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Iranica Antiqua, vol.

XXXVII, 2002



D.T. POTTS (Sydney)

Introduction In Gorgias (507e-508a) Plato wrote, The wise say that what holds together heaven and earth and gods and men is koinonia (community), friendship, kosmiotes (orderliness), moderation and justice (Schofield 1998: 39). In the ancient and modern world and in Western and nonWestern societies alike, gift-giving has been used since antiquity as one means of establishing and maintaining not just personal friendship but what Aristotle called political friendship (Eudemian Ethics 7.10.1). No student of anthropology will have gotten very far before reading Marcel Mauss classic essay on this subject (Mauss 1966) and generations of economic anthropologists have refined and reshaped the way we approach this topic since Essai sur le don was first published in 1925. Studies of gift exchange in the ancient Near East have been concerned largely with the Late Bronze Age (e.g. Zaccagnini 1973, 2000; Liverani 1979, 1990, 2000; Cochavi-Rainey 1999; Avruch 2000) and much less so with earlier periods (Zaccagnini 1983), but it is my intention here to examine briefly what Mauss called the system of total prestation in the relationship between Marhashi and Ur during the late 3rd millennium B.C. Some definitions As Mauss conceived the term, total prestation denoted a system, rather than a simple exchange of goods, wealth and produce through markets established among individuals. For him, total prestation described the system of relationships between groups, For it is groups, and not individuals, which carry on exchange, make contracts, and are bound by obligations; the persons represented in the contracts are moral persons clans, tribes and families; the groups, or the chiefs as intermediaries for the groups, confront and oppose each other. Further, what they exchange is



not exclusively goods and wealth, real and personal property, and things of economic value. They exchange rather courtesies, entertainments, ritual, military assistance, women, children, dances, and feasts (Mauss 1966: 3). The task here will be to demonstrate that such a system of total prestation characterized the relationship between the Ur III state and at least one of the lands situated to its east, Marhashi. Over the years Marhashi (or Barahshum; for a contrary view see Westenholz 1999: 91) has been located by scholars in various parts of Iran (Vallat 1993: 171-173 with extensive bibliography). Most recent studies, however, have tended to place it in the perimeter of Kerman and eastern Fars (Steinkeller 1982: 255) or in Iranian Baluchistan (Vallat 1993: CXIII). The honorand of this volume, Karl Lamberg-Karlovsky, suggested recently that the size of Shahdad (over 100 ha.) in Kerman makes it a plausible candidate for Marhashis capital, while a site like Tepe Yahya would have been one of its smaller towns (Lamberg-Karlovsky 2001: 278-279). The precise location of Marhashi, however, is irrelevant in the present context. Rather, it is the nature of Marhashis relations with Ur which interest us, not Marhashis identification. There can be no doubt that outright conquest was used as a means of expanding the territory of the Ur III state (Steinkeller 1987: 30; Neumann 1992: 267-268; Sallaberger 1999: 156-159), and the gn ma-da payments made by military personnel attest to the breadth of Urs forcible control over other cities and regions. But although these have sometimes been interpreted as payments of tribute by foreign entities (e.g. Michalowski 1978), Steinkeller has shown that the taxpayers involved were all military ones serving in Urs extended network of bases, and that gn ma-da payments never came from those areas which must have been located in various parts of the Iranian Plateau, such as Anshan (around Tal-i Malyan in Fars), Huhnuri, Marhashi, Shimashki and Zabshali (Steinkeller 1987: 37; Susa, on the other hand, was a source of a gn mada payment in Shulgis 46th year, see Michalowski 1978: 48). To understand Urs relations with these more distant regions we must consider other mechanisms, such as those enumerated above by Mauss. Specifically, we shall examine evidence pertaining to Marhashian women, military personnel, festivals and exotic animals at Ur.



