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Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
(and later of
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
) situated east of the present bed of the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Al-Muthannā,
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
.Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the
type site In archaeology, a type site is the archaeological site, site used to define a particular archaeological culture or other Typology (archaeology), typological unit, which is often named after it. For example, discoveries at La Tène (archaeological ...
for the
Uruk period The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC; also known as Protoliterate period) existed from the protohistory, protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia, after the Ubaid period and before the Jemdet Nasr period ...
. Uruk played a leading role in the early
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from Rural area, rural to urban areas, the corresponding decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change. It is predo ...
of
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
in the mid-4th millennium BC. By the final phase of the Uruk period around 3100 BC, the city may have had 40,000 residents, with 80,000-90,000 people living in its environs, making it the largest urban area in the world at the time. The legendary king
Gilgamesh Gilgamesh ( akk, , translit=Gilgameš; originally sux, , translit= Bilgames)). His name translates roughly as "The Ancestor is a Young-man", from ''Bil.ga'' "Ancestor", Elder and ''Mes/Mesh3'' "Young-Man". See also . was a hero in Mesopotamian m ...
, according to the chronology presented in the ''Sumerian King List'' (henceforth ''SKL''), ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC. The city lost its prime importance around 2000 BC in the context of the struggle of
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
against
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...
, but it remained inhabited throughout the
Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Ancient Greece, Greek state in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was ...
(312–63 BC) and Parthian (227 BC to 224 AD) periods until it was finally abandoned shortly before or after the
Islamic conquest The spread of Islam spans about 1,400 years. Muslim conquests following Muhammad's death led to the creation of the caliphates, occupying a vast geographical area; conversion to Islam was boosted by Arab Muslim forces conquering vast territories ...
of 633–638.
William Kennett Loftus William Kennett Loftus (13 November 1820, Linton, Kent – 27 November 1858, at sea) was a British geologist, naturalist, explorer and archaeological excavator. He discovered the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk in 1849. Biography Loftus was broug ...
visited the site of Uruk in 1849, identifying it as "Erech", known as "the second city of
Nimrod Nimrod (; ; arc, ܢܡܪܘܕ; ar, نُمْرُود, Numrūd) is a Hebrew Bible, biblical figure mentioned in the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles. The son of Cush (Bible), Cush and therefore a great-grandson of Noah, Nimrod was describe ...
", and led the first excavations from 1850 to 1854.


Etymology

Uruk (;) has several spellings in
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 B ...
; in Sumerian it is ''unugki''; in Akkadian, ''Uruk'' ( URUUNUG). Its names in other languages include: ar, وركاء or أوروك, ';
Syriac Syriac may refer to: *Syriac language, an ancient dialect of Middle Aramaic *Sureth, one of the modern dialects of Syriac spoken in the Nineveh Plains region * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages a ...
: ܐܘܿܪܘܿܟ,''‘Úrūk'';
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
: '; grc, Ὀρχόη, Orkhóē, Ὀρέχ ''Orékh'', '. Though the Arabic name of the present-day country of '' al-ʿIrāq'' is often thought to be derived from the name ''Uruk'', it is more likely loaned via
Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg () in its later form, is a Western Iranian languages#Middle Iranian, Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For some time after ...
(''Erāq'') and then
Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Semitic language that originated in the ancient Syria (regio ...
''’yrg'' transmission.


Prominence

In myth and literature, Uruk was famous as the capital city of
Gilgamesh Gilgamesh ( akk, , translit=Gilgameš; originally sux, , translit= Bilgames)). His name translates roughly as "The Ancestor is a Young-man", from ''Bil.ga'' "Ancestor", Elder and ''Mes/Mesh3'' "Young-Man". See also . was a hero in Mesopotamian m ...
, hero of the ''
Epic of Gilgamesh The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' () is an epic poetry, epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia, and is regarded as the earliest surviving notable literature and the second oldest religious text, after the Pyramid Texts. The literary history of Gilgamesh ...
''. Scholars identify Uruk as the biblical Erech ( Genesis 10:10), the second city founded by
Nimrod Nimrod (; ; arc, ܢܡܪܘܕ; ar, نُمْرُود, Numrūd) is a Hebrew Bible, biblical figure mentioned in the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles. The son of Cush (Bible), Cush and therefore a great-grandson of Noah, Nimrod was describe ...
in Shinar.


