|Uruk IV||3200-3100||emergence of writing,
|6000 tablets, mostly from Uruk.
(ED) I, II
|ED III (Fara)||2600-2450||literature||multiplication table, geometrical exercises, 'division' problems.|
|ED III (Pre-Sargonic)||2450-2350||mix of archaic and
|2350-2200||first empire||About a dozen exercise tablets.|
|Ur III||2100-2000||state control||c. 100000 tablets, about 45000 published,
mostly economic documents.
There are many problems with third millennium chronology. Where the
sources are abundant, we often have a detailed and precise relative chronology,
without necessarily being able to translate this into a secure absolute chronology.
That is, we know what order events happened and how long they took, but we
may not be able to assign dates in our dating system. Of course, for
those periods where we have few primary sources, an absolute chronology can
be even more difficult to obtain. In addition to the problems of dating,
periodization in third millennium Mesopotamia is complicated by the varying
terminology and concerns coming from different disciplines: there are archaeological
levels and type-sites; historical periods derived from literature and political
and economic documents, and linguistic periods determined by philological
criteria. The table above is intended to give only an approximate and
outline periodization, sufficient for the purposes of this survey.
A good recent discussion of some of the problems in Near Eastern chronology,
accompanied by many references, is in A. Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East
c. 3000-330 BC, Routledge, 1995, pp. 8-72.
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