Exchange of women Whereas the royal inscriptions of Sargon, Rimush and Manishtusu all boast of military campaigns against Marhashi (Old Akk. Barahshum), either Sharkalisharri himself, as crown prince, or perhaps his son, went to Marhashi and married a Marhashian (Westenholz 1987: nos. 133 and 154). At about this time, moreover, a delegation of Marhashians was present at Nippur, perhaps in preparation for this event (Westenholz 1987: 97). From this point on, diplomatic marriage replaced violence in Mesopotamian-Marhashian relations. We have no sources which could shed light on the nature of those relations in the time of Ur-Namma, but evidence from the reign of Shulgi shows us that the exchange of women, via diplomatic marriage, was again employed in strengthening the bonds between Marhashi and the leading power of the day in Mesopotamia. The year name of the 18th year of Shulgis reign was as follows: Year: Liwwir-miasu the kings daughter was elevated to the ladyship of Marasi (Sigrist and Gomi 1991: 321; cf. Frayne 1997: 100-101; Sallaberger 1999: 160). This suggests that Shulgis daughter became queen of Marhashi, implying her removal from the court at Ur to the as yet undifentified capital of this eastern land. Exotic animals In an article published in the June 13th, 2001, edition of Indian Express, entitled India gifts away precious wildlife, gets nothing in return, the following statement was made: India seems to be getting diplomatically short-changed, at least on the wildlife front. Every year, endangered species of tigers, Asiatic lions or elephants are sent off as diplomatic gifts to countries across the world. In contrast, the only two major official diplomatic gifts that India has got in the past three years are the two baby elephants presented to President K.R. Narayanan in 1999 by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and the two horses that Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh brought back with him from Saudi Arabia. Ironically, nothing much seems to have changed since antiquity. Meluhha, conventionally identified with the Indus Valley civilization, has been a source of exotic animals for millennia. It has been suggested, for example, that, The water buffaloes so beloved by the Sargonic seal cutters must have come to Babylonia as diplomatic gifts from Meluhha (Westenholz 1999: 102; Boehmer 1975: 4 and others think the animals came



rather as tribute or booty). A well-known Old Babylonian copy of a royal inscription of Ibbi-Sins from Ur (Sollberger 1965: 8, UET 8.37) records the dedication to Nanna of a statue of an ur gn-a Me-luh-haki which the king had originally received as a gift from Marhashi and which he named let him catch or may he catch. It is interesting to note that a text from Puzrish-Dagan recording the disbursement of 1 ox and 20 sheep, designated royal gifts, names Banana, the man of Marhashi, amongst the recipients. Edmond Sollberger, the editor of the text, supposed that this was one of a number of texts, dating to Ibbi-Sins first year, which were connected with Ibbi-Sins coronation (Sollberger 1956: 18-19). One wonders whether it was Banana who brought with him the original ur gn-a Me-luh-haki with him as a coronation present for Ibbi-Sin? Military assistance Steinkeller has summarized the evidence pertaining to elite soldiers from Marhashi under the command of a Marhashian officer named Simmu, between the years Shulgi 48 and Amar-Sin 5 (for full refs. see Steinkeller 1982: 262-262; cf. Neumann 1992: 271). The sources record the receipt of travel provisions for a journey to Marhashi and, on several occasions, the receipt of sheep at Puzrish-Dagan. Judging by the numbers of sheep given out as rations, the attachments numbered 30 or 36 men. Elamites and soldiers referred to as Elamites of Marhashi figure in these texts, as well (Steinkeller 1982: 262, n. 97). Festivals A festival of the Marhashians, probably held in the year Amar-Sin 2, was celebrated by the Marhashian troops under Simmu (Steinkeller 1982: 262, n. 97). Strictly speaking we cannot say for sure whether this was a celebration purely put on by and for the Marhashian troops, or whether it involved participants from the host country, i.e. Ur. As Mauss stressed, however, to fail to invite, is like refusing to accept the equivalent of war; it is a refusal of friendship and intercourse (Mauss 1966: 11). It is certainly plausible to suggest that, as the sheep required for the festivities were provided by the royal office at Puzrish-Dagan, the Marhashians more likely than not invited their local colleagues to the feast.



