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Ur of the Chaldeans

Ur was first found and excavated in 1853 and 1854 by British consul J. E. Taylor, who uncovered the then sand-covered remains of the famed ziggurat.

This city, which is mentioned several times in the Bible as Ur of the Chaldees (referring to the Chaldeans, whom settled in the area about 900 BC) as the birthplace of Prophet Abraham "Ibrahim Al-Khalil" (pbuh), was one of the most important cities of the Sumerians in the 4th and the 1st half of the 3rd millennium BC. It was also considered as one of the most active and full of life cities in southern Mesopotamia during the following centuries. In former days it stood on the banks of the Euphrates, until the river changed its course.

Evidence suggests that Ur had three classes of people. The richer, government officials, priests and soldiers, were at the top. The second level was for merchants, teachers, labourers, farmers and craft-makers. The bottom were for slaves captured in battle. Burials at Ur give insight into people's social standing. Kings and queens were buried with treasure as realised by Wooly's discovery of the 'Royal' burial site. Wealthy people were buried with less. Since irrigation gave Ur abundant crops, not everybody needed to work on farms. People learned other skills. Sir Leonard Wooly made a tablet that listed Ur's special workers. The chisel workers made sculptures, the gem cutters made gems, and the fuller stomped on woven wools to make them soft. The metal workers made weapons. (6)

The use of Bitumen in construction:

'Baked bricks were used for the lowest courses of walls, for drains, where bitumen was employed to make them watertight, and for paved courtyards and other exposed architecture such as the facades of buildings; important buildings, such as the ziggurat at Ur, might be encased in baked bricks as a protection against the elements. The use of bitumen as a mortar, particularly in the construction of large structures such as city walls, also provided an effective protection against damp. courses of reed matting and layers of bitumen were interspersed between those of brick in the construction of ziggurats to counteract rising damp from the foundations, and weep-holes also assisted drainage and prevented damp decay. Bitumen was also employed as a water-proofing material for bathrooms and constructional timber such as doors. Brick walls were often plastered to protect them against the rain. Mud could ne used as a plaster but a stronger and more attractive plaster was made of gypsum or lime, made by burning limestone.' (7)

Chronology of Ur.

Ur was an ancient Sumerian city that was settled in the late sixth millennium, during the Ubaid period until about 3000 B.C., the area of Ur was about 37 acres. During the Early Dynastic Period, Ur reached its maximum area of 124 acres and was one of the richest Sumerian cities because it was a harbour, and therefore trading, town on the Persian Gulf. (2)

The earliest occupations at Ur date to the Ubaid period of the late 6th millennium BC. By about 3000 BC, Ur covered a total area of 37 acres including early temple sites. Ur reached its maximum size of 54 acres during the Early Dynastic Period of the early 3rd millennium, when Ur was one of the most important capitals of the Sumerian civilization. Ur continued as a minor capital for Sumer and succeeding civilizations, but during the 4th century BC, the Euphrates changed course, and the site was abandoned. (3)

According to ancient records, Ur had 3 main dynasties of rulers who at various times, extended their control over all of Sumeria.

2,670 BC - The founder of the First Dynasty of Ur was the conqueror and temple builder Mesanepada , 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 north east of the site of Ur.

2,340 BC - Ur was captured  by King Sargon of Agade, and this era, called the Akkadian period, marks an important step in the blending of Sumerian and Semitic cultures. After this dynasty came a long period of which practically nothing is known except that a 2nd dynasty rose and fell.

2113 - 2095 BC - Ur-Nammu, 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. 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.

The Ziggurat of Ur...

The Great Ziggurat of Ur was a temple of Nanna, the moon deity in Sumerian mythology, and has two stages constructed from brick: in the lower stage the bricks are joined together with bitumen, in the upper stage they are joined with mortar. The temple was built in 2,100 B.C. during the reign of Ur-Nammu and stands 70 feet (21 m) high).

An early image of the Ziggurat from the 1920's

An image of the building after restoration

Artistic reconstruction of the original complete structure

The ziggurat is believed to have been the precursor to the Egyptian pyramids, which began with the Djosers 1st Dynasty Step-pyramid at Saqqara.


The city was first excavated in 1853 and 1854 by British consul J. E. Taylor, who uncovered the then sand-covered remains of the famed ziggurat of Ur which was dedicated to the moon god Nanna in Sumerian mythology and the Babylonian equivalent Sin in Babylonian mythology.  However, the excavation of the actual city did not happen until 1918 when the British Museum funded an excavation under the leadership of British archaeologists Reginald C. Thompson and H. R. H. Hall.  Though excavation ceased in 1919, it was restarted in 1922 in a joint expedition by the British Museum and the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley.  Ending in 1934, this last expedition was the one that provided the most information on this mighty city of over 200 000 residents at its peak.

