City of Ur: Building Blocks of a Civilization

City of Ur Artifacts 1920

Ur Online Field Photographs  Photo ID Penn Archival Image Label GN1912

City of Ur: Building Blocks of a Civilization 

 

Thomas Edison State University

John J Gentry

LIB-495

Jan 26, 2019

Abstract

The city of Ur had many great technological advancements and is considered to be the cradle of civilization. However, from a historical and anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influences from other lesser known peoples within this region. The problem of how did Ur learn the technical aspects to build the city, and where did they get the ideas necessary to succeed on such a grand scale. The purpose here is to shed some light on other connections that could have influenced the creation and construction of the city. From a perspective that also draws on some old oral tradition. Was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations?

With the current books and papers mostly coming from the 1920s and the papers being written from the understanding that no other evidence existed to clear of the questions I have discussed above. With the uprisings and wars in Iraq, Iran, and Syria as researchers, we sometimes are left with the idea or concept that we cannot learn more. This research will help show that there is still much to learn even today.

My Methodology uses Methods of standard research of past works that are can be lesser known today, and some more recent Archaeology conducted by Stanford University and overseed by Ian Hodder from the Çatalhöyük Research Project in Turkey. This paper is meant to focus on the research from the 1920s and the online archives of the University of Pennsylvania project along with the online resources of the British Museum.

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

First I must acknowledge my Capstone mentor Randall Otto who’s guidance during this process was greatly appreciated. Second my Son John J Gentry II who helped with proofreading and some formatting questions. Third, my son John Elijah Gentry who also helped with proofreading and formatting issues.

 

 

 

Dedication

I dedicate the research and capstone to my wife Karen S Gentry and my two sons John J Gentry and John E Gentry. May they never stop searching for answers and keep the ideas, concepts of world exploration alive and well for years to come.

 

 

 

Contents

Abstract 2

Acknowledgments 3

Dedication 4

Chapter 1 Introduction 6

Chapter 2 Literature Review 10

Chapter 3 Research Design and Methodology 15

Chapter 4 Results of the Study 18

Chapter 5 Discussion and Recommendations 24

References 32

Annotated Bibliography 34

 

 

 

 

 

Chap 1

Introduction

Ur Ziggurat

Ur Online Field Photographs  Photo ID Penn Archival Image Label LP17  

Currently, most of the historical information is very simplistic and does not address the major issue. How did these peoples go from simple hunter-gatherer peoples with limited technology end up becoming the first known civilization? There is a lot of assumptions built into this question, and I want to set out to identify the other evidence of much older advanced peoples who might have played a role in the distribution of knowledge and technology that fed into the creation of this once mighty civilization. From the advanced settlements in Northern Turkey that date back to 9,000 BC to the peoples who traveled up and down the mighty rivers of the Euphrates and the Tigris. With stories that explain the creation of Eridu and by themselves would only be circumstantial but with anthropology evidence from what I would consider mini-civilization north of Ur the information paints a very different story then we knew about in the 1920s that are the base of the evidence of ideas today.During the 5th millennium BC a people known as the Ubaidians established settlements in the region known later as Sumer; these settlements gradually developed into the chief Sumerian cities, namely Adab, Eridu, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash, Larsa, Nippur, and Ur. The early settlers were people who inhabited villages that were laid out along the marsh waters of the river Euphrates. They built up these villages using mud and reeds as building materials. Their diets seemed to consist of fish and grass grains farmed along the river. When the first early city center was established, it appeared to be well thought out. With storerooms and courtyards excavated there was evidence of the local grains and animal husbandry, including cattle and pigs. This would lead me to think that trade routes were well established at this time.

The city of Ur had many great technological advancements and is considered to be the cradle of civilization. However, from a historical/anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations? To better understand the answer, looking at past excavations might give a clue into how this civilization sprung into life. So what do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations?

The following is the main questions and my sub-questions that I feel should address this lack of research tieing into this civilization.

Major Question: From a historical/anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations?

Sub-Questions:

  1. What do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations?
  2. What other dynamics from Eridu may have played a roll in the advancements of Ur?
  3. Evidence of other societies that could have brought technology from the north to the Sumerian region?
  4. What oral or other traditions might support the possibilities of technology before Eridu that might have gone into the creation of Ur?

With the current books and papers mostly coming from the 1920s and the papers being written from the understanding that no other evidence existed to clear of the questions I have discussed above. With the uprisings and wars in Iraq, Iran, and Syria as researchers, we sometimes are left with the idea or concept that we cannot learn more. Local researchers and others from western universities have continued work in the fields of Archaeology, Anthropology and Historical research and they are always willing to share what they know. It is my belief that I can share a portion of the evidence, and open the door to the possibility to warrant additional research within this area of research.

