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Mesopotamia

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Uruk, White Temple, Dedicated to the Sumerian Sky God Anu, 3200 BC

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Located in the marshy waterways of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Iraq, close to the Persian Gulf, the ancient city of Uruk is now nothing but formless mounds of mud brick crumbling in the windswept desert. With a 6 km2 walled area and an estimated 80,000 residents, it developed into the largest urban center in ancient Sumer, and indeed in the world, by the 4th millennium BC. Intensive irrigation agriculture the resultant large scale export of surplus wheat and barley gave rise to a complex bureaucratic system which oversaw the distribution of all livestock agricultural products centered on the E-anna temple complex, dedicated to the goddess Inanna, and the Anu complex, belonging to the sky god Anu, at the heart of Uruk. Officials serving at these temples invented writing as a means to keep record of goods exchanged, the number of laborers in diversified trades, property transactions and inheritances. Dated to around 3200 BC, the so-called White Temple of Anu shown in the illustration, is significant as one the first examples of monumental architecture in the history of the world. Made from flat, square bricks, the temple on a high platform in a courtyard was the domain of the sky god Anu, well known from Sumerian myths. The site was excavated by the German Oriental Society from 1913 to 1978 with some interruptions. The present reconstruction is based entirely on the excavation plans and elevation suggestions of the excavators themselves. Across the wide canal that separated the two parts of Uruk the E-anna complex can be seen with its own temple on a platform at the site of the later ziggurat. View to the east-north-east around 11 o'clock in the morning.
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October 6 2013, 1:13pm

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