This weeks episode of History with Kayleigh on YouTube looks at the Great Ziggurat Of Ur & The Ancient City In Mesopotamia. Birthplace of Abraham?
Mesopotamia was one of the cradles of a civilization 6000 years ago, located in the fertile valley between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, it was the birthplace of current day society and the first writing system.
Every important city in Mesopotamia had a marvel showing the magnificence of their civilization, these marvels are known to us as Ziggurats. Way back in the day around the birth of civilization 5800 years ago, the coastal city of Ur was founded.
The city is now known as Tell el-Muqayyar and is located in the Modern-day city of Nasiriya in the Dhi Qar Governorate of southern Iraq. The very first mention of Ur in written history was in the 26th century BCE, with its first recorded king being Mesannepada.
We’ve learned in my deep dive about the Ziggurat of Uruk that the Mesopotamian cities had a Patron Deity. In Uruk we learned that the God Anu was the Patron Deity which over time got replaced by the Goddess Inanna.
Here in the City of Ur they had a different Patron Deity, the Moon God Nanna was the Protector of this city, the City was even literally named; The abode of Nanna. Around 2050 BCE construction on the Great Ziggurat of Ur started, and at the latest, it was completed at 1980 BCE.
Just like with the Anu Ziggurat of Uruk construction started on the bottom with the mud bricks slowly making their way to the flat platform surface approximately 30 meters in height. The base of the Ziggurat is 64 meters in length and 45 meters in width and the corners of the base are oriented to the cardinal points of the compass.
It is said that King Ur-Nammu had ordered the construction of the Ziggurat during the Third Dynasty of Ur, also known as the Neo-Sumerian Empire. But it’s thought that under the rule of King Shulgi the Ziggurat was finished.
For a long time, the Ziggurat had stood in all its glory, but we all know nothing truly lasts forever, so around 600 BCE there was not much left besides the base. The last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire King Nabonidus had come upon the ruins and decided to rebuild the Ziggurat, but with nothing left to guide him, he restored the 3 staged Ziggurat in 7 stages changing the original appearance.
Nabonidus was the Last King before the Fall of Babylon to the First Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great. Which means that the Great Ziggurat of Ur and the City of Ur who once were at the Height of the Mesopotamian state were now slowly turning to ruins and eventually would be covered by the desert sand.
The city is not necessarily known to the world for its Ziggurat but for a very different reason, it’s a city mentioned in the Hebrew bible to have been the birthplace of Abraham, the Patriarch of the Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Within the city is a structure which is 4000 years old and known as the house of Abraham, it most likely served as an administrative centre around the time Abraham would have lived here before he left for Canaan according to the Bible.
There has been speculation of course if the city of Ur is the actual place the bible refers to when it mentions Ur Kasdim, but it seems like Pope Francis Head of the Catholic church believes it is. In March 2021 he travelled to the city of Ur to condemn violent religious extremism during a prayer service held in the city where he prayed alongside Muslims, Yazidis and Christians.
This is the first-ever visit of a Pope from the Catholic Church to Iraq, which reinforces the message of inter-religious tolerance in a country that is deeply divided by religion and ethnicity. Saddam Hussein had ordered the facade of the lowest level and monumental staircase of the Ziggurat to be rebuilt in the 1980s. The Ziggurat, unfortunately, suffered damage during the Gulf War in 1991 because Saddam Hussein had cunningly placed his military base right next to the Ziggurat, incorporating the structure in his military defence plan.
He even placed his MiG fighter Jets close to the Ziggurat because he was convinced the US bombers would spare them in fear of destroying the Ancient structure.
Have a look through the History with Kayleigh back catalogue for more great videos..