Image of Gilgamesh from Uruk


Uruk might be the first major city in the world, and was founded before 5000 BCE, during the Ubaid period. Around 3000 BCE it was probably the largest city in the world, with 50,000 - 80,000 people living in an area of 450 hectares or 4.5 km2. This is the equivalent of about 1/10 of Manhattan in New York, with about 1/3 of the population density.

Uruk might be the city of Erech, mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Uruk's name in Aramaic, Erech, is likely to have given name to the country Iraq.

Uruk was the first city in the world in a number of areas, such as

Image of Warka Vase from Uruk


A number of important objects have been found at Uruk. The most famous are the Warka Vase and the Mask of Warka/Lady of Uruk.


Image of the white temple at Uruk


Uruk was home to the sky god Anu/An and his granddaughter Inanna (later Ishtar), the Queen of the Sky. It was said that at one point Inanna stole a ME (𒈨; Sumerian: me; Akkadian: paršu), a decree of the gods or representation of skills, from her father Enki at Eridu. The transfer of ME from Eridu to Uruk explains why Eridu declined and Uruk rose in importance.

Seal with image of Gilgamesh


There are a number of famous kings of Uruk. The most famous is probably Gilgamesh, the mythical hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, who was probably a real king at some point.

See a complete list of Uruk kings.

Cone mosaics in Uruk


Uruk was a very impressive city, located south-west of the Euphrates river. It had 9.5 km long wallss, enclosing an area of 450 hectares or 4.5 km2. The middle of Uruk had two mounds, the ziggurat to An/Anu with the White Temple on top, and the Eanna precinct, dedicated to Inanna.

Uruk site today

Ur today

The ancient city of Ur is today located in Iraq, at Tall al-Warka. The site was initially excavated by William Loftus for the British Museum in 1850-1854, and newer excavations started in 1928.

The current site of Uruk is Tall al-Warka in south Iraq, north-east of the present bed of the Euphrates River. The current site is about 4.5 square kilometre.

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