Girsu and Eshnunna

One of my primary concerns with designing my palace has been the lack of structural starting point at the location of my choosing – the city of Girsu of the Lagash Kingdom has very little for me to work off of in regards to structural remains. This blog post aims to detail my intentions regarding designing the structure of my palace, while also informing on my beginning findings regarding artistic influences and my more decorative plans for the site.

Professor Walsh suggested on Monday that I might look towards the royal palace of Eshnunna for structural palace ideas. I’ve discussed in my prior posts the possibility that the palace at Girsu created by Gudea might have been quite religious in nature – Gudea himself built many temples to the city god Ningirsu, and it would not have been uncommon based on the culture of the Lagash kingdom at the time. The palace at Eshnunna was made up of two distinct (but connected) structures: the Palace of the Rulers and the Shu-Sin Temple. It’s believed the temple portion of the structure was built first, and the residence section shortly thereafter. The palace of Eshnunna was likely built after 2000 BC, and its creation is accredited to the city-ruler Ituria (who worshiped the divine Shu-Sin). Although there would certainly be differences between the palace of Eshnunna and the palace of Girsu – with Gudea’s palace at Girsu being built a hundred or more years before Ituria’s at Eshnunna – I believe there might have been similarities between Gudea and Ituria’s stance on the dynamic that existed between the royal and the divine. I’ve explored this potential dynamic that rulers of Mesopotamia might have had with divinity in my past blog posts, with important references to the texts Gudea and his Dynasty and A History of the Ancient Near East. That said, the potential that this dynamic still existed between Ituria and his city-god Shu-Sin is entirely possible, and this is why I hope to pull from Ituria’s dual temple-palace in order to structure Gudea’s own. With this in mind, it is likely that I will design Gudea’s palace with two separate “sections” in mind – a temple piece, and a residential piece – as seen in the designs below.

Extremely small image of the palace at Eshnunna; note that the square structure with the larger walls marks the Shu-Sin Temple and the rest of the structure is the Palace of the Rulers.

Professor Walsh’s slide of the palace of Eshnunna, taken from Monday’s powerpoint.

Although I’ve been much more focused on figuring out palace structure, I’ve also spent the past week thinking about potential artistic influences Gudea’s palace might have had, as well as any decorative features that his palace would have included. It’s notable that although knowledge of the structure of Gudea’s palace may not be available to us, there is a wealth of knowledge that we know about his reign thanks to a variety of statues and other artefacts that have been uncovered at Girsu. Features such as two large cylinders covered in cuneiform, as well as the statues of Gudea himself, are among the most interesting to me. Gudea and his Dynasty discuss many of these references to Gudea’s reign, and it’s accepted that many of the inscriptions left in his name detail his honoring of his city god, Ningirsu. Such features have no structural importance, yet were doubtless found throughout Gudea’s palace (and the temples that he dedicated to Ningirsu). Though I have yet to read through it, the book For the Gods of Girsu: City-State Formation in Ancient Sumer will likely be exceedingly helpful in helping me to continue exploring these sorts of deity dedicated features. This next week I hope to focus mainly on furthering my knowledge in this area of temple/palace life, in order to understand particular artistic influences and features that I might be able to realistically employ in my palace for Gudea as well.

Statue of Gudea.

Cylinders of Gudea.

Alainey Hellman


Edzard, Sibylle, and Dietz Otto Edzard. Gudea and his Dynasty. Vol. 1. University of Toronto Press, 1997.

Van de Mieroop, Marc. A History of the Ancient Near East, Ca. 3000-323 BC. Vol. Third edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2016. EBSCOhost.

Though not explicitly referenced, I used the following source for much of my information on Ituria’s palace at Eshnunna:

Reichel, Clemens. “The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.” Political Change and Cultural Continuity in Eshnunna from the Ur III to the Old Babylonian Period | The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1996,