History of The First Kolhinor Volume the Second by Inimabak
Written in the 640th year after the Winnowing of Shumer
The Second Dynasty of Valhina
In the first volume I briefly discussed the current confusion over the reasons for the collapse of order at the end of the First Valhina Dynasty a fragmentary document has recently come to light giving some reason to suspect a general disaffection of the lower orders, terminating in open rebellion and a brief civil war. Meshki, the individual who succeeded ultimately in re-establishing tranquillity, warns his son Emmeki against seeking to win the affections of the landed lords only, and bids him associate himself with the mass of his subjects and essay to obtain their goodwill. It is at least probable that he had seen the evils of a contrary course, and had been induced to make himself the patron and protector of the weak and humble by experience gained in the school of adversity, before he attained his sovereign power.
There is no indication of any relationship between the kings of the first dynasty and those of the second; and it is conjecture not all together improbable, that the the Meshki who was the founder of the second was the descendent of a functionary of the same name, who under Tiquar executed commissions of importance. At any rate he makes no pretension to a royal origin, and the probability would seem to be that he attained the throne not through any claim of right, but by his own personal merits. Although perhaps Petti is going ahead of the evidence when he speculates; “Amid a multitude of pretenders, he fought his way to the crown and was accepted as king, because he triumphed over his rivals”.
On one occasion Meshti tells us his life was in extreme danger. He had taken his evening meal, and had retired to rest – “stretched upon a carpet in the inner chamber, he was courting sleep- when lo! A clash of arms resounded; foes approached, hoping to assassinate him as he slumbered; he roused himself; he woke up to a fight: and the conspirators fled in haste, without waiting to exchange blows”. It is not quite clear whether this event (if indeed it is not mere propaganda) occurred before or after his succession to the throne; but it reveals the stuff whereof he was made and sufficiently explains his triumph over his competitors.
Once established in power Meshki showed activity and energy. He succeeded in bringing back under his rule all those parts of Kolhinor that had either rebelled or drifted out of central control and the land he handed on to his son Emmeki was once again as it was after Aga had united it. He was however to stand on his boundaries and made no attempt to venture to Arata. His son inherited a peaceful kingdom and during his long reign he seems to have retained that state. What we know of his reign is concerned with building works and he is attributed with the first opening of the quarries north of Warka. He constructed two considerable edifices, which have perished – a palace, supposed to have been situated at Upi and a ziggurat at Kutu. Of the former, he tells us it was “adorned with silver; its roof painted blue to honour the sky god; the walls and the passages were of stones fastened together with iron cramps”; it was “made for an eternity” he says, and not for time; but unluckily it has not fulfilled the intention of its constructor. A second field in which the activity of this energetic king found employment was that of the chase. He ' hunted the lion' he tells us, and ' brought back the bear a prisoner'. Lions which are now not found outside Arat, frequented in these early times and furnished a sport in which even a great king did not feel it beneath him to indulge. Bears were more common as they are today and Kolhinorian Kings generally speared or netted them from horseback. As he approached old age, and felt its infirmities creeping upon him, Emmeki resolved to associate his son Lugalba in the government. And it would seem there was a party at court which pressed on Emmeki his own abdication in favour of a successor of merit. But the aged monarch was unwilling to erase himself altogether, and saw no necessity for so extreme an act of self-abasement. Association had probably been practised from ancient times by the Kolhinor kings and it seemed to Emmeki that by having recourse to this plan of action he might reconcile the demands of the discontented with his own personal inclinations. Accordingly, without descending from the throne, he allowed Lugalba to assume the royal dignity; and henceforth, for the space of five years, the father and son reigned conjointly.
Lugalba and his successor Dumuzi appear to have had peaceful and uneventful reigns; we see a few new building works which indicate continuous prosperity. And Dumuzi before descending the throne resolved to leave his son a legacy of political wisdom in the shape of a book of instructions in kingship, by the observance of which he might reign prosperously, and guide his life to a happy termination (a description of these is in the appendix to this history). Perhaps we may attribute in some measure to this document the satisfactory and in certain respects brilliant reign which followed and of which now we have to give an account.
Vur Nungal after reigning conjointly for five years with his father in perfect amity and agreement entered upon his sole reign when Dumuzi died and continued to exercise the royal authority from that date for thirty four years. He is remarkable for his constructions and for his conquests. Valhina, Upi, Erek, Eridu and Lagash were equally the scenes of his constructive activity; and traces have been found at all these various sites, indicative of his architectural eminence. Of these various works the best known, though by no means the most interesting, is the Nungal wall at Upi; little remains now but drawings made some two hundred years ago survive and this monument excels in the artistic value of the sculptures which were engraved upon it. Vur Nungal is represented, on the upper portion in the act of worshipping the principle deities. A far more interesting memorial is the temple the ruins of which were discovered some century ago at Eridu; it is clear from the remaining ground plan that it covered a considerable area and surviving tablets indicates that as well as having a religious purpose it also encompassed a large educational establishment. This is the first 'school' of which history is aware and a large number of tablets were recovered that were clearly produced by its students.
