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This article is about the ancient city-state in Mesopotamia. For other uses, see Ur (disambiguation).

( Arabic)

The ruins of Ur, with the Ziggurat of Ur visible in the background

Shown within Iraq


Tell el-Muqayyar, Dhi Qar Province, Iraq


Mesopotamia 305745N 460611ECoordinates: 305745N 460611E




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Ur (Sumerian: Urim;[1] Sumerian Cuneiform: URIM2KI or URIM5KI;[2] Akkadian: Uru;[3] Arabic: )was an important Sumerian city-statein ancient Mesopotamia located at the site of modern Tell elMuqayyar (Arabic: ) in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate.[4] Once a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates on the Persian Gulf, Ur is now well inland, south of the Euphrates on its right bank, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Nasiriyah.[5] The city dates from the Ubaid period circa 3800 BC, and is recorded in written history as a City State from the 26th century BC, its first recorded king being Mesh-Ane-pada. The city's patron deity was Nanna (in Akkadian Sin), the Sumerian and Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) moon god, and the name of the city is in origin derived from the god's name, URIM2KI being the classical Sumerian spelling of LAK32.UNUGKI, literally "the abode (UNUG) of Nanna (LAK-32)".[6] The site is marked by the ruins of the Ziggurat of Ur, which contained the shrine of Nanna, excavated in the 1930s. The temple was built in the 21st century BC (short chronology), during the reign of Ur-Nammu and was reconstructed in the 6th century BC by Nabonidus, the Assyrian born last king ofBabylon. The ruins cover an area of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) northwest to southeast by 800 metres (2,600 ft) northeast to southwest and rise up to about 20 metres (66 ft) above the present plain level.[7]

1 History

1.1 Early history

o o

1.1.1 Prehistory 1.1.2 Third millennium BC (Early Bronze Age)

1.2 Later Bronze Age 1.3 Iron Age

2 Biblical Ur

2.1 Ur in Islamic tradition

3 Archaeology

o o

3.1 Archaeological remains 3.2 Preservation

4 See also 5 Notes 6 References

7 External links

[edit]History This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. No cleanup reason has been specified. Please help improve this section if you can. (February 2011) [edit]Early


Archaeologists have discovered evidence of an early occupation at Ur during the Ubaid period. These early levels were sealed off with a sterile deposit that was interpreted by excavators of the 1920s as evidence for the Great Flood of the book of Genesis and Epic of Gilgamesh . It is now understood that the South Mesopotamian plain was exposed to regular floods from the Euphrates and the Tigris, with heavy erosion from water and wind, which may have given rise to the Mesopotamian and derivative Biblical Great Flood beliefs.[8] The further occupation of Ur only becomes clear during its emergence in the third millennium BC (although it must already have been a growing urban center during the fourth millennium). The third millennium BC is generally described as the Early Bronze Age of Mesopotamia, which ends approximately after the demise of the Third Dynasty of Ur in the 21st century BC.

[edit]Third millennium BC (Early Bronze Age)

Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC.

There are two main sources which inform scholars about the importance of Ur during the Early Bronze Age. The first is a large body of cuneiform documents, mostly from the empire of the so-called Third Dynasty of Ur at the very end of the third millennium. This was the most centralized bureaucratic state the world had yet known. Concerning the earlier centuries, the Sumerian King List provides a tentative political history of ancient Sumer. The second source of information is archaeological work in modern Iraq. Although the early centuries (first half of the third millennium and earlier) are still poorly understood, the archaeological discoveries have

shown unequivocally that Ur was a major urban center on the Mesopotamian plain. Especially the discovery of the Royal Tombs have confirmed its splendour. These tombs, which date to the Early Dynastic IIIa period (approximately in the 25th or 24th century BC), contained immense amounts of luxury items made out of precious metals, and semi-precious stones all of which would have had to been imported from long distances (Iran,Afghanistan, India, Asia Minor, the Persian Gulf).[7] This up to then unparalleled wealth is a testimony of Ur's economic importance during the Early Bronze Age.[9] Archaeological research of the region has also contributed greatly to our understanding of the landscape and long-distance interactions that took place during these ancient times. We know that Ur was the most important port on the Persian Gulf, which extended much further inland than it does today. All the wealth which came to Mesopotamia by sea had to pass through Ur.[citation needed] So far evidence for the earliest periods of the Early Bronze Age in Mesopotamia is very limited. Mesh-Anepada is the first king mentioned in the Sumerian King List, and appears to have lived in the 26th century BC. That Ur was an important urban centre already then seems to be indicated by a type of cylinder seal called the City Seals. These seals contain a set of proto-cuneiform signs which appear to be writings or symbols of the name of city-states in ancient Sumer. Many of these seals were found in Ur, and the name of Ur is prominent on them.[10] Ur came under the control of the Akkadian Empire founded by Sargon the Great between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC. This was a period when the Semitic Akkadians of Mesopotamia gained ascendancy over the Sumerians, and indeed much of the ancient Near East. After the fall of the Akkadian Empire in the mid 22nd century BC, southern Mesopotamia came to be ruled for a few decades by the Gutians, a barbarian people originating in the Zagros Mountains to the north east of Mesopotamia, while the Assyrian branch of the Akkadian Semites reasserted their independence in the north of Mesopotamia.