In 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.

Most of the treasures excavated at Ur are in the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Discoveries at Ur:

The Sumerian Gold Lyre, c. 2650 BC (B17694)

Among the estimated 170,000 valuable antiquities that filled Iraq's Baghdad Museum prior to its tragic looting in April 2003, some of civilization's oldest musical instruments were proudly exhibited. The Gold Lyre (replica, right) was one of more than a dozen Sumerian stringed instruments discovered at the ancient site of Ur in 1927.

Nanna Sin / Nannar

Nannar's bull on his alter in Ur

Alter to Nannar, & Utu's Sun symbols

Sin /ˈsiːn/ (Akkadian: Su'en, Sîn) or Nanna (Sumerian: DŠEŠ.KI, DNANNA) was the god of the moon in the Sumerian mythology. Nanna is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin. The two chief seats of Nanna's/Sin's worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.

His wife was Ningal ("Great Lady"), who bore him Utu/Shamash ("Sun") and Inanna/Ishtar (the goddess of the planet Venus). The tendency to centralize the powers of the universe leads to the establishment of the doctrine of a triad consisting of Sin/Nanna and his children.

He was also the father of Ishkur.

Nannar's moon crescent, Taurus symbol & Aninnaki symbol flying disc

Sin had a beard made of lapis lazuli and rode on a winged bull. The bull was one of his symbols, through his father, Enlil, "Bull of Heaven", along with the crescent and the tripod (which may be a lamp-stand). On cylinder seals, he is represented as an old man with a flowing beard and the crescent symbol. In the astral-theological system he is represented by the number 30 and the moon. This number probably refers to the average number of days (correctly around 29.53) in a lunar month, as measured between successive new moons.

An important Sumerian text ("Enlil and Ninlil") tells of the descent of Enlil and Ninlil, pregnant with Nanna/Sin, into the underworld. There, three "substitutions" are given to allow the ascent of Nanna/Sin. The story shows some similarities to the text known as "The Descent of Inanna".


Nannar Utu Inana symbol

Nannar Utu Inana

Nannar, Utu & his twin sister Inanna

Utu and his twin sister Inanna & Nanna Sin

God symbols, Anu, Nannar, & Utu-Inanna both in one, symbols; Utu the Sun god, Inanna the 8-pointed star goddess

Inanna, Utu & Nannar- enjoy beer

Göbekli Tepe

Nannar, Adad, Anu, Inanna.. symbols

Enlil, Anu, Ashur, Inanna, Nannar, Shala, Marduk, & Adad symbols

Nannar, Ashur, Inanna, Anu, Adad, & Enlil symbols

Ningishzidda, Anu, Ninhursag, Enlil, unkn, Enki, Adad, & Marduk symbols

Nannar, Inanna, Utu, Anu, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nergal, Zababa, Ninurta, Marduk, Nabu, Bau, Adad, Shala, Nusku, Ningirsu, Shuqamuna, Shumalia, Ningishzidda, & Ishara

Bau, Ninhursag, Nabu, Ishara, Nergal, Marduk, NIngishzidda, unkn, Shuqamula, Nusku, Nannar, Utu, Inanna, Adad, Anu, Enlil, Enki, unkn, & Nanshe symbols

Utu-Inanna, Adad, Nannar, Ashur, & Enlil symbols

Anu, Adad, Nannar, Enlil, & Marduk symbols

Lament for Sumer and Ur

The lament for Sumer and Urim or the lament for Sumer and Ur is a poem and one of five known Mesopotamian "city laments"-dirges for ruined cities in the voice of the city's tutelary goddess.

The other city laments are:

During the last year of King Ibbi-Sin's reign, Ur fell to an army from the east. The Sumerians decided that such a catastrophic event could only be explained through divine intervention and wrote in the lament that the gods, "An, Enlil, Enki and Ninmah decided [Ur's] fate"

The literary works of the Sumerians were widely translated (e.g. by the Hittites, Hurrians and Canaanites) and the world-renowned expert in Sumerian history, Samuel Noah Kramer, wrote that later Greek as well as Hebrew texts "were profoundly influenced by them." Contemporary scholars have drawn parallels between the lement and passages from the bible (e.g. "the Lord departed from his temple and stood on the mountain east of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 10:18-19)." - Lament for Sumer and Ur

The Lament of Ur:

For the gods have abandoned us
like migrating birds they have gone
Ur is destroyed, bitter is its lament
The country's blood now fills its holes like hot bronze in a mould
Bodies dissolve like fat in the sun. Our temple is destroyed
Smoke lies on our city like a shroud.
blood flows as the river does
the lamenting of men and women
sadness abounds
Ur is no more.


Sumerians - Danites

Sumerian city-state


Sumerian / Danite symbols

Sumerian symbols = Danite symbols

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