The city of Nippur was a major Mesopotamian religious center sacred to
Enlil -- wind god, inventor of the hoe, and head of the Mesopotamian pantheon
Although Nippur is never listed as a seat of kingship in the Sumerian
king lists, it was a common belief that Enlil and his temple at Nippur
were the source of religious
and political legitimacy for Mesopotamian kings.
By the 20th century BCE, Sumerian had practically died out as a spoken language,
and an academy for scribes was established at Nippur to preserve Sumerian
Transcriptions of Sumerian literary texts made by scribes at this academy
have been uncovered in modern times, giving scholars a rare window onto
ca. 2100-1800 BCE
Ur rose to dominance once again from about 2100 to 2000 BCE, ruling over
the city-states of Sumer.
Massive city walls were built as well as an imposing ziggurat and other
sacred buildings. Scribes at Ur recorded Sumerian literature and a code
According to the Bible, Terah, father of Abram, took his family from Ur
to go settle in Haran in northern Mesopotamia. The date of this migration
The Bible calls the city "Ur of the Chaldeans" and refers to
Abram as a "wandering Aramaean." The Chaldeans and the Aramaeans
were peoples who would not make their appearance in the Near East until
the end of the 2nd millennium.
The city that became known as Babylon started as a minor city-state, a
province of Ur whose name was probably Babilla.
In 1894 an Amorite called Sumuabum came to power in Babylon and ushered
in a period of growth.
A century later, his remarkable descendant, King Hammurabi (ruled 1792-1750),
used diplomacy backed by military force to dominate all of southern Mesopotamia.
He extended Babylonian rule in the north to include Mari, Assur, and Nineveh.
Babylon became a scribal center for Sumerian and Akkadian documents. The
most famous Babylonian document from his reign was the code of law inscribed
on stone monuments in 1750, the last year of his rule.
The penalties specified in this legal code are more severe than those
in the Sumerian codes that preceded it and may be a reflection of Hammurabi's