Empire of the Third Dynasty of Ur

The third dynasty was established when the king Ur-Nammu came to power, ruling between ca. 2047 BC and 2030 BC. During his rule, temples, including the ziggurat, were built, and agriculture was improved through irrigation. His code of laws, the Code of Ur-Nammu (a fragment was identified in Istanbul in 1952) is one of the oldest such documents known, preceding the code of Hammurabi by 300 years. He and his successor Shulgi were both deified during their reigns, and after his death he continued as a hero-figure: one of the surviving works of Sumerian literature describes the death of Ur-Nammu and his journey to the underworld.[11] About that time, the houses in the city were two-storied villas with 13 or 14 rooms, with plastered interior walls.[12][dubious discuss] Ur-Nammu was succeeded by Shulgi, the greatest king of the Third Dynasty of Ur who solidified the hegemony of Ur and reformed the empire into a highly centralized bureaucratic state. Shulgi ruled for a long time (at least 42 years) and deified himself halfway through his rule.[citation needed] The Ur empire continued through the reigns of three more kings with Semitic Akkadian names,[8] AmarSin, Shu-Sin, and Ibbi-Sin. It fell around 1940 BC to theElamites in the 24th regnal year of Ibbi-Sin, an event commemorated by the Lament for Ur.[13][14] According to one estimate, Ur was the largest city in the world from c. 2030 to 1980 BC. Its population was approximately 65,000.[15] 2011 research indicates that the area was struck by drought conditions from 2200-2000 BCE. The population dropped by 93%. Ur was sacked twice by nomads during this time. At the end of this drought use of the Sumerian language died out.[16]


Bronze Age

The city of Ur lost its political power after the demise of the Third Dynasty of Ur. Nevertheless its important position which kept on providing access to the Persian Gulf ensured the ongoing economical importance of the city during the second millennium BC. The splendour of the city, the might of the empire, the greatness of king Shulgi, and undoubtedly the efficient propaganda of the state endured throughout Mesopotamian history. Shulgi was a well known historical figure for at least another two thousand years, while historical narratives of the Mesopotamian societies of Assyria and Babylonia kept names, events, and mythologies in remembrance. The city came to be ruled by the first dynasty (Amorite) of Babylonia which rose to prominence in southern Mesopotamia in the 18th century BC. After the fall of Hammurabi's short lived Babylonian Empire, it later became a part of the native Akkadian ruled Sealand Dynasty for over 270 years, and was reconquered into Babylonia by the successors of the Amorites, the Kassites in the 16th century BC. During the Kassite Dynastic period Ur, along with the rest of Babylonia, came under sporadic control of the Elamites and Middle Assyrian Empire.



The city, along with the rest of southern Mesopotamia and much of the Near East, Asia Minor, North Africa and southern Caucasus, fell to the north Mesopotamian Assyrian Empire from the 10th to late 7th centuries BC. From the end of the 7th century BC Ur was ruled by the so-called Chaldean Dynasty

of Babylon. In the 6th century BC there was new construction in Ur under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. The last Babylonian king, Nabonidus (who was Assyrian born, and not a Chaldean), improved the ziggurat. However the city started to decline from around 550 BC and was no longer inhabited after about 500 BC by which time Babylonia had fallen to the Persian Achaemenid Empire.[8] The demise of Ur was perhaps owing to drought, changing river patterns, and the silting of the outlet to the Persian Gulf.



