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Hundred Years' War of the Copper Age

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totemgam:
Hello. My name is Maxim Ferapontov. Besides the fact that I have the honor to represent on this wonderful forum the team of computer games developers of the naval wargames "Clad in Iron", I love military history and I would like to present to your attention one of my articles about ancient history. I am just learning English and therefore I will be glad to receive your comments or corrections.



Hundred Years' War of the Copper Age.
The bloody confrontation between the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma.

In the middle of the third millennium BC on the land of the ancient Sumer, there was a military conflict that was not inferior to the modern one by its fierce attitude. The war between the cities of Lagash and Umma for fertile borderlands in the Guedena region lasted several generations. The joy of victory was replaced by the bitterness of defeat, short-term ceasefire - bloody fights. It seemed that nothing could stop this eternal series of battles.

At the dawn of the Sumerian civilization, the farmers' settlements were surrounded by uninhabited swampy pines and dry peaks between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The hardworking Sumerian people were exploring more and more territories in the southern part of Mesopotamia - cities and villages were based, irrigation canals were being built, and the population was growing. Around the XXVIII century BC, there was practically no vacant land. Approximately at the same time, city-states began to be formed around community centers. Such precursors of states are called nomes. Such centers (each of which consisted of one large city, several cities, surrounding villages) arose about twenty. The main problem of Ancient Sumer was the lack of food - the production of food products (primarily, grain) did not keep up with the growth of the number of inhabitants of nomes.
At the stage of the formation of an organized society, the most important figure of the nome was the manager of the works, which bore the title "Ensi". This man was the supreme priest of the patron god of the city. Relying on religious authority, this man managed a vital irrigation system, as well as collecting, storing and distributing the crop.
The way out of a difficult economic situation for the nome was the seizure of neighbors from their fields or plots where the irrigation channel was diverted from the main riverbed. Possessing a key to water, one could dictate to neighbors their will. Usually, under the leadership of the military leader, who bore the title of king (Lugal), the Sumerian city defeated the nearest rivals, selected disputed territories and looted defeated tribute. When a less able ruler was in power in the victorious city, the enemies again rose to the struggle, and this went on for centuries.
The first hegemon of Sumer was Kish city. Then, under the legendary Bilgamesh or Gilgamesh, Uruk took his place. More than once the great warriors forced most of the regions to pay tribute and carry out work for their cities, but none of them could create a single state. Kish's military domination left such a strong mark in the history of the Sumerians that all subsequent hegemons declared themselves Kings of Kish regardless of their origin.


The opposing sides: Umma and Lagash

A typical example of the conflict between the two cities for the borderlands is the war between the nomes of Umma and Lagash. The nome centered in the city of Umma was in the south-eastern part of Sumer between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Historians have only a few fragmentary sources about the Umma. They suggest that in its development this political center has gone the way, similar to the more famous Sumerian cities. The notions of society and statehood in the Umma did not differ, all the land and everything that was on it were considered the property of the war god named Shara.
The name of the city of Lagash in translation from Sumerian means "The place of crows", the deity-patron of this place was "the ruler of agriculture" Ningirsu. The name of this deity is translated as "the master of Girsu." Girsu was the second most populated city, but, apparently, the first city of Lagash in terms of religious significance. In addition, six smaller cities were surrounded by protective walls. The area of the Lagash nome is estimated at approximately 1,000 square kilometers. Agriculture relied on the Tigris River, which ran through the "possessions" of the god Ningirsu for 65 km, and seven large canals with a total length of about 100 km. The free population of the region ranged from 125,000 to 150,000 people, of which 36,000 were adult men.


Beginning of the border dispute

In the 15-20 km north of Lagash and Girsu the lands of the Umma nome began. The contact line was several kilometers from west to east. The border area under the name of Guedena was very fertile, and therefore of great value - both the inhabitants of the Umma and the inhabitants of Lagash wanted to get this territory and disputed its ownership.
The exact time of the beginning of the dispute is unknown, but when around 2500 BC, Umma, and Lagash depended on the lugal (king) from the north, he already existed. The powerful ruler was called Mesilim - he established his authority over a significant part of Sumer, dictated his will to the vanquished and assumed the King of Kish title. Wishing to solve the problem of Guedena forever, he divided it between the disputants. Calling to the aid of the oracle of the god of justice Sataran, King Mesilim marked a new border with a ditch and installed a stele with the corresponding inscription. An ancient source describes these events:
"Enlil [the main deity of the Sumerian pantheon], the king of all lands, the father of all the gods, defined the border for Ningirsu [the patron god of Lagash] and for Shara [the patron god of the Umma] with his indestructible word, and Mesilim, King of Kish, measured it according to the word Sataran [god of justice] and erected a stele there. "
Lagash was quite satisfied with the section. In the Umma were dissatisfied with this decision, but there was no opportunity to argue with Mesilim.


