Ur: The City of the Moon God (Archaeological Histories)
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The ancient Mesoptamian city of Ur was a Sumerian city state which flourished as a centre of trade and civilisation between 2800–2000 Bce. However, in the recent past it suffered from the disastrous Gulf war and from neglect. It still remains a potent symbol for people of all faiths and will have an important role to play in the future.
This account of Ur's past looks at both the ancient city and its evolution over centuries, and its archaeological interpretation in more recent times. From the 19th century explorers and their identification of the site of Mukayyar as the Biblical city of Ur, the study proceeds to look in detail at the archaeologist Leonard Woolley and his key discoveries during the 1920s and 30s. Using the findings as a framework and utilising the latest evidence from environmental, historical and archaeological studies, the volume explores the site's past in chronological order from the Ubaid period in the 5th millennium to the death of Alexander. It looks in detail at the architectural remains: the sacred buildings, royal graves and also the private housing which provides a unique record of life 4000 years ago. The volume also describes the part played by Ur in the Gulf war and discusses the problems raised for archaeologists in the war's aftermath.
cave in which this was said to have happened is still a sacred place today. He also suggested that the name then apparently migrated to Kal’ah Sherkát (close to modern Ashur), and finally came to rest in the area around Mujáyah, as he called it. ‘The mound of Mujáyah, it is presumed, marks the site of the ancient capital of Aur, the Orchoe of Ptolemy …’ A further layer of uncertainty was added by the biblical tradition which also associated the name of Abraham with Harran (Gen. 11.31), near
repopulated, the boats are beginning to return. The most numerous finds from the cemetery area, as in most digs, were pieces of pottery. This was usually undecorated and rather utilitarian, perhaps because there were so many metal and stone jugs, bowls and pots of all descriptions for display purposes. There are a few exceptions: for example, bottle-shaped, carefully ridged brown pots are found in a number of royal graves. These originated on the upper Euphrates in Syria. They must have
Mesopotamian history today, thanks in large part to the excavations of Henry Layard at Nineveh and other major cities in the north. He brought home with him the wonderful palace reliefs portraying major episodes in the empire’s history laid out like a strip cartoon. These, and human-headed Post-imperial Ur 119 bulls, guarded the palaces of the rulers, and can now be seen in the British Museum in London. The centre of power had shifted decisively to the north, but Assyrian control extended
caused to the ziggurat by an American air raid thought to have taken place in 1991 in response to anti-aircraft fire from the base that had hit an American warplane. The ziggurat is marked on the south-eastern façade with bullet, shell and shrapnel holes; further damage also occurred after the camp was taken over by the Americans, whose perimeter fence enclosed the whole of the archaeological site, which at least protected it from looting. On the other hand, some inappropriate construction went
edition of Woolley is the best introduction, while a more detailed account can be found in Sir Leonard Woolley, Ur Excavations Volume VIII: The Kassite Period and the Period of the Assyrian Kings (London: British Museum Press, 1965), and in his The Ziggurat and its Surroundings. For the history see Amelie Kuhrt’s The Ancient Near East. (2 vols) (London: Routledge, 1995). A general survey of the periods covered in this chapter can be found in D. T. Potts (ed.), A Companion to the Archaeology