Main article: Ur Kasdim Ur is considered by many to be the city of Ur Kasdim mentioned in the Book of Genesis (Biblical Hebrew ) as the birthplace of the Hebrew patriarch Abram (Abraham; Aramaic: Oraham, Arabic:

Ibrahim), traditionally believed to be sometime in the 2nd millennium BC. Ur is mentioned four times in the Torah or Old Testament, with the distinction "of the Kasdim/Kasdin" traditionally rendered in English as "Ur of the Chaldees". The Chaldeans were already settled in the vicinity by around 850 BC, but were not the rulers of Ur until the late 7th century BC. The name is found in Genesis 11:28, Genesis 11:31, and Genesis 15:7. In Nehemiah 9:7, a single passage mentioning Ur is a paraphrase of Genesis. (Nehemiah 9:7) The Book of Jubilees states that Ur was founded in 1688 Anno Mundi (year of the world) by 'Ur son of Kesed, presumably the offspring of Arphaxad, adding that in this same year wars began on Earth. "And 'Ur, the son of Kesed, built the city of 'Ara of the Chaldees, and called its name after his own name and the name of his father." (i.e., Ur Kasdim) (Jubilees 11:3).


in Islamic tradition

According to Islamic texts, the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was thrown into the fire here. In the story, the temperature of the fire of Nimrod was reduced by God, saving the life of Ibrahim. While the Qur'an does not mention the king's name, Muslim commentators have assigned Nimrod as the king based on Jewish sources, namely the Book of Jasher (11:1 and 12:6).[17]

In 1625, the site was visited by Pietro della Valle, who recorded the presence of ancient bricks stamped with strange symbols, cemented together with bitumen, as well as inscribed pieces of black marble that appeared to be seals. The site was first excavated in 1853 and 1854 by John George Taylor, British vice consul at Basra from 1851-1859.[18][19][20] He worked on behalf of the British Museum. He had been instructed to do so by the Foreign Office. Taylor found clay cylinders in the four corners of the top stage of the ziggurat which bore an inscription of Nabonidus (Nabuna`id), the last king of Babylon (539 BC), closing with a prayer for his son Belshar-uzur (Bel-arra-Uzur), the Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel. Evidence was found of prior restorations of the ziggurat by Ishme-Dagan of Isin and Shu-Sin of Ur, and by Kurigalzu, a Kassite king of Babylon in the 14th century BCE. Nebuchadnezzar also claims to have rebuilt the

temple. Taylor further excavated an interesting Babylonian building, not far from the temple, part of an ancient Babyloniannecropolis. All about the city he found abundant remains of burials of later periods. Apparently, in later times, owing to its sanctity, Ur became a favorite place of sepulchres, so that even after it had ceased to be inhabited, it continued to be used as a necropolis. Typical of the era, his evacuations destroyed information and exposed the tell. Natives used the now loosened 4000 year old bricks and tile for construction for the next 75 years while the site lay unexplored.[21][dubious discuss] After Taylor's time the site was visited by numerous travelers, almost all of whom have found ancient Babylonian remains, inscribed stones and the like, lying upon the surface. The site was considered rich in remains, and relatively easy to explore. After some soundings were made in 1918 by Reginald Campbell Thompson, H. R. Hill worked the site for one season for the British Museum in 1919, laying the groundwork for more extensive efforts to follow.[22][23] Excavations from 1922 to 1934 were funded by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania and led by the archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley.[24][25][26] A total of about 1,850 burials were uncovered, including 16 that were described as "royal tombs" containing many valuable artifacts, including the Standard of Ur. Most of the royal tombs were dated to about 2600 BC. The finds included the unlooted tomb of a queen thought to be Queen Puabi[27]the name is known from a cylinder seal found in the tomb, although there were two other different and unnamed seals found in the tomb. Many other people had been buried with her, in a form of human sacrifice. Near the ziggurat were uncovered the temple E-nun-mah and buildings E-dub-lal-mah (built for a king), E-gipar (residence of the high priestess) and E-hur-sag (a temple building). Outside the temple area, many houses used in everyday life were found. Excavations were also made below the royal tombs layer: a 3.5-metre (11 ft)-thick layer of alluvial clay covered the remains of earlier habitation, including pottery from the Ubaid period, the first stage of settlement in southern Mesopotamia. Woolley later wrote many articles and books about the discoveries.[28] One of Woolley's assistants on the site was the archaeologist Max Mallowan. The discoveries at the site reached the headlines in mainstream media in the world with the discoveries of the Royal Tombs. As a result the ruins of the ancient city attracted many visitors. One of these visitors was the already famous Agatha Christie who as a result of this visit became the wife of Max Mallowan. Most of the treasures excavated at Ur are in the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. At the UPenn Museum the exhibition Iraq's Ancient Past,[29]which includes many of the most famous pieces from the Royal Tombs, opened to visitors in late Spring 2011. Previously, the Penn Museum had sent many of its best pieces from Ur on tour in an exhibition called "Treasures From the Royal Tombs of Ur." It traveled to eight American museums, including those in Cleveland, Washington and Dallas, ending the tour at the Detroit Institute of Art in May 2011.