My Methodology uses Methods of standard research of past works that are can be lesser known today, and some more recent Archaeology conducted by Stanford University and overseed by Ian Hodder from the Çatalhöyük Research Project in Turkey. This paper is meant to focus on the research from the 1920s and the online archives of the University of Pennsylvania project along with the online resources of the British Museum. I will also bring in some recent discoveries tieing the past into the present day, and lay out my hypothesis for pre-Ur existing technology.

Definition of Terms:

  • Anthropology – the study of humanity; divisions are physical anthropology, archaeology, Ethnology, and anthropological linguistics.
  • Archaeology – the study of material culture.
  • Assimilation – when one ethnic group absorbs another so that the cultural traits of the assimilated group become indistinguishable.
  • Bilineal – descent in which the individual figures kinship through both the father’s and mother’s descent group.
  • Class Stratification – where members of a society are ranked from higher to lower based on wealth, prestige, position, or education.

 

Today we look at Ur and the other known civilizations as the cradle of civilization, and from the information, we had in the early nineteenth to twentieth centuries we were correct to come to that conclusion. However, a significant amount of research and discoveries have been made and new more complex areas of study have been shedding light on the advent of the time period that has led to the creation of the city of Ur. It is the work of these teams, organizations and even countries that came after the famous archaeological digs of the nineteen twenty’s that we can now formulate and begin to discuss new possibilities, and push the boundaries of human civilization further backward in time. With the creation myths of Eridu and the evidence of sophisticated large towns beyond that status of villages in central and northern Turkey we can ask the questions, and seek the answers where the ideas and technology to create Ur come from.

 

Chapter 2:

Literature Review

Ur Ziggurat

Ur Online Field Photographs  Photo ID GN0205       

With the advent of early Sumerian peoples adapting agriculture, religion, and trading along the rivers of Mesopotamia we have the birthplace of modern human history as we currently understand it. The Ubaidians created small villages like settlements within the region known later as “Sumer; these settlements gradually developed into the chief Sumerian cities, namely Adab, Eridu, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash, Larsa, Nippur, and Ur.”  (Mark 1) The early settlers were people who occupied villages that were laid out along the marsh waters of the river Euphrates. They built up these small settlements using mud and reeds as building materials. Their dietary regime consisted of different aquatic fish species, grass grains, and locally farmed plants along the river, and waterways. When the first early city center was settled, it appeared to be well thought out. “With storerooms and courtyards excavated over time, there was evidence of the local grains and animal husbandry, including cattle and pigs. This is the story of our civilization as we currently understand it.” (Woolley) Today with the advent of modern technology we have begun to redefine human history as we currently understand it. Our human ancestors led active lives and lived within larger towns, and had certain levels of technology over a thousand years before Ur was in its prime. With this kind of information, there is some early evidence to suggest trade routes were well established at this period of time. It is my goal to establish some general understanding and give a historical-anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations? This overarching question will be answered along with evidence of early bronze age technologies north of this region and the use of circumstantial evidence from oral tradition to support hard evidence.

With information recorded from the excavations of Sir Leonard Woolley during the 1920s and onward we can lay out a model of generalization of who and how the early people lived in this area. “The early inhabitants were very similar to the Marsh Arabs and there is not be very much evidence available to archaeologists today.” (Gentry 1) However from early on in the excavation of Ur they did begin to find the piles of inhabitation of these people deep underground within the complex of the Ur city. Today there is evidence from Ur to support that Eridu’s proximity 12 miles away from Ur and was the oldest excavated city site. The early marsh-type peoples are named the Ubaid people and they were agriculturalists, as many hoes and sickles are evident at the numerous sites. The sickles were made of baked clay, which shows a certain level of sophistication. These early inhabitants discovered ways to create cutting instruments by hardening a pottery-based implement, a very ingenious idea and its edge game them the cutting utilization needed. “The historical and anthropological evidence shows that the credit for establishing the civilization should go to the Sumerians who were the second settlers.” (Gentry 2) They brought art and literature which far surpassed that of the Ubaidians. The beginnings of most of the western ideas regarding time and possible legal matters can be found in Sumerian clay tablets. It is with this information historian’s, archaeologists, and anthropologists can begin to lay the foundations of our current historical overview. From the obvious fact that bodies of water have changed over time leaving us early mounds of the reed people inhabitation to the cities of the region. The first world cities and civilization were formed and lay beneath the sand, and scholars past and present are able to fully excavate this land and establish linkage to other possible sites, and documentation for future scholars to follow.

The first king of Ur was known as Mes-Anni-Padda, from the first Dynasty of Ur (late 4th-early 3rd millennium BCE), and he was succeeded by his son, A-Anni-Padda. During the rule of these kings, Ur was constantly at war with other city-states of Mesopotamia. Raiders attacking from Akkad ended the First Dynasty of Ur. Ur then entered a stage similar to the Dark Ages in Europe after the fall of Rome and remained that way until a new king, Ur-Nammu, came to power. Under king Nammu’s rule, a government was established and time was taken to replenish life within Ur, and to promote the cities patron moon god of Nannar. Temples were built, including the largest and most extravagant of them all, the Ur Ziggurat. This, along with an increase in irrigation and agriculture ended the first depression of Ur. The temple of Ziggurat still stands today and with its steps intact can be climbed to the top where you can see the other uncovered Ziggurats from other city-states of the past.