Round one: Akurgal from Lagash vs. Ush from Umma

It seemed that Mesilim resolved the dispute between neighbors. At least until the end of his life, Umma and Lagash did not resume the conflict. Approximately half a century after the construction of the border stela, the ruler of Lagash was a man named Ur-Nanshe who conducted a much more independent policy than his predecessors and brought his city out of the hands of the Kings of Kish. After the death of Ur-Nanshe, he was succeeded by a son named Akurgal.
At the same time in the city of Umma, the high priest named Ush ruled. Umma remained under the sovereignty of the unknown King of Kish, who was dissatisfied with the loss of control over Lagash. Wishing to punish the citizens of Lagash, King of Kish supported the claims of Umma to the entire previously divided disputed area. The army of the Umma invaded the land of Lagash and captured all of Guedena. The boundary stela was destroyed, and Akurgal was killed in the battle.


Round two: Eanatum from Lagash vs. Ush from Ummah

The next ruler of Lagash was the son of the deceased Akurgal named Eanatum. During the first years in power, he was engaged in the restoration of the economy, which suffered from the war. Having received the bitter lesson of military defeat, the residents of Lagash concentrated their efforts on creating a powerful army. After a while, Eanatum considered himself strong enough to take revenge on his father's killer. In the decisive battle, the Umma's army was almost completely destroyed. After a catastrophic defeat in Umma, an uprising broke out, the victim of which was Ush.
As for the ruler of Lagash, he restored the border in accordance with the decision of Mesilim and put several own border steles. One of them is the world-famous "Stele of the Vultures", which has survived to the present day, which contains the following inscription:
"I, Eanatum, went to the Umma like an evil wind, I sent a flood ...
The people of the Umma smashed me with weapons,
poured mountains of corpses.
... Eanatum struck, 3600 corpses piled up.
Umma he defeated,
and twenty tumuli for it
he heaped up there.
Eanatum, wept over with sweet tears (of joy)
by Shul-MUSHxPA, {Eanatum's personal god}
Eanatum to Ningirsu, his beloved field
the Gu'edena, he returned."

To call the Sumerian gods to witness the justice of their deed and the inviolability of the border, Eanatum built several new sanctuaries in Guedena.

The routed Ummites chose a new ruler named Enakale. He pledged to pay tribute and vowed never to fight with Lagash:
"Never forever and ever I will not break the boundaries of Ningirsu, I will never invade its dams and canals, never split a single stela. If I break the boundaries, then let Enlil's network (which was captured by the prisoners) that I swore will fall on the Umma from heaven."

Strangely enough, but Eanatum wanted to reach a compromise with its neighbors and finally resolve the border conflict. Between the two states, he singled out a strip of neutral territory, and also gave the defeated enemies the fields in Guedena and even other lands of Lagash. For this, the Ummites were to give to Eanatum and his heirs a part of the crop grown on these lands.
Having dealt with the old enemy, the ruler of Lagash continued to fight. At first, the southern Sumerian cities were defeated, followed by a victorious campaign to the east against the country of Elam. Then Eanatum proclaimed himself king of Kish. To confirm this title, he needed to defeat the strongest of the northern towns of Sumer called Akshak and his ally - the already known city of Kish. The Northerners' army invaded Lagash's lands but was defeated and rolled back. Although before the conquest of the whole Sumer was still far away, Eanatum had great plans for the future. Temporarily stopping military campaigns, he decided to deal with the economy and started construction of a grandiose irrigation canal.
But to rest on their laurels, Eanatum was not lucky - the recently defeated Elamites went to war against the Lagash empire. With great difficulty, the soldiers from Lagash managed to force out the enemy from their territory. While the army of Eanatum fought against Elam, the armies of Akshak and Kish invaded the lands of Lagash from the north, and again the citizens of Lagash defeated them, having made a retreat to the north. Taking advantage of the withdrawal of the army, from the east again attacked the Elamites. Eanatum again had to fight with them. At the same time, the northern enemies of Akshak and Kish entered into an alliance with the powerful kingdom of Mari. It is hard to imagine what efforts Eanatum needed to defeat the allies. Nevertheless, he did this too. Soon after his next triumph, the great commander disappears from historical sources, and his brother comes to replace him. It is very likely that luck still turned away from the ruler of the Lagash Empire and he died in one of the subsequent battles.


