The city of Ur (3rd millennium BC)

The city of Ur (3rd millennium BC)

The ancient city located near the river Euphrates was an important Sumerian centre.



Sumerians, Ur, Euphrates, Mesopotamia, city-state, Abraham, Loftus, architecture, building, edifice, place of residence, dwelling, transportation, sanctuary, church, religion, temple tower, Ziggurat, 3rd millennium BC, defensive wall, antiquity, history

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The city of Ur

  • city walls
  • ziggurat
  • temple district
  • canal
  • dwellings
  • port
  • river



Temple district



  • city walls
  • ziggurat
  • temple district
  • canal
  • dwellings
  • port
  • river


The city of Ur was an important Sumerian centre in ancient Mesopotamia. It was located in southern Mesopotamia, near the mouth of the Euphrates river on the Persian Gulf (in present-day Iraq).

Similarly to other Sumerian city-states, Ur had already been a powerful city in the 4th millennium BC. Due to its proximity to both the river and the sea, the city played an important role in trade. A canal was built across the city as was a safe port to aid shipping and transport. The port made Ur a flourishing trade centre, boosting its economy.

According to the Bible, Abraham was born here. The structure of the city was similar to other large urban centres established in ancient times. It was surrounded by protective walls. The internal structure was divided into a temple district and a residential district.

The temple district, also surrounded by a separate wall system, was constructed in several phases, making it large and spectacular. The temples and shrines were dedicated to the Sumerian’s chief god, the moon god Sin, and his wife Ningal, while the palaces were built for the monarchs, priests and priestesses. The largest and most important building on the site was the Ziggurat of Ur, one of the first real ziggurats (or terraced step pyramids), which consisted of three levels.
The isolation and central location of the religious district within the city reflects the hierarchy of Mesopotamian society.

The arrangement of residential buildings reflects the unordered, tight structure of early settlements. Dwellings were usually one or two-storey houses built of fired bricks and covered with mud. They were covered with flat roofs, which were used for storage.

The city was abandoned in the 4th century BC. The first archaeologist to describe the ruins of the ziggurat was William Kenneth Loftus in the early 19th century, but excavations of the city began relatively late, in the 20th century.

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