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The Early Sumerian Agrarian Economy

 

Dr K.Loganathan, 2003

 

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One of the things that really puzzles me is the reluctance of scholars, including the Tamil scholars to accept that Sumerian is Archaic Tamil and hence it is quite legitimate to talk of SumeroTamil. I have studied nearly 20 literary texts, each running to hundreds of lines in Sumerian transliterated and translated by Sumeriologists and without any reference to Dravidian. But despite this the Tamil character of Sumerian comes through quite clearly and where with a little correction and reconstruction a form very close to Tamil is discovered.

 

The following lines contain some such words and which also describe in non-mythical but natural language the economic organization of the Sumerian society which already enjoyed cities even as way back as 3000 BC, the date of this text.

 

The key terms are ‘ uru tur-re” the small townships (perhaps the villages) and ‘uru mah-e”, the great townships, the cities proper and where it is undeniable that both terms are Tamil for the key words, uuru, tur, maa are still in use. The Su. tur has several senses where the root meaning is ‘small’ and which is retained in Ta. turumbu while the derivative and metaphorical applications in sense of ‘despicable, unsavory, evil’ and so forth are also available as the Ta. tur (as in tur naaRRam: despicable smell) and as Ta. tun (as in tun maarkkam: evil ways). The Su. mah still exists as Ta. maa and Sk. maha with the same meaning.

 

These terms, interestingly enough, are retained even now .  while the ‘ uru-tur-re’ is rendered as ‘ciRRuur’ ( < ciRu uur : small uur), ‘uru mah’ as ‘peeruur’ ( (<peer uur : big uur) where the ‘uru’ and tur and mah replaced with ciRu and Peer which carry the same meanings. Also note Akkadian; sihru: small)

 

The main economic issue here is that the villages seems to be a place for the cattle raising of the Lugal, the chieftains (lit. big man) who were city dwellers:

 

 

186.

 

uru tur-re lugal-bi-ir gud si-in-ga-an-u-tu ( The little city creates cattle for its king)

 

Ta. uuru turree uLugaLbiyin koodu    iin kannu uti ( “)

 

Here we can understand “ gud si-in-ga-an-u-tu” as  Ta. koodu iin kannu uti : to raise the calves ( kannu)  given birth to by the cows (koodu uti). Thus it appears the main wealth of the rich including the kings is cattle and that there were  little villages outside the main cities especially meant for cattle raising. It should be noted here that in Tamil the word ‘maadu” means both cattle as well as wealth.

 

In contrast to this the big cities appear to have been  full of planned  streets, canal  and houses:

 

uru mah-e e du id hur-re ( The huge city builds houses and digs canals)

 

Ta. uuru maavee il edu iidu kurree ( “)

 

Perhaps while the cities were agricultural centers where irrigated fields were in the immediate outskirts, the villages were not so and were mainly for animal husbandry with the raising of cattle constituting the main activity

 

Now another important observation that makes immense sense is that it is the need for cereal food that brings the hill tribes ( 183:lu kur-ra : uLu kunRa, uLu kunna) and foreigners (184: lu bar-ra : Ta. uLu paran) along with traitors(?) ( lu lul : uLu uuzal) to the cities. Perhaps these are the people who are called the poor (189. lu nu nig-to-ku : Ta. uLu naa nika toku) and to whom the rich ( lu nig.to-ku) give a little perhaps as alms.

 

lu nig.tuku lu nig nu-tuku  gig se-im-gar ( The rich man provides wheat for the poor man)

 

Ta. uLu nik.a.toku uLu  nik.a naatoku  kai see kaar.im ( The rich man gives a little wheat for the poor man)

 

Here the ‘nig’ which is of wide occurrence in Sumerian,  may the root of Ta. nikamam, the shopping centers in CaGkam Tamil perhaps with the literal meaning of a place full of merchandise( nig.a) and to which the Malay ber-niaga : to trade,  may be related. The Tamil naagar may also be a corrupted version of ‘niagar”  meaning ‘traders’

 

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 Suruppak’s NeRi:

 

183.

 

ninda-e lu kur-ra bi-in--e-de (Bread causes the mountaineers come down)

 

Ta. nintamee uLu kunRa biiyin eeyidee ( The need for food causes the hill tribes to come down )

 

ninda Ta./Sk  nivantam : food offrings to the gods.

 

bi-in : Ta. biiyin> viiyin> vayin (?) : Here the bi> vii, vai may be causative while ‘in’ a tense marker.

 

e-de: Ta. ey idee :  to attain.

 

184.

 

lu-lul lu-bar-ra bi-in-tum-me ( It brings traitors and foreigners along)

 

Ta. uLu.uuzal uLu para biiyin tummee ( “ )

 

lu-lul : Ta. uuzal : false and unrealiable, corrupted. Perhaps derived from uzal: to roam, circulate

 

lu-bar-ra : Ta. para(n) ; an alien, foreigner; Ta. puRam : outside, external

 

tum-me : Ta. tubbee : to spit out, to eject

 

185.

 

ninda-e lu kur-ta im-ma-da-ra-an-e-de ( Bread causes men come down from the mountain)

 

Ta. nintavee uLu kunRattu imma taraN.i eeyidu ( Bread causes people to come down from mountains to the plains)

 

im-ma : Ta. imma , ivva : this, here

 

da-ra-an : Ta. taraNi : land, world. Also see Ta. tarai: land

 

186.

 

uru tur-re lugal-bi-ir gud si-in-ga-an-u-tu ( The little city creates cattle for its king)

 

Ta. uuru turree uLugaLbiyin koodu  kan.Ru  icin. uti ( “)

 

uru tur-re : Ta. uuru tur.ree ; Ta. tur, tun: small

 

gud Ta. koodu, koo : cattle

 

ga-an : Ta. kannu, kanRu ; calfs; in general the young of animals

 

u-tu : Ta. utu, uti: arise, emerge

 

187.

 

uru mah-e e du id hur-re ( The huge city builds houses and dig canals)

 

Ta. uuru maavee il edu iidu kurree ( “)

 

uru mah-e :Ta. maa: great, big etc

 

e du : Ta. il edu: build houses

 

id Ta.  iidu > oodai: stream

 

hur-re : Ta. kullee : to dig out

 

188.

 

[. . . .][x]-ke a su-du-du ( [The rich man(?)] is well equipped )

 

Ta.  [. . . .][x]-ke aal suudu.idu  ( [The rich man(?) ] is powerful)

 

a:  Ta. aal: power

 

su-du-du : Ta. cuudidu : to adorn oneself with

 

189.

 

lu nig.tuku lu nig nu-tuku  gig se-im-gar ( The rich man provides wheat for the poor man)

 

Ta. uLu nik.a.toku uLu  nik.a naatoku  kai see kaar.im ( The rich man gives a little wheat for the poor man)

 

Nig.tuku : Ta. nika toku : to gather or pile up properties. See Ta. nikamam : shops, store houses

 

Gig : Ta. kai : a little

 

Se : Ta. cii,( as in ari.ci), cembu etc: grains like rice wheat etc

 

Gar : Ta. kaal: to place

 

 

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