City of Ur in Iraq

Wednesday, 20 July 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  5 minutes

Ziggurat of Ur © Kaufingdude/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ziggurat of Ur © Kaufingdude/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ur was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia, located at the site of modern “Tell el-Muqayyar” in south Iraq‘s Dhi Qar Governorate. Although Ur was once a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates on the Persian Gulf, the coastline has shifted and the city is now well inland, on the south bank of the Euphrates, 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) from Nasiriyah in modern-day Iraq. The city dates from the Ubaid period circa 3800 BC, and is recorded in written history as a city-state from the 26th century BC, its first recorded king being Mesannepada.

The city’s patron deity was Nanna (in Akkadian, Sin), the Sumerian and Akkadian moon god, and the name of the city is in origin derived from the god’s name, UNUGKI, literally “the abode (UNUG) of Nanna”. The site is marked by the partially restored ruins of the Ziggurat of Ur, which contained the shrine of Nanna, excavated in the 1930s. The temple was built in the 21st century BC (short chronology), during the reign of Ur-Nammu and was reconstructed in the 6th century BC by Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon. The ruins cover an area of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) northwest to southeast by 800 metres (2,600 ft) northeast to southwest and rise up to about 20 metres (66 ft) above the present plain level. The origins of all modern writing and mathematics were developed in Ur.

Ur is possibly the city of Ur Kasdim mentioned in the Book of Genesis as the birthplace of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic), traditionally believed to have lived some time in the 2nd millennium BC. There are however conflicting traditions and scholarly opinions identifying Ur Kasdim with the sites of Şanlıurfa, Urkesh, Urartu or Kutha.

Abraham's house © Aziz1005/cc-by-4.0 Standard of Ur, British Museum, London © flickr.com - Denis Bourez/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - M.Lubinski/cc-by-sa-2.0 Reconstructed sumerian headgear and necklaces © JMiall/cc-by-sa-3.0 Ziggarut of Ur © flickr.com - Michael Lubinski/cc-by-sa-2.0 Ziggurat of Ur © Kaufingdude/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Standard of Ur, British Museum, London © flickr.com - Denis Bourez/cc-by-2.0
The city, said to have been planned by Ur-Nammu, was apparently divided into neighbourhoods, with merchants living in one quarter, artisans in another. There were streets both wide and narrow, and open spaces for gatherings. Many structures for water resource management and flood control are in evidence. Houses were constructed from mudbricks and mud plaster. In major buildings, the masonry was strengthened with bitumen and reeds. For the most part, foundations are all that remain today. People were often buried (separately and alone; sometimes with jewellery, pots, and weapons) in chambers or shafts beneath the house floors. Ur was surrounded by sloping ramparts 8 metres (26 feet) high and about 25 metres (82 feet) wide, bordered in some places by a brick wall. Elsewhere, buildings were integrated into the ramparts. The Euphrates River complemented these fortifications on the city’s western side.

Archaeological discoveries have shown unequivocally that Ur was a major Sumerian urban center on the Mesopotamian plain. Especially the discovery of the Royal Tombs has confirmed its splendour. These tombs, which date to the Early Dynastic IIIa period (approximately in the 25th or 24th century BC), contained an immense treasure of luxury items made of precious metals and semi-precious stones imported from long distances (Ancient Iran, Afghanistan, India, Asia Minor, the Levant and the Persian Gulf). This wealth, unparalleled up to then, is a testimony of Ur’s economic importance during the Early Bronze Age. Archaeological study of the region has contributed greatly to our understanding of the landscape and long-distance interactions during these ancient times. Ur was a major port on the Persian Gulf, which extended much farther inland than today, and the city controlled much of the trade into Mesopotamia. Imports to Ur came from many parts of the world: precious metals such as gold and silver, and semi-precious stones, namely lapis lazuli and carnelian. It is thought that Ur had a stratified social system including slaves (captured foreigners), farmers, artisans, doctors, scribes, and priests. High-ranking priests apparently enjoyed great luxury and splendid mansions. Tens of thousands of cuneiform texts have been recovered from temples, the palace, and individual houses, recording contracts, inventories, and court documents, evidence of the city’s complex economic and legal systems.

Read more on Wikipedia Ur (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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