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Ancient Mesopotamia
Cities / empires
Sumer: UrukUrEridu
Akkadian Empire: Agade
Assyria: AssurNineveh
Kings of Sumer
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Babylon
Cuneiform script
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Eridu (or Eridug) was an ancient city seven miles southwest of Ur. Eridu was the southernmost of the conglomeration of cities that grew about temples, almost in sight of one another, in Sumer, southern Mesopotamia. It was most likely founded close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates river, but with accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of the city are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq.

Archaeological investigations were carried out in the 1940s. It seems that the earliest settlement was carbon-dated to around 5000 BC. According to Oppenheim, "Eventually the entire south lapsed into stagnation, abandoning the political initiative to the rulers of the northern cities." and the city forsaken in 600 BC.

In the Sumerian king list, Eridu is named as the city of the first kings:

After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug. In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alaljar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridug fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira.

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who came before the "flood". Adapa was a half-god king and caretaker of Eridu.

In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, foretold the course of sickness from signs and portents on the patient's body, which we must not too hastily connect with "symptoms" in our worldview, and they offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources.

In Sumerian mythology Eridu was the home of the god Enki, the Sumerian counterpart of the water-god Ea. Like all the Sumerian and Babylonian gods, Enki/Ea began as a local god, who came to share, according to the later cosmology, with Anu and Enlil, the rule of the cosmos. His kingdom was the waters that surrounded the world and lay below it.

Some modern researchers have conjectured that Eridu, to the south of Ur, was the original Babel and site of the Tower of Babel, rather than the later city of Babylon, for a variety of reasons:

  1. The ziggurat ruins of Eridu are far larger and older than any others, and seem to best match the Biblical description of the unfinished Tower of Babel.
  2. One name of Eridu in cuneiform logograms was pronounced "NUN.KI" (the Mighty Place") in Sumerian, but much later the same "NUN.KI" was understood to mean the city of Babylon.
  3. The much later Greek version of the King-list by Berosus (c. 200 BC) reads "Babylon" in place of "Eridu" in the earlier versions, as the name of the oldest city where "the kingship was lowered from Heaven".
  4. Proponents of this theory equate Biblical Nimrod, said to have built Erech (Uruk) and Babel, with the legendary name Enmerkar (-KAR meaning "hunter") of the king-list, said to have built temples both in his capital of Uruk and in Eridu.

External links


A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a dead civilization,es:Eridu pl:Eridu pt:Eridu


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