Lettres royales du temps de Zimri-Lim
Archives Royales de Mari 28.
Paris: Éditions Recherches sur les Civilisations.
Two individuals who appear in these letters are qualified as man of Urkesh, Terru and Haziran. We have several letters written directly by Terru to Zimri-Lim. From the context, we may safely assume that Terru was the 'king' of Urkesh, even though neither the term LUGAL nor the term endan is attested for him. It is possible that Haziran, too, may be considered a king of Urkesh, but with a higher degree of uncertainty.
Note that the writing of the geographical name Urkesh occurs 20 times with the sign GI, and only once with the sign KI (113:10). The following sign is either IŠ or ŠA. Contrary to what might seem at first, this writing confirms the reading 'Urkesh' rather than 'Urkish', because in Hurrian orthography (as known from the Mittani letter found at Amarna) the two signs KI / GI render the phonemic opposition /Ki/ ~ /Ke/ (see Giorgeri 2000, p. 181 and 182). Accordingly, the name will be here transliterated Ur-ke2-eš15.KI. This implies that even in letters written in Akkadian, the scribes respected Hurrian conventions when referring to Urkesh.
Letters 44-46 are from Terru (Te-er-ru) who identifies himself simply as your servant in letters addressed to Zimri-Lim of Mari.
In letter 98:24f (a letter from Ili-Sumu of Ashnakkum to Zimri-Lim), Terru is identified as the man of Urkesh (LU2 Ur-ke2-eš15.KI).
From letter 44bis:16 it appears that Shadum-laba of Ashnakkum is the master (be-li2-ka, in Zimri-Lim's words) of Terru. This suggests the following hierarchy: Zimri-Lim of Mari as overlord; Shadum-laba of Ashnakkum as intermediate suzerain; and Terru of Urkesh as a second degree vassal king.
At some point, Terru seems to be in control of Ashnakkum (44:30f; 98:24-34), but probably only on a temporary basis and on behalf of the eventual legitimate ruler.
Haziran is mentioned in a letter of Ibal-Addu of Ashlakka (69:4). The events may be reconstructed as follows: Zimri-Lim goes to Ashlakka, where he meets with the local king (Ibal-Addu), with Haziran man of Urkesh (LU2 Ur-ke2-eš15.KI) and with Yansib-Hadnu his servant (i.e., the servant of Zimri-Lim). Some men of Ashlakka had been captured at Hummatum, and are detained in Urkesh: Zimri-Lim now orders their release. Yansib-Hadnu and Haziran go to Urkesh where an assembly is held, and the people of Urkesh LU2.MEŠ Ur-ke2-ša-yu.KI) agree to let the captives go. Yansib-Hadnu (who is mentioned in first place when he and Haziran are said to go to Urkesh) may have acted as a royal prefect, much like the one that Terru asks for to protect the rights of the Urkesh homesteaders (see presently). Such a link with a presumed royal prefect would suggest that Haziran ruled as king in Urkesh, but needed the support of a prefect (as Terru does as well) to confront the assembly of his own people.
Also of interest is the seemingly independent role that the people of Urkesh play in relationship to Terru. The terms used are:
–the city of Urkesh, a-lum Ur-ke2-eš15.KI (44bis:21);
–the sons of my city, DUMU.MEŠ a-li-ia (44bis:8);
–the men of Urkesh, LU2.MEŠ Ur-ke2-ša-yu.KI (69:9, a letter from Ashlakka;105:7'; 107:4' a letter from Ashnakkum);
–the elders of Urkesh, LU2.ŠU.GI.MEŠ Ur-ke2-eš15.KI;
–the ḫabiru, are assembled in Urkesh (100:22f, from Ahnakkum);
–assembly, puḫrum and related verb (69:9 from Ashlakka; 99:12' from Ashnakkum, used as a collective, with the verb īpulū in the plural; 100:12' from Ashnakkum; 113:10 from Shuduhum);
–Urkesh alone, referring to the population of the city as a whole, is found in 48:59 (from Ashlakka); 98:17 (from Ashnakkum; used as a collective, with the verb ilqū in the plural); 105:4', 30' (from Ashnakkum); possibly 140:17 (from Qa’a and Ishqa, though here the name of Urkesh may simply refer to the place, not to the inhabitants).
This independence is often expressed as outright hostility, against Terru and others, using the expressions nakrū, to be enemy (48:61), izērū, they hate (44bis:20), ittīya ul idabbubū, they do not speak with me (105:8'), lemnētim idabbubū, they speak evil things (107:7).
Conversely, Terru shows concern for the protection of the Urkesh homesteads [E2.ḪI.A mu-uš2-ke-nim), a protection that he expects to be forthcoming through a royal prefect (ḫaṣṣiānum), 45:10.6'].
[Giorgio Buccellati – June 2002]