Conclusion It is in the nature of the documents available to us that the examples of Marhashian women, military personnel, festivals and exotic animals cited above are not synchronous, but I do not think this invalidates the general picture which I have tried to build up in this short essay. Mausss comments on his Samoan, Australian and Fijian examples are just as relevant to the Marhashi-Ur situation. In all these instances, he wrote, there is a series of rights and duties about consuming and repaying existing side by side with rights and duties about giving and receiving (Mauss 1966: 11) and I think the same can be said of the ties which bound Marhashi and Ur. There is a real difference between Marhashi, which was never the object of Mesopotamian aggression after the reign of Naram-Sin, and, for instance, Anshan. Shulgi gave his daughter in marriage to the ruler of Anshan in his 30th year, and destroyed the highland center a mere four years later (Potts 1999: Table 5.2). In other words, when it came to Anshan and other highland Iranian regions, gifts given by Ur with one hand were taken away with the other. Marhashi and Ur, on the other hand, enjoyed a relationship based on a far broader base of giving and receiving than the often transparent and, in isolation, ineffectual means of diplomatic marriage. Most American archaeologists working in departments of anthropology, and a few like myself who have ended up working outside the American archaeological establishment, have a line from Willey and Phillips classic Method and Theory in American Archaeology lurking somewhere in their heads: American archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing (Willey and Phillips 1958: 2). The line of investigation pursued here has shown that the rich fund of cuneiform sources from Mesopotamia offers all sorts of opportunities for applying insights from social or cultural anthropology to the interpretation of the ancient societies of Iraq and Iran. Excursus: Identifying the ur gn-a Me-luh-haki No consensus exists about the identification of the ur gn-a Me-luh-haki received by Ibbi-Sin from Marhashi. To begin with, however, two points about this gift require clarification. First, we must consider the animals colour. Although Sollberger read the signs in line 9 of this inscription as ur sa11-a rather than ur gn-a (Sollberger 1965: 8; Sollberger and Kupper 1971: 159) and interpreted the colour as red (cf. Heimpel 1972-75: 494;



Krki 1986: 149), Steinkeller has pointed to the prevalence of animals described as gn-a in Ur III sources and suggests this reading instead (Steinkeller 1982: 253, n. 60; argued more fully, contra the objections of Steible 1991: 294, in Steinkeller 1995: 69, n. 103) which, moreover, has now appeared in an Emar version of the lexical text HAR-ra = hubullu XIV (Arnaud 1985: 114). Sumerian gn-a, Akkadian burrumu, denotes multicoloured (Landsberger 1967: 140) and Steinkeller interprets this as denoting spotted, speckled or dappled (Steinkeller 1995: 50; cf. Frayne 1997: 374). The second consideration concerns the type of animal implied by the element ur. Although Salonen (Salonen 1976: 88ff) and others (e.g. Heimpel 1968: 360ff) considered it a generic marker for canines, Steinkeller has shown that, in combination with other verbal elements, ur can also denote felines (Steinkeller 1982: 253). Heimpel agrees with this position as well (Heimpel 1972-75; cf. Butz 1977: 288-289). Thus, rather than a speckled dog, Steinkeller has suggested that the animal given to Ibbi-Sin was a spotted feline, most likely a leopard (Panthera pardus) (Steinkeller 1982: 253 and n. 61). Let us consider this suggestion by asking, first, what other evidence might support such an identification? While representations of felines identified as leopards are known from a number of late prehistoric and Bronze Age sites in Iraq and Iran (for refs. see Van Buren 1939: 10-12 s.v. panther; Williams-Forte 1980-83: 602ff), many of these are ambiguous and could just as well represent the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) which is known to have inhabited Iran (see below) and Iraq (e.g. Corkill 1929) until very recently, and which was certainly wellknown in the putative area of ancient Meluhha modern Pakistan and parts of India (Roberts 1997: 226-227). This is not to suggest that the leopard did not originally live in Mesopotamia, but it is more likely to have been an inhabitant of the foothills than the alluvium (Butz 1977: 289, who identified Sumerian pirig-tur = Akkadian nimru/namru with the leopard [Panthera pardus tulliana or saxicolor]; cf. Heimpel, 1968: 330; Salonen, 1976: 246). As Roberts says, the normally solitary leopard (Fig. 1) gives evidence of being an extremely wary and intelligent animal, hunting mainly at night and even entering the precincts of villages without being detected by their human occupants (Roberts 1997: 220). Moreover, in his Kitab al-Itibar, the 12th century Syrian hunter Usama b. Munkidh emphasized the ineradicable brutality of the leopard (Vir 1963: 739).



