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Malgium is located in Iraq
Shown within Iraq
Alternative nameTulūl al-Fāj / Tell Yassir
Coordinates32°33′41″N 45°6′0″E / 32.56139°N 45.10000°E / 32.56139; 45.10000
PeriodsBronze Age
CulturesOld Babylonian
Site notes
Excavation dates2018
ArchaeologistsAbbas Al-Hussainy
Public accessYes

Malgium (also Malkum) (Ĝalgi’a or Ĝalgu’a in Sumerian, and Malgû(m) in Akkadian) is an ancient Mesopotamian city tentatively identified as Tell Yassir (one of a group of tells called collectively Tulūl al-Fāj) which thrived especially in the Middle Bronze Age, ca. 2000 BC - 1600 BC.[1] Malgium formed a small city-state in an area where the edges of the territories controlled by Larsa, Babylon and Elam converged.[2] Inscribed in cuneiform as ma-al-gi-imKI, its chief deities were Ea (whose temple was called Enamtila) and Damkina.[3][4] A temple of Ulmašītum is known to have been there.[5] There was also a temple to the goddess Bēlet-ilī called Ekitusgestu as well as a temple to the god Anum.[1]


The site of Tell Yassir is a single mound covering around 15 hectares. It is one of a group of tells collectively called Tulūl al-Fāj which have now been identified as the location of Malgium. After the 2003 invasion Iraqi archaeologists with the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage conducted a surface survey at Tell Yassir and found that the site was heavily looted, to the extent that administrative and palatial structures visible from earlier satellite images could no longer be found. Along with pottery shards a number of inscribed bricks were found including those of Ur III rulers (Shulgi and Shu-Suen) and rulers of Malgium and declared Tell Yassir as the site of Malgium though this was not universally accepted.[6] The site of Tell al-Baghdadya has also been suggested.[7] An example brick inscription:

In 2017 Iraqi archaeologists, led by Abbas Al-Hussainy of the University of Al-Qadisiyah began an archaeological survey of an area east of the Euphrates. This team worked at Tulūl al-Fāj (the group of tells including Tell Yassir) in 2019. During this survey about 50 inscribed bricks or Malgium rulers were found, with 48 of the inscriptions being stamped. One of the stamped bricks, from ruler Tulūl al-Fāj, also contained a handwritten inscriptions.[9]

The site was also visited several times beginning in 2018 by an Italian team from the University of Venice led by Lucio Milano though as yet no results from this have been published.


Inscribed clay nail of Ipik-Ishtar, king of Malgium, 1770 BCE. From Malgium, Iraq. Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin

Three of its rulers have been identified with certainty, through attestation in their inscriptions as šàr (lugal) ma-al-gi-imki, dTakil-ilissu, son of Ištaran-asû,[10] Imgur-Sin, son of Ili-abi, and, probably the last one, dIpiq-Ištar, son of Apil-Ilišu, a contemporary of Ḫammu-rāpi of Babylon, who celebrated conflict with the city in two of his year names (10 and 35).[11][12] A further three rulers have been proposed, Šu-Kakka, Nabi-Enlil (son of Šu-Kakka) and Šu-Amurrum (son of Nabi-Enlil), three generations of a dynasty, based upon Šu-Kakka’s year name honoring the goddess Damkina and seal impressions.[13] Their absolute position is uncertain but they seem to have reigned from the immediate aftermath of the downfall of the Ur III empire.[3] Cuneiform tablets from the city of Irisaĝrig (now believed to be the nearby Tell al-Wilayah), now published, show that Malgium conquered that city roughly after year 10 of Ibbi-Sin, the last ruler of the Ur III empire. The tablets also included year names showing that kings Nur-Eštar (previously unknown), Šu-Kakka, Nabi-Enlil, Šu-Amurrum, Imgur-Sin, and Ištaran-asu ruled over Irisaĝrig.[14][15]

The kings of Larsa targeted Malgium in their pursuit of territorial expansion with Gungunum celebrating its defeat in his 19th year name "Year on the orders of An, Enlil and Nanna (the army of) Malgium was defeated by weapons ...", circa 1914 BC,[3] Sin-Iddinam its defeat in his 5th year name ca. 1844 and Warad-Sîn commemorated mu ugnim mà-al-gu-umki gištukul ba(-an)-sìg, “Year : the army? of Malgium was smitten by weapons”, ca. 1831 BC.[16] Ḫammu-rāpi, in a coalition with Shamshi-Adad I (of Ekallatum)and Ibal-pi-El II (of Eshnunna), campaigned against the city-state until its ruler bought them off with 15 talents of silver. Malgium’s king, Ipiq-Ištar, concluded a treaty and subsequently provided aid and soldiers in Ḫammu-rāpi’s campaign against Larsa. After years of conflict, Ḫammu-rāpi destroyed the city walls of Malgium in his 35th year of reign denoting that year as "Year in which Hammu-rabi the king by the orders of An and Enlil destroyed the city walls of Mari and Malgium".[2]