Uruk period

In addition to being one of the first cities, Uruk was the main force of
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from Rural area, rural to urban areas, the corresponding decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change. It is predo ...
and
state formation State formation is the process of the development of a centralized government structure in a situation where one did not exist prior to its development. State formation has been a study of many disciplines of the social sciences for a number of ...
during the Uruk period, or 'Uruk expansion' (4000–3200 BC). This period of 800 years saw a shift from small, agricultural villages to a larger urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, military, and stratified society. Although other settlements coexisted with Uruk, they were generally about 10
hectare The hectare (; SI symbol: ha) is a Non-SI units mentioned in the SI, non-SI metric unit of area equal to a square with 100-metre sides (1 hm2), or 10,000 m2, and is primarily used in the measurement of land. There are 100 hectares in one ...
s while Uruk was significantly larger and more complex. The Uruk period culture exported by Sumerian traders and colonists had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. Ultimately, Uruk could not maintain long-distance control over colonies such as
Tell Brak Tell Brak (Nagar, Nawar) was an ancient city in Syria; its remains constitute a Tell (archaeology), tell located in the Khabur (Euphrates), Upper Khabur region, near the modern village of Tell Brak (village), Tell Brak, 50 kilometers north- ...
by military force.


Geographic factors

Geographic factors underpin Uruk's unprecedented growth. The city was located in the southern part of Mesopotamia, an ancient site of civilization, on the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
river. Through the gradual and eventual domestication of native grains from the
Zagros The Zagros Mountains ( ar, جبال زاغروس, translit=Jibal Zaghrus; fa, کوه‌های زاگرس, Kuh hā-ye Zāgros; ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyakani Zagros; Turkish language, Turkish: ''Zagros Dağları''; Luri Lan ...
foothills and extensive irrigation techniques, the area supported a vast variety of edible vegetation. This domestication of grain and its proximity to rivers enabled Uruk's growth into the largest Sumerian settlement, in both population and area, with relative ease. Uruk's agricultural surplus and large population base facilitated processes such as trade, specialization of crafts and the evolution of writing; writing may have originated in Uruk around 3300 BC. Evidence from excavations such as extensive pottery and the earliest known tablets of writing support these events. Excavation of Uruk is highly complex because older buildings were recycled into newer ones, thus blurring the layers of different historic periods. The topmost layer most likely originated in the
Jemdet Nasr period The Jemdet Nasr Period is an archaeological culture in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). It is generally dated from 3100 to 2900 BC. It is named after the type site Jemdet Nasr, Tell Jemdet Nasr, where the assemblage typical for this period ...
(3100–2900 BC) and is built on structures from earlier periods dating back to the
Ubaid period The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3700 BC) is a prehistory, prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-'Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially in 1919 by Henry Hall (Egyptologist) ...
.


History

According to the ''SKL'', Uruk was founded by the king
Enmerkar Enmerkar was an ancient Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and ...
. Though the king-list mentions a king of Eanna before him, the epic ''
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta ''Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta'' is a legendary Sumerian language, Sumerian account, preserved in early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts ...
'' relates that Enmerkar constructed the '' House of Heaven'' (Sumerian: ''e2-anna''; cuneiform: E2.AN) for the goddess
Inanna Inanna, also sux, 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀭𒈾, nin-an-na, label=none is an List of Mesopotamian deities, ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility. She is also associated with beauty, sex, Divine law, divine justice, and political p ...
in the Eanna District of Uruk. In the ''
Epic of Gilgamesh The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' () is an epic poetry, epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia, and is regarded as the earliest surviving notable literature and the second oldest religious text, after the Pyramid Texts. The literary history of Gilgamesh ...
'', Gilgamesh builds the city wall around Uruk and is king of the city. Uruk went through several phases of growth, from the Early Uruk period (4000–3500 BC) to the Late Uruk period (3500–3100 BC). The city was formed when two smaller Ubaid settlements merged. The temple complexes at their cores became the Eanna District and the Anu District dedicated to Inanna and Anu, respectively. The Anu District was originally called 'Kullaba' (Kulab or Unug-Kulaba) prior to merging with the Eanna District. Kullaba dates to the Eridu period when it was one of the oldest and most important cities of Sumer. There are different interpretations about the purposes of the temples. However, it is generally believed they were a unifying feature of the city. It also seems clear that temples served both an important religious function and state function. The surviving temple archive of the Neo-Babylonian period documents the social function of the temple as a redistribution center. The Eanna District was composed of several buildings with spaces for workshops, and it was walled off from the city. By contrast, the Anu District was built on a terrace with a temple at the top. It is clear Eanna was dedicated to
Inanna Inanna, also sux, 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀭𒈾, nin-an-na, label=none is an List of Mesopotamian deities, ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility. She is also associated with beauty, sex, Divine law, divine justice, and political p ...
from the earliest Uruk period throughout the history of the city.Beaulieu, 2003 The rest of the city was composed of typical courtyard houses, grouped by profession of the occupants, in districts around Eanna and Anu. Uruk was extremely well penetrated by a canal system that has been described as, "
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto Regions of Italy, region. It is built on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400  ...
in the desert." This canal system flowed throughout the city connecting it with the maritime trade on the ancient Euphrates River as well as the surrounding agricultural belt. The original city of Uruk was situated southwest of the ancient Euphrates River, now dry. Currently, the site of Warka is northeast of the modern Euphrates river. The change in position was caused by a shift in the Euphrates at some point in history, which, together with salination due to irrigation, may have contributed to the decline of Uruk.