Eridu being the oldest known city of the Sumer time period gives us some general timelines in which we can ascertain when certain technologies would have been present there. The beginning of Eridu is estimated to be c. 5400 BCE when The City of Eridu is estimated to have been founded. Within this time period, we get the earliest Shrines to Enki built at the city and this establishes the earliest known organized religion in Mesopotamia. The city thrived until c. 2800 BCE when the probable date of the regional Great Flood happened when the river Euphrates rose and damaged the city. In the year c. 2300 BCE the Eridu Genesis is composed and this brings information with it that by itself would not be as useful but along with others data and know anthropological finding we can begin to put the puzzle of advanced trade together and hypothesize that there were areas before Eridu where advanced building and thriving town existed to the north within the borders of present-day Turkey. Later in 2100 BCE the first ziggurats in Ur, Eridu, Uruk, and Nippur where built and this advancement in building science was a great leap above where they were at the current time period. The city continued to thrive and finally declined and fell in c. 600 BCE when the city of Eridu is abandoned.

The city of Eridu is written about and is prominent within Sumerian mythology. Religiously it was the first city and home of the gods and had particular prominence due to the goddess Innana. She traveled to Eridu in order to gift civilization and she bestowed this upon humanity from her original city of Uruk.  Considered the oldest known civilization Uruk was to the north of Eridu and this is mentioned in great detail in the Eridu Genesis tablets. The story is believed to have been 2300 BCE and is the earliest description of the Great Flood, written in the biblical book of Genesis, and this is where he gathered and protected the seeds of life. The excavation of Ur in the 1920s revealed an eight-foot layer of silt and this seems to support the flood narrative of Eridu since Ur was only 12 miles away. The flooding happened within the area of the Euphrates around c. 2800 BCE along the river. Notes from Max Mallowan during the original Ur excavation describes what he believed to have been a local flooding event and not a global flood. (Woolley)

Further up north in present-day Turkey, we have discoveries from the team of Archeologists and Dr. Aslihan Yener of the Oriental Institute. (Wilford) Here she found evidence of an early tin mine that appears to have been in existence in c. 3000 or around this time period. Tin an important part of the bronze age and out of the regional expectations of the bronze Mesopotamia time period theories. The use of these technologies with such a distance can lead us to ascertain the possibility of very large trade routes and the development of this critical civilization building technique existing in Turkey around c. 3000 BCE. These people using the highly advanced metallurgy technology clearly points to another advance group of people in existence during the same general time period of Ur. “With the crucibles and the finding of  30 percent of tin content, we have a significant metal trade in existence.” (Wilford)

Taking this along with the existence of Çatalhöyük established around c. 7,400 BCE with inhabitants between 3,000 and 8,000 people lived, and we begin to see a picture where human civilization was much more advanced and spread out giving us the possibilities of greater communication.  Along the rivers of present-day Turkey, Iraq, and Syria at levels, we did not expect until all of the new discoveries from the 1920s in Ur and the 1960s in Çatalhöyük. (Çatalhöyük) With this new information and the continued amount of detailed research around the world we can begin the put the puzzle of human civilization together and now the historical-anthropological perspective within our understanding of Ur civilization beg us t ask the question was Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations? The mounting evidence and the amount of scholarly research are showing us that our original assumptions about Ur and the Mesopotamia region change as new evidence are found.

 

Chapter 3

Research Design and Methodology

Ur Site Layout

Ur Online Field Photographs  Photo ID GN2035

Historical research and the use of translated data from multiple sources requires a certain amount of record keeping and annotation along with the consumption of the required reading material. My qualitative research approach will allow me to gather the necessary information and to organize it into the format required to answer my research questions.
The following is the main questions and my sub-questions that I feel should address this lack of research tieing into this civilization.

Major Question: From a historical/anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations?

Sub-Questions:

  1. What do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations?
  2. What other dynamics from Eridu may have played a roll in the advancements of Ur?
  3. Evidence of other societies that could have brought technology from the north to the Sumerian region?
  4. What oral or other traditions might support the possibilities of technology before Eridu that might have gone into the creation of Ur?

My research design of qualitative research with comparative studies accommodates my purpose for the gathering of research and the amount of information from multiple sources. Information such as oral tradition from ancient Babylonian tablets used along with known facts within comparative study allows me to see intent and general ideas alive within the lives of the Chaldean peoples.

