The question of the meaning of the term in the Old Babylonian Mesopotamia has a long history
and remains under discussion. The texts from Mari are of great importance for the studies on this
term, as they provide a great number of its occurrences (approximately 130 in 100 documents).
The materials from Mari do not support a view that muškēnum denotes tenants of crown land.
In most cases it is a designation of common citizens belonging to the communities as opposed
to the state sector of socio-economic structure. The use of the term to qualify the dependant low
rank personnel of the palace is quite rare. Since originally the word muškēnum had semantics of
submission and dependence, even high-ranking persons can be called muškēnum when opposed
to the king as supreme ruler of the land. The article has two supplements. The fi rst one provides
references to the attestations of the word muškēnum in the Mari corpus. The second one focuses
on the analysis of its orthographic variants (with cuneiform signs UŠ and UŠ in the second
position). One may note a relatively high percentаge of occurrences with UŠsign, which was
probably pronounced /us/. This leads to a discussion on possible reinterpretation of the word in
Mari Akkadian where it may have been also connected with the root SKN ‘to dwell’.