Archaeological levels of Uruk

Archeologists have discovered multiple cities of Uruk built atop each other in chronological order. * Uruk XVIII Eridu period ( 5000 BC); the founding of Uruk * Uruk XVIII-XVI Late Ubaid period (4800–4200 BC) * Uruk XVI-X Early Uruk period (4000–3800 BC) * Uruk IX-VI Middle Uruk period (3800–3400 BC) * Uruk V-IV Late Uruk period (3400–3100 BC); The earliest monumental temples of Eanna District are built * Uruk III Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC); The 9 km city wall is built * Uruk II * Uruk I


Anu district

The great Anu district is older than the Eanna district; however, few remains of writing have been found here. Unlike the Eanna district, the Anu district consists of a single massive terrace, the Anu
Ziggurat A ziggurat (; Cuneiform: 𒅆𒂍𒉪, Akkadian (language), Akkadian: ', D-stem of ' 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other Semitic languages like Hebrew ''zaqar'' (זָקַר) 'protrude') is a type of massive structure built in ancient ...
, dedicated to the Sumerian sky god Anu. Sometime in the Uruk III period the massive White Temple was built atop of the ziggurat. Under the northwest edge of the ziggurat an Uruk VI period structure, the Stone Temple, has been discovered. The Stone Temple was built of limestone and bitumen on a podium of
rammed earth Rammed earth is a technique for construction, constructing foundations, floors, and walls using compacted natural raw materials such as soil, earth, chalk, Lime (material), lime, or gravel. It is an ancient method that has been revived recently ...
and plastered with lime mortar. The podium itself was built over a woven reed mat called '' ĝipar'', which was ritually used as a nuptial bed. The ĝipar was a source of generative power which then radiated upward into the structure. The structure of the Stone Temple further develops some mythological concepts from '' Enuma Elish'', perhaps involving libation rites as indicated from the channels, tanks, and vessels found there. The structure was ritually destroyed, covered with alternating layers of clay and stone, then excavated and filled with mortar sometime later. The Anu Ziggurat began with a massive mound topped by a
cella A cella (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around prese ...
during the Uruk period (ca. 4000 BC), and was expanded through 14 phases of construction. These phases have been labeled L to A3 (L is sometimes called X). The earliest phase used architectural features similar to PPNA cultures in
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
: a single chamber cella with a
terazzo Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass, or other suitable material, poured with a cementitious binder (for chemical bindi ...
floor beneath which bucrania were found. In phase E, corresponding to the Uruk III period (ca. 3000 BC), the White Temple was built. The White Temple could be seen from a great distance across the plain of Sumer, as it was elevated 21 m and covered in
gypsum Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate Hydrate, dihydrate, with the chemical formula . It is widely mined and is used as a fertilizer and as the main constituent in many forms of plaster, blackboard or sidewalk chalk, and ...
plaster which reflected sunlight like a mirror. For this reason it is believed the White Temple is a symbol of Uruk's political power at the time. In addition to this temple the Anu Ziggurat had a monumental limestone-paved staircase, which was used in religious processions. A trough running parallel to the staircase was used to drain the ziggurat.


