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Uruk • وركاء

Uruk (aka Erech; modern Warka) is humanity's first major city and was one Mesopotamia's most important and established religious and political centers. At Uruk are two areas so far excavated with important Uruk period remains: most significant is the Eanna precinct, which was leveled and abandoned early in the third millennium and whose fourth-millennium remains were close to the surface. Why are people flocking to cities? Why to Uruk in particular? Perhaps it has to do with protecting oneself from raiders.





5000 BC

Founding of Uruk. First settlement.

Late Ubaid Period

4800 - 4200 BC

Uruk XVI - X

4000 - 3800 BC

Early Uruk period.

Middle Uruk Period
Uruk IX - VI

3800 - 3400 BC

Late Uruk Period
Uruk V - IV

3400 - 3100 BC

The earliest monumental temples of Eanna District are built. Though the Anu-ziggurat was simultaneous, the structures at the Eanna complex were the most elaborate and were rebuilt several times in the Uruk IV period. Within an area surrounded by a perimeter wall, several enormous buildings were in use simultaneously. These were not only large, in the order of 50 by 80 m, but also extensively decorated with a technique typical of the Late Uruk period: cone mosaics. The walls were covered in clay cones colored white, black and red, arranged in geometrical patterns on the surface. In one building these cones were of stone, which was more precious than clay.

Uruk IVa

Despite the magnificence of the Uruk IVb Eanna precinct, one large platform was built that enclosed all the earlier temples and their remains were covered with sand; the exception was the Mosaic temple, which was excluded because it already had fallen out of use. On this new enormous terrace were erected at least two major temples: Temple D in a T-shaped plan; Temple C, which remarkably had the T-shaped plan with a tripartite unit running along the head; the Red Temple; and a number of buildings with unclear function. At the end of Uruk IVa this whole area was again leveled and left empty for a while before being remodeled again.

Uruk IVb

The Eanna precinct seems to have consisted of three separate terraces, each with its own temple buildings. Nearest to the Mosaic temple was a platform with a roughly north-south orientation on which stood the tripartite Temple B. To the south on another platform, was the fragmentary plan of Temple A. Between them, at approximately right angles, lay the third terrace on which were the most impressive remains of the period: a double row of eight free-standing columns with clay cone decoration of red, black and white. The pillars gave access to another temple whose plan was not recovered. They were accessed up a great staircase with its supporting wall covered in mosaic representing the façade of a shrine, up from a great courtyard decorated on the east side with engaged columns with mosaics on them.

Jemdet Nasr Period
Uruk III

3100 - 2900 BC

The 9 km city wall is built. Either at the end of level IVa or start of level III, the marvelous White temple was constructed for Anu. This terrace, like the Eanna terrace, contained within it the remains of a number of earlier buildings. The White temple is remarkably preserved, approached by a fine flight of stairs and standing on a low platform. It is quintessentially tripartite and plastered throughout with fine gypsum plaster.

Uruk II

Uruk I

Persian Period

5th + 4th Cent BC

Many slipper-shaped coffins covered with an enamel glaze (Jastrow 1915, p 25). The city still existed but had lost its importance, yet its "time-honored sanctity made it a favorite place of burial." Jastrow 1915, p 26

Eanna Precinct

Eanna Precinct at Uruk, dedicated to the goddess Inanna, and its adjacent areas, are of great importance. Two of the oldest temples from Eanna, preserved enough for discussion, are the Mosaic temple and the Limestone temple. The White Temple continued into the Jemdet Nasr. The end of both the classic Uruk temple plans, which date back at least to the middle of the Ubaid, but which do not survive into the ED.