Friday Dec 23, 2022

35: Shuruppak & the world’s first literature, 2600-2500 BCE (Instructions of Shuruppak)

Guest: Lily

First: the world's oldest known wisdom literature, in the form of a series of proverbs delivered from the eponymous Shuruppak (king of Shuruppak) to his son Zi-ud-sura (alias Utnapishtim, the Noah figure from the Sumerian flood myth). Only insults and stupid speaking receive the attention of the Land!

Then we visit the city of Shuruppak, in central Sumer. After a quick look at its early administration during the Jemdet Nasr and "Archaic" periods, we introduce the Fara period (roughly 2600-2450 BCE), a phase in the development of cuneiform writing that more or less corresponds to the Early Dynastic IIIA period. Most importantly, we have literature now! 

Then, we look at Shuruppak's place in the world, including the copious evidence for intensive trade with the broader region. What was its relation to the "city league"? Was it part of the kingdom of Kish? Who destroyed Shuruppak, and why?

Then: more proverbs from Shuruppak of Shuruppak. You should not beat a farmer's son; he has constructed your embankments and ditches!

Questions? Feedback? Email us at

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @drumbeatforever

Works cited

Comments (0)

To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or

No Comments

Copyright 2021 All rights reserved.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Version: 20221013