The town of Nippur (in Sumérien Nibru , in Akkadien Nibbur ) is one of the oldest cities Mésopotamie known, the place of principal worship of the god sumérien, Enlil, lord of cosmos. Indeed, in the Wedge-shaped writing sumérienne, the same signs can be read Nibru' and Enlil .
The city was located on both sides channel the Shatt-in-Nile , one of the old courses of the Euphrate, between the current bed of this river and the Tigre, to approximately 160 km in the south-east of Baghdad (coordinated: 32.1269 NR, 45.2308 E). Nowadays, there remains a great complex of known ruins of the Arabs under the name of Nuffar (or according to the first explorers Niffer ), divided into two principal parts by the drained course of the Shatt-in-Nile (Arakhat). The culminating point of the ruins, a conical hill in the North-East of the channel, rising to about thirty meters to the top of the surrounding plain, is called by the Arabs Bint el-Amiror ( girl of the prince ).
The site was excavated by an American team of the Université of Pennsylvania of 1889 to 1900, which concentrated on the zone of Ekur. This first phase was before a a whole harvest of shelves (nearly 30.000), at the expense of the monuments. A new forwarding is organized by this university jointly with Eastern Institute of Chicago in 1948, initially in the oriental party, then in the Western part. The excavations stopped in 1990 with the first war of the Gulf. From the longevity and the great quality of research which was carried out there, the site of Nippur is the best known one of all those of Iraq for the ancient period, which it is by the buildings discovered which by the considerable quantity of wedge-shaped shelves that they delivered, of a very large documentary variety for one period covering all the history of Mésopotamie.
Plan of the city and urban development
The oldest phase of occupation attested on the site of Nippur goes back to the Period of Obeid. It is pregnant by a wall built at the period of Ur III, which includes a surface of 135 ha. The city is separate in two parts by Euphrate in the beginning. The oriental party of the city comprised the temple of Enlil, Ekur, like that of Inanna, located at the center. One finds there also a temple of Gula which it is necessary can be to see like belonging to a pertaining to worship complex dedicated to Ninurta, parèdre of Gula. In the southern part of half was the " is; hill of the tablettes" , along the channel, which was the district of the scribes, including/understanding several houses being used as schools. The majority of the residences there were of modest size, but often had rather elaborate water parts. The Western part, secondary for all the ancient period, is generally rather residential or artisanal, but one found there also places of worships. The reign of king Shulgi d' Ur also sees the construction of a new city near Nippur, Puzrish-Dagan (Drehem), regarded as a center of redistribution of the cattle, but perhaps in fact intended to be the capital of the kingdom; its foundation at this place is in any case dependant in the vicinity of Nippur, which is then very important because of its role of religious capital.
Nippur knew several periods of partial or complete abandonment. With the fall of the kingdom of Ur III, the habitat is folded up considerably, whereas the course of Euphrate deviates to skirt the Western part of the walls. During second half of the 18th century, situation has it becomes even more critical, and the habitat concentrates only around Ekur. The city makes new great strides at the 14th century, when the kings Kassites support a vast program of construction, and replace the old course of Euphrate by a channel. Gradually the city takes again the importance which it had at the end of the 3rd millenium. A plan of the city found on a shelf of this period, rather faithful so that one could identify by archeology, and bringing precise details on other parts of the city; one sees there thus that the south-western angle of the city was occupied by a garden.
The crisis which Babylonia at the extreme end of the 2nd millenium and the beginning of the 1st undergoes is a new test for Nippur, which is depopulated again, the habitat being limited to the oriental party. The recovery which know Babylonia at the 8th century and integration with the kingdom néo- Assyrie N contribute to the revival of the city, which becomes a fulcrum for the kings of north mésopotamien in the area. Nippur becomes again an important city, and its continuous expansion under the néo-Babylonian empire and achéménide (as the files of the Murashu family show it), and the city is prosperous until first half of the thousand-year-old 1st of our era.