In 2009, an agreement was reached for a joint University of Pennsylvania and Iraqi team to resume archaeological work at the site of Ur.[30]



Though some of the areas that were cleared during modern excavations have sanded over again, the Great Ziggurat is fully cleared and stands as the best-preserved and most visible landmark at the site.[31]The famous Royal tombs, also called the Neo-Sumerian Mausolea, located about 250 metres (820 ft) south-east of the Great Ziggurat in the corner of the wall that surrounds the city, are nearly totally cleared. Parts of the tomb area appear to be in need of structural consolidation or stabilization. There are cuneiform (Sumerian writing) on many walls, some entirely covered in script stamped into the mud-bricks. The text is sometimes difficult to read, but it covers most surfaces. Modern graffiti has also found its way to the graves, usually in the form of names made with coloured pens (sometimes they are carved). The Great Ziggurat itself has far more graffiti, mostly lightly carved into the bricks. The graves are completely empty. A small number of the tombs are accessible. Most of them have been cordoned off. The whole site is covered with pottery debris, to the extent that it is virtually impossible to set foot anywhere without stepping on some. Some have colours and paintings on them. Some of the "mountains" of broken pottery are debris that has been removed from excavations. Pottery debris and human remains form many of the walls of the royal tombs area. It can only be speculated whether this is of ancient making or modern restoration, but it is a fact that they are, literally, filled up with pottery debris.[citation needed] In May 2009, the United States Army returned the Ur site to the Iraqi authorities, who hope to develop it as a tourist destination.[32]

Since 2009, non-profit organization Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has been working to protect and preserve Ur against problems of erosion, neglect, inappropriate restoration, and war and conflict. GHF's stated goal for the project is to create an informed and scientifically-grounded Master Plan to guide the sites long-term conservation and management, which will enable sustainability and can serve as a model for other sites stewardship.[33]



The Standard of Ur mosaic is made of red limestone, bitumen, lapis lazuli, and shell, depicts peacetime, from the royal tombs of Ur.

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^ S. M. Kramer, The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character, University of Chicago Press, 1963, pages 28 and 298


^ Literal transliteration: Urim2 = E.ABgunu = E.UNUG () and Urim5 = E.AB (), where E=URI3 (The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.)


^ The Cambridge Ancient History: Prologomena & Prehistory: Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010.]


^ Tell el-Muqayyar in Arabic Tell means "mound" or "hill" and Muqayyar means "built of bitumen." Muqayyar is variously transcribed as Mugheir, Mughair, Moghair, etc.

5. 6. 7.

^ p.360 ^ Reallexikon der Assyriologie, 1997, ISBN 978-3-11-014809-1, p.360 ^

a b

Zettler, R.L. and Horne, L. (eds.) 1998. Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, University of

Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology 8. 9. ^

a b c

Georges Roux - Ancient Iraq

^ Aruz, J. (ed.) 2003. Art of the First Cities. The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

10. ^ Matthews, R.J. 1993. Cities, Seals and Writing: Archaic Seal Impressions from Jemdet Nasr and Ur, Berlin 11. ^ The Ancient Near East: C.3000-330 B.C. By Amlie Kuhrt, Routledge, 1995, ISBN 0-415-167620 12. ^ Keller, Werner (1980). The Bible As History. Morrow. p. 40. ISBN 0-688-03724-0. 13. ^ Ur III Period (2112-2004 BC) by Douglas Frayne, University of Toronto Press, 1997,ISBN 08020-4198-1 14. ^ The ruling family of Ur III Umma. A Prosopographical Analysis of an Elite Family in Southern Iraq 4000 Years ago, J.L. Dahl, UCLA dissertation, 2003

