What do you know about the ancient city of Ur?
Entrance to a tomb in the Royal Tombs of Ur. (Source)
Maybe you know that it is where the best-preserved zigurrat, which is one of the most famous historical monuments in the world, stands. Maybe you know that it is mentioned in the Bible several times as Ur of Chaldee. Maybe you know that it is the birthplace of Abraham.
There is a lot more, less common knowledge about the city that was once a capital of a great Mesopotamian civilization–the ancient civilization of Sumeria.
Actually, Ur is a word that means City in both the Sumerian and Akkadian languages. Ur’s prominence was between the 4th and 1st half of the 3rd millenium BC, during which it was ruled by three dynasties. It was also the hub of worship of the moon god, Nanna, for which the zigurrat was dedicated.
Today, Ur is an archaeological site marked by the same 70-foot zigurrat and Royal Tombs. The Royal Tombs are comparable only to the Egyptian tomb of Tutankhamen in their wealth of a most comprehensive collection of artifacts that paint one of the clearest pictures of an ancient civilization ever unearthed.
You can view pictures of jewelry, weapons, statuettes and other artifacts unearthed from the Royal Tombs at Ur here, with some great commentary and explanations from that website’s incredibly knowledgeable source.
If you live near, or are going to be in the area of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, you can see a number of these artifacts in person. Information available here.
It’s hard to imagine that the above structure once stood on the banks of a flowing, almost gushing, river, but that very detail was what made Ur flourish. Though the river has long changed its course, Ur’s location along the Euphrates River in antiquity gave it access to the sea, bringing the city endless wealth.
A renaissance of Sumerian art and literature took place during the third dynasty, under the reign of Ur-Nammu, who is credited with writing the first law in history.
More details about the three dynasties and other information about Ur can be found here.
Below is a list of all the links I used to put this piece together. I hope you will visit them all, as they contain some great pictures and incredibly fascinating information I did not include in this piece.