The Sacrificial Economy

Assessors, Contractors, and Thieves in the Management of Sacrificial Sheep at the Eanna Temple of Uruk (ca. 625520 B.C.)

By (author) Michael Kozuh

Hardback - £55.95

Publication date:

21 October 2014

Length of book:

336 pages



ISBN-13: 9781575062785

In the mid-first millennium B.C., the Eanna temple at Uruk sacrificed a minimum of nine lambs every day in its basic routine of offerings to its gods; in addition to these, special occasions and festivals demanded the sacrifice of as many as 90 lambs in a single day. All told, the Eanna sacrificed about 4,300 lambs per year. There were more than 120 herdsmen connected to the Eanna at any given time, and the temple expected there to be tens of thousands of sheep and goats under their responsibility. These herdsmen delivered male lambs to the Eanna for sacrifice, and the temple had an internal infrastructure for the care, maintenance, and ritual expenditure of these lambs; they also delivered wool, which the Eanna sold mostly in bulk quantities. This book aims to analyze the economic organization of this entire system of sheep and goat maintenance and utilization, to explore the economic and social relationships between the Eanna and its herdsmen, and to integrate the study of the Eanna’s animal economy into the developing picture of the Neo-Babylonian temple economy as a whole. Kozuh’s careful examination of the bookkeeping records, the management records, and legal documents connected with this substantial enterprise sheds new light on an arcane area of first-millennium Mesopotamian life that will be sure to enlighten our understanding of the daily life, economy, and social structure of this region.

“The book is a substantial contribution to current research, and the presentation of new, previously unpublished material as well as numerous references to additional unpublished texts is much appreciated. . . . 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.”

—Martina Schmidl, Journal of the American Oriental Society