I have acquired the published books from the original excavation of the 1920s and, with Sir Leonard Woolley research along with the letters from his assistants, I can formulate the first-hand observations at the site when it was excavated for the first time. I can then correlate this with the later information and data retrieved from the areas of southern Turkey along with the recent discoveries of building technology that led up to the time period in which the City of Ur was built. My current plan of action is to review the books and data from the original work on site, and then to review the Babylonian translations of the history of the region. I will then read the research from the Stanford team in Turkey along with other current work regionally that shows promise in shedding light onto my research questions.

I will organize the information starting with the Ur excavations, first following with the regional oral tradition translations. This information will lay out the bedrock foundations for the later research coming from the Stanford team in regards to the current ongoing Turkey excavations. I’m going to analyze the information and data in a literal fashion from the use of the currently known timelines and then add the new information that could require the possible change of these timelines towards the end of the research.

Today we look at Ur and the other known civilizations as the cradle of civilization, and from the information, we had in the early nineteenth to twentieth centuries we were correct to come to that conclusion. However, a significant amount of research and discoveries have been made and new more complex areas of study have been shedding light on the advent of the time period that has led to the creation of the city of Ur. It is the work of these teams, organizations and even countries that came after the famous archaeological digs of the 1920s  that we can now formulate and begin to discuss new possibilities and push the boundaries of human civilization further backward in time. With the creation myths of Eridu and the evidence of sophisticated large towns beyond that status of villages in central and northern Turkey we can ask the questions, and seek the answers where the ideas and technology to create Ur come from.

Chap 4

Results of the Study

Ur Ziggurat 1920

Ur Online Field Photographs  Photo ID GN0145   

The following is the main questions and my sub-questions that I feel should address this lack of research tying into this civilization. I have focused on major findings from the ancient past along with new findings that help us understand the possible influences going on as a researcher moves up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers into what is known today as Northern Iraq and Turkey. My intention is to ask questions that have the potential to better understand our past within this region where the city of Ur is located.

Major Question: From a historical/anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations?

Sub-Questions:

  1. What do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations?
  2. What other dynamics from Eridu may have played a role in the advancements of Ur?
  3. What evidence is there of other societies that could have brought technology from the north to the Sumerian region?
  4. What oral or other traditions might support the possibilities of technology before Eridu that might have gone into the creation of Ur?

What do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations? “Ur never really disappeared: its characteristic ziggurat, or stepped temple tower, remained visible high above the plain of the desert. As it was “rediscovered” as an ancient site by travelers in the 17th century, the ruins of Ur came to be known as Tell al-Muqayyar (Arabic for “mound of pitch”) because of the bitumen, or tar, that had been used often in building and waterproofing parts of the ancient city. The lengthy occupation at Ur generated archaeological deposits up to 20 meters in depth over an area of 96 hectares” (UrOnline, 2019).

(Ur Excavations UrOnline 2019)

“Woolley’s excavations at Ur yielded thousands of artifacts, photographs, letters, reports, and other documents which today remain divided among the three museums.” (UrOnline, 2019) Additionally, there are notes from his assistants that also provide relevant information to the excavations that took place in the 1920s. Ur was one of the world’s first major cities, being inhabited for thousands of years, from c. 5000 to 300 BCE. From the late Ubaid period to the time of the Achaemenid Persian kings, for five approximately millennia. With over 20 different layers excavated during the early 1920s, we have a solid baseline of information about the city. (Woolley 1982) Today the Ziggurat of Ur dedicated to the moon god Nanna and also the patron deity of the city still stands above the desert. The construction techniques of mud brick that are common in this area and during this time show a connection to Eridu and have a resemblance of other techniques used further north at the Çatalhöyük Neolithic town site where similar mud brick techniques have been used. (Çatalhöyük 2019) Based on the time period’s style of construction and the materials used in the construction of the city there appears to be a transition that originally was happening further north via c. 6981 BC (Çatalhöyük 2019)

What other dynamics from Eridu may have played a role in the advancements of Ur? The location of the city of Eridu, being approximately 20 km or 12.5 miles away from Ur, gives us the reasonable assumption that remnants of this city and its own technology would have been transported by the local population over such a short distance. Use of beasts of burden to pull carts was available during the c. 5000 – 3800 BC time periods in which the construction first is believed to have begun. With large construction projects that existed in Eridu and Uruk before c. 4,000 BC and the use of mud brick from the areas of the rivers surrounding the cities we see consistent use of this building construction style.

What evidence is there of other societies that could have brought technology from the north to the Sumerian region? With the recent discoveries in Turkey where ongoing excavations are now underway and in some cases for several decades we have the presence of smaller civilizations that existed before the cities of Mesopotamia and had similar building techniques that if passed down by migrating peoples following the rivers and possibly bring the building techniques and bronze metallurgy technologies to the first city of Uruk or concurrently as the civilization advanced over time. (Wilford 1994) We have the current excavations of Göbekli Tepe, Çatalhöyük, the Taurus Mountains that show us advanced peoples living and possibly creating bronze much earlier and concurrently with the peoples of the Mesopotamian region.