15. ^ Largest Cities Through History 16. ^ [1] 17. ^ Hajjah Amina Hatun, Lore of Light: Stories from the Lives of the Prophets, A. S. Noordeen, 1994, ISBN 967-9963-66-7 18. ^ J. E. Taylor, Notes on the Ruins of Muqeyer, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 15, pp. 260-276, 1855 19. ^ JE Taylor, Notes on Abu Shahrein and Tel-el-Lahm, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 15 , pp. 404-415, 1855. In the relevant publications he is erroneously listed as J. E. Taylor. 20. ^ E. Sollberger, Mr. Taylor in Chaldaea, Anatolian Studies, vol. 22, pp. 129-139 , 1972 21. ^ Keller, Werner (1980). The Bible As History. Morrow. p. 34. ISBN 0-688-03724-0. 22. ^ H. R. Hall, The Excavations of 1919 at Ur, el-'Obeid, and Eridu, and the History of Early Babylonia ,Man, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 25, pp. 1-7, 1925 23. ^ H. R. Hall, Ur and Eridu: The British Museum Excavations of 1919, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 9, no. 3/4, pp. 177-195, 1923 24. ^ Leonard Woolley, Ur: The First Phases, Penguin, 1946 25. ^ Leonard Woolley, Excavations at Ur: A Record of Twelve Years' Work, Apollo, 1965,ISBN 08152-0110-9 26. ^ Leonard Woolley and P. R. S. Moorey, Ur of the Chaldees: A Revised and Updated Edition of Sir Leonard Woolley's Excavations at Ur, Cornell University Press, 1982,ISBN 0-8014-1518-7 27. ^ Queen Puabi is also written Pu-Abi and formerly transcribed as Shub-ab. 28. ^ Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. 29. ^ Iraq's Ancient Past 30. ^ Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty - Free Media in Unfree Societies U.S. Archaeologists To Excavate In Iraq 31. ^ Soldiers visit historical ruins of Ur, Nov 18, 2009, By 13th Sustainment Command Expeditionary Public Affairs http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/11/18/30595-soldiers-visit-historical-ruins-of-ur/ 32. ^ "US returns Ur, birthplace of Abraham, to Iraq". AFP. 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 33. ^http://globalheritagefund.org/index.php/what_we_do/overview/current_projects/ur_iraq


3. 4. Hershel Shanks has reopened the debate raised long ago by Cyrus Gordon, about
which Ur was Abrahams.* Was the patriarch born in some northern Mesopotamian Ur rather than in Babylonia? I believe the case for identifying the Ur (of the Chaldees) in Genesis 11:28,31 (compare with Nehemiah 9:7) with Ur, now Tell el-Muqayyar, in southern Babylonia, remains strong, although the available information precludes

Where Was Abraham's Ur? Alan R. Millard

certainty. For our purposes, I assume that there was a man named Abraham and that the stories about him are very ancient. 5. A number of cuneiform texts mention several places named Ur, or something very like it, but most can be dismissed so far as Genesis is concerned: 6. 1: The Ebla tablets from the third millennium B.C. name Ura and Uru among scores of places within Eblas immediate neighborhood. There is nothing to show they had any particular importance, however.(1) According to an Alalakh text of about 1600 B.C., a village named Ur lay at the western edge of the Fertile Crescent.(2) Other Alalakh tablets from about 1450 B.C. attest to a place called Ur and a village named Ura.(3) The Nuzi tablets from about 1400 B.C. name a Great Uri and a Small Uri in Nuzis vicinity.(4) 7. The places referred to in the Ebla, Alalakh and Nuzi tablets were all probably villages within the immediate environs of their respective urban centers. 8. 2: In the 13th century B.C., merchants from a place called Ura had problems in Ugarit that were adjudicated by the Hittite overlord. This Ura figures prominently in Cyrus Gordons case against Abrahams origin in the Babylonian Ur.(5) The Ura in question is now identified as a port on the coast of Cilicia, perhaps modern Gilindere.(6) Another Ura lay within the kingdom of Ugarit.(7) Still another Ura existed at the same time, according to Hittite texts, and may be located near modern Amasya in north central Turkey.(8) In addition, Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria lists Ura among his eighth-century B.C. conquests in the Turkish foothills, perhaps northwest of Diyarbekir.(9) 9. Neither the Cilician port nor the sites in northern Turkey are likely candidates for Abrahams Ur. They are too far out of the way, and they are not known to have had a West Semitic populace. 10. 3: The modern town of Urfa, called Orhai in Syriac sources and Edessa in Greek, maintains a traditional association with Abraham, but it may not date to the preChristian era. The name Orhai is of unknown origin, but if related to the biblical Ur, it is surprising that the final syllable is not represented in Hebrew. The modern form of the name Urfa cannot be traced prior to Turkish times.(10) 11. 4: The best northern candidate is preserved on a 19th-century B.C. document found at Tell Shemshara, at the eastern edge of the Fertile Crescent, which names a place called Urau; it is associated with Khaburatum (a name connected with the river Habur; see 2 Kings 17:6) and so possibly lay west of the Tigris,(11) and therefore nearer than the southern Ur to Haran, to which Abraham moved after leaving his birthplace. 12. On the other hand, none of the arguments arrayed against the southern Ur are conclusive: 13. 1: It is said that the southern Ur is too far from Haran, about a thousand miles. But merchants and others in the early second millennium B.C. routinely traveled long distances. The traders who went from Ashur to Anatolia between about 1950 and 1750 B.C. followed routes that ran up to the Black Sea coast and far across central Anatolia. Their business had southerly connections into Babylonia, and letters of Babylonian merchants in the same period report their activities far up the Euphrates, at Emar, for example.(12) Three tablets trace a route from Larsa, 25 miles north of southern Ur, to Emar, going via Haran. The route did not follow the Euphrates; perhaps to avoid hostile territory, it ran further east, up the Tigris, swinging west across Upper Mesopotamia.

