Shuruppak or Shuruppag was an ancient Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian city situated about 35 miles south of Nippur
Nippur was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind," ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone...

 on the banks of the Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 at the site of modern Tell Fara in Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

's Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate.

Shuruppak was dedicated to Ninlil
In Sumerian religion, Ninlil , also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mullitu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia and Nunbarsegunu...

, also called Sud, the goddess of grain and the air.


Shuruppak became a grain storage and distribution city and had more silos than any other Sumerian city. The earliest excavated levels at Shuruppak date to the Jemdet Nasr period
Jemdet Nasr period
The Jemdet Nasr period is an archaeological culture in southern Mesopotamia that is generally dated to 3100–2900 BCE. It is named after the type-site Jemdet Nasr, where the assemblage typical for this period was first recognized. Its geographical distribution is limited to south–central Iraq...

 about 3000 BCE; it was abandoned shortly after 2000 BCE. Schmidt found one Isin-Larsa cylinder seal and several pottery plaques which may date to early in the second millennium BC. Surface finds are predominantly Early Dynastic.

At the end of the Uruk period
Uruk period
The Uruk period existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia, following the Ubaid period and succeeded by the Jemdet Nasr period. Named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia. It was...

 there was an archaeologically attested river flood in Shuruppak. Polychrome pottery from a destruction level below the flood deposit has been dated to the Jemdet Nasr period that immediately preceded the Early Dynastic I period.

The city expanded to its greatest extent at the end of the Early Dynastic III period (2600BCE to 2350BCE) when it covered about 100 hectares. At this stage it was destroyed by a fire which baked the clay tablets and mudbrick walls, which then survived for millennia.

Two possible kings of Shuruppak are mentioned in epigraphic data. In the Sumerian King List
Sumerian king list
The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship...

 a king Ubara-Tutu
Ubara-tutu of Shuruppak was the last antediluvian king of Sumer. He is recorded as the son of Enmunderana whom most believe to be the inspiration for the biblical Enoch...

 is listed as the ruler of Shuruppak and the last king "before the flood". In the Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

 a Utanapishtim (also Uta-na'ishtim), son of Ubara-Tutu, is noted to be king of Shuruppak. The names Ziusudra
Ziusudra of Shuruppak is listed in the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension as the last king of Sumer prior to the deluge. He is subsequently recorded as the hero of the Sumerian flood epic...

 and Atrahasis is also associated with him. These figures may well be mythical and have not been supported by archaeological finds.


The site of Shuruppak extends about a kilometer from north to south. The total area is about 120 hectares, with about 35 hectares of the mound being above the 3 meter contour.

After a brief survey by Hermann Volrath Hilprecht
Hermann Volrath Hilprecht
Hermann Volrath Hilprecht was a German-American Assyriologist and archaeologist.Hilprecht was born in 1859 at Hohenerxleben, Germany. He graduated from Herzogliches Gymnasium at Bernburg in 1880. Afterwards he went on to the University of Leipzig where he studied theology, philology, and law,...

 in 1900, it was first excavated in 1902 by Robert Koldewey
Robert Koldewey
Robert Johann Koldewey was a German architect, famous for his discovery of the ancient city of Babylon in modern day Iraq. He was born in Blankenburg am Harz in Germany, the duchy of Brunswick, and died in Berlin at the age of 70...

 and Friedrich Delitzsch
Friedrich Delitzsch
Friedrich Delitzsch was a German Assyriologist. Born in Erlangen, he studied in Leipzig and Berlin, and in 1874 was habilitated as a lecturer of Semitic languages and Assyriology in Leipzig. In 1885 he became a "full professor" at Leipzig, and afterwards a professor at the Universities of Breslau ...

 of the German Oriental Society for 8 months. Among other finds, hundreds of pre-Sargonic tablets were collected which ended up in the Berlin Museum and Istanbul Museum.
In March and April 1931 a joint team of the American Schools of Oriental Research
American Schools of Oriental Research
The American Schools of Oriental Research, founded in 1900, supports and encourages the study of the peoples and cultures of the Near East, from the earliest times to the present. It is apolitical and has no religious affiliation...

 and the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

 excavated Shuruppak for a further six week season with Erich Schmidt
Erich Schmidt (archaeologist)
Erich Friedrich Schmidt was a German and American-naturalized archaeologist, born in Baden-Baden. He specialized in Ancient Near East Archaeology, and became professor emeritus at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.When he was young, he fought in the World War I, and was captured...

 as director and with epigraphist Samuel Noah Kramer
Samuel Noah Kramer
Samuel Noah Kramer was one of the world's leading Assyriologists and a world renowned expert in Sumerian history and Sumerian language.-Biography:...

. The excavation recovered 87 tablets and fragments, mostly from pre-Sargonic times, biconvex, and unbaked. In 1973, a three day surface survey of the site was conducted by Harriet P. Martin. Consisting mainly of pottery shard collection, the survey confirmed that Shuruppak dates at least as early as the Jemdet Nasr period, expanded greatly in the Early Dynastic period and was also an element of the Akkadian Empire and the Third Dynasty of Ur
Third Dynasty of Ur
The Third Dynasty of Ur, also known as the Neo-Sumerian Empire or the Ur III Empire refers simultaneously to a 21st to 20th century BC Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state that some historians regard as a nascent empire...


See also

  • History of Sumer
    History of Sumer
    The history of Sumer, taken to include the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods, spans the 5th to 3rd millennia BC, ending with the downfall of the Third Dynasty of Ur around 2004 BC, followed by a transition period of Amorite states before the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century BC. The first...

  • Cities of the Ancient Near East
    Cities of the ancient Near East
    The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far...

  • Instructions of Shuruppak
    Instructions of Shuruppak
    Instructions of Šuruppak is a significant piece of Sumerian wisdom literature. Wisdom literature, intended to teach proper piety, inculcate virtue, and preserve community standards, was common throughout the ancient Near East...

External links

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