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Uruk (Iraq)

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Cone Mosaic from Uruk at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

Cone mosaics were created by forming small clay cones and pushing the points into a wall coated with wet plaster. The flat ends of the cones were then painted. This cone mosaic is from Uruk, and it is kept at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Benjamin Rabe
Definition:

The ancient Mesopotamian capital of Uruk is located on an abandoned channel of the Euphrates river about 155 miles south of Baghdad. The site includes an urban settlement, temples, platforms, ziggurats, and cemeteries enclosed in a fortification ramp almost ten kilometers in circumference.

Uruk was occupied as early as the Ubaid period, but began to show its importance in the late 4th millennium BC, when it included an area of 247 acres and was the largest city in the Sumerian civilization. By 2900 BC, during the Jemdet Nasr period, many Mesopotamian sites were abandoned but Uruk included nearly 1,000 acres, and it must have been the largest city in the world.

Uruk was a capital city of various importance for the Akkadian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Seleucid civilizations, and was abandoned only after AD 100. Archaeologists associated with Uruk include William Kennet Loftus in the mid-nineteenth century, and a series of German archaeologists from the Deutsche Oriente-Gesellschaft including Arnold Nöldeke.

Sources

This glossary entry is a part of the About.com Guide to Mesopotamia and part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Goulder J. 2010. Administrators' bread: an experiment-based re-assessment of the functional and cultural role of the Uruk bevel-rim bowl. Antiquity 84(324351-362).

Johnson, GA. 1987. The changing organization of Uruk Administration on the Susiana Plain. In The Archaeology of Western Iran: settlement and society from prehistory to the Islamic Conquest. Frank Hole, ed. Pp. 107-140. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

--- 1987. Nine thousand years of social change in western Iran. In The Archaeology of Western Iran: settlement and society from prehistory to the Islamic Conquest. Frank Hole, ed. Pp. 283-292. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Rothman, M. 2004. Studying the development of complex society: Mesopotamia in the late fifth and fourth millennia BC. Journal of Archaeological Research 12(1):75-119.

Also Known As: Erech (Judeo-Christian bible), Unu (Sumerian), Warka (Arabic). Uruk is the Akkadian form.

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