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072. Tell al-Asmar (ancient: Eshnunna)

Diyala Governorate. Situated between the Tigris and the Zagros Mountains, sixteen kilometers to the east of the Diyala River, about 48 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Dates: from the 4th millennium through the 2nd millennium BC

The most important of the Diyala sites, a small independent kingdom during the Isin Larsa period. Part of the Ur III domain, Eshnunna was the earliest city state to break away and establish its own dynasty of kings, one of whom composed a very early law code, the Law Code of Eshnunna.

As a small independent kingdom, Eshnunna competed for power along with other kingdoms in the Old Babylonian period until it was finally conquered by Hammurabi in 1763 BC.

Excavations revealed several Early Dynasty rebuilding phases of the Abu temple, dedicated to a god who is described as the Lord of vegetation, dating to the Early Dynastic period. Buried beneath the pavement beside the altar was a cache of 21 votive statues in gypsum, remarkably well preserved, the largest 30 inches tall. These probably were dedicated by worshippers to stand in their place in the temple to pray and worship. Carved in a formalized style, standing, with arms crossed across the chest, they have huge eyes inlaid with shell, bitumen and lapis. Remains of a palace, with a temple attached, attest to the shifting political fortunes of Eshnunna—the temple originally dedicated to the deified Ur III king Shu Sin was “desanctified” when Eshnunna broke away.

Fieldwork: University of Chicago, 1930s

Collections: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, Iraq National Museum





  33° 45′ 0″     
  33.75° N
  44° 45′ 0″     
  44.75° E

GoogleEarth satellite view of Eshnunna (external resource)

See the complete transliteration of the Law Code of Eshnunna (external resources)