1. Panthera pardus, drawing of an adult male leopard in the Lahore Zoo (after Roberts 1997: 218).

Nevertheless, the number of leopard depictions in Egyptian tombs which are anatomically distinguishable from those of cheetahs (Osborn and Osbornov 1998: 119-121) suggests that it was certainly possible to trap and tame leopards in antiquity. It is difficult to tell whether a gold foil feline from Tal-i Malyan (Sumner 1976: Pl. IIIj) which dates to the late 4th or early 3rd millennium B.C. (Fig. 2) is a leopard or a cheetah, but the striding feline on a silver gilt and niello plate (Fig. 3), of 4th or 5th century A.D. date, has the heavier build of a leopard (Harper 1997: 104-105) A second candidate for ur gn-a Me-luh-haki is the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus). The habitat of the cheetah, whose English name comes from the Hindi chita meaning spotted (Yule and Burnell 1886:187), once extended from southern Africa to India. Cheetahs have been recorded on many occasions in the vicinity of the area thought by some scholars (see above) to have been identical with Marhashi. The Street Expedition of 1962-1963 obtained a cheetah specimen at Damin in Kerman province (Lay 1967); the Field Museum in Chicago has a specimen from



2. Gold foil feline from Tal-i Malyan, Banesh period (courtesy of W.M. Sumner).

Bampur; and some years ago a relict population of approximately 100 animals was discovered in southeastern Iran (Hatt 1995: 62). Within the area of greater Meluhha, if an identification of this toponym with the Indus Valley civilization is admitted, cheetahs were abundant west of the Indus River in Sindh; throughout central India and the Deccan plateau; in Baluchistan; in the Makran region; and in Afghanistan (Roberts 1997: 226-227). As numerous accounts attest, cheetah cubs caught in the wild are easily tamed and reared as pets (Corkill, 1929: 700-702). They appear as gifts and/or tribute (Fig. 4) in Egyptian tomb scenes (Osborn and Osbornov 1998: 122; cf. Strk 1977, Hatt 1995: 62-63) though they have sometimes been confused with or misidentified as leopards (e.g. Davies 1942). Similar confusion is rife in the Arabic sources (Vir 1965: 738-739). In a number of articles published in Japanese, Sumio Fujii has re-examined images of felines on a large painted jar (Fig. 5) of 4th millennium type in Tehran (Fujii 1990; cf. Amiet 1979: Figs. 15-17), along with a series of



3. Silver gilt and niello plate in the Miho Museum, 4th-5th century A.D. (courtesy H. Inagaki, Miho Museum).

depictions on pottery (Fig. 6) from Tepe Sialk, Tepe Hissar, Tepe Giyan, Tal-i Bakun A, Seh Gabi [= Godin VI] and several other sites. Rather than representing a leopard in skid position, as Iranian archaeologists have long called them (e.g. Dyson 1965: 238), these are, in Fujiis view, depictions of cheetahs (Fujii 1993). If Fujii is correct then the very early evidence of cheetah use on the Iranian Plateau strengthens the likelihood that the ur gn-a Me-luh-haki presented to Ibbi-Sin was a cheetah, not a leopard. The name of Ibbi-Sins feline, moreover, let him catch or may he catch, seems eminently suited to a hunting cheetah which, as the Persian, Arabic and Chinese sources surveyed by Fujii (Fujii 1990, 1993) and others (Vir 1963) clearly show, is well-attested in from late antiquity onward.



4. Nubians escorting a cheetah from Tomb No. 84 (Amunedjeh) at Thebes, Dynasty XVIII (after Davies 1942: Pl. V).

Acknowledgements I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Sumio Fujii for offprints of his articles in Japanese which first got me thinking about cheetahs and the spotted feline of Marhashi. Prof. Hugh Clarke and Dr. Yiyan Wang kindly romanized a number of Chinese and Japanese terms for me, for which I am very grateful. I would like to thank Prof. W.M. Sumner, director of the Tal-i Malyan project, for providing me with the photograph which appears here as Fig. 2, and Hajime Inagaki of the Miho Museum for providing me with the photograph which appears here as Fig. 3. Finally, I



5. Black-on-buff painted jar in the Ab Gineh (Glass) Museum, Tehran (after Amiet 1979: Figs. 15-16).

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