Eanna district

The Eanna district is historically significant as both writing and monumental public architecture emerged here during Uruk periods VI-IV. The combination of these two developments places Eanna as arguably the first true city and civilization in human history. Eanna during period IVa contains the earliest examples of cuneiform writing and possibly the earliest writing in history. Although some of these cuneiform tablets have been deciphered, difficulty with site excavations has obscured the purpose and sometimes even the structure of many buildings. The first building of
Eanna E-anna ( sux, , ''house of heavens''), also referred to as the Temple of Inanna, was an ancient Sumerian temple in Uruk. Considered "the residence of Inanna" and Anu, it is mentioned several times in the ''Epic of Gilgamesh'', and elsewhere. ...
, Stone-Cone Temple (Mosaic Temple), was built in period VI over a preexisting Ubaid temple and is enclosed by a limestone wall with an elaborate system of
buttress A buttress is an architecture, architectural structure built against or projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall. Buttresses are fairly common on more ancient buildings, as a means of providing support to act against t ...
es. The Stone-Cone Temple, named for the
mosaic A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were particularly pop ...
of colored stone cones driven into the adobe brick façade, may be the earliest water cult in Mesopotamia. It was ritually demolished in Uruk IVb period and its contents interred in the Riemchen Building. In the following period, Uruk V, about 100 m east of the Stone-Cone Temple the Limestone Temple was built on a 2 m high rammed-earth
podium A podium (plural podiums or podia) is a wikt:platform, platform used to raise something to a short distance above its surroundings. It derives from the Greek language, Greek ''πόδι'' (foot). In architecture a building can rest on a large po ...
over a pre-existing Ubaid temple, which like the Stone-Cone Temple represents a continuation of Ubaid culture. However, the Limestone Temple was unprecedented for its size and use of stone, a clear departure from traditional Ubaid architecture. The stone was quarried from an outcrop at Umayyad about 60 km east of Uruk. It is unclear if the entire temple or just the foundation was built of this
limestone Limestone (calcium carbonate ) is a type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock which is the main source of the material Lime_(material), lime. It is composed mostly of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different Polymorphis ...
. The Limestone temple is probably the first Inanna temple, but it is impossible to know with certainty. Like the Stone-Cone temple the Limestone temple was also covered in cone mosaics. Both of these temples were rectangles with their corners aligned to the cardinal directions, a central hall flanked along the long axis flanked by two smaller halls, and buttressed façades; the prototype of all future Mesopotamian temple architectural
typology Typology is the study of types or the systematic classification of the types of something according to their common characteristics. Typology is the act of finding, counting and classification facts with the help of eyes, other senses and logic. Ty ...
. Between these two monumental structures a complex of buildings (called A-C, E-K, Riemchen, Cone-Mosaic), courts, and walls was built during Eanna IVb. These buildings were built during a time of great expansion in Uruk as the city grew to 250 hectares and established long-distance trade, and are a continuation of architecture from the previous period. The Riemchen Building, named for the 16×16 cm brick shape called ''Riemchen'' by the Germans, is a memorial with a ritual fire kept burning in the center for the Stone-Cone Temple after it was destroyed. For this reason, Uruk IV period represents a reorientation of belief and culture. The facade of this memorial may have been covered in geometric and figural murals. The Riemchen bricks first used in this temple were used to construct all buildings of Uruk IV period Eanna. The use of colored cones as a façade treatment was greatly developed as well, perhaps used to greatest effect in the Cone-Mosaic Temple. Composed of three parts: Temple N, the Round Pillar Hall, and the Cone-Mosaic Courtyard, this temple was the most monumental structure of Eanna at the time. They were all ritually destroyed and the entire Eanna district was rebuilt in period IVa at an even grander scale. During Eanna IVa, the Limestone Temple was demolished and the Red Temple built on its foundations. The accumulated debris of the Uruk IVb buildings were formed into a terrace, the L-Shaped Terrace, on which Buildings C, D, M, Great Hall, and Pillar Hall were built. Building E was initially thought to be a palace, but later proven to be a communal building. Also in period IV, the Great Court, a sunken courtyard surrounded by two tiers of benches covered in cone mosaic, was built. A small aqueduct drains into the Great Courtyard, which may have irrigated a garden at one time. The impressive buildings of this period were built as Uruk reached its zenith and expanded to 600 hectares. All the buildings of Eanna IVa were destroyed sometime in Uruk III, for unclear reasons. The architecture of Eanna in period III was very different from what had preceded it. The complex of monumental temples was replaced with baths around the Great Courtyard and the labyrinthine Rammed-Earth Building. This period corresponds to Early Dynastic Sumer 2900 BC, a time of great social upheaval when the dominance of Uruk was eclipsed by competing
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including cities such as ...
s. The
fortress A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its ...
-like architecture of this time is a reflection of that turmoil. The temple of Inanna continued functioning during this time in a new form and under a new name, 'The House of Inanna in Uruk' (Sumerian: e2-dinanna unuki-ga). The location of this structure is currently unknown.


