Lenzi: The Mythology of Scribal Succession
by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez
“The text of the ULKS is as follows:
“During the reign of Ayalu, the king, Adapa was sage.
During the reign of Alalgar, the king, Uanduga was sage.
During the reign of Ameluana, the king, Enmeduga was sage.
During the reign of Amegalana, the king, Enmegalama was sage.
During the reign of Enmeušumgalana, the king, Enmebuluga was sage.
During the reign of Dumuzi, the shepherd, the king, Anenlilda was sage.
During the reign of Enmeduranki, the king, Utuabzu was sage.
After the flood,(?) during the reign of Enmerkar, the king, Nungalpirigal was sage, whom Ištar brought down from heaven to Eana. He made the bronze lyre, whose . . . (were) lapis lazuli, according to the technique of Ninagal (Ninagal is Ea’s smith). The lyre was placed before Anu . . ., the dwelling of (his) personal god.?
During the reign of Gilgamesh, the king,? Sin-leqi-unnini was scholar.
During the reign of Ibbi-Sin, the king, Kabti-ili-Marduk was scholar.
During the reign of Išbi-Erra, the king, Sidu, a.k.a. Enlil-ibni, was scholar.
During the reign of Abi-ešuh, the king, Gimil-Gula and Taqiš-Gula were the scholars.
During the reign of . . ., the king, Esagil-kin-apli was scholar.
During the reign of Adad-apla-iddina, the king, Esagil-kin-ubba (this name … despite chronological problems, is probably to be identified with Saggil-kina-ubbib, the author of The Babylonian Theodicy; see van Dijk, “Die Inschriftenfunde,” 51) was scholar.
During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the king, Esagil-kin-ubba was scholar.
During the reign of Esarhaddon, the king, Aba-Enlil-dari was scholar, whom the Arameans call Ahiqar.
. . . Nikarchos.
Tablet of Anu-belšunu, son of Nidintu-Anu, descendant of Sin-leqi-unnini, the lamentation-priest of Anu and Antu. An Urukean. (Copied) by his own hand. Uruk, 10 Ayyar, 147th year of Antiochus, the king.
The one who reveres Anu will not carry it off.”
Gaining a historical perspective on the scholarly genealogical tradition attested in the text of ULKS is the first element of contextualizing our text. Clearly, the ULKS is unique.
It lists seven well-known antediluvian kings, each paired with his corresponding apkallū-sage, then a single post-diluvian king-apkallū pair, followed by eight post-diluvian kings, each with his corresponding ummânu-scholar (in one case, two scholars).
The list is arranged from start to finish in what one must recognize as an attempt at chronological order. Focusing on the ummânū, the implication of the text is rather clear: the human, post-diluvian scholars are the direct professional descendants of the earlier semi-divine apkallū.
In a previous study I called this traditional genealogical relationship the “mythology of scribal succession.”
Alan Lenzi, The Uruk List of Kings and Sages and Late Mesopotamian Scholarship, JANER 8.2, Brill, Leiden, 2008. pp. 140-3.