At the time that the first written documents begin to yield some coherent sense, Mesopotamia had been inhabited for well over 2000 years. The earliest ‘culture’ related to south Mesopotamia is the Samarran of the sixth millennium, identified on sites located mainly in east Iraq near the Iranian border and slightly north of Baghdad. An analogous development was also taking place around this time further south, shown by the French excavations of a flourishing agricultural village at Tell Oueili, which represents a forerunner of the well-attested farming culture of the south, the ‘Ubaid. The many documents from Girsu show that in the state some land was owned by the king, some assigned to temples and some in private ownership. The history of the period that separates the end of the reign of Shar-kali-sharri from the establishment of the Third Dynasty of Ur is not at all well known, but the competition among powerful, rival city-rulers for preeminence is quite plain.