What oral or other traditions might support the possibilities of technology before Eridu that might have gone into the creation of Ur? Within the Sumerian creation myth that is written in Sumerian cuneiform on tablet fragments, we have the oral tradition of the creation of Eridu and the destruction of the people who lived there in a flood. (Mark 2010) Among the ancient texts of Epic of Atrahasis, Tablet XI of the Babylonian Epic of Gilgameš, we have the religion and tradition that was written down.

[1′-9′] Nintur was paying attention:

“Let me bethink myself of my humankind, all forgotten as they are;

and mindful of mine, Nintur’s, creatures let me bring them back,

let me lead the people back from their trails.

Let they come and build cities and cult places,

that I may cool myself in their shade;

may they lay the bricks for the cult cities in pure spots,

and may they found places for divination in pure spots!” (Mark 2010)

Here we see in the English translations where the goddess describes the creation of cities and their placement locations.

[41’ff] The firstling of the cities, Eridu, she gave to the leader Nudimmud,

the second, Bad-Tibira, she gave to the Prince and the Sacred One,

the third, Larak, she gave to Pahilsag,

the fourth, Sippar, she gave to the gallant Utu,

the fifth, Šuruppak, she gave to Ansud. (Mark 2010)

We also have the oral tradition of Eridu getting technology from the north and this was put into the city of Eridu. Religiously we have the creation myths written within very old texts that were found within the excavation of Ur and with the translations from the Babylonian texts and the epic of Gilgamesh we have an idea of the beliefs of the creation and destruction of Eridu.

The civilization of Ur a had a combination of natural increases in technology over time and outside influences from other lesser known peoples or quasi civilizations. From the cities of Eridu and Uruk being connected with physical excavation research showing similar building techniques and the location of recent findings further north in Turkey showing similar building techniques used years before these cities were constructed. The possibility of bronze used before Ur at a time when we didn’t think the ability existed shows us a certain amount of advancement with several populations before Ur. This along with the oral traditions written down in the Sumerian cuneiform tablet fragments show us an organized intention to create the cities of the region and to use them for the storage and distribution of grain. We can surmise that some kind of famine had existed before and the organization of agriculture storage was now needed to ensure grain distribution could endure in times of drought. The cities and religious Ziggurats had a practical purpose and use that ensure solid construction that we now find today.

 

Chap 5

Summary and Discussion

Ur Image Relief

Ur Online Field Photographs  Photo ID GN0457A

During the 5th millennium BC a people known as the Ubaidians established settlements in the region known later as Sumer; these settlements gradually developed into the chief Sumerian cities, namely Adab, Eridu, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash, Larsa, Nippur, and Ur. The early settlers were people who inhabited villages that were laid out along the marsh waters of the river Euphrates. They built up these villages using mud and reeds as building materials. Their diets seemed to consist of fish and grass grains farmed along the river. When the first early city center was established, it appeared to be well thought out. With storerooms and courtyards excavated there was evidence of the local grains and animal husbandry, including cattle and pigs. This would require trade routes to be well established at this time. We have a tremendous amount of reference to earlier cities like Eridu and others. This gives us an underlying basis of technological information passing from one city to another. According to Peeter Espak’s paper, the history and evidence via writings on buildings and to religions’ gods connected to the city is very significant. The “significance of the city of Eridu is based on several ancient royal inscriptions and mythological accounts and concludes that in Sumerian mythology we can call Eridu one of the most sacred religious and cultural centers among others, comparable to Nippur, Ur, and Uruk.” (Espak 53)

Historical research and the use of translated data from multiple sources requires a certain amount of record keeping and annotation along with the consumption of the required reading material. My qualitative research approach will allow me to gather the necessary information and to organize it into the format required to answer my research questions. The material comes from a variety of publications online, such as specific encyclopedias, academic research, museum files specific to Ur and Eridu connected universities and the British Museum collection, with material from some of my other projects.

The following is the main question and my sub-questions that I feel should address this lack of research tying into this civilization. I have focused on major findings from the ancient past along with new findings that help us understand the possible influences going on as a researcher moves up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers into what is known today as Northern Iraq and Turkey. My intention is to ask questions that have the potential to better understand our past within this region where the city of Ur is located.

The city of Ur had many great technological advancements and is considered to be the cradle of civilization. However, from a historical/anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations? To better understand the answer, looking at past excavations might give a clue into how this civilization sprung into life. So what do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations?

The following is the main questions and my sub-questions that I feel should address this research.

Major Question: From a historical/anthropological perspective, was the civilization of Ur a natural increase in technology over time or was there outside influence from other lesser known peoples or civilizations?

Sub-Questions:

  1. What do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations?
  2. What other dynamics from Eridu may have played a role in the advancements of Ur?
  3. Evidence of other societies that could have brought technology from the north to the Sumerian region?
  4. What oral or other traditions might support the possibilities of technology before Eridu that might have gone into the creation of Ur?