Amongst all the building works this king found time to turn his eye to the south and across the sea. He was minded to follow in the footsteps of Basra his distant predecessor and conquer the kingdom of Arata. We have no accounts of the events beyond a single monument which notes the subjugation of the whole of the land and the tribute it was subsequently required to pay. After a sole reign of thirty years, Vur Nungal associated on the throne his son Vur Kalama, conjointly with whom he continued to reign for four more years. He died in knowledge that he delivered to his successor a kingdom both peaceful and much enlarged.
Vur Kalama had a sole reign of seventeen years during which time it does not seem that there occurred any events of much importance. Kohlinor was flourishing and it would appear there was little to do beyond capable administration. Labash after ruling conjointly for five years ascended to sole rule, we do not know his relationship to his predecessor, but it may be assumed as probable he was either his son or his nephew. Labash ruled for a very long time and he was regarded by Kolhinor as the greatest of their kings and his name continues to appear on royal monuments for five hundred years after his death as successive rulers emphasised their association with the great man. Such are the vagaries of history that we know virtually nothing about his reign beyond a few scattered tablets that indicate building works, sound administration and no war. But perhaps there can be no better epitaph for any ruler than this. He was succeeded by his son Enumtarah who is known for the opening up of silver mines to the North of Larsa and the introduction of the simple shaft burial. The second dynasty had already considerably scaled down its royal burials to simple rectangular stone structures albeit extravagantly decorated; Enumtarah took this funerary frugality further and was buried in a small decorated chamber at the bottom of a shaft no larger in square than the height of a man. He was succeeded by his grandson Melemana after a reign of seventeen years. He appears to have been interested in building works at Larsa and greatly increased its port, no doubt further enhancing the sea trade with foreign nations; he also appears to have been troubled by rebellious inclinations in Arata; but we know little beyond the fact that he resolved the tribulation with a firm hand and little bloodshed and passed on a peaceful kingdom to his son Lugalkitum. There is little in the record concerning this ruler, whether caused through an accident of history or because there were no noteworthy events, we know not. It is recorded in his tomb that he was succeeded by his nephew, Meanne who as we shall see moved his capital and founded the First Dynasty of Lagash
The First Dynasty of Lagash
It is said that Kolhinor under this Dynasty reached its apogee, and having attained its fullest geographical extent under the previous Dynasty its civilisation now blossomed, perfecting its art, architecture, expanding commerce and considerably enhancing its technical abilities. However, there is considerable difficulty in balancing one period against another in the history of a civilised state, and deciding when, on the whole, the highest perfection was arrived at. The move to the new capital ushered in a period of consolidation and internal improvement which was to last throughout the Dynasty's nearly 130 years of governance.
The reason is not recorded, but Meanne within the first five years of his reign decided to move the court to the southern city of Lagash. It has been suggested, that with the expansion of sea trade into the southern ports Meanne, he wished to be closer to his cities that generated the more revenue and therebye keep a closer control. This is a plausible postulate for which there is no evidence and there is no reason to weigh this above the alternative proposed by Arentur who reasoned that it served to place the capital more geographically central within the domain. From his new capital Meanne busied himself creating new openings for trade, new routes were established and provided with guards on land and at sea. Further a large irrigation system was established in the central plains south of Upi and greatly added to the agricultural output of the region. Commercial intercourse was established with Salapan, who furnished gold, spices, gums, rare woods, precious stones and wonderful animals. Foreign emigrants were readily received into the country and brought with them novelties in dress and customs and perhaps sometimes new inventions or even new arts. After a reign thirty six years Meanne passed a rich and peaceful state to his son.
The reign of Meshki II is noteworthy for the extensive construction in and around the great lakes in the West both for the purposes of irrigation and for the use of water to power machinery. It is unknown whether these innovations were cultivated in Kolhinor or introduced by an enterprising foreigner but they were soon being exploited in the production of grain and by the end of reign for the cutting of lumber. The reigns of Meshki son and grandson appear to have been uneventful and efficient; luxuries continued to increase, places were painted and adorned with the gold traded from Salapan, carpets upon there floors; and the number of chambers multiplied beyond former precedent. Varieties in dress were introduced and whilst the simple linen tunic still contented the great mass of men, there were some who affected a more elaborate style of costume, and wore, beside the tunic, a cape over the shoulders, and a second tunic of thinner material, over the first, or even a long robe reaching the ankles. Bracelets and necklaces were inlaid with precious stones, and the former worn by both men and woman, but also later by women only.
It would appear that Balulu either had no male child or his son had died at some time during his reign, for on his death his sovereignty passed to a nobleman named Susunda, who had married his eldest daughter. History has not recorded whether the transition was without friction but the second dynasty was to be rather more troubled by events then the first.