Uruk: Ancient Civilization Archaeological Superstar Status

Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Print
    
The Parthian Temple of Gareus in Uruk (Osama alqasab/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Uruk: Ancient Civilization Archaeological Superstar Status

Uruk, in southern Iraq, has reached superstar status in the realm of archaeological excavations of ancient civilizations by delivering the Sumerian King Lists among the 5,000 cuneiform tablets discovered there; it is also the place where the first potter’s wheel was designed; and it is the setting for the mythological or legendary Sumerian king Gilgamesh, immortalized in the very first literary work, the Song or Epic of Gilgamesh. Located 80  kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Ur, for a period of almost 1,300 years, Uruk was ruled by five dynasties of kings, stretching from 3400 – 2112 BC, but it was inhabited for thousands of years before that and hundreds of years after.  

Remains of the ziggurat of Uruk, dominating the landscape – the temple would have towered on top (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Remains of the ziggurat of Uruk, dominating the landscape – the temple would have towered on top (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Archaeological Layers

Archaeological excavations have uncovered strata of several cities built on top of each other, covering the millennia of human inhabitation, dating back to the fifth century BC and the legendary founding of the city by the gods. These strata are: Uruk XVIII Eridu Period (c. 5000 BC): the founding of Uruk – Anu district also called Kullaba; Uruk XVIII–XVI Late Ubaid Period (4800–4200 BC): Kullaba and Eanna district merging into one city; 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) when the earliest monumental temples of Eanna district were built; Uruk III Jemdet Nasr Period (3100–2900 BC) when the nine-kilometer city wall was built, enclosing a massive 450 hectares, home to some 50,000 people; Uruk II and Uruk I.


Become a member to read more OR login here

Ancient Origins Quotations