Temenos of Ur

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The Temenos of Ur (E-gish-shir-gal), was an enclosed area which consisted of the religious and royal building structures. Located a little to the north-west of the city center, it was enclosed by a great wall and its floor was raised above the level of the city; the wall line was so drawn as to include the ancient Ziggurat in its western angle, on the south-west running against the face of the old terrace, on the north-west leaving an interval of about thirty metres. The building of the terrace was necessarily the first step.


The Temenos area of ancient Ur includes the Neo-Babylonian temenos walls, the Third Dynasty of Ur Ziggurat and the associated ziggurat temples of various periods, the principle monuments of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

After the fall of the Neo-Assyrian dynasty in 612 BCE, the Neo-Babylonian kings (612-539 BCE) would renovate all of the major monuments of Ur and build a new temenos area around the principle temples and religious residences. Finally, Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire (550-530 BCE), considered the moon god Nanna as the patron god of Ur. For a short time, Nanna became part of the official cult of the Achaemenid kings, who rebuilt parts of the temenos enclosure and sacred gates.

Notable Structures

circa 2100 BCE

The Ur ziggurat was a piece in a temple complex that served as an administrative center for the city, and which was a shrine of the moon god Nanna, the patron deity of Ur. It was built by the Sumerian King Ur-Nammu and his son Shulgi in circa the 21st century BCE (short chronology) during the Third Dynasty of Ur. The massive step pyramid measured 210 feet (64 meters) in length, 150 feet (46 meters) in width and over 100 feet (30m) in height. The height is speculative, as only the foundations of the Sumerian ziggurat have survived.

circa 2100 BCE

Dub-Lal-Mah Temple
The remains of Dub-Lal-Makh, a small temple situated at Ziggurat Railing in the eastern angle that subtends ziggurat. The temple consists of two rooms one internal and was a little bit higher than the other room and represented a place for divine isolation or solitude. Originally the temple was an entrance to the passage that leads to the temple of mood deity atop the great ziggurat.

circa 2100 BCE

Shrine of Nanna
It was located north-west of the Great Ziggura of Ur.

circa 2100 BCE

Palace of Ur-Nammu
The Palace of Ur-Nammu (Ekhursag) is one of the three most well-preserved structures dating back to the Third Dynasty of Ur.

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