Early states of Mesopotamia - History of the East

3.2. Early states of Mesopotamia

The middle of the 3rd millennium BC. was marked by an energetic onslaught on the Mesopotamia of pastoral Semitic tribes, and before that, in a considerable number of people who had penetrated into Sumer. Their subsidence led to the emergence of agricultural settlements of the Semites, at first only in the north-west. Semites began to actively borrow the achievements of the Sumerian civilization, approaching it in terms of development level (however, similar process was apparently also in the neighboring with Shumer Elama, located to the northeast of it). The representative and spokesman of the active offensive policy of the Semitic tribes became at the end of the XXIV century. Sargon (Sargon the Ancient, Sargon of Akkad). According to legend, he was an illegitimate baby, caught in a basket in the river and brought up by strangers. Entering the service to the ruler of Kish, Sargon quickly advanced, and after the death of Kish, he found his own state and successfully fought with his neighbors. Then Sargon proclaimed himself the lugal of the new city of Akkad (Akkad) built by him in the north of Sumer.

Having entered into a long war with Lugalzagesi, Sargon successfully brought it to the end, unified under his rule Sumer and Akkad and became the ruler of a relatively large early state, consisting of dozens of regional units, former city-states. In the successes of Sargon played an important role created by his army. It is hardly the first time in history that this conqueror was in the hands of a large fighting force of professional soldiers (5,400 people), each of whom received his allotment for his service and lived off his income. Not surprisingly, after the creation of a single state, Sargon managed to subjugate the neighboring Elam and made a series of successful campaigns to the north and northwest.

The emergence of a centralized state led to the concentration in the hands of his ruler of the fullness of power. Temples with their priests, household and service personnel, as well as the tsarist farms that emerged in parallel with them and largely on the basis of the same model, at the expense of which allotments were allocated to soldiers and other employees, were the basis of the economic power of the center. Rent-tax from the community, a tribute from subjugated neighbors and the duty of the population were the basis for the normal functioning of the structure as a whole. At the same time, the strengthening of the role of the state economy and the inflow of tribute from the outside have objectively contributed to a gradual increase in the prestigious consumption of the tops, as a result of which there was a notable process of privatization. Initially, it was identified at the top level and was realized in the form of individual accumulation of property, both as a result of wars, and during the exchange operations of tamkars. An important role in this was played by the influx of captive foreigners, turned into slaves, whose work was used almost for free.

The state of Sargon lasted not for long. Even with his sons and grandson Naramsin, who successfully continued his policy, signs of decline began to be seen. Regional separatism and discontent of the subjugated made themselves felt, more and more often had to suppress uprisings. Naramsin (Naram-Suen) took a number of measures that strengthened the administration of the center. He even ordered to officially call himself a god, and the former hereditary ensi replaced the officials appointed by him. But already with his son the decadent Akkadian state fell under the onslaught of the tribes of kutis (gutees) who came from the territory of Iran, who began to rule the Mesopotamia they conquered with the help of the governors appointed from among the former regional governors-ensi. In the hands of some of them turned out to be a considerable power. Thus, Gusea was noticeably among the others in Lagash, who paid tribute from the Kutis and concentrated power in his hands almost over all of southern Mesopotamia. The Gudea Board was distinguished, in particular, by the scope of irrigation and temple construction, and by the significant development of trade relations with various regions of the Middle East, including India.

At the turn of the XXII-XXI centuries. BC. e. the power of the Kutis fell, and at the head of the new kingdom of Sumer and Akkad were representatives of the third dynasty of Ur. The tsarist temple economy has again entered its prime, work has been carried out to unify measures and weights, which to a considerable extent facilitated the acceleration of the privatization process. More and more people were outside the community and had to sell their labor as farm laborers or to work on other people's land (warriors, temple employees, other officials, including rulers) on loan. As a general equivalent, silver, whose weight measure sikl (about 8 g), became a unit of monetary measurement. Commodity-money relations developed, the sphere of distribution of which was no longer limited to the prestigious consumption of the top, but more and more clearly affected the craft, even the bowels of the peasant community.

The heads of community-clan groups (home communities) who traditionally disposed of the collective property of the group, which included not only the closest relatives, but also aliens, slave servants, were able to purchase goods, accumulate and sell the products of household labor. In the community, property stratification, division into rich and poor, became increasingly visible, which led to economic confrontation. The poor needed a loan, the haves became usurers. Unable to repay the debt, the poor people by all the truths and crooks (the sale of land was not officially permitted) sought to give away the land that the rich had happily taken. Landless people appeared in the community. Some of them went to the sphere of the royal and temple economy, others, in need, sold themselves to bondage, and debt bondage appeared.

All these processes, which actively manifested themselves during the reign of the third Ur dynasty, caused strong and quite justified anxiety of the centralized administration, which was well aware that their further development could lead to the disintegration of the community, a decrease in the number of taxpayers, an increase in the number of poor and poor , and this will weigh heavily on the treasury. That is why, since the earliest establishments that came down to us from the era of the third Ur dynasty (the laws of Ur-Nammu, the laws of Ashnunna), the administration was preoccupied with limiting the wealthy owner, not letting him offended by the insolvent, strictly determine the price wage labor, the size of usurious interest, the conditions of the maintenance of a private slave, etc. And although the laws at the same time protected the ownership of property, including slaves, they also defended the right of the offended or the victim to appropriate material compensation. In general, it can not be overlooked that the main content of the legal norm was reduced to maintaining the status of the main population. Let a slave of foreigners be deprived of many rights and at times be punished by a very strict standard (although he was not forbidden to have a family or even property), this should not apply to slave-debtors from among his fellow tribesmen. They could not be sold outside the country, and they were most often equated to the position of younger family members.

The rulers of the third Ur dynasty, beginning with the son of the founder of the Ur-Nammu dynasty, Shulga, officially called themselves gods, and their real status was really close to the position of the deified monarch. The power of the ruler was highly centralized; regional units, former city-states, were governed by the governors appointed from the center, who were traditionally called Ensi. Like Sargon and the Sargonides, the rulers of Ur had a well-organized professional army, some of it being mercenaries from among the warlike nomad Amorite nomads. Along with the army, there were already other elements of coercion, in particular the court, for the needs of which the forensic scientist Ur-Nammu was developed.

It is necessary to emphasize that the influx of prisoners and the ruin of the community members as a result of the privatization process were one of the important reasons for the heyday of the royal and temple economy in its previously unprecedented form of pseudo-latifundia, cultivated in dependent work units by dependent farmers, , "young people") and topic ( hymn , slaves). This helped to strengthen the positions of centralized administration and caused a sea of ​​official reporting. Approximately half of all the cuneiform tablets that reached us (about 100,000) are concerned with the state economy of the third Ur dynasty. We can assume that the kingdom of Sumer and Akkad end of III millennium BC. was a kind of apogee of the triumph of the structure generated by the absolute and markedly tougher domination of power-property.

Hardly a large part of the population of the country, which for various reasons fell out of the habitual life of rural communities, took the place of day laborers in the gigantic system of tsarist temple pseudo-latifundia, where labor and life were built according to the norms of barracks communism similar to the Soviet collective farms . Absolute dominance of such a structure on this, however, ended, and the former form of economy based on private property again replaced the clearly inefficient state, the emergence and consolidation of which again marked a serious transformation of the economy of society. The crisis of the state economy (communist barracks) and the gradual strengthening of the private sector in Mesopotamia caused a weakening of power, aggravated by the invasion of warlike Amorite shepherds, and then also by the Elamites. The third dynasty of Ur on this ceased to exist.

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