Erišum I

Erišum I (ca. 1974-1935) was the fourth ruler belonging to the so-called "Puzur-Aššur Dynasty"; he succeeded his father Ilu-šūma [] as "vice-regent of (the god) Aššur" (text nos. 1 [] and 14 []). Moreover, he was the earliest ruler of the city of Aššur for whom several inscriptions are extant; at least seventeen texts of his are known today. In Akkadian sources, his name -- which is probably a nominalization of the verbal form ēriš "he desired" -- is spelled in two ways: with an initial /e/ (e-ri-šum) or with an initial /i/ (i-ri-šum, i-ri-šu-um). The latter is more common in his own inscriptions (see Hirsch 1972, Nachträge 4b; Veenhof 2003, 40 n. 55). In addition to his own inscriptions, Erišum is mentioned in the Old Assyrian Kültepe Eponym List (KEL; Veenhof 2003) and in several later texts, for example, the Assyrian King List [] (AKL; Gelb 1954, 212 i 27; 213 i 26) and inscriptions of a few Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian kings (see Samsī-Addu I text nos. 1 [] and 3 []; Shalmaneser I texs nos. 1 [] and 2 []; Aššur-reša-iši I text no. 11 []; and Esarhaddon text no. 57 []). During his remarkably long reign (forty years), Erišum appears to have been an attentive ruler, in both the administration and reorganization of Assyrian society. He was also an active builder.

It seems that the institution of the līmu [] or eponym (Veenhof 2003, 20-22) was founded during Erišum's reign (ca. 1970). Every year, the position of līmu-official was held by a different citizen of Aššur, usually a member of the aristocracy, and in Assyria, years were counted/marked by the names of the eponym-holders [] rather than regnal years, in the Babylonian fashion. This official functioned as the head of the city's main administrative bureau, the "City Hall" (bīt ālim or "Office of the Eponym" bīt līmim) and stood as a counterpart to the City Assembly (puḫrum, but more frequently simply ālum, the city's decision-making body) and its executive officer, the ruler (waklum/iššiak Aššur) himself (Larsen 2015, 122-123).

Furthermore, the main phase of Old Assyrian trade in Anatolia, with its most important center in kārum Kaneš (mod. Kültepe), is thought to have been inaugurated and primarily developed by Erišum (Veenhof 2003, 40; s. also Dercksen 2008, 112, who ascribes the beginning of Assyrian trade to Erišum's father Ilu-šūma []). A seal with Erišum's name and genealogy, found at Level II in Kaneš (case fragment Kt 83/k 246 []), strongly suggests the presence of Assyrian traders in the kārum during his reign (Veenhof 2003, 41).

Erišum's inscriptions celebrate his building enterprises (see introductions to text nos. 1 [], 2 [], and 14 []), especially his work on the Aššur Temple (text nos. 1-14 [,Q005622,Q005623,Q005624,Q005625,Q005626,Q005627,Q005628,Q005629,Q005630,Q005631,Q005632,Q005633,Q005634/]) and its annexes, the Mušlalum (or "Step") Gate (text nos. 1 [] and 4 []), the city wall (text no. 2 []), and the Adad Temple (text nos. 14-15 [,Q005635/]). These activities are confirmed by later Assyrian kings, who suggest that they found inscriptions of his. One text mentions addurāru, or tax exemption, for the city of Aššur (text no. 2 []); for details, see the introduction to Ilu-šūma []).


Dercksen, J.G. , 'The Assyrian colony at Kanesh,' in: G. Wilhelm (ed.), Ḫattuša – Boğazköy. Das Hethiterreich im Spannungsfeld des Alten Orients 6. Internationales Colloquium der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 22.–24. März 2006, Würzburg: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2008, pp. 109-124.
Frahm, E., 'Ērišum,' in: K. Radner (ed.), The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Volume 1, Part II: A, Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 1998, p. 404.
Galter, H.D., 'Textanalyse assyrischer Königsinschriften: die Puzur-Aššur-Dynastie,' State Archives of Assyria Bulletin 12/1 (1998), pp. 1-38.
Garelli, P., 'Irišum,' Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 5 (1976-80), pp. 162-164.
Gelb, I. J., 'Two Assyrian King Lists,' Journal of Near East Studies 13 (1954), pp. 209-230.
Grayson, A.K., Assyrian Rulers of the Third and Second Millennia BC (to 1115 BC) (The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Assyrian Periods 1), Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987.
Hirsch, H.E., Untersuchungen zur altassyrischen Religion (Archiv für Orientforschung Beihefte 13/14), Osnabrück: Biblio-Verlag, 1972.
Larsen, M.T., The Old Assyrian City-State and its Colonies, Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1976.
Larsen, M.T., Assyrian Kanesh: a Merchant Colony in Bronze Age Anatolia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Veenhof, K.R., The Old Assyrian List of Year Eponyms from Karum Kanish and its Chronological Implications, Ankara: Turkish Historical Society, 2003, pp. 40, 3–10.
Yamada, S., 'The Editorial History oft he Assyerian King List,' Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 84 (1994), pp. 11-37.

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Nathan Morello

Nathan Morello, 'Erišum I', The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo) Project, The RIAo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 []

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