The Parthian period sees refittings occurring in the principal zone of the city, and in particular the ziggurat is replaced by a large palace. Nippur is still a large city for the period sassanide. The Western part of the city becomes gradually the principal zone of the habitat. The retreat of the occupation begins under the Abbasid dynasty, at the end of which the city is mainly abandoned.
Ekur, the religious center of Low Mésopotamie
Nippur forever be the capital of a political State of any importance at the time history. It owes its prestige with its row of religious capital basic Mésopotamie, due to the fact that it was about the guardian city of Enlil, the king of the gods mésopotamiens. This situation has already course at the time of the antiquated Dynasties.
The temple of Enlil, the Ekur (" House-montagne"), was located in the middle of Nippur. It was the religious center of Low Mésopotamie until Enlil is supplanted by Marduk, god of Babylon, during second half of the 2nd millenium. The kings wanting to dominate Mésopotamie came to be made there devote, which symbolized that they had been chosen by the parking god of the royalty. The fight for the possession of the city in the first part of the paléo-Babylonian Period (2004-1750) watch how the domination on Nippur is something of determinant from the symbolic system point of view. It was considered that the gods met in assemblies chaired by Enlil, their king, in the enclosure of Ekur, to make there determining decisions for the future of humanity. Perhaps they took place in the shape of a gathering of divine statues, considered as being the guarantors of the divine presence on Earth.
The levels of Ekur going up beyond the Third dynasty of Ur (2112-2004) could not be released. The oldest phase that one knows goes back to the rebuilding of this temple by the first king of this same dynasty, Ur-Nammu. The temple undoubtedly went back to half of the 3rd millenium, as one learns it by an inscription from Mesannepada, king of Ur, which made there do work. Thereafter, Naram-Sin d' Akkad increases it. Ur-Nammu altered the unit, while making build a Ziggourat, named É-DUR-AN-KI, " House-bond of the Sky and Terre" , having a base of 38 X 53 meters. A temple located just at the foot of the ziggourat had a particular aspect. Its walls were thick, and it was organized around two big rooms. One found there material intended for the cooking, which made think that it was about the place where one prepared the ritual offerings intended for Enlil. The principal temple of this god was to thus be that which was located at the top of the ziggourat, made unusual in Mésopotamie where a temple-low generally corresponded to a high temple. These two buildings were located in a court protected by a vast wall, giving on several parts. This first unit constituted the heart of Ekur, named Esharra. One reached it by a first large court located on his south-western side, in which was a small temple, Ekiur, intended for the goddess Ninlil, parèdre of Enlil, and considered as the place where the assembly was held of the gods. The whole thus constituted a very vast religious unit, with the height of its prestige.
Ekur was restored at the beginning of the 2nd millenium, then still at the period kassite at the time of the reoccupying of the city. Nabuchodonosor Ier, Assarhaddon and Nabuchodonosor II undertook in their turn of work on this unit. At the time Parthian, it changed vocation, to become a fortress.
Major religious city, Nippur counted other temples of importance beside Ekur, compensating for the absence of places political power. A shelf Cunéiforme claims that hundred temples there were found.
It seems that the guardian divinity of origin of this city was Ninurta, and not his/her father Enlil like the fact of thinking the importance of its temple. The temple of Ninurta, Eshumesha, was not released. Perhaps it was located near an architectural complex released in the Western part of the city, dedicated to its parèdre Gula (Ba' U at the period sumérienne).
The most important temple after Ekur which was released is that dedicated to the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, located at the south-west of the temple of Enlil. It goes back to the period of Uruk, and knew ten rebuildings, until the Parthian time. Level IX is spread out over one long period; its concealed was perhaps with open sky. Levels VIII and VII (end of the antiquated Dynastic ) see the enlarging of the building: are built a whole of rooms, rather complex, driving course at a court with gantry which opened on two cellae, by including one preceded by an anteroom, offset compared to the organization of the building. Many offerings of this period were found, hidden in the ground there. The temple was rebuilt by the king Shulgi of Ur, at the beginning of the 21e century: one destroyed part of the old temple to constitute a large rectangular building of 100 X 50 meters, organized around several courses; this period concealed was destroyed during an other refitting carried out well later, under Parthes.