Uruk into Late Antiquity

Although it had been a thriving city in Early Dynastic Sumer, especially Early Dynastic II, Uruk was ultimately annexed by the
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. It was centered in the city of Akkad () and its surrounding region. The empire united Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule ...
and went into decline. Later, in the Neo-Sumerian period, Uruk enjoyed revival as a major economic and cultural center under the sovereignty of Ur. The Eanna District was restored as part of an ambitious building program, which included a new temple for Inanna. This temple included a
ziggurat A ziggurat (; Cuneiform: 𒅆𒂍𒉪, Akkadian (language), Akkadian: ', D-stem of ' 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other Semitic languages like Hebrew ''zaqar'' (זָקַר) 'protrude') is a type of massive structure built in ancient ...
, the 'House of the Universe' (Cuneiform: E2. SAR.A) to the northeast of the Uruk period Eanna ruins. The ziggurat is also cited as Ur-Nammu Ziggurat for its builder
Ur-Nammu Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian: , ruled c. 2112 BC – 2094 BC middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions ...
. Following the collapse of Ur ( 2000 BC), Uruk went into a steep decline until about 850 BC when the
Neo-Assyrian The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
Empire annexed it as a provincial capital. Under the Neo-Assyrians and
Neo-Babylonian The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
s, Uruk regained much of its former glory. By 250 BC, a new temple complex the 'Head Temple' (Akkadian: ''Bīt Reš'') was added to northeast of the Uruk period Anu district. The ''Bīt Reš'' along with the ''
Esagila The Ésagila or Esangil ( sux, , ''" temple whose top is lofty"'') was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon. It lay south of the ziggurat Etemenanki. Description In this temple was the statue of Marduk, surrounded ...
'' was one of the two main centers of Neo-Babylonian astronomy. All of the temples and canals were restored again under
Nabopolassar Nabopolassar (Babylonian cuneiform: , meaning "Nabu, protect the son") was the founder and first king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling from his coronation as king of Babylon in 626 BC to his death in 605 BC. Though initially only aimed at res ...
. During this era, Uruk was divided into five main districts: the
Adad Hadad ( uga, ), Haddad, Adad ( Akkadian: 𒀭𒅎 '' DIM'', pronounced as ''Adād''), or Iškur ( Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Canaanite and ancient Mesopotamian religion Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious ...
Temple, Royal Orchard, Ištar Gate, Lugalirra Temple, and Šamaš Gate districts.Baker, 2009 Uruk, known as Orcha (Ὄρχα) to the Greeks, continued to thrive under the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Ancient Greece, Greek state in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was ...
. During this period, Uruk was a city of 300 hectares and perhaps 40,000 inhabitants.R. van der Spek, “Feeding Hellenistic Seleucia on the Tigris.” In ''Feeding the Ancient Greek City'', edited by R. Alston & O. van Nijf, 36. Leuven ; Dudley, MA: Peeters Publishers, 2008. In 200 BC, the 'Great Sanctuary' (Cuneiform: E2.IRI12.GAL, Sumerian: eš-gal) of
Ishtar Inanna, also sux, 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀭𒈾, nin-an-na, label=none is an List of Mesopotamian deities, ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility. She is also associated with beauty, sex, Divine law, divine justice, and political p ...
was added between the Anu and Eanna districts. The ziggurat of the temple of Anu, which was rebuilt in this period, was the largest ever built in Mesopotamia. When the Seleucids lost Mesopotamia to the Parthians in 141 BC, Uruk again entered a period of decline from which it never recovered. The decline of Uruk may have been in part caused by a shift in the Euphrates River. By 300 AD, Uruk was mostly abandoned, but a group of
Mandaeans Mandaeans ( ar, المندائيون ), also known as Mandaean Sabians ( ) or simply as Sabians ( ), are an ethnoreligious group who are followers of Mandaeism. They believe that John the Baptist was the final and most important prophet. They ...
settled there, and by 700 AD it was completely abandoned.


