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Lamb, Mutton, and Goat in the Babylonian Temple Economy

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In the mid-first millennium B.C.E., the Eanna temple of Uruk distributed the meat of sheep and goats to its associates and dependents. The meat of post-sacrificial lambs went to the Eanna’s prebend holding elite, while others received the meat of goats and older sheep without ceremony and on the hoof. Many assume this latter distribution worked to supply the Eanna’s lowest classes with substandard meat. I argue, instead, that there was nothing inherently substandard about this meat; moreover, there is little evidence that it was intended for the Eanna’s lowest classes. This paper then explores the distribution of meat to the Eanna’s sub-elite, especially in place of temple rations and payments of silver.


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