14. 2: Another objection is that a route from southern Ur to Canaan via Haran is quite
roundabout. There may have been reasons for this that we cannot discover, but Ur and Haran were the two main centers for worship of the Moon-god, Sin. The names Terah (Abrahams father) and Laban, and possibly Milcah and Sarah, may be linked to the moon cult. Terah may well have been associated with the worship of the moon (see Joshua 24:2). 15. 3: It is said that Abrahams nomadic lifestyle is inconsistent with the urban setting of the southern Ur. But living in tents is well attested for the early second millennium B.C. Urban scribes were well aware of tent-dwelling nomads, whom they despised. Moreover, there is nothing to say that Terahs family was nomadic; they may have lived in a house in Ur, as the excavator, Sir Leonard Woolley, imagined. Perhaps Abraham became a nomad only when he left Haran. 16. 4: Another objection is that the southern Ur lies west of the Euphrates, so it could not be described as across the river (Genesis 31:21). But the course of the Euphrates River near Ur in the second millennium B.C. is not well defined. Woolley stated that the river washed the foot of the western rampart, taking a new course to the east during the mid-first millennium B.C.(13) For anyone living in the Levant, Babylonian Ur would have lain conceptually beyond the river, whatever the precise geography. 17. 5: The Biblical text refers to Abrahams birthplace as Ur of the Chaldees. No evidence exists for the term Chaldean earlier than the ninth century B.C. As Gordon observes, the term is never attached to the name Ur in Babylonian documents. Clearly someone thought it necessary to define Ur as of the Chaldees in the Genesis text. Following the common hypothesis that Genesis is an interweaving of three separate sources (Priestly, Yahwist and Elohist, the last not being involved here), the addition of the identifying phrase of the Chaldees could reflect the renewed eminence of this Ur under the Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean kings (626-539 B.C.), as Peter Machinist has suggested (in Shankss essay). If we suppose that the Genesis text has a much earlier origin, then of the Chaldees could be an explanation added to the text at a time when the location of Ur needed to be clarified. The phrase may not be part of a tradition reaching back to Abrahams time, but the information it preservesnamely, that Abraham came from Babyloniacould well be part of the ancient tradition. 18. Thus, there is no insurmountable objection to the southern Ur, Ur of the Chaldees, being Abrahams birthplaceas the Bible describes it.

19. 20. 1 Marco Bonechi, I nomi geografici dei testi di Ebla. Repertoire Gographique des
Textes Cuniformes 12.1 (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1993), pp. 310-312, Ura, Urau, Uram, Urium, Urru; A. Archi et al., I nomi di luogi di testi di Ebla (Rome: Missione Archeologica Italiana in Siria, 1993), pp. 44,456-457,463-465, Ura, Urau, Uri, Uru. (Back) 21. 2 Donald J. Wiseman, The Alalakh Tablets (London: British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 1953), 56.8. (Back) 22. 3 Wiseman, The Alalakh Tablets, 105.1 (Ur); 162.4,16 (Urri); 142.13 and 154.10 (Ura). (Back) 23. 4 J. Fincke, Yie Orts-und Gewssernamen der Nuzi-Texte. Repertoire Gographique des Textes Cuniformes 10 (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1993), p. 332. (Back) 24. 5 Cyrus H. Gordon, Abraham and the Merchants of Ura, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 17 (1958), pp. 28-31. For a new translation of the text see Gary Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts, 2nd ed. (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1999), p. 177. (Back)

