By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
According to Inscriptions, the chief god Enlil had demarcated the Lagash-Umma border in the gu'edena (edge of the plain), and the Kish king Mesalim (~2600 BC) measured it out and set up a boundary marker. Thus, outside arbitration of conflicts had begun early in the Early Dynastic era. Though the boundary had been established, whenever Lagash was powerful enough it would seek to claim the gu'edena. The war was described as a dispute between Ningirsu, god of Lagash, and Shara, god of Umma. Lagashite inscriptions depict their kings as deputies acting on behalf of the gods; the Lagashite king Eannatum even described himself as the giant son of Ningirsu, thus engendering him to fight. Successive Lagashite kings stated in their royal inscriptions that Umma had illegally occupied the gu'edena and that Lagash thus defeated Umma. Since the Lagashite side wrote the inscriptions, they present Umma as the illegal and sacrilegious aggressor in the conflict. However, the continuation of the Lagash-Umma border conflict for centuries shows that battles were in fact inconclusive. The tension persisted so long as more agricultural area was still needed by both states. It is assumed that other states underwent similar interactions, attempting to annex their neighbors' fields, though none are so clear as the issue between Lagash and Umma.