Political history

"In Uruk, in southern Mesopotamia, Sumerian civilization seems to have reached its creative peak. This is pointed out repeatedly in the references to this city in religious and, especially, in literary texts, including those of mythological content; the historical tradition as preserved in the Sumerian king-list confirms it. From Uruk the center of political gravity seems to have moved to Ur."
—Oppenheim
Uruk played a very important part in the political history of Sumer. Starting from the Early Uruk period, the city exercised
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state over other states. In Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing ...
over nearby settlements. At this time ( 3800 BC), there were two centers of 20 hectares, Uruk in the south and
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
in the north surrounded by much smaller 10 hectare settlements. Later, in the Late Uruk period, its sphere of influence extended over all Sumer and beyond to external colonies in upper Mesopotamia and Syria. Uruk was prominent in the national struggles of the Sumerians against the
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...
ites up to 2004 BC, in which it suffered severely; recollections of some of these conflicts are embodied in the
Gilgamesh Gilgamesh ( akk, , translit=Gilgameš; originally sux, , translit= Bilgames)). His name translates roughly as "The Ancestor is a Young-man", from ''Bil.ga'' "Ancestor", Elder and ''Mes/Mesh3'' "Young-Man". See also . was a hero in Mesopotamian m ...
epic, in the literary and courtly form. The recorded chronology of rulers over Uruk includes both mythological and historic figures in five dynasties. As in the rest of Sumer, power moved progressively from the temple to the palace. Rulers from the Early Dynastic period exercised control over Uruk and at times over all of Sumer. In myth, kingship was lowered from heaven to Eridu then passed successively through five cities until the deluge which ended the Uruk period. Afterwards, kingship passed to Kish at the beginning of the Early Dynastic period, which corresponds to the beginning of the
Early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing in some areas, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second prin ...
in Sumer. In the Early Dynastic I period (2900–2800 BC), Uruk was in theory under the control of Kish. This period is sometimes called the Golden Age. During the Early Dynastic II period (2800–2600 BC), Uruk was again the dominant city exercising control of Sumer. This period is the time of the First Dynasty of Uruk sometimes called the Heroic Age. However, by the Early Dynastic IIIa period (2600–2500 BC) Uruk had lost sovereignty, this time to Ur. This period, corresponding to the Early Bronze Age III, is the end of the First Dynasty of Uruk. In the Early Dynastic IIIb period (2500–2334 BC), also called the Pre-Sargonic period (referring to
Sargon of Akkad Sargon of Akkad (; akk, ''Šarrugi''), also known as Sargon the Great, was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire, known for his conquests of the Sumerian Sumerian city-states, city-states in the 24th to 23rd centuries BC.The date of the re ...
), Uruk continued to be ruled by Ur.


Early dynastic, Akkadian, and Neo-Sumerian rulers of Uruk

Dynastic categorizations should be considered arbitrary, as they are only known from the ''SKL'', which is of dubious historical accuracy; the organization might be analogous to Manetho's. The following list should not be considered complete. In 2009, two different copies of an inscription were put forth as evidence of a 19th-century BC ruler of Uruk named Naram-sin Uruk continued as principality of Ur, Babylon, and later Achaemenid, Seleucid, and Parthian Empires. It enjoyed brief periods of independence during the Isin-Larsa period, under kings such as (possibly) Ikūn-pî-Ištar (c. 1800 BC),
Sîn-kāšid Sîn-kāšid (inscribed in akk, 𒀭𒂗𒍪𒂵𒅆𒀉: EN.ZU''-kà-ši-id'') was the king of the ancient Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ...
, his son Sîn-irībam, his son Sîn-gāmil, Ilum-gāmil, brother of Sîn-gāmil, Etēia, Anam, ÌR-ne-ne, who was defeated by Rīm-Sîn I of Larsa in his year 14 (c. 1740 BC), Rīm-Anum and Nabi-ilīšu. It is now believed that another king, Narām-Sîn, briefly ruled before Sîn-kāšid. The city was finally destroyed by the Arab invasion of Mesopotamia and abandoned c. 700 AD.


Architecture

Uruk has some of the first monumental constructions in architectural history, and certainly the largest of its era. Much of Near Eastern architecture can trace its roots to these prototypical buildings. The structures of Uruk are cited by two different naming conventions, one in German from the initial expedition, and the English translation of the same. The stratigraphy of the site is complex and as such much of the dating is disputed. In general, the structures follow the two main typologies of
Sumerian architecture The architecture of Mesopotamia is ancient architecture of the region of the Tigris–Euphrates river system (also known as Mesopotamia), encompassing several distinct cultures and spanning a period from the 10th millennium BC (when the first perm ...
, Tripartite with 3 parallel halls and T-Shaped also with three halls, but the central one extends into two perpendicular bays at one end. The following table summarizes the significant architecture of the Eanna and Anu Districts. Temple N, Cone-Mosaic Courtyard, and Round Pillar Hall are often referred to as a single structure; the Cone-Mosaic Temple. It is clear Eanna was dedicated to Inanna symbolized by
Venus Venus is the second planet from the Sun. It is sometimes called Earth's "sister" or "twin" planet as it is almost as large and has a similar composition. As an Inferior and superior planets, interior planet to Earth, Venus (like Mercury (pl ...
from the Uruk period. At that time, she was worshipped in four aspects as Inanna of the netherworld (Sumerian: dinanna-kur), Inanna of the morning (Sumerian: dinanna-hud2), Inanna of the evening (Sumerian: dinanna-sig), and Inanna (Sumerian: dinanna-NUN). The names of four temples in Uruk at this time are known, but it is impossible to match them with either a specific structure and in some cases a deity. * sanctuary of Inanna (Sumerian: eš-dinanna) * sanctuary of Inanna of the evening (Sumerian: eš-dinanna-sig) * temple of heaven (Sumerian: e2-an) * temple of heaven and netherworld (Sumerian: e2-an-ki) File:Eanna5.svg, Plan of Eanna VI-V File:Eanna4b.svg, Plan of Eanna IVb File:Eanna4a.svg, Plan of Eanna IVa File:Eanna3.svg, Plan of Eanna III File:Eanna_neosumerian.svg, Plan of Neo-Sumerian Eanna File:Anu_district.svg, Plan of Anu District Phase E File:Pergamonmuseum Inanna 01.jpg, Reconstruction of a mosaic from the Eanna temple. File:Pergamonmuseum Inanna 02.jpg, Detail of Reconstruction of a mosaic from the Eanna temple.