The large last complex pertaining to worship was at the north of the oriental party of the city, whose guardian divinity was not identified.
Files of Nippur
Nippur is the archeological site which delivered the most shelves Cunéiforme S: one counts some in the 60.000. The major part as of those was discovered in the part is city, in a named zone of this fact Tablet Hill (" the hill with the tablettes") by the diggers of the site. One also found some in the complex of Ekur. Several studies of a very high degree of accuracy, some combining textual and archaeological sources, could be carried out starting from the discoveries carried out on this site.
Period of the Empire of Akkad: a batch of approximately 600 shelves dating from the reign of Naram-Sin d' Akkad was found in Ekur, where they had been re-used to be used as fill between the ziggurat and the enclosure of the religious complex. A part informs us about the rebuilding of the temple by this king: mobilization of craftsmen coming from all the empire, maintained with the expenses the temple, and developed of many objects out of noble metals. The other part relates to the management of the goods of the temple (grounds, herds, rations of subsistence) with the administrator of this one, the SANGA (named by the king). Ekur exerted a social function by ensuring the maintenance with stripped people (widowed, orphan), in exchange of a work. Another batch relates to the administration of the temple of Ninurta, which as for him is attached to the royal field.
Period of the Third dynasty of Ur: the batch of files of this period is of a particular type for the period, since it is attached to the private sphere, whereas one has especially documentation coming from " large organismes" for this kingdom. The family of Ur-Same is representative of the notability of Nippur of this period: some of its members occupy of the functions in the administration of the temple of Inanna, while others are placed at the direction of the businesses of the city. The local, profane and religious authority, is thus shared between some big families. For the same period, the comparative study of the archaeological discoveries and shelves of the temple of Inanna made it possible to reconstitute with a high degree of accuracy the organization of this building and the functions of its various parts.
paléo-Babylonian Period: they are there too private archives, found on the " hill with the tablettes" , which is those of people of a high social status. The many school shelves exhumed for this period helped much to reconstitute the course of education of the scribes. A study of a very high degree of accuracy also could be carried out by Elizabeth Stone by combining the contents of texts and the discoveries archaeological; it could attach a residence excavated to individuals known by the shelves which were found there, and find the architectural modifications attested by archeology in the real transactions which the texts show.
Period kassite (médio-Babylonian): the médio-Babylonian files of Nippur constitute a very massive batch, of almost 12.000 shelves, that is to say a source of first importance for one little documented period. Only 10% of these files were published. They show us the provincial administration kassite, in particular the role of the governor of Nippur, which carries the title of GU.EN.NA. It seems to have a specific scheme, and has a land vast domain, the many dependant ones known by the texts on rations (members of the administration, guards, craftsmen, personnel of temples, etc). Other texts offer information on the breeding of the horses, which seem to have been the object of many attentions: they were named in the texts and had rations as well as the men, are described by their pedigree, the manner with which one raised them is described, with many terms borrowed from the vocabulary kassite, testifying to the control that these people had acquired in the breeding of the horses, which made its fame in all the Middle-East.
Periods néo-Assyrian and néo-Babylonian: the files of an Assyrian governor of the 8th century were put at the day with Nippur. One also has private archives, of which some inform us about a very hard seat that the city at the time of one of the anti-Assyrian revolts had to undergo which shook Babylonia at this period.
Period Achéménide: from this period the files go back to a family of notable buildings, the Murashu, forming a true firm. They play a part of local intermediary for the royal capacity and the Persian nobility, and carry out many loans. Their businesses appear profitable. They inform us about the operation of the military fields set up by the Persian administration, in particular the " fields of arc" ( hatru ), given in theory by capacity central to be useful to maintain archer, which is often managed by members of the royal administration, who recover with their profit the incomes of these fields (and sometimes even acquire a capacity on the men which exploit them, and can thus constitute a personal army).
Period Séleucide: few posterior texts to the fall of the Empire achéménide reached us of Nippur. A text dating from the reign of Démétrios Ier (154 av. J. - C.) shows us that the administration of Ekur always functioned.
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