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073. Tell al-Ubaid (ancient name unknown)

Southeastern Dhi Qar Governorate. About four miles west of Ur

Dates: Ubaid (5500-4000 BC) through Early Dynastic period

A Sumerian city which provided the pottery sequence that defines the Ubaid period.

Excavations revealed the pottery sequence which has given this prehistoric  period its name. Ubaid ware is painted in geometric designs and often fired at very high temperatures, resulting in a greenish color. Other characteristic artifacts of the Ubaid period include bent clay nails( for attaching reed matting to clay walls?)., sickles, net-weights and socked axes, all of baked clay, as well as distinctive baked clay figurines, male and female, with conical headdress and coffee-bean eyes, and a slightly lizard like appearance. Copper artifacts appear infrequently.

While the site was probably abandoned at the end of the Ubaid, in the Early Dynastic period, a temple to Ninhursag, Sumerian mother goddess. Like the temple at Kafahje, this too was surrounded by an oval shaped enclosure wall. While much of the temple had been dismantled, its platform, with facades faced with baked brick was almost intact, and amazingly much of the temple decoration had been removed and was found intact. I great bronze lintel, eight feet wide, showed the projecting figure of a lion-headed eagle, the god Imdugud, between two stags, and might have decorated the main doorway, supported by two columns decorated with colored inlay of bitumen, red limestone and mother of pearl. The wall-faces nearby were decorated with three dimensional friezes of animals, including lions, molded in high relief and  sheathed in copper.

Fieldwork: British and American, 1920s and 1930s.

Collections: Temple decoration, British Museum


  30° 57' 20.1888"   
  30.955608920° N
  46° 2' 47.9231"
  46.046645324° E