Gutian dynasty of Sumer

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Gutian dynasty of Sumer
c. 2154 BC–c. 2112 BC (Middle Chronology)
Capital Not specified
Languages Gutian language
Government Monarchy
 •  c. 2147–2050 BC Inkishush (first)
 •  c. 2050 (Short Chronology) Tirigan (last)
Historical era Bronze Age
 •  Established c. 2154 BC
 •  Disestablished c. 2112 BC (Middle Chronology)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Akkadian Empire
Neo-Sumerian Empire
Today part of  Iraq
Map of Iraq showing important sites that were occupied by the Gutian dynasty of Sumer (clickable map)
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The Gutian dynasty came to power in Mesopotamia in the late 3rd millennium BC, displacing the "Sargonic" dynasty of the Akkadian Empire. It ruled for roughly one century (copies of the Sumerian King List vary between 25 and 4 years). The end of the Gutian period is marked by accession of Ur-Nammu, founder of the "Neo-Sumerian" Third Dynasty of Ur, dated 2112 BC in the Middle Chronology and 2048 BC in the Short Chronology.

The Gutian people (Guti) were native to Gutium, presumably in the central Zagros Mountains, though almost nothing is known about their origin


The Gutians practiced hit-and-run tactics, and would be long gone by the time regular troops could arrive to deal with the situation. Their raids crippled the economy of Sumer. Travel became unsafe, as did work in the fields, resulting in famine.

The Sumerian king list indicates that king Ur-Utu of Uruk was defeated by the barbarian Guti, perhaps around 2150 BC. The Guti swept down, defeated the demoralized Akkadian army, took Akkad, and destroyed it around 2115 BC. However, they did not supplant all of Akkad, as several independent city states remained alongside them, including Lagash, where a local dynasty still thrived and left numerous textual and archaeological remains.[1]

Ultimately Akkad was so thoroughly destroyed that its site is still not known. The Guti proved to be poor rulers. Under their crude rule, prosperity declined. They were too unaccustomed to the complexities of civilization to organize matters properly, particularly in connection with the canal network. This was allowed to sink into disrepair, with famine and death resulting. Thus, a short "dark age" swept over Mesopotamia.

Akkad bore the brunt of this as the center of the Empire, so that it was in Akkad that the Guti established their own center in place of the destroyed Akkad. Some of the Sumerian cities in the south took advantage of the distance and purchased a certain amount of self-government by paying tribute to the new rulers.

Uruk was thus able to develop a 5th dynasty. Even in the city of Akkad itself, a local dynasty was said to have ruled.[2] The best known Sumerian ruler of the Gutian period was the ensi of Lagash, Gudea. Under him, c. 2075 BC (short), Lagash had a golden age.

After a few kings, the Gutian rulers became more cultured. Guti rule lasted only about a century - around 2050 BC, they were expelled from Mesopotamia by the rulers of Uruk and Ur, when Utu-hengal of Uruk defeated Gutian king Tirigan. Utu-hengal's victory revived the political and economic life of southern Sumer.

Weidner Chronicle[edit]

1,500 years later, the Weidner Chronicle (ABC 19) accounts for the Gutian period as follows:

"Naram-Sin destroyed the people of Babylon, so twice Marduk summoned the forces of Gutium against him. Marduk gave his kingship to the Gutian force. The Gutians were unhappy people unaware how to revere the gods, ignorant of the right cultic practices.
Utu-hengal, the fisherman, caught a fish at the edge of the sea for an offering. That fish should not be offered to another god until it had been offered to Marduk, but the Gutians took the boiled fish from his hand before it was offered, so by his august command, Marduk removed the Gutian force from the rule of his land and gave it to Utu-hengal."

List of the Gutian kings[edit]

According to the Sumerian kings list, "In the army of Gutium, at first no king was famous; they were their own kings and ruled thus for 3 years." The listed reign durations through much of the Gutian period are comparatively short and uniform (6,6,6,6,5,6,3,3,3,1,3,2,2,1,2,7,7, and 7 years, from Inkishush to Si-um).

Ruler Proposed reign
(short chronology)
Erridupizir c. 2141–2138 BC Royal inscription at Nippur
Imta or Nibia c. 2138–2135 BC
Inkishush or Inkicuc c. 2135–2129 BC First Gutian ruler named on the Sumerian king list
Sarlagab or Zarlagab c. 2129–2126 BC or possibly same as Sharlag, Gutian king captured by Shar-kali-sharri of Akkad
Shulme c. 2126–2120 BC
Elulmesh or Elulumesh c. 2120–2114 BC or possibly same as Ilulu, who contended for power following Shar-kali-sharri's death
Inimabakesh c. 2114–2109 BC
Igeshaush c. 2109–2103 BC
Yarlagab c. 2103–2088 BC
Ibate c. 2088–2085 BC
Yarla or Yarlangab c. 2085–2082 BC
Kurum c. 2082–2081 BC
Apilkin c. 2081–2078 BC
La-erabum or Lasirab c. 2078–2076 BC Mace head inscription
Irarum c. 2076–2074 BC
Ibranum c. 2074–2073 BC
Hablum c. 2073–2071 BC
Puzur-Suen c. 2071–2064 BC Son of Hablum
Yarlaganda c. 2064–2057 BC Foundation inscription at Umma
Si'um or Si'u c. 2057–2050 BC Foundation inscription at Umma
Tirigan c. 2050–2050 BC Defeated by Utu-hengal of Uruk

Modern connection theories[edit]

The historical Gutian people have been regarded by some as among the ancestors of the Kurdish people,[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] who speak Kurdish languages of the Indo-European family.

According to Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, the Gutian language was close to the Tocharian languages of the Indo-European family.[10]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ De Mieroop, Marc Van. (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East: c. 3000-323 BC. (pp.67) Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  2. ^ De Mieroop, Marc Van. (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East: c. 3000-323 BC. (p.67) Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  3. ^ O'Leary, Brendan (2011-09-21). How to Get Out of Iraq with Integrity. ISBN 0812206088. 
  4. ^ Curtis, Michael (1986-01-01). The Middle East: A Reader. ISBN 9781412837798. 
  5. ^ Facts On File, Incorporated (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East. ISBN 9781438126760. 
  6. ^ Relations, Council on Foreign; Westermann, William Linn (1944). Peoples of the Near East Without a National Future. 
  7. ^ Central Asiatic Journal. 1969. 
  8. ^ Prokhorov, Aleksandr Mikhaĭlovich (1982). Great Soviet Encyclopedia. 
  9. ^ Art and Archaelogy. 1931. 
  10. ^ Гамкрелидзе Т. В., Иванов Вяч. Вс. Первые индоевропейцы на арене истории: прототохары в Передней Азии // Вестник древней истории. 1989. № 1.
  • Howorth 1901: "The Early History of Babylonia", Henry H. Howorth, The English Historical Review, Vol. 16, No. 61 (Jan. 1901), p. 1-34