Archaeology

The site, which lies about northwest of ancient Ur, is one of the largest in the region at around in area. The maximum extent is north/south, and east/west. There are three major tells within the site: The Eanna district, Bit Resh (Kullaba), and Irigal. The location of Uruk was first scouted by William Loftus in 1849. He excavated there in 1850 and 1854. By Loftus' own account, he admits that the first excavations were superficial at best, as his financiers forced him to deliver large museum artifacts at a minimal cost. Warka was also scouted by archaeologist
Walter Andrae Walter Andrae (February 18, 1875 – July 28, 1956) was a German archaeologist and architect born near Leipzig. He was part of the mission that stole the Ishtar Gate out of Iraq in the 1910s. Career Archaeologist He initially studied architectur ...
in 1902. From 1912 to 1913, Julius Jordan and his team from the German Oriental Society discovered the temple of
Ishtar Inanna, also sux, 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀭𒈾, nin-an-na, label=none is an List of Mesopotamian deities, ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility. She is also associated with beauty, sex, Divine law, divine justice, and political p ...
, one of four known temples located at the site. The temples at Uruk were quite remarkable as they were constructed with brick and adorned with colorful
mosaic A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were particularly pop ...
s. Jordan also discovered part of the
city wall A defensive wall is a fortification usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. The walls can range from simple palisades or earthworks to extensive military fortifications with towers, bastions and gates ...
. It was later discovered that this high brick wall, probably utilized as a defense mechanism, totally encompassed the city at a length of . Utilizing sedimentary strata dating techniques, this wall is estimated to have been erected around 3000 BC. The GOS returned to Uruk in 1928 and excavated until 1939, when
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
intervened. The team was led by Jordan until 1931, then by A. Nöldeke, Ernst Heinrich, and H. J. Lenzen. The German excavations resumed after the war and were under the direction of Heinrich Lenzen from 1953 to 1967. He was followed in 1968 by J. Schmidt, and in 1978 by R.M. Boehmer. In total, the German archaeologists spent 39 seasons working at Uruk. The results are documented in two series of reports: * Ausgrabungen der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft in Uruk (ADFU), 17 volumes, 1912–2001 (titles listed at the German Archaeological Institut
Index 38e378adbb1f14a174490017f0000011
* Ausgrabungen in Uruk-Warka, Endberichte (AUWE), 25 volumes, 1987–2007 (titles listed at the German Archaeological Institut
Index 108
Most recently, from 2001 to 2002, the
German Archaeological Institute The German Archaeological Institute (german: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, ''DAI'') is a research institute in the field of archaeology (and other related fields). The DAI is a "federal agency" under the Federal Foreign Office, Federal Fo ...
team led by Margarete van Ess, with Joerg Fassbinder and Helmut Becker, conducted a partial magnetometer survey in Uruk. In addition to the geophysical survey, core samples and aerial photographs were taken. This was followed up with high-resolution satellite imagery in 2005. Work resumed in 2016 and is currently concentrated on the city wall area and a survey of the surrounding landscape. Cuneiform tablets Proto-cuneiform clay tablets were found at Uruk with Sumerian and pictorial inscriptions that are thought to be some of the earliest recorded
writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanically transferred, or Word processor, digitally represented Symbols (semiot ...
, dating to approximately 3300 BC. Later cuneiform tablets were deciphered and include the famous ''SKL'', a record of kings of the Sumerian civilization. There was an even larger cache of legal and scholarly tablets of the
Neo-Babylonian The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
, Late Babylonian, and
Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Ancient Greece, Greek state in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was ...
period, that have been published by Adam Falkenstein and other
Assyriological Assyriology (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''Assyriā''; and , ''-logy, -logia'') is the archaeological, anthropological, and linguistic study of Assyria and the rest of ancient Mesopotamia (a region that encompassed what is now modern Iraq, northe ...
members of the German Archaeological Institute in Baghdad as Jan J. A. Djik, Hermann Hunger, Antoine Cavigneaux, Egbert von Weiher, and Karlheinz Kessler, or others as Erlend Gehlken. Many of the cuneiform tablets form acquisitions by museums and collections as the
British Museum The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the list of largest art museums, largest and most comprehens ...
,
Yale Babylonian Collection Comprising some 45,000 items, the Yale Babylonian Collection is an independent branch of the Yale University Library The Yale University Library is the library, library system of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Originating in 170 ...
, and the
Louvre The Louvre ( ), or the Louvre Museum ( ), is the world's List of most-visited museums, most-visited museum, and an historic landmark in Paris, France. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the ''Mona Lisa'' and the ' ...
. The later holds a unique cuneiform tablet in Aramaic known as the Aramaic Uruk incantation. The oldest known writing to feature a person's name was found in Uruk, in the form of several tablets that mention Kushim, who (assuming they are an individual person) served as an accountant recording transactions made in trading barley - ''29,086 measures barley 37 months Kushim''. Beveled rim bowls were the most common type of container used during the Uruk period. They are believed to be vessels for serving rations of food or drink to dependent laborers. The introduction of the fast
wheel A wheel is a circular component that is intended to rotate on an axle Bearing (mechanical), bearing. The wheel is one of the key components of the wheel and axle which is one of the Simple machine, six simple machines. Wheels, in conjunction wi ...
for throwing pottery was developed during the later part of the Uruk period, and made the mass production of pottery simpler and more standardized.