25. 6 Richard H. Beal, The Location of Cilician Ura, Anatolian Studies 42 (1995), pp.
65-73. (Back) 26. 7 Beckman, Hittite, p.175; M. Astour, La Topographie du Royaume dOugarit in M. Yon, M. Sznycer, P. Bordreuil, eds, Le Pays dOugarit autour de 1200 av. J.-C. (Paris: Editions recherche sur les Civilisations, 1995), pp. 55-69, esp. p. 68. (Back) 27. 8 Giuseppe F. del Monte, J. Tischler, Die Orts- und Gewssernamen der hethitischen Texte. Repertoire Gographique des Textes Cuniformes 6 (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1978), pp. 457-458. (Back) 28. 9 K. Kessler, Untersuchungen zur historischen Topographie Nordmesopotamiens (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1980), p. 179; H. Tadmor, The Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III King of Assyria (Jerusalem: Israel Academy, 1994), pp. 76,126,184. (Back) 29. 10 See Judith B. Segal, Edessa, The Blessed City (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 3,255; A. Harrak, The Ancient Name of Urfa, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 51 (1992), pp. 209-214, suggested that Urfa was the Admum or Adme of cuneiform sources. (Back) 30. 11 B. Groneberg, Die Orts- und Gewssernamen der altbabylonischen Zeit. Repertoire Gographique des Textes Cuniformes 3 (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1980), p. 247. (Back) 31. 12 Mogens T. Larsen, The Old Assyrian City-State and its Colonies (Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1976); C.B.F. Walker, Some Assyrians at Sippar in the Old Babylonian Period, Anatolian Studies 30 (1980), pp. 15-22; W.F. Leemans, Foreign Trade in the Old Babylonian Period (Leiden: Brill, 1960). (Back) 32. 13 P.R.S. Moorey, Ur of the Chaldees. A Revised and Updated Edition of Sir Leonard Woolleys Excavations at Ur (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 1982), pp. 138,263; see also H.W.F. Saggs, Ur of the Chaldees, Iraq 20 (1960), p. 202, n.12. (Back)

Ur Kadim
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Ur Kadim or Ur of the Chaldees ( ) is a biblical place mentioned in the Book of Genesis that

refers to a location that the Patriarch Abraham may have been from. Not only is there much debate in interpreting Ur Kadim as Abraham's birthplace, but also identifying this location.

1 Identifying Ur Kadim

1.1 Jewish tradition

o o

1.1.1 Jubilees

1.2 Islamic tradition 1.3 Classical views

2 References 3 External links


Ur Kadim

In 1927 Leonard Woolley identified Ur Kadim with the Sumerian city of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, where the Chaldeans had settled around the 9th century BCE;[1] Ur lay on the boundary of the region called Kaldu (Chaldea, corresponding to Hebrew Kadim) in the first millennium BCE. It was the sacred city of the moon god and the name "Camarina" is thought to be related to the Arabic word for moonqamar. The identification with Ur Kadim accords with the view that Abraham's ancestors may have been moon worshippers, an idea based on the possibility that the name of Abraham's father Terah is related to the Hebrew root for moon (y-r-h). The Book of Joshua says "Joshua said to all the people, This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods."(Joshua 24:2) One of the traditional sites of Abraham's birth is placed in the vicinity of Edessa Both Islamic tradition and classical Jewish authorities, such as Maimonides and Josephus, placed Ur Kadim at various northern Mesopotamian sites such as Urkesh, Urartu, Urfa, or Kutha.



