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Uruk – The first recorded city in History

Uruk was an ancient city in Sumer and later Babylonia. At one time it was the most important city in ancient Mesopotamia. It was situated in the southern region of Sumer (modern day Warka, Iraq), to the northeast of the Euphrates river.

Thousands of clay tablets dug up in the ruins of what used to be the great city of Uruk show that it was indeed a religious and scientific center. It was here, according to Archaeology Magazine, that the the world’s oldest texts were written.

Entrance of Uruk

The writing system known as cuniform, a series of wedge-shaped symbols pressed into wet clay using reeds, was developed around 3200 B.C. by Sumerian scribes in Uruk.

The mythological Sumerian hero king was made famous in the modern world with the discovery of a collection of stories — known as the “Epic of Gilgamesh” — in 1853. The 12 cuneiform tablets on which the stories were written were discovered by archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam at the site of the the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal.

Neo-Assyrian clay tablet. Epic of Gilgamesh

The foundations of the first settlements on the site date somewhere around 5000 B.C., the Eridu period. By around 3200 B.C., the city of Uruk was the largest settlement in southern Mesopotamia, and probably in the world.

The remains of probably the oldest city in the world laid buried until 1850 when archaeologist William Loftus led the first excavations on the site and identified the city as “Erech, the second city of Nimrod.”

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