The border dispute and war between Umma and Lagash has a prominent place in the history of mankind as this marked the only recorded dispute between two city states over the issue of water and agriculture. "The only recorded incident of an outright war over water was 4,500 years ago between two Mesopotamian city-states, Lagash and Umma, in the region we now call southern Iraq." (Postel and Wolf, 60) Umma is greatly famous for the important wars that it fought against Lagash and the chief motivation of these wars was to free itself from paying tributes to the other city state. Competition for the open areas in the Near East followed the expansion of the city state's zone of influence and the border dispute and war between Umma and Lagash is one of the finest illustrations of the intercity wars over agricultural land. In fact, the increased competition over land among these city states is explicit as demonstrated in the series of documents found in the southern state of Lagash. "Over a period of 150 years, from about 2500 to 2350, the kings of Lagash provided their accounts of a border conflict with their northern neighbor Umma. The war was described in terms of a dispute between Ningirsu, patron deity of Lagash, and Shara, god of Umma, over an area of fields called Gu'edena, 'edge of the plain'." (Mieroop, 45) This paper undertakes an analysis of the events that caused the dispute and war between Umma and Lagash which has got immense significance to the historians.
The city states of Sumerian civilization began to build upin ancient Mesopotamia around the year 4000 BC and one of the most significant outcomes of these developments was the emergence of several conflicts among them. Following such crucial wars among the city states, the relevance of warfare also increased and factors such as wealth, the availability of transportation, irrigation, luxury goods such as timber, stone and metals etc determined the warfare of the city states. The importance of the conflict between Umma and Lagash is that it was the earliest recorded war between any city states. The city states of Lagash and Umma were on the competition the possession and agricultural usufruct of the fertile region of Guendena for several generations. The war was caused by the violation of an earlier boundary treaty by Umma and Lagash began the war with Umma. The king of Umma was defeated by Eannatum of Lagash in this war which is important for a commemorative stele known as The Stele of Vultures. "Although it is not the earliest conflict, the first war for which there is any detailed evidence occurred between Lagash and Umma in 2525 B.C., two Sumerian cities located eighteen miles apart The importance of this war to the military historian lies in a commemorative stele that Eannatum erected to celebrate his victory." (Early Sumerian Warfare) The historical importance of The Stele of Vultures was that it corresponds to the first important pictorial of war in the Sumerian period and, thus, there are significant pictorial evidences of the border conflict between Umma and Lagash.
The most important document illustrating the border conflict and war between the city states of Umma and Lagash is the account given by King Enmetena and the beginning of Early Dynastic III marks the best documented period for military history. The series of martial inscriptions by the warrior kings of Lagash (2495-2345 BC) provide a clear picture of the war history