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106. Tell Umm al-Aqarib (ancient name unknown)**

Eastern Dhi Qar Governorate. Seven kilometers southeast of Umma and 30 kilometers west of modern Al Rifa’i.

Dates: Ubaid (?)-Early Dynastic, third millennium BC

A small, recently excavated site with intriguing evidence of temple and palace.

During the late 90’s, the Iraqi Antiquities Dept. began to excavate a number of sites which were particularly threatened by looting. One of them was Umm al-Aqarib, which occupies about five square kilometers, with the highest mound rising 20 meters above the plain. They uncovered remains of a vast administrative structure, probably a palace (they guess its size might be as much as 50 x 50 meters), and some graves. They also uncovered a tripartite Sumerian temple plan (Temple H), built of plano-convex bricks, and characteristic of Eearly Dynastic II-III. Most of the walls were two meters thick, and went down to a depth of seven meters.

Adjacent to the southern wall were solid masses of sun-dried mud bricks, leading to the tip of the mound, which is the highest point in the site. The excavator suggests this might represent a high platform or even a ziggurat, and an early and unique example in southern Mesopotamian of the northern type of ziggurat, in which the temple was adjacent. Also intriguing was the fact that the courtyard and rooms of the temple had been filled in with clean sand or soil, with no traces of potsherds. Still mysteries are the name of the god worshipped in this temple and the city name,

Site Assessment: After extensive, unchecked looting began during the mid-1990s, the Iraq State Board of Antiquities authorized excavation to preserve what remained at the site. Looting has continued since 2003. Gangs at the site are frequently armed.

In May, 2003, Professor MacGuire Gibson visited this region with Col. John Kessel, Italian Ambassador Piero Cordone and a miitary contingent in a Marine Sea Stallion helicopter. After touring the freshly-looted site Umma, Professor Gibson reported: "We went south over Umm al Aqarib, a nearby site also excavated by the Department. Here, men were working, but not as many as at Umma. The fresh damage we were viewing has been done only since the beginning of the war, when looters came out and drove the guards from the sites."



  31° 36' 38.3291"  
  31.61064791° N
  45° 56' 10.9140" 
  45.93636502° E

GoogleEarth satellite view
of Tell Umm al-Aqarib
(external resource)

View site photos of Tell
Umm al-Aqarib taken by
Joanne Farchakh-Bajjaly
(2002-2004) hosted by the
Oriental Institute, University
of Chicago (22 photos)
(external resource)