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Encyclopedia > Gudea
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Statue of Gudea, British Museum London

Gudea was a ruler (ensi) of the city of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia who ruled ca. 2144 - 2124 BC. He probably came from outside, but had married Ninalla, daughter of the ruler Urbaba (2164 - 2144 BC) of Lagash, which gained him entrance to the Royal house of Lagash. Inscriptions mention temples built by Gudea in Ur, Nippur, Adab, Uruk and Bad-Tibira. This indicates the growing influence of Gudea in Sumer. His predecessor Urbaba had already made his daughter Enanepada high priestress of Nanna at Ur, which indicates a great deal of political power as well.


Gudea chose the title of ensi (town-king), not the more exalted lugal (Akkadian sharrum) like Eanatum of Lagash, Lugalzagesi of Umma and of course Sargon of Akkad, but he styled himself "God of Lagash" at one occasion. Gudea's year names do not mention any military campaigns, but emphasize the building of irrigation channels, the building of temples and the creation of precious gifts to the Gods.


Statues of Gudea

26 statues of Gudea have been found so far (A-AA). A-K have been found during Ernest de Sarzec's excavations in the court of the palace of Adad-nadin-ahhe in Telloh/Girsu. M-Q come from clandestine excavations in Telloh in 1924, most of the rest come from the art-trade, with unknown provenances and sometimes of doubtful authenticity. Figures L and R do not represent Gudea with reasonable certainty. The statues were to represent the ruler in temples, to offer a constant prayer in his stead. Most of the statues bear a dedication explaining to which God it was dedicated. He is either sitting or standing, in one case (N, he holds a water-jug au vase jaillissan). He normally wears a close fitting cup, maybe made of sheep-skin and a long tasselled dress. Only in one example (M, Soclet-statue) he wears a different dress, reminiscent of the Akkadian royal costume (torso of Manishtusu).


It seems that the early statues are small and made of more local stones (limestone, steatite and alabaster); later, when wide-ranging trade-connections had been established, the more costly exotic diorite was used. Diorite had already been used by old-Sumerian rulers (Statue of Entemena). According to the inscriptions, the diorite (or gabbro, na4esi) came from Magan.


The dedication of the diorite statues normally tell how ensi Gudea had diorite brought from the mountains of Magan, formed it as a statue of himself, called by name to honour god/goddess yx and had the statue brought into the temple of xy. Most of the big (almost lifesize, D is even bigger than life) statues are dedicated to the top Gods of the pantheon of Lagash: Ningirsu, his wife Baba, the goddesses Gatumdu and Inanna and Ninhursaga as the "Mother of the Gods". Q is dedicated to Ningiszida, Gudea's personal protective deity more properly connected to Fara and Tell Abu Salabih, the smaller M, N and O to his "wife" Gestinanna. The connection between Ningiszida and Gestinanna has probably been invented by Gudea in order to affect a closer connection to Lagash.

number material size
posture
provenance
dedicated to
today at:
A diorite 1,24 -- excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ninhursag/Nintu --
B diorite 0,93 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu --
C diorite 1,40 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Inanna --
D diorite 1,53 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu --
E diorite 1,40 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Baba --
F diorite -- sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Gatumdu --
G diorite -- standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu --
H diorite 0,77 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Baba --
I diorite 0,45 -- excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ninhursag/Nintu --
J diorite -- -- excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningishzida --
K diorite 1,24 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu --
L -- -- -- -- -- (Kudurru)
M alabaster 0,42 standing clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Geshtinanna Bruxelles (Detroit)
N calcite or steatite -- standing clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Geshtinanna --
O steatite? 0,63 standing clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Geshtinanna Copenhagen
P diorite 0,44 sitting clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Ningishzida New York
Q diorite 0,33 sitting clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Ningishzida --
R diorite 0,185 -- art trade -- Harvard (Nammaha)
S limestone -- standing -- -- Soclet-Statue, Louvre
T -- 1,24 -- -- -- Golenishev collection
U dolerite 1,01 standing -- Ninhursag/Nintu British Museum
V dolerite 0,74 standing -- -- British Museum
W diorite -- -- -- -- --
X diorite -- -- -- Meslamta'ea --
Y limestone -- -- -- Ningirsu --
Z diorite -- -- -- -- --
AA limestone -- -- -- -- --

Further reading

  • F. Johansen, "Statues of Gudea, ancient and modern". Mesopotamia 6, 1978.
  • A. Parrot, Tello, vingt campagnes des fouilles (1877-1933). (Paris 1948).
  • H. Steible, "Versuch einer Chronologie der Statuen des Gudea von Lagas". Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 126 (1994), 81-104.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Cuneiform Tablets: Home Page (236 words)
Cuneiform Tablets: From the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III presents clay tablets, cones, and brick fragments inscribed using the ancient writing system known as cuneiform from the Library of Congress’ collections.
The 38 tablets are dated from the reign of Gudea of Lagash (2144-2124 B.C.) to Shalmanassar III (858-824 B.C.) during the New Assyrian Empire (884-612 B.C.).
The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.
Gudea - Definition, explanation (651 words)
Gudea was a ruler (ensi) of the city of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia who ruled ca.
Gudea chose the title of ensi (town-king), not the more exalted lugal (Akkadian sharrum) like Eanatum of Lagash, Lugalzagesi of Umma and of course Sargon of Akkad, but he styled himself "God of Lagash" at one occasion.
Gudea's year names do not mention any military campaigns, but emphasize the building of irrigation channels, the building of temples and the creation of precious gifts to the Gods.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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