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King of Isin
Reign1805–1799 BC
House1st Dynasty of Isin

Erra-Imittī, (cuneiform: dèr-ra-i-mit-ti[i 1] or èr-ra-ZAG.LU[i 2] meaning “Support of Erra[1]) ca. 1805–1799 BC (short chronology) or ca. 1868–1861 BC (middle chronology),[2] was king of Isin, modern Ishan al-Bahriyat, and according to the Sumerian King List ruled for eight years. He succeeded Lipit-Enlil, with whom his relationship is uncertain and was a contemporary and rival of Sūmû-El and Nūr-Adad of the parallel dynasty of Larsa. He is best known for the legendary tale of his demise, Shaffer’s “gastronomic mishap”.[3]


He seems to have recovered control of Nippur from Larsa early in his reign but perhaps lost it again, as its recovery is celebrated again by his successor. The later regnal year-names offer some glimmer of events, for example “the year following the year Erra-Imittī seized Kisurra"[nb 1] (the modern site of Abū-Ḥaṭab) for the date of a receipt for a bridal gift and “the year Erra-Imittī destroyed the city wall of Kazallu,”[nb 2][4] a city allied with Larsa and antagonistic to Isin and its ally, Babylon. His conquest of Kisurra would have been a significant escalation of hostilities against Isin's rival Larsa.[5] A haematite cylinder seal[i 3] of his servant and scribe Iliška-uṭul, son of Sîn-ennam, has come to light from this city, suggesting prolonged occupation.[6] The latest attested year-name gives the year he built the city wall of gan-x-Erra-Imittī, perhaps an eponymous new town.

When the omens predicted impending doom for a monarch, it was customary to appoint a substitute as a "statue though animate",[nb 3] a scape-goat who stood in the place of the king but did not exercise power for a hundred days to deflect the disaster, at the end of which the proxy and his spouse would be ritually slaughtered and the king would resume his throne.[7] The Chronicle of Early Kings[i 2] relates that:

dÈr-ar-zà.dib lugal dEn-l íl-dù nu.kiri6
a-na nu nì.sag.gile ina giššú ú-še-šib
aga lugalti-šú ina sag.du-šú iš-ta-kan
dÈr-ra-i-mit-ti ina é.gal-šú pap-pa-su im-me-tú in sa-ra-pi-šú im-tu-ut
dEn-l íl-dù šá in giš ú-ši-bi ul it-biim-tu-ut
a-na lugal ú-tiit-taš-kan

Translation: King Erra-imittī ordered Enlil-bâni, the gardener, to sit on the throne as a royal substitute (and) put the crown of kingship on his head. Erra-imittī died in his palace while swallowing hot porridge[nb 4] in little sips. Enlil-bâni, who sat on the throne, did not resign and was elevated to the royal office.[8]

— Chronicle of early kings, after Glassner but with correction

Presumably his error was to remain in the palace while the substitute ceremony was conducted. While the tale may be apocryphal, it provides a literary demarcation between dynasties.[9] He was succeeded by Ikūn-pî-Ištar, according to two variant copies of the Sumerian King List, or Enlil-bâni, if the other sources are correct.[8]


  1. ^ Ur-Isin King List 14.
  2. ^ a b Chronicle of Early Kings (ABC 20) A 31 to 36 and repeated as B 1 to 7.
  3. ^ Cylinder seal BM 130695.


  1. ^ BM 85348: mu ús-sa ki-sur-raki dÌr-ra-i-mi-ti ba-an-dib.
  2. ^ YOS 14 319: mu dÌr-ra-i-mi-ti bàd ka-zal-luki ba-gal.
  3. ^ NU-NÍG-SAG-ÍL-e.
  4. ^ pappasu = a porridge, in CAD “p” vol. 12 (2005), p. 111, other translators say soup or broth.


  1. ^ Imittu D in CAD i-j p. 126b “support”
  2. ^ D. O. Edzard (1999). Erich Ebeling, Bruno Meissner (ed.). Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie: Ia - Kizzuwatna. Vol. 5. Walter De Gruyter Inc. p. 170.
  3. ^ Aaron Shaffer (1974). "Enlilbani and the 'Dog House' in Isin". Journal of Cuneiform Studies. 26 (4): 251. JSTOR 1359444.
  4. ^ Anne Goddeeris (2009). Tablets from Kisurra in the Collections of British Museum. Harrassowitz. p. 16.
  5. ^ Trevor Bryce (2009). The Routledge Handbook of The Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia. Routledge. p. 391.
  6. ^ Douglas Frayne (1990). Old Babylonian Period (2003-1595 B.C.): Early Periods, Volume 4. University of Toronto Press. p. 76.
  7. ^ Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat (1998). Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Greenwood Press. p. 189.
  8. ^ a b Jean-Jacques Glassner (2005). Mesopotamian Chronicles. SBL. p. 271.
  9. ^ William W. Hallo (1990). "The Limits of Skepticism". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 110 (2): 189. JSTOR 604525.
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