The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer (ancient southern Iraq) from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship. Kingship was believed to have been handed down by the gods, and could be transferred from one city to another, reflecting perceived hegemony in the region. Throughout its Bronze Age existence, the document evolved into a political tool. Its final and single attested version, dating to the Middle Bronze Age, aimed to legitimize Isin's claims to hegemony when Isin was vying for dominance with Larsa and other neighboring city-states in southern Mesopotamia.
The list blends prehistorical, presumably mythicalpredynastic rulers enjoying implausibly lengthy reigns with later, more plausibly historical dynasties. Although the primal kings are historically unattested, this does not preclude their possible correspondence with historical rulers who were later mythicized. Some Assyriologists view the predynastic kings as a later fictional addition. Only one ruler listed is known to be female: Kug-Bau "the (female) tavern-keeper", who alone accounts for the Third Dynasty of Kish. The earliest listed ruler whose historicity has been archaeologically verified is Enmebaragesi of Kish, ca. 2600 BC. Reference to him and his successor, Aga of Kish in the Epic of Gilgamesh has led to speculation that Gilgamesh himself may have been a historical king of Uruk. Three dynasties are absent from the list: the Larsa dynasty, which vied for power with the (included) Isin dynasty during the Isin-Larsa period; and the two dynasties of Lagash, which respectively preceded and ensued the Akkadian Empire, when Lagash exercised considerable influence in the region. Lagash in particular is known directly from archaeological artifacts dating from ca. 2500 BC. The list is important to the chronology of the 3rd millennium BC. However, the fact that many of the dynasties listed reigned simultaneously from varying localities makes it difficult to reproduce a strict linear chronology.
The first two sources (WB) are a part of the "Weld-Blundell collection", donated by Herbert Weld Blundell to the Ashmolean Museum. WB 62 is a small clay tablet, inscribed only on the obverse, unearthed from Larsa. It is the oldest dated source (c. 2000 BC) containing the list. WB 444 in contrast is a unique inscribed vertical prism, dated c. 1817 BC, although some scholars prefer c. 1827 BC. The Kish Tablet or Scheil dynastic tablet is an early 2nd millennium BC tablet which came into possession of Jean-Vincent Scheil; it only contains king list entries for four Sumerian cities. UCBC 9-1819 is a clay tablet housed in the collection of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of California. The tablet was inscribed during the reign of the Babylonian King Samsu-iluna, or slightly earlier, with a minimum date of 1712 BC. The Dynastic Chronicle (ABC 18) is a Babylonian king list written on six columns, beginning with entries for the antideluvian Sumerian rulers. K 11261+ is one of the copies of this chronicle, consisting of three joined Neo-Assyrian fragments discovered at the Library of Ashurbanipal. K 12054 is another of the Neo-Assyrian fragments from Uruk (c. 640 BC) but contains a variant form of the antediluvians on the list. The later Babylonian and Assyrian king lists, preserved the earliest portions of the list well into the 3rd century BC, when Berossus' Babyloniaca popularized fragments of the list in the Hellenic world. In 1960, the Apkullu-list (Tablet No. W.20030, 7) or “Uruk List of Kings and Sages” (ULKS) was discovered by German archaeologists at an ancient temple at Uruk. The list, dating to c. 165 BC, contains a series of kings, equivalent to the Sumerian antediluvians called "Apkullu".
Early dates are approximate, and are based on available archaeological data; for most pre-Akkadian rulers listed, this king list is itself the lone source of information. Beginning with Lugal-zage-si and the Third Dynasty of Uruk (which was defeated by Sargon of Akkad), a better understanding of how subsequent rulers fit into the chronology of the ancient Near East can be deduced. The short chronology is used here.
Excavations in Iraq have revealed evidence of localized flooding at Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq) and various other Sumerian cities. A layer of riverine sediments, radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BC, interrupts the continuity of settlement, extending as far north as the city of Kish. Polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (3000-2900 BC) was discovered immediately below the Shuruppak flood stratum.
contemporary of Sumu-la-El of Babylon. During his reign, the king's gardener, to celebrate the New Year was named 'king for a day' then sacrificed, the "king" died during the celebration; Enlil-Bani remained on the throne.
^Bilingual Chronicle Fragments, Irving L. Finkel, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2, Apr., 1980, pp. 65-80.
^A copy of the tablet appears in Jan van Dijk and Werner R. Mayer, Texte aus dem Rès-Heiligtum in Uruk-Warka, Bagdader Mitteilungen Beiheft 2 (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1980), text no. 89 (= BaMB 2 89). For an edition of the text, see J. van Dijk, Die Inschriftenfunde, Vorläufiger Bericht über die... Ausgrabungen in Uruk-Warka 18 (1962), 44-52 and plate 27. 
Rowton, M. B. The Date of the Sumerian King List, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 156–162, 1960
P. Steinkeller, An Ur III Manuscript of the Sumerian King List. In Literatur, Politik und Recht in Mesopotamien: Festschrift fur Claus Wilcke, ed. W. Sallaberger et al., Harrassowitz Verlag, pp. 267–92, 2003
Young, Dwight W. The Incredible Regnal Spans of Kish I in the Sumerian King List, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 23–35, 1991
Hallo, William W. Beginning and End of the Sumerian King List in the Nippur Recension, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 52–57, 1963
Vincente, Claudine-Adrienne, "The Tall Leilan Recension of the Sumerian King List", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 50 (1995), 234–270