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The “reform texts” of Urukagina on the background of contemporary archival documents. Authoritative discourses between legal collection and legal practice

Subproject by Dr. Ingo Schrakamp

Changes in knowledge in the field of law can be examined around the 24th century B.C. using the example of the Sumerian Lagaš. While royal inscriptions illustrate the political-historical and ideological framework, archival documents testify to the socio-economic aspects of a state-run household, which initially appears as the "house(hold) of the wife (of the city ruler)", but is referred to under Urukagina as the "temple of (the goddess) Babu". The Reform Texts provide the explanation for this: Urukagina boasts of having eliminated abuses such as excessive taxes, encroachments by functionaries and official arbitrariness and of having reinstated the gods as owners of the secularized households. Previous research considers the Reform Texts as mere sociopolitical topoi of ruler legitimation. The project, however, examines these on the background of contemporary documents and argues that the Reform Texts, as almost casuistic decrees, refer to the same areas as the archival documents and, by deliberately weighing and arguing for change, represent an early testimony of normative, authoritative discourses and shifts in institutional or social order between legal practice and law collections. With the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Royal Inscription, a new edition is aimed at.