Malgium is also mentioned in the literary composition "Cuthean Legend of Naram-Sin" ie "He has summoned against me a mighty foe. [. . . ] battle against me as far as Malgium."[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b Douglas Frayne (1990). Old Babylonian Period (2003-1595 BC): Early Periods, Volume 4 (RIM The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia). University of Toronto Press. pp. 668–670.
  2. ^ a b Trevor Bryce (2009). The Routledge Handbook of The Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia. Routledge. pp. 441–442.
  3. ^ a b c Rients de Boer (2013). "An Early Old Babylonian Archive from the Kingdom of Malgium?". Journal Asiatique. 301 (1): 19–25.
  4. ^ Kutscher, R., "Malgium", RlA 7/3–4, pp. 300–304, 1988
  5. ^ Watanabe, Chikako E., "The symbolic role of animals in Babylon: a contextual approach to the lion, the bull and the mušḫuššu", Iraq, vol. 77, pp. 215–24, 2015
  6. ^ Ahmed Ali Jawad, Barhan Abd Al-Reza, Ali Jabarat Nasir, Ahmed Abbas As’id, "The Discovery of the Location of Malgium (Tell Yassir)", Sumer 65, pp. 63–91, 2019 (in arabic)
  7. ^ Mohammed, Ahmed Kamil, "A New Text from Tell Sulayma — Diyala Region", Interdisciplinary research on the Bronze Age Diyala, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, pp. 63-72, 2021
  8. ^ Ahmed Ali Jawad, Barhan Abd Al-Reza, Ali Jabarat Nasir, Ahmed Abbas As’id, and Rients de Boer (2020). "The Discovery of the Location of Malgium (Tell Yassir)". Journal of Cuneiform Studies. 72. American Schools of Oriental Research: 65–86. doi:10.1086/709308. S2CID 224834784.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Al-Hussainy, Abbas, Jawdat, Jacob and Marchesi, Gianni. "New Inscribed Bricks of Takil-ilissu, King of Malgûm" Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, 2023
  10. ^ Thorkild Jacobsen (1939). "The Inscription of Takil-ili-su of Malgium". Archiv für Orientforschung. 12: 364. JSTOR 41680358.
  11. ^ R. de Boer, "Another New King of Malgium: Imgur-Sin, son of Ili-abi", NABU 2013/7, 2013
  12. ^ Földi, Z. J., "Eine Urkunde mit einem neuen Jahresnamen des Königs Imgur-Sin von Malgium", NABU 2020
  13. ^ Mayr, R. H., "Seal Impressions on Administrative Tags from the Reign of Šu-Amurru", in: T. Boiy [e. a.] (ed.), The Ancient Near East, A Life! Festschrift Karel Van Lerberghe, OLA 220. Leuven, pp. 409–42, 2012
  14. ^ Ozaki, Tohru, Sigrist, Marcel and Steinkeller, Piotr, "New Light on the History of Irisaĝrig in Post-Ur III Times", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 111, no. 1, pp. 28-37, 2021
  15. ^ [1] Archived 2023-08-01 at the Wayback MachineColonna d’Istria, L., "Noms d’annés de rois du Malgium sur quelques étiquettes", NABU 2020/10, pp. 17-23, 2020
  16. ^ Kathleen Abraham (2008). "New Evidence for Warad-Sîn's Mu-Malgium-Basig ('The Destruction of Malgium') Year Name". Revue d'Assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale. 102: 29. JSTOR 23281366.
  17. ^ Finkelstein, J. J., "The So-Called ‘Old Babylonian Kutha Legend.’", Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 83–88, 1957

Further reading

  • de Boer, Rients, "Malgum, A Synthesis", Journal of Cuneiform Studies 75.1, pp. 13-26, 2023
  • Boer, Rients de., "From the Yaḫrūrum Šaplûm archives: the administration of harvest labor undertaken by soldiers from Uruk and Malgium", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie 106.2, pp. 138-174, 2016
  • Kutscher, R./C. Wilcke, "Eine Ziegel-Inschrift des Königs Takil-iliśśu von Malgium, gefunden in Isin und Yale", ZA 68, pp. 95-128, 1978
  • Wilcke, Claus, "Ein dritter Backstein mit der großen Inschrift des Königs Takil-ilissu von Malgûm und der Tonnagel des Ipiq-Ištar", At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of J. N. Postgate, edited by Yağmur Heffron, Adam Stone and Martin Worthington, University Park, USA: Penn State University Press, pp. 737-752, 2017
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