My research design of qualitative research with comparative studies accommodates my purpose for the gathering of research and the amount of information from multiple sources. Information such as oral tradition from ancient Babylonian tablets used along with known facts within comparative study allows me to see intent and general ideas alive within the lives of the Chaldean peoples.

I have acquired the published books from the original excavation of the 1920s and the Sir Leonard Woolley research along with the letters from his assistants so I can formulate the first-hand observations at the site when it was excavated for the first time. I can then correlate this with the later information and data retrieved from the areas of southern Turkey along with the recent discoveries of building technology that led up to the time period in which the City of Ur was built. My current plan of action is to review the books and data from the original work on site, and then to review the Babylonian translations of the history of the region. I will then read the research from the Stanford team in Turkey along with other current work regionally that shows promise in shedding light onto my research questions.

What do we know in general of Ur from the 1920’s excavations?

“Ur never really disappeared: its characteristic ziggurat, or stepped temple tower, remained visible high above the plain of the desert. As it was “rediscovered” as an ancient site by travelers in the 17th century, the ruins of Ur came to be known as Tell al-Muqayyar (Arabic for “mound of pitch”) because of the bitumen, or tar, that had been used often in building and waterproofing parts of the ancient city. The lengthy occupation at Ur generated archaeological deposits up to 20 meters in depth over an area of 96 hectares.” (UrOnline, 2019)  “Woolley’s excavations at Ur yielded thousands of artifacts, photographs, letters, reports, and other documents which today remain divided among the three museums.” (UrOnline, 2019) Additionally, there are notes from his assistants that also provide relevant information to the excavations that took place in the 1920s. Ur was one of the world’s first major cities. Being inhabited for thousands of years, from c. 5000 to 300 BCE. From the late Ubaid period to the time of the Achaemenid Persian kings, for five approximately millennia. With over 20 different layers excavated during the early 1920s, we have a solid baseline of information about the city. (Woolley 1982) Today the Ziggurat of Ur dedicated to the moon god Nanna and also the patron deity of the city still stands above the desert. The construction techniques of mud brick that are common in this area and during this time show a connection to Eridu and have a resemblance of other techniques used further north at the Çatalhöyük Neolithic town site where similar mud brick techniques have been used. (Çatalhöyük 2019) Based on the time periods style of construction and the materials used in the construction of the city there appears to be a transition that originally was happening further north via c. 6981 BC (Çatalhöyük 2019)

What other dynamics from Eridu may have played a role in the advancements of Ur?

The location of the city of Eridu being approximately 20 km or 12.5 miles away for Ur gives us the reasonable assumption that remnants of this city and it’s own technology would have been transported by the local population over such a short distance. Use of beasts of burden to pull carts was available during the c. 5000 – 3800 BC time periods in which the construction first is believed to begin. With large construction projects that existing in Eridu and Uruk before c. 4,000 BC and the use of mud brick from the areas of the rivers surrounding the cities we see consistent use of this building construction style.

Evidence of other societies that could have brought technology from the north to the Sumerian region?

With the recent discoveries in Turkey where ongoing excavations are now underway and in some cases for several decades we have the presence of smaller civilization that existed before the cities of Mesopotamia and had similar building techniques that if past down by migrating peoples following the rivers and possibly bring the building techniques and bronze metallurgy technologies to the first city of Uruk or concurrently as the civilization advanced over time. (Wilford 1994) We have the current excavations of Göbekli Tepe, Çatalhöyük, the Taurus Mountains that show us advanced peoples living and possibly creating bronze much earlier and concurrently with the peoples of the Mesopotamian region.

What oral or other traditions might support the possibilities of technology before Eridu that might have gone into the creation of Ur?

Within the Sumerian creation myth that is written in Sumerian cuneiform on tablet fragments, we have the oral tradition of the creation of Eridu and the destruction of the people who lived there in a flood. (Mark 2010) Among the ancient texts of Epic of Atrahasis, Tablet XI of the Babylonian Epic of Gilgameš, we have the religion and tradition that was written down.

[1′-9′] Ninturnote was paying attention:

“Let me bethink myself of my humankind, all forgotten as they are;

and mindful of mine, Nintur’s, creatures let me bring them back,

let me lead the people back from their trails.

Let they come and build cities and cult places,

that I may cool myself in their shade;

may they lay the bricks for the cult cities in pure spots,

and may they found places for divination in pure spots!” (Mark 2010)

Here we see in the English translations where the goddess describes the creation of cities and their placement locations.

