About 2260 BCE, 964 men in the land of Akkad sat down to a royal feast, but they had little to celebrate. True, some had been given new clothes and jewelry. Some boasted new teams of mules and a wagon to go with them, as well as implements and other gifts. A few had sufficient cash to buy and furnish good-sized houses. The food, no doubt, was excellent, probably pork roasted over an open fire and assorted delicacies more typical of the royal table than of private life. Yet these men had just sold their ancestral lands to the king, Manishtusu, son of Sargon. Since portions of these lands bordered on royal domains, their owners could scarcely have refused the king’s offer. Using a productivity ratio from irrigated lands farther south, we find that the price paid in grain was only two years’ estimated harvest. What farmer would willingly sell his land for that amount? 1