Saturday, April 27, 2013

History Mystery: Ur The Legendary City Of Abraham Part.III

But in about 2334 BC, everything changed. A Semitic king, Sargon of Akkad, overthrew the ruler of Uruk (then the leading city), and from his capital near Babylon, went on to conquer Mesopotamia. The realm founded by Sargon lasted less then 150 years, but shortly after it fell, Ur became the leader of the Mesopotamian community. Under its Third Dynasty of rulers (2113–2001 BC), the city reached the pinnacle of its glory as an imperial capital of Sumer. This outstanding period in Ur’s history was inaugurated by the reign of Ur-Nammu (2113-2095 BC), who built on Sargon’s realm to carve out an empire of his own.Trade extended Sumer’s influence still farther. Ships from Ur traded along the Arabian coast, sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, around Iran, and into the Indus Valley. Wealth poured into Ur-Nammu’s city. Wood, previous stones, and silver flowed down the Euphrates from Lebanon and the Amanus mountains (Nur Daglari) in Hatay province of modern Turkey.

From Arabia came gold and incense, and a great trading depot grew up on Dilmun, theisland of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Tin and lapis lazuli reached Ur from Iran and the Caucasus. Copper arrived from Oman, a place known to the Sumerians as Magan. From Meluhha, the Indus region, came timber and beads of agate, carnelian and ivory. Merchants arriving at Ur would first have passed through the immense mud-brick ramparts erected by Ur-Nammu to product his capital. They completely encircled the city, ‘like a yellow mountain’, in the king’s own words.The capital was also almost entirely surrounded by water. A man-made canal, acting as a moat, extended the natural course of the Euphrates which washed the western walls. Two harbours lay to the north and west of the city, with bustling docks, warehoused, and quays.Ur-Nammu was a builder of astonishing energy. Monuments dedicated by him during his reign have been found throughout the city, which covered an oval area of some 60 ha (148 acres), and housed an estimated population of 24,000 people. Towering above all other buildings in the city was a great staged pyramid dedicated to the Moon god, Nanna, patron deity of the settlement.

The pyramid was a ziggurat, the characteristic staged tower of Mesopotamian civilization - a raised sanctuary, protected against floods. Despite the erosions of time, it remains the best preserved ziggurat in all Mesopotamia. The three levels of the monumental structure were joined by a harmonious geometry of stairways and facings. At the top stood a temple dedicated to Nanna. There was a large courtyard around the bottom of the tower, and a smaller one to the north-west. Both were surrounded by shrines for cult worship. The temples had inner courtyards where animals were sacrificed, and cooking areas. The sacred enclosure included workshops, and storehouses for tribute to the Moon god: grain, oil, wool, fruit and cattle. There was also a royal palace used by the king on ceremonial occasions. Just outside the enclosure was another royal cemetery. But the tombs and been extensively plundered, and held no treasures comparable to those of the earlier graves. The streets running through Ur were narrow, some constructed in straight lines, but most simply meandering between small blocks of houses. Sumerian texts describe broad avenues and large public gardens, but the remains of these larger spaces have not been located by archaeologists. The homes of the poorer inhabitants were modest, each arranged around a courtyard. The houses of the wealthy may have had an upper storey, with room opening onto an internal raised gallery made of wood. The richest families possessed whole suites of rooms, with bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, washrooms, servants’ quarters, and often a private chapel. Furniture was scanty. The most common items were high stools, sometimes collapsible, or high-backed chairs.Low tables were also used. Household goods such as pots and plates were stored in chests. Floors were generally paved with unbaked bricks or mud plaster and covered with reed mats or hides. Documentary material found engraved on clay tablets provides a vivid picture of domestic life at Ur. The father enjoyed a privileged position in the family, according to a complex system of legal codes drawn up by Ur-Nammu and his successors. If a husband wanted to separate from his wife, he only had to pay a fixed sum in silver. But if a wife wanted a divorce, ‘she must be thrown into the river’. If a married woman took a lover, she was put to death; but a husband could take concubines and philander to his heart’s content.

( Cont....)

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.