Round three: Enanatum from Lagash vs. Ur-Lumma from Umma

When the brother of Eanatuma, with a very similar name, Enanatum, inherited power over Lagash and his subordinate nomes, he was already an elderly man. At the same time, the ruler of Enakale, who was chosen by the Ummites after the defeat of the Lagashians, died in Umma. His son and heir named Ur-Lumma considered that his father's oath did not apply to him, and refused to pay Lagash a tribute. To help the Ummites came unknown to us "foreigners" from the north, and the Allied army defeated the Lagashians. Guedena was lost to Lagash - the enemies poured defensive ditches, smashed the border steles and destroyed the sanctuaries of the gods. An ancient source from Lagash contains such lines:
"Ur-Lumma, the ruler of the Umma, stripped the border ditch Ningirsu and the borderline Nanshe water, cleaned the steams of the border ditch and burned them, destroyed the sanctuaries of the gods, received help from foreign countries and, finally, crossed the boundary line of Ningirsu."


Round four: Entemena from Lagash vs. Ur-Lumma from Umma

As already mentioned, Enanatum was an elderly man. He not only could not keep his brother's conquered cities but also protect the borders of the original lands of Lagash. The documents available to us show that after the military failures, Enanatum disappears from the records. The fate of this ruler is for certain unknown - most likely, he died of natural causes. In favor of this version speaks the fact that the head of the Lagashian state was the son of Enanatum named Entemena. The first task of the new lugal was to fight the Umma - the battle took place near a town called Ghana-Ugiga:
"Enannatum, ruler of Lagash,
in the Ugiga field, the field of Ningirsu had (previously) fought with him,
but Entemena, the beloved son of Enannatum, defeated him.
Ur-lumma fled into the middle of Umma and was killed.
His donkeys, sixty teams,
on the bank of the Lummagirnunta (canal) were left behind,
and their personnel's bones were all left out on the plain.
Their tumuli in five places he heaped up."

Apparently, the Ummites were again defeated, and Lagash's army reached the walls of the Umma itself. According to the Ummit tradition, the loser of the war of Ur-Lumma was killed by his own people during the uprising against him.
Lagash did not manage to fully enjoy the fruits of his victory - a third party intervened in the conflict. To the north of the Umma was located the Sumerian city of Zabalam - his army, led by a man named Il (as in "ill"), ravaged the northern lands of Lagash, and then retired to his territory. The defeated Umma needed a strong leader, Il was suitable for this as well as possible, and the Ummites elected him the new high priest and ruler. In order to show his strength to the subjects, Il of Umma began to provoke Lagash into a new conflict, paying him only a tiny fraction of the imposed tribute.
Entemena did not dare start a new war with the Umma and tried to resolve the dispute by diplomatic methods. Just at this time in Sumer again appears the military leader, who placed the title King of Kish. This man, whose name we do not know, forced the parties to recognize the first boundary established by the King Mesilim at the very beginning of the conflict. As compensation, the Umma no longer had to pay tribute to Lagash.


Five generations of war

The ruler of Lagash Entemena and the ruler of Umma Il lived to old age and died for natural reasons. In their lifetime, rival cities no longer challenged the borderlands. As for Lagash, he inherited his son Enanatum II - he did not remember anything remarkable and lost power a few years after the beginning of the reign. With his departure, the dynasty of the rulers of Lagash, founded by Ur-Nanshe five generations earlier, also died away.
From 2450 to 2334 BC, the conflict between neighboring Sumerian cities lasted for the fertile fields of Guedena. After a hundred and sixteen years of bloody battles and periods of fragile peace, the situation returned to its initial position.



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