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091. Tell Jokha (ancient: Umma)***

*** = systemic ongoing looting

Northwestern Dhi Qar Governorate. In a remote regioin on a network of ancient canals linking the Tigris and Euphrates  near Lagash. The site covers an area about 1,500 meters in diameter.

An important Sumerian city state, and one of the currently worst looted sites in Iraq.

Dates of Site: Early Dynastic-Old Babylonian, possibly earlier


Umma was a fairly important city state in  the Early Dynastic period, although its history is known primarily from accounts written in tablets found in the archives of its rivals Lagash and Girsu, which document a long conflict over border disputes and irrigation rights, and a peace treaty that brought a cessation to the hostilities for some while. Warfare recommenced, however, at first with Lagash victories, but concluding with King Lugalzagesi of Umma finally sacking Lagash. He then became king of Uruk, ruling over all of Sumer before being defeated by Sargon around 2350 BC. The main god of Umma was Shara. The Umma calendar of Shulgi (circa 21st century BC) is the immediate predecessor of the later Babylonian calendar, and indirectly of the post-exilic Hebrew calendar.

Thousands of tablets have come onto the market from this site as the result of illicit digging.

Fieldwork: Umma has not been systematically excavated.

Looting: Diggers have been actively at work, making Umma one of the most looted Iraqi archaeological sites. The prospects for scientific excavation and research are being destroyed in the process, preventing researchers from learning about the history and culture of this important ancient city.

Ironically, perhaps, the word Umma is a denotation of Muslim, meaning the totality of all Muslims, or specifically "a group of people that are a part of a divine plan and salvation."

  31° 40' 2.7515"
  31.667431° N
  45° 53' 15.6300"
  45.887675° E

GoogleEarth satellite view of Umma (external resource)