D.O. Edzard(ed), Gesellschaftsklassen im Alten Zweistromland und in den angrenzenden Gebieten: xviii Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, (Beck, Munich1972) 167-182.
SnellDaniel C., 'Slavery in the Ancient Near East', in K. Bradley and P. Cartledge(eds), The Cambridge World History of Slavery, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge2011) 4-21The Ancient Mediterranean World.
SteinkellerPiotr, 'Toward a Definition of Private Economic Activity in Third Millennium Babylonia' Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Symposium of the Assyrian and Babylonian Intellectual Heritage Project, Held in Innsbruck, Oct. 3rd-8th 2002, Austria.
StruveVasily V., 'Some New Data on the Organization of Labour and on Social Structure in Sumer During the Reign of the iiird Dynasty of Ur', in I.M. Diakonoff(ed), Ancient Mesopotamia, Socio-Economic History: A Collection of Studies by Soviet Scholars, (Nauka, Moscow1969) 127-172.
Studevent-HickmanBenjamin, 'The Workforce at Umma: Some New Questions', in S.J. Garfinkle and J.C. Johnson(eds), The Growth of an Early State in Mesopotamia: Studies in Ur iii Administration, (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid2008) 141-147.
WestbrookRaymond, 'The Sumerian Freedman', in W. Sallaberger, K. Volk and A. Zgoll(eds), Literatur, Politik und Recht in Mesopotamien: Festschrift für Claus Wilcke, (Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden2003) 333-340.
Snell (1997) focuses on salability in his overview history of the ancient Near East. Although some slaves were never sold, it is the possibility of sale that is the key feature of slavery in Snell’s view (1997: 21). More recently, Snell mentions salability as a criterion for a “traditional” definition of slavery, after which he mentions and employs, to some extent, Patterson’s definition (1982: 13; 2008: 34-35), only to return to the question of salability for his conclusion (Snell 2011: 4, 20-21). In the study of the ancient Near East, legal approaches to defining the term “slave” have also been employed. Westbrook (1995: 1634) offers a definition that isolates some of the problems with the native terminology and the numerous hierarchical relationships, such as a king and a vassal, together with statements of deference, which are expressed by using similar terminology in the ancient Near East. Westbrook elaborates on overlap in servile conditions faced by many in the ancient Near East by distinguishing servility in family, serfdom, debt slavery (distraints), and servility ex delicto (kiššātum) between the status of chattel slaves (Westbrook 1995: 1635-38). In another article, Westbrook’s position becomes even clearer (Westbrook 1996: 458). He uses the issue of alienability to distinguish between different servile relationships and chattel slavery. Dahl’s (2010) study advances Struve’s (1969) approach by pursuing economic questions, while Culbertson (2011) applies a “life-course” theory to slavery in relation to children of the Ur iii period. Studevent-Hickman (2008: 143-45) compliments Steinkeller’s writing on terms such as eren2 to understand other problematic terminology. Steinkeller (2004: 93-94; 2013: 350-351) develops his idea that the Ur iii system was an “erenage system,” referring to any subject of the king. Koslova (2008) has discussed the term dumu-gi7 in Umma and demonstrated that it is largely synonymous with eren2. Interestingly, these terms have been thought to refer to people who are non-slaves (Koslova 2008, 152), the free (Steinkeller 2013: 350), or, on the basis of legal texts, “a slave who has been freed” for the dumu-gi7 (Westbrook 2003; Civil 2011: 254). Nevertheless, at least in certain contexts of the Ur iii period, eren2 is a term that can refer clearly to people who are slaves (note, below, the fugitive-catcher texts from Iri-Sagrig; see also Heimpel 2009: 63).
Nisaba 15,1046, however, refers to runaway men (lu2-na-me na-ba-tum2).
See discussion in Brunke2013: 212.
See Morris and Rothman1998: vii. Many intellectuals discussed the benefits and problems of prison systems, but the actual discussion of prisons as an historical phenomenon is relatively recent.
Molina and Such-Gutiérrez2004: 9.
See the discussion in Steinkeller1991.
See discussion in Lafont and Westbrook2002: 221. See also Wilcke 2002: 311, no. 82.
See Dahl2010: 286no. 34. The identification of individuals in texts is notoriously difficult. Even when more than one text includes the same name, it is possible that more than one person is meant. Despite this and the abbreviated name in sat 3, 1502, it seems probable the same person is involved, on the basis of the name, profession, contexts, and dates included in these texts. Abbreviated names are not problematic. Andersson (2012: 62) writes, “Personal names in bureaucratic contexts, could easily be abbreviated since they were secondary to the bottom line: the number of units at disposal, disbursed, dispatched, rented, borrowed, received, or missing. But even when looking at sources where one could expect more precision, and the writing out of otherwise normally abbreviated names, e.g. commemorative inscriptions on objects presented to gods, serving to remind the divinities of their subjects’ piety, one can not detect any distinct differences in the way the names were written. . . . After a close look at the Sumerian onomastic corpus it is clear that any element in phrase and clause names could be discarded.”