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Rulership and Justice

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Relief of Ur-Nanshe, First King of Lagash

Relief of Ur-Nanshe, First King of Lagash

This is a votive relief of Ur-Nanshe, the first known king of Lagash. According to an ancient literary text called the “Sumerian King List,” Ur-Nanshe was the first ruler in Lagash to call himself lugal ‘king’ rather than ensi. He is depicted twice on the relief: on the top register he carries a bowl of bricks on his head, one of the earliest examples of a typical portrayal of the ruler as participating in temple building. On the bottom register he is shown seated presiding over a ceremony inaugurating the temple that has just been built. In both depictions, Ur-Nanshe is bald with no headgear and wears a tufted woolen skirt, and is flanked by family members and functionaries.

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