Sumerian Main Page
The History of Ancient Sumeria (Sumer) including its cities, kings, religions culture and contributions or civilization
Abraham and Shinar
Culture and Contributions
Dictionary of Words
Ensi - Lugal
First Historical Personalities
Flood Legends in History
Sargon The Great
The City of Ebla
The City of Larsa
The City of Ur
Advice about Farming
Epic of Gilgamesh
Enki, The God
Hymn to Ishtar
Lament for Ur
Poem Of The Sufferer
Prayer to Shamash
Prayer to Every God
Reforms of Urukagina
Sumerian King List
The Art of Sumeria
"Harpist from Ur"
by: Liliana Osses Adams
Other Mesopotamian Peoples
Please Help Keep Us On the Web.
We are a Non-Profit Organization and the cost of continuing is becoming more than we can handle. Therefore, we are asking you to please donate anything you can to help keep us on the web
Please Help Click Here
Care to express an opinion on a current or past historical event?
Need to ask a question from our many visitors?
Just visit our Message Board and leave your message.
City of Ur
For the gods have
birds they have gone
destroyed, bitter is its lament
country's blood now fills its holes like hot bronze in a mould
dissolve like fat in the sun. Our temple is destroyed
lies on our city like a shroud.
blood flows as the
the lamenting of
men and women
Ur is no more
(biblical, Ur of the Chaldees), ancient city of Mesopotamia. Its ruins
are approximately midway between the modern city of Baghdâd, Iraq, and
the head of the Persian Gulf, south of the Euphrates River, on the edge
of the Al ajarah Desert. The site of Ur is known today as Tall al
Muqayyar, Iraq. In antiquity the Euphrates River flowed near the city
walls. Controlling this outlet to the sea, Ur was favorably located for
the development of commerce and for attaining political dominance.
Ur was the
principal center of worship of the Sumerian moon god Nanna and of his
Babylonian equivalent Sin. The massive ziggurat of this deity, one of
the best preserved in Iraq, stands about 21 m (about 70 ft) above the
desert. The biblical name, Ur of the Chaldees, refers to the Chaldeans,
who settled in the area about 900 BC. The Book of Genesis (see 11:27-32)
describes Ur as the starting point of the migration westward to
Palestine of the family of Abraham about 1900 BC.
Ur was one
of the first village settlements founded (circa 4000 BC) by the
so-called Ubaidian inhabitants of Sumer. Before 2800 BC, Ur became one
of the most prosperous Sumerian city-states. According to ancient
records, Ur had three dynasties of rulers who, at various times,
extended their control over all of Sumer. The founder of the 1st Dynasty
of Ur was the conqueror and temple builder Mesanepada (reigned about
2670 BC), the earliest Mesopotamian ruler described in extant
contemporary documents. His son Aanepadda (reigned about 2650 BC) built
the temple of the goddess Ninhursag, which was excavated in modern times
at Tell al-Obeid, about 8 km (about 5 mi) northeast of the site of Ur.
Of the 2nd Dynasty of Ur little is known.
(reigned 2113-2095 BC), the first king of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur, who
revived the empire of Sumer and Akkad, won control of the outlet to the
sea about 2100 BC and made Ur the wealthiest city in Mesopotamia. His
reign marked the beginning of the so-called renaissance of Sumerian art
and literature at Ur. Ur-Nammu and his son and successor Shulgi (reigned
2095-2047 BC) built the ziggurat of Nanna (about 2100 BC) and
magnificent temples at Ur and in other Mesopotamian cities. The
descendants of Ur-Nammu continued in power for more than a century, or
until shortly before 2000 BC, when the Elamites captured Ibbi-Sin
(reigned 2029-2004 BC), king of Ur, and destroyed the city.
shortly thereafter, Ur became part of the kingdom of Isin, later of the
kingdom of Larsa, and finally was incorporated into Babylonia. During
the period when Babylonia was ruled by the Kassites, Ur remained an
important religious center. It was a provincial capital with hereditary
governors during the period of Assyrian rule in Babylonia.
Chaldean dynasty was established in Babylonia, King Nebuchadnezzar II
initiated a new period of building activity at Ur. The last Babylonian
king, Nabonidus (reigned 556-539 BC), who appointed his eldest daughter
high priestess at Ur, embellished the temples and entirely remodeled the
ziggurat of Nanna, making it rival even the temple of Marduk at Babylon.
After Babylonia came under the control of Persia, Ur began to decline.
By the 4th century BC, the city was practically forgotten, possibly as a
result of a shift in the course of the Euphrates River.
of Ur were found and first excavated (1854-55) by the British consul J.
E. Taylor, who partly uncovered the ziggurat of Nanna. The British
Museum commenced (1918-19) excavations here and at neighboring Tell al-Obeid
under the direction of the British archaeologists Reginald C. Thompson
and H. R. H. Hall. These excavations were continued from 1922 to 1934 by
a joint expedition of the British Museum and the University Museum of
the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of the British
archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley.
addition to excavating the ziggurat completely, the expedition unearthed
the entire temple area at Ur and parts of the residential and commercial
quarters of the city. The most spectacular discovery was that of the
Royal Cemetery, dating from about 2600BC and containing art treasures of
gold, silver, bronze, and precious stones. The findings left little
doubt that the deaths of the king and queen of Ur were followed by the
voluntary death of their courtiers and personal attendants and of the
court soldiers and musicians. Within the city itself were discovered
thousands of cuneiform tablets comprising administrative and literary
documents dating from about 2700 to the 4th century BC. The deepest
levels of the city contained traces of a flood, alleged to be the deluge
of Sumerian, Babylonian, and Hebrew legend. All scientific evidence,
however, indicates that it was merely a local flood.
World History Center