Ur Kadim is mentioned four times in the Tanakh, with the distinction "Kadim" usually rendered in English as "of the Chaldees." In Genesis, the name is found in 11:28, 11:31 and 15:7. Although not explicitly stated in the Tanakh, it is generally understood to be the birthplace of Abraham. Genesis 11:27-28 names it as the birthplace of Abraham's brother Haran, and the point of departure of Terah's household, including his son Abram. In Genesis 12:1, after Abram and his father Terah have left Ur Kadim for the city of Harran in AramNaharaim, God instructs Abram to leave his native land (Hebrew mowledeth). The traditional Jewish understanding of the word mowledeth is "birthplace" (e.g. in the Judaica Press translation). Similarly, in Genesis 24:4-10, Abraham instructs his servant to bring a wife for Isaac from his mowledeth, and the servant departs for Aram-Naharaim. Hence, Jewish scholarship is almost unanimous in identifying Abraham's birthplace as somewhere in Aram-Naharaim. This view was particularly noted by Nachmanides(Ramban). (See Ramban on Lech Lecha.) Nevertheless, this interpretation of mowledeth as meaning "birthplace" is not universal. Many Pentateuchal translations, from the Septuagint to some modern English versions, render mowledeth as "kindred" or "family". However, multiple references to erets moladet in Genesis 24 contained within a directive by Abraham towards his

house's eldest servant to take a wife for his son Isaac seemingly reinforce the traditional Jewish understanding. The Talmud (Yoma 10a) identifies the Biblical city of Erech with a place called "Urichus". (See background on Yoma 10.) T.G. Pinches in The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia A.T. Clay, writing in the 1915 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article Ur of the Chaldees, understood this as an identification of Uruk (biblical Erech) with Ur Kadim. However, no tradition exists equating Ur Kadim with Urichus or Erech/Uruk.

The Book of Jubilees states that Ur Kadim was founded in 1687 Anno Mundi by "'Ur, son of Keed", presumably the offspring of Arphaxad, adding that wars began on Earth that same year. "'Ur son of Keed built the city of 'Ara of the Chaldees, and called its name after his own name and the name of his father." (Jubilees 11:3) Jubilees also portrays Abraham's immediate ancestry as dwelling in Ur Kadim, beginning with his great-grandfather Serug.



The traditional site of Abraham's birth according to Islamic tradition is a cave in the vicinity of the ancient Seleucid city Edessa, now called anlurfa. The cave lies near the center of anlurfa and is the site of a mosque called the Mosque of Abraham. The Turkish name for the city, Urfa, is derived from the earlier Syriac ( Orhy) and Greek (Orrha). The tradition connecting Ur Kadim with Urfa is not exclusive to Islam. The 18th C. anthropologist Richard Pococke noted in his publication Description of the East that this traditional identification of Ur Kadim with Urf a was the universal opinion within contemporary Judaism. Scholars are skeptical of the identification of Ur Kadim with Urfa. Although the origin of the Greek and Syriac names of the city are uncertain, they appear to be based[original research?] on a native form,Osroe, the name of a legendary founder, the Armenian form of the Persian name Khosrau. Similarity with "Ur" would thus be accidental.



Ammianus Marcellinus in his Rerum Gestarum Libri (chapter VIII) mentions a castle named Ur which lay between Hatra and Nisibis. A. T. Clay understood this as an identification of Ur Kadim although Marcellinus makes no explicit claim in this regard. In her Travels (chapter XX), Egeria mentions Hur lying five stations from Nisibis on the way to Persia, apparently the same location, and she does identify it with Ur Kadim. However, the castle in question was only founded during the time of the second Persian Empire. Eusebius in his Preparation for the Gospel (chapter XVII) preserves a fragment of the work Concerning the Jews by the 1st century BCE historian Alexander Polyhistor, which in turn quotes a passage

inConcerning the Jews of Assyria by the 2nd century BCE historian Eupolemus, which claimed that Abraham was born in the Babylonian city Camarina, which it notes was also called "Uria". (Such indirect quotations of Eupolemus via Polyhistor are referred to as Pseudo-Eupolemus.) This site is identified with the Sumerian city of Ur located at Tell el-Mukayyar, which in ancient texts was named Uriwa or Urima.



^ Arnold, Bill T. (2005). Who Were the Babylonians?. Brill. p. 87. ISBN 978-90-04-13071-5.



Biblical Archaeology Review May/June 2001: Where Was Abraham's Ur? by Allan R. Millard Prophet Abraham and Sanliurfa Islamic traditions connecting Abraham's early life and Sanli Urfa. Cyrus H. Gordon, Abraham and the Merchants of Ura, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 17 (1958), pp. 2831.

Ur of the Chaldees by Kyle M. Pope COJS: Royal Tombs of Ur, 2600-2500 BCE Woolleys Ur Revisited, Richard L. Zettler, BAR 10:05, Sep/Oct 1984.