[41’ff] The firstling of the cities, Eridu, she gave to the leader Nudimmud,

the second, Bad-Tibira, she gave to the Prince and the Sacred One,

the third, Larak, she gave to Pahilsag,

the fourth, Sippar, she gave to the gallant Utu,

the fifth, Šuruppak, she gave to Ansud. (Mark 2010)

We also have the oral tradition of Eridu getting technology from the north and this was put into the city of Eridu. Religiously we have the creation myths written within very old texts that were found within the excavation of Ur and with the translations from the Babylonian texts and the epic if Gilgamesh we have an idea of the beliefs of the creation and destruction of Eridu.

Relationship of Research to the Field:

My research does show some connection to the past groups of people and with connections to oral tradition and some building techniques. However, there is information needed to bridge the gap of Pre Aruk and Post Çatalhöyük time periods. There does seem to be a connection but it’s import to find some connections via religion or other concrete evidence within the northern regions of northern Iraq (upper region Dihok area). With the rivers in this region running through the area, there were have been excavations in the past and there should be plenty of notes and some data to review. The amount of information just from the Woolley excavations and excursions alone would take a lifetime to comb through. His assistant’s notes also provide some unique details not talked about such as sediment from previous floods that seem to indicate multiple events there. This new information does imply regional weather events of substantial importance.

Discussion of Results:

WIth a tremendous amount of information, overall very few people have been researching the links between the sites to give us the overall time period or evolution of technological growth over time. This research points out the possible connections and lays the groundwork for continued research into the area. This paper adds to the work of others cited within it and shows some possible connections between constructional technology and even the oral traditions taken from the cuneiform tablets found in the region. The city of Ur still today has much more to offer us about the past of the region and with continued research into the cities past and new discoveries are possible still today. From major flooding events to the shifting of the rivers over time, we have multiple impacts happening to the city that the rulers are trying to deal with. Since we have evidence after the city was built to suggest these events happened, we can add some credibility to the Eridu flooding myths as well. The likelihood of people moving north and south along the rivers of the area trading goods, and exchanging building techniques is very high. That does seem to be supported all along the rivers from the area of Turkey today to the far south of Iraq.

Conclusions:

In conclusion, the amount of information today along with the recent research was done over the last forty years does lend support to my idea of pre-existing technologies and building techniques already in existence several thousand years before Ur. For whatever the reason there is a period of time where civilization was abruptly interrupted and things did slow down. We do know of a regional flood from the findings at Ur and from the writing found speaking of a great flood and the destruction of Eridu. As with most research on the region we are always finding new information or re-discovering objects for what they really are when we as academic researchers have been wrong in the past. Most importantly when researching this subject we must be willing to accept research from a multi-disciplined field of work and to accept findings from others when they are scientifically sound.

 

References

Çatalhöyük Research Project, http://www.catalhoyuk.com/. “Çatalhöyük Research Project.” Çatalhöyük 2005 Archive Report – Introduction, 2019, www.catalhoyuk.com/.

 

Gentry, John. “ExploreTraveler Geographical Area of Ur ‘of the Chaldees’ City of Ur.” Travel Channel – Tips for Traveling the World| ExploreTraveler, John Gentry, 3 Nov. 2018, exploretraveler.com/geographical-area-of-ur-of-the-chaldees/.

 

Thorkild Jacobsen. “The Eridu Genesis.” Journal of Biblical Literature, no. 4, 1981, p. 513. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/3266116.

 

Woolley, Sir Leonard. Editor P.R.S. Moorey Ur ‘of the Chaldees’ : a revised and updated edition of Sir Leonard Woolley’s Excavations at Ur. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1982.

Mark, Joshua J. “Eridu.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 20 July 2010, www.ancient.eu/eridu/.

 

UrOnline Museum, British, et al. “UrOnline – The Digital Resource for the Excavation of Ur.” UrOnline, British Museum, Penn Museum, Leon Levy Foundation, www.ur-online.org/. A joint project between the listed Museums with no publish date currently available.

Ur Excavations, UrOnline, British Museum, Penn Museum, Leon Levy Foundation. Thursday. 10 Jan. 2019.

 

Annotated Bibliography

Adam Stone. “Enlil/Ellil (god).” Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. Oracc and the UK HigherEd.Academy,2013.Web.23Dec.2015.<http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/enlil/>.

 

“Anu.” The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. Trans. Richard Aldington and Delano Ames. London: Hamlyn, 1959. Print.

 

Çatalhöyük Research Project, http://www.catalhoyuk.com/. “Çatalhöyük Research Project.” Çatalhöyük 2005 Archive Report – Introduction, 2019, www.catalhoyuk.com/.

Coulter, Charles, and Patricia Turner. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. New York and London: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Danti, Michael D. “Eridu City of the First Kings.” Calliope, vol. 14, no. 1, Sept. 2003, p. 8. EBSCOhost,libproxy.usouthal.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ulh&AN=10713394&site=eds-live.

 

Espak, Peeter. (2015). Was Eridu The First City in Sumerian Mythology?. Studia Orientalia Tartuensia. VI. 53–70.

