Monday, November 16, 2009


Ur-Nammu was a ruler of the city of Ur and the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur (somewhere around 2097 – 2080 B.C.). Ur-Nammu, who reigned for about sixteen years, claimed the titles “the mighty man, King or Ur, King of Sumer and Akkad” and expanded his control from Ur to a large part of Mesopotamia.

The earliest known law code in world history dates either to the reign of Ur-Nammu or his son Shulgi. We know the contents of this code from three texts. The Nippur tablet preserves the prologue and laws 4 – 20. The Ur tablets, preserve laws 7 – 37 while the “Sippar” tablet (which may actually be from Nippur) contains the end of the prologue and the first ten laws . The law code is somewhat different from the famous law code of the Babylonian King, Hammurapi and I will do several posts soon to highlight some of the differences.

The stela pictured here was originally about five feet cross and ten feet high. It shows the god Nanna seated on a throne and holding a measuring rod and line. The god is wearing a multi layered wool garment and sitting in front of a potted (?) tree.

Many inscriptions from Ur-Nammu’s reign have survived. A large number of these texts describe the building of the walls of the city and a ziggurat which survives to this day. This ziggurat is one of the best known buildings to have survived from the ancient near east. On the north-east side of the ziggurat there are three stairways which meet at the top of the first level. The central stairway then continues up to the second level. It is uncertain if there was a third level. No remains have survived of the temple that, it is assumed, existed at the top of the ziggurat.

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