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071. Tell Abu Shahrain (ancient: Eridu)

Dhi Qar Governorate. Seven miles southwest of Ur, and the southernmost of the known Sumerian cities. It was probably founded close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates, but with the accumulation of silt over the centuries, the remains are now some distance from the Gulf.

Date: Ubaid period, probably deserted by 1800 BC

A truly ancient city, regarded by the Sumerian scribes as the oldest in the world, where “kingship first came from heaven.”

Eridu was reputedly founded by Enki, the Sumerian god of fresh waters and wisdom, who warned Zuisudra, the Sumerian Noah, about the flood. Despite being the location of the very first dynasty, the city’s importance was always more religious than political. Excavations have uncovered 18 building levels of the remains of the temple of Enki, the earliest, circa 5500 BC, a 12- by 15-foot room, with an altar or offering table, and a niche for the god’s statue, features that endured throughout Mesopotamian temples. The temple was rebuilt in subsequent levels on a more ambitious plan, consisting of a central sanctuary and projecting lateral wings, the tripartite plan, which became the .characteristic architectural form for Mesopotamian temples.

By the Early Dynastic period, Eridu probably had an area of 8-10 hectares and reached its greatest size during the Third Dynasty of Ur, whose kings built a ziggurat. Today the eroded platform stands only about 30 ft high, but clearly the base of 150 by 200 feet supported a much higher superstructure.

Fieldwork. Primarily Iraqi Antiquities Dept (Safar) and Lloyd, in the 1940s.








  30° 48' 57.0204" 
  30.815839° N
  45° 59' 45.8483"
  45.996069° E