 

Frayne, Douglas R. (2008) Presargonic Period (2700–2350 BC). The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia: Early Periods, Vol. 1. Toronto, Buffalo, and London: University of Toronto Press.

 

Frayne, Douglas R. (1997) Ur III Period (2112–2004 BC). The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia. Early Periods Vol 3/II. Toronto, Buffalo, and London: University of Toronto Press.

 

Galter, Hannes D. (2015) “The Mesopotamian God Enki/Ea.” Religion Compass, 9/3, pp. 66–76.

 

Gentry, John. “ExploreTraveler Geographical Area of Ur ‘of the Chaldees’ City of Ur.” Travel Channel – Tips for Traveling the World| ExploreTraveler, John Gentry, 3 Nov. 2018, exploretraveler.com/geographical-area-of-ur-of-the-chaldees/.

 

Hallo, William W. (1963). “Beginning and End of the Sumerian King List in the Nippur Recension.” Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 17, pp. 2–57.

 

Hodder, Ian, and Lynn Meskell. “A ‘Curious and Sometimes a Trifle Macabre Artistry’: Some Aspects of Symbolism in Neolithic Turkey.” Current Anthropology, vol. 52, no. 2, Apr. 2011, pp. 235–251.EBSCOhost,libproxy.usouthal.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2011-21531-010&site=eds-live.

 

Hoffner, Harry A., et al. Recent Developments in Hittite Archaeology and History : Papers in Memory of Hans G. Güterbock. Eisenbrauns, 2002. EBSCOhost, libproxy.usouthal.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=446032&site=eds-live.Thorkild Jacobsen. “The Eridu Genesis.” Journal of Biblical Literature, no. 4, 1981, p. 513. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/3266116.

 

  1. Aslihan Yener, et al. “Kestel: An Early Bronze Age Source of Tin Ore in the Taurus Mountains, Turkey.” Science, vol. 244, no. 4901, 1989, p. 200. EBSCOhost, libproxy.usouthal.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.1702795&site=eds-live.

 

Kramer, Samuel N. The Sumerians. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. An overview of the Sumerian culture in Mesopotamia.

 

Mark, Joshua J. “Eridu.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 20 July 2010, www.ancient.eu/eridu/.

 

Marc, Linssen. The Cults of Uruk and Babylon: The Temple Ritual Texts as Evidence for Hellenistic Cult Practice. Leiden: Brill-Styx, 2004. Print.

 

Mitchell S. ROTHMAN, et al. “Out of the Heartland : The Evolution of Complexity in Peripheral Mesopotamia During the Uruk Period.” Paléorient, vol. 15, no. 1, 1989, p. 279. EBSCOhost, libproxy.usouthal.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.41492356&site=eds-live.

 

“Mesopotamian Art and Architecture.” Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, Jan. 2018, p. 1;EBSCOhost,libproxy.usouthal.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=funk&AN=me092900&site=eds-live.

 

Nemet-Nejat, Karen R. Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. An updated and well-organized account of daily life in ancient Mesopotamia written with the general reader in mind.

 

Rothman, M. S. (2002). Late Chalcolithic Mesopotamia. In Peregrine, P., and Ember, M. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Prehistory, Vol. 8, Kluwer Academic, New York, pp. 261– 270.

 

Rothman, Mitchell S., ed. Uruk, Mesopotamia, and Its Neighbors: Cross Cultural Interactions in the Era of State Formation. Santa Fe, N.Mex.: School of American Research Press, 2001. Twelve field and theoretical archaeologists discuss the causes of urban expansion, cross-cultural influences, and life in the fifth and fourth millennia b.c.e.

 

Stevens, Kathryn. An/Anu (god). Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. Oracc and the UK Higher Education Academy, 2013. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.

 

Thorkild Jacobsen. “The Eridu Genesis.” Journal of Biblical Literature, no. 4, 1981, p. 513. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/3266116.

 

UrOnline Museum, British, et al. “UrOnline – The Digital Resource for the Excavation of Ur.” UrOnline, British Museum, Penn Museum, Leon Levy Foundation, www.ur-online.org/. A joint project between the listed Museums with no publish date currently available.

 

Ur Excavations, UrOnline, British Museum, Penn Museum, Leon Levy Foundation. Thursday. 10 Jan. 2019.

 

Wachtel, Albert. “Ur-Nammu.” Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2017. EBSCOhost, libproxy.usouthal.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=88258937&site=eds-live.

 

Wilford, John Noble. “Enduring Mystery Solved as Tin Is Found in Turkey.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Jan. 1994, www.nytimes.com/1994/01/04/science/enduring-mystery-solved-as-tin-is-found-in-turkey.html.

 

Woolley, Sir Leonard. Editor P.R.S. Moorey Ur ‘of the Chaldees’ : a revised and updated edition of Sir Leonard Woolley’s Excavations at Ur. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1982.

Geographical Area of Ur ‘of the Chaldees’

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