Artifacts

The Mask of Warka, also known as the 'Lady of Uruk' and the 'Sumerian
Mona Lisa The ''Mona Lisa'' ( ; it, Gioconda or ; french: Joconde ) is a Half length portrait, half-length portrait painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. Considered an archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, it has been described ...
', dating from 3100 BC, is one of the earliest representations of the human face. The carved marble female face is probably a depiction of Inanna. It is approximately 20 cm tall, and may have been incorporated into a larger cult image. The mask was looted from the
Iraq Museum The Iraq Museum ( ar, المتحف العراقي) is the national museum of Iraq, located in Baghdad. It is sometimes informally called the National Museum of Iraq, a recent phenomenon influenced by other nations' naming of their national museum ...
during the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. It was recovered in September 2003 and returned to the museum. File:Male bust Louvre AO10921.jpg, Lugal-kisal-si, king of Uruk File:Warka mask (cropped).jpg, Mask of Warka File:Bull Warka Louvre AO8218.jpg, Bull sculpture,
Jemdet Nasr period The Jemdet Nasr Period is an archaeological culture in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). It is generally dated from 3100 to 2900 BC. It is named after the type site Jemdet Nasr, Tell Jemdet Nasr, where the assemblage typical for this period ...
, c. 3000 BC


See also

*
Cities of the ancient Near East The earliest cities in history were in the ancient Near East, an area covering roughly that of the modern Middle East: its history began in the 4th millennium BC and ended, depending on the interpretation of the term, either with the conquest by ...
*
Blau Monuments The Blau Monuments are a pair of inscribed stone objects from Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situat ...
* Warka Vase *
Chronology of the ancient Near East The chronology of the ancient Near East is a framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts customarily record events in terms of a succession of officials or rulers: "in the year X of king Y". Com ...
* Geography of Mesopotamia * Historical urban community sizes


Notes


References

* * * * * Fassbinder, J.W.E., and H. Becker, Magnetometry at Uruk (Iraq): The city of King Gilgamesh, Archaeologia Polona, vol. 41, pp. 122–124, 2003 * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * Krystyna Szarzyńska, Observations on the Temple Precinct EŠ3 in Archaic Uruk, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 63, pp. 1–4, 2011 * * Eva Strommenger, The Chronological Division of the Archaic Levels of Uruk-Eanna VI to III/II: Past and Present, American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 84, no. 4, pp. 479–487, (Oct., 1980)


External links


Archaeologists unearth ancient Sumerian riverboat in Iraq - Ars Technica - 4/8/2022

News from Old Uruk - Margarete van Ess 2021
Oriental Institute lecture on recent work
Earliest evidence for large scale organized warfare in the Mesopotamian world (Hamoukar vs. Uruk?)

Uruk at CDLI wiki




* [http://cdli.ucla.edu/search/search_results.php?SearchMode=Text&PrimaryPublication=&MuseumNumber=&Provenience=uruk&Period=&TextSearch=&ObjectID=&requestFrom=Submit Digital images of tablets from Uruk - CDLI] {{Authority control Uruk, * Populated places established in the 4th millennium BC Populated places disestablished in the 7th century Muthanna Governorate Epic of Gilgamesh Ancient Mesopotamia Archaeological sites in Iraq Former populated places in Iraq Ubaid period Nimrod Cuneiform Assyriology Jemdet Nasr period Former kingdoms