Ur III, middle of Sulgi’s reign (c. 2070 B.C.E.)
Published by David I. Owen in 1981, this tablet may very well be the first extant example of a list of animals as observed in nature in an administrative text. Bird lists were used in training for young scribes for over a thousand years; yet mention of birds is scarce if not absent in administrative texts from Mesopotamia. There is a possibility that some birds became extinct between their mention in pre-Sargonic texts and the Third Dynasty of Ur.
This document shows new information about birds, eggs, and turtles, providing a rare glimpse into dietary practices of the Sumerians, as well as a link between the lexical, literary, and economic texts of the time.
Many of the lines describe animals that are not translatable. However, line 3 possibly mentions a male bird or rooster; line 4 a waterfowl; line 5 a pelican; lines 6-7 ducks. Line 32 describes thousands of turtles and turtle eggs. Turtles were in all likelihood a common food source for the people of ancient Mesopotamia.