Ilu-šūma (?-1975? BC), son of Šalim-aḫum [], was the third ruler of the so-called "Puzur-Aššur Dynasty." We know very little about this ruler. In fact, even the scribes who wrote the Assyrian King List [] (AKL) did not know the exact length of his reign. In that important chronographic text, Ilu-šūma is listed as the final member of a group of six rulers "[who(se names) appear on] bricks, (but) whose eponyms [ eponymies] are not known."

Only three texts of this ruler have been found, two in the city of Aššur and one in Nineveh. Text no. 1 is a stone fragment of what appears to have been a lock system. Text no. 2 is known from sixteen bricks. Text no. 3 is engraved on a ceremonial spear-head. Texts 1 and 2 record work on the temple of the goddess Ištar. In addition, text no. 2 reports that Ilu-šūma undertook work on Aššur's walls and wells.

The meaning of andurārum
In text nos. 1 and 2, Ilu-šūma claims to have established the "andurārum of the Akkadians".

Text no. 1 [], lines 14–16: I established the andurārum of the Akkadians

Text no. 2 [], lines 49–65: I established the andurārum of the Akkadians and their children. I washed (purified?) their copper. I established their andurārum from the front of the lagoon and Ur and Nippur, Awal and Kismar, Dēr of the god Ištarān, until the City (of Ashur).

Scholars have long debated the meaning of andurārum in these two inscriptions, as well as in a text belonging to Ilu-šūma's immediate successor Erišum I. We will take into consideration here only the most recent part of this debate, starting with the interpretations proposed by M.T. Larsen (1976); for further (earlier) investigations on the matter and relevant bibliography, see the information provided in Veenhof/Eidem 2008.

The term andurārum corresponds in Sumerian to, which literally means "return to the mother," an expression that was frequently used to indicate the liberation of slaves. Its interpretation changes according to the historical context in which the term is found. However, its primary meaning is that of restoring something to an original situation, which is directly connected to the concept of granting freedom (it derives from the Akkadian verb darāru "to move freely"; CDA s.v.; cf. Larsen 1976, 71), which can often be used with a wider sense of amnesty, as it is in Urukagina []'s reform text (Kramer 1963, 321; Schrakamp 2016, 496). In an Old Babylonian context, the term is found as part of the broader concept of mīšaram šakānum, "establishing equity" -- the manumission of slaves and the release of pledges -- through royal edicts. In the laws of Lipit-Ištar, andurārum refers to political liberation from slavery formerly imposed by unjust rulers on the inhabitants of Sumer and Akkad (Falkenstein 1950, 106f.). Earlier, Narām-Sîn of Akkad [] similarly used the term to indicate the result of his victory against the "oppressor of Kish" (Lugalzagesi of Uruk; see Wilkcke 1997, 25 J, X: 12f.; cf. Veenhof/Eidem 2008, 127, n 576).

Given that Ilu-šūma lacked sufficient military power to guarantee freedom from a hypothetical (and unattested) Akkadian oppression, the Old Assyrian context seems to suggest an interpretation of the term that is closer to the economic and, especially, trade-related aspects of society in the burgeoning Assyrian state. Larsen (1976 63-78) suggests that Ilu-šūma's andurārum was an edict aimed "to attract traders from the south to the market of Aššur by giving them certain privileges." J.G. Dercksen interprets the meaning of "washing the copper" as the ruler's self-celebratory statement about either his ability to melt and refine the copper that was brought to Aššur by the Akkadians (1996, 35) or his ability to supply the Babylonians with the copper mined at Ergani Maden and then refined in Assyrian cities (2003; see Veenhof/Eidem 2008, 126).

K. Veehnof and J. Eidem (2008, 127; see also J. Lewy, Eretz Israel 5 (1958) 23*) interpret andurārum as a term closely related to the exemption from taxes and the freedom of traffic and circulation of goods. This interpretation fits well with the development experienced by Aššur in this period, as well as with the reference to the Akkadians "and their sons (mārēšunu)," for whom the andurārum would also be effective -- a characteristic that the Old Babylonian decrees of "restoring equity" did not have, given their exceptional and temporary nature.

The occurrence of the term in Erišum I's inscriptions (Text no. 2 [] lines 15-25) seems to reflect a different context. The relevant passage reads:

When I applied myself to the work, my city obeyed me and I realized the andurārum of silver, gold, copper, tin, barley, wool, until even bran and chaff.

Erišum describes here a measure that he took as a reward to Aššur's citizens for helping him on projects in the area of the Aššur temple. Veenhof and Eidem (2008, 128) note that beside barley, wool and copper -- products of basic necessity -- the inscription also mentions silver, gold, and tin "until even bran and chaff" (see note to line 23 of that text), suggesting a meaning of andurārum as "free circulation and unrestricted barter and trade in the items mentioned. This interpretation implies that the measure was taken to further the prosperity of Aššur, in particular by stimulating a free exchange of goods." Such measures aimed to promote Aššur's role in international trade, the evidence for which is clearly attested by Assyria's prominent presence and bustling activity in the kārum of Kaneš during this ruler's reign [].


Dercksen, J.G., The Old Assyrian Copper Trade in Anatolia (PIHANS 75), Istanbul: Nederlans Historisch-Archaeologisch Institut te Instanbul, 1996.
Dercksen, J.G., 'Twee Oudassyrische koningen: Ilusjuma en Erisjum,' in: R.J. Demarée-K.R. Veenhof (eds.), Zij schreven geschiedenis. Historische documenten uit het Oude Nabije Oosten, Leiden, 2003, pp. 93-102.
Falkenstein, I., 'Das Gesetzbuch Lipit-Ištars von Isin,' OrNS 19 (1950), pp. 103-118.
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.
Kramer, S.N., The Sumerians (The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Assyrian Periods 1), Chicago-London: The University of Chicago Press, 1963.
Larsen, M.T., The Old Assyrian City-State and its Colonies, Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1976.
Schrakamp, I., 'Urukagina,' Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 14, 5-6 (2015), pp. 494-497.
Veenhof, K.R., Eidem J., Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period (Annäherungen 5), Göttingen: Academic Press Friburg. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht Göttingen, 2008.
Wilcke, C., 'Amar-girids Revolte gegen Narām Su'en,' ZA 87 (1997), pp. 11-32.

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Nathan Morello

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

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