Dr. Gösta Ingvar Gabriel

Research project

Chronicle of the Single Monarchy - Edition and interpretation

The label "Chronicle of the Single Monarchy" (a.k.a. "Sumerian King List") refers to a set of manuscripts originating from the late third to early second millennium BCE. They narrate that kingship was brought down from heaven into the first royal city at the dawn of history, and then moved from city to city, determining the course of political history. Although various versions of this narrative exist, they share a common structure and phraseology.

This research project pursues two goals, one philological and one focused on intellectual history. First, I will re-edit the Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, which is especially necessary given that many new manuscripts have been found and published since the publication of the foundational editio princeps of Thorkild Jacobsen (1939). This editing task faces the particular challenge of how to process and present textual material as diverse as the Chronicle of the Single Monarchy.

At the same time, the variety of content suggests that the Chronicle was part of an on-going and vivid discourse on the nature of history and politics. While the Chronicle's historiographical value is hard to be determined, the text does represent an important source of Mesopotamian intellectual history. This is even more true, as many other ancient Near Eastern compositions are literary dependent on the Chronicle of the Single Monarchy. Thus, the Chronicle is interwoven with, for example, the "city laments", the Sumerian Flood Epic, the disputation poem Tree and Reed, the royal hymn Urnamma C, and the Dynastic Chronicle. As a result, the second part of the project focuses on the ideas and concepts of the nature of polity and politics that are transmitted through the Chronicle of the Single Monarchy. Ultimately, this project investigates these ideas and concepts and how they were communicated.

Further research interests

  • Mesopotamian epistemic practices
  • Mesopotamian mythology
  • Development of the cuneiform writing system
  • Literature (theory)