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Coordinates: 30°48′57.02″N, 45°59′45.85″E

Ancient Mesopotamia
Cities / Empires
Sumer: UrukUrEridu
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Assyria: AssurNineveh
Kings of Sumer
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Babylon
Cuneiform script
Enûma Elish

Eridu (or Eridug/Urudug, from Sumerian Eri.dugga, "Good City") 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.

In Sumerian mythology, it was said to be one of the five cities built before the flood. It appears to be the earliest Sumerian settlement, most likely founded ca. 4000 BC 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.

In early Eridu, Enki's temple was known as E-abzu ("the abzu temple") and was located at the edge of a swamp, an apsû.<ref> Green (1975), pages 180-182</ref>

According to Gwedolyn Leick, Eridu was formed at the confluence of three separate ecosystems, supporting three distinct lifestyles. The oldest agrarian settlement seems to have been based upon intensive subsistence irrigation agriculture derived from the Samarra culture to the north, characterised by the building of canals, and mud-brick buildings. The fisher-hunter cultures of the Arabian littoral were responsible for the extensive middens along the Arabian shoreline. They seem to have dwelt in reed huts. The third culture that contributed to the building of Eridu was the nomadic pastoralists of herds of sheep and goats living in tents in semi-desert areas. All three cultures seem implicated in the earliest levels of the city. The urban settlement was centered on an impressive temple complex built of mudbrick, within a small depression that allowed water to accumulate.

Kate Fielden reports "The earliest village settlement (c.5000 BC) had grown into a substantial city of mudbrick and reed houses by c.2900 BC, covering 8-10 ha (20-25 acres). By c.2050 BC the city had declined; there is little evidence of occupation after that date. Eighteen superimposed mudbrick temples at the site underlie the unfinished Ziggurat of Amar-Sin (c.2047-2039 BC). The apparent continuity of occupation and religious observance at Eridu provide convincing evidence for the indigenous origin of Sumerian civilization. The site was excavated chiefly between 1946 and 1949 by the Iraq Antiquities Department." <ref>Grolier online publishing</ref> These Archaeological investigations were carried out in the 1940s, which showed, according to Oppenheim, "Eventually the entire south lapsed into stagnation, abandoning the political initiative to the rulers of the northern cities," and the city was abandoned in 600 BC.

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 scientific medicine, and they offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources.


[edit] Eridu in myth

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

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who came before the "flood", and shows how the centre of power progressively moved from the south to the north of the country.

Adapa U-an, elsewhere called the first man was a half-god half-man, culture hero, called by the title Abgallu (Ab=water, Gal=Great, Lu=Man) of Eridu. He was considered to have brought civilisation to the city from Dilmun (probably Bahrain), and he served Alulim.

In Sumerian mythology Eridu was the home of the Abzu temple of the god Enki, the Sumerian counterpart of the Akkadian 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 (Sumerian Ab = Water; Zu = far).

The stories of Inanna, the Goddess of Uruk, describe how she had to go to Eridu in order to receive the gifts of civilisation. At first Enki, the God of Eridu attempted to retrieve these sources of his power, but later willingly accepted that Uruk now was the centre of the land. This seems to be a mythical reference to the transfer of power northward, mentioned above.

Babylonian texts also talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, "the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight".

Some modern researchers, following David Rohl, 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. Rohl et al. further 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.

[edit] External links

[edit] Archaeological Searches

Tell Abu Shahrain was excavated in the 1940s by Fuad Safar and Seton Lloyd. It is near the present Basra.

[edit] References

  • Margaret Whitney Green, Eridu in Sumerian Literature, Phd disseration, University of Chicago, 1975.
  • A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a dead civilization.
  • Gwendoyn Leick, Mesopotamia: The invention of the city.

<references/>ca:Eridu de:Eridu es:Eridu fr:Eridu it:Eridu nl:Eridu ja:エリドゥ pl:Eridu pt:Eridu ro:Eridu sv:Eridu tr:Eridu


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