Larsa (Sumerian logogram: 𒌓𒀕𒆠 UD.UNUGKI,[1] read Larsamki[2]) was an important city-state of ancient Sumer, the center of the cult of the sun god Utu. It lies some 25 km (16 mi) southeast of Uruk in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate, near the east bank of the Shatt-en-Nil canal at the site of the modern settlement Tell as-Senkereh or Sankarah.

Worshipper Larsa Louvre AO15704.jpg
The Worshipper of Larsa, a votive statuette dedicated to the god Amurru for Hammurabi's life, early 2nd millennium BC, Louvre
Larsa is located in Near East
Shown within Near East
Larsa is located in Iraq
Larsa (Iraq)
LocationIshan al-Bahriyat, Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq
Coordinates31°17′9″N 45°51′13″E / 31.28583°N 45.85361°E / 31.28583; 45.85361Coordinates: 31°17′9″N 45°51′13″E / 31.28583°N 45.85361°E / 31.28583; 45.85361
Mesopotamia in the time of Hammurabi


The historical "Larsa" was already in existence as early as the reign of Eannatum of Lagash (reigned circa 2500–2400 BCE), who annexed it to his empire.

The city became a political force during the Isin-Larsa period. After the Third Dynasty of Ur collapsed c. 2000 BC, Ishbi-Erra, an official of Ibbi-Sin, the last king of the Third Dynasty of Ur, relocated to Isin and set up a government which purported to be the successor to the Third Dynasty of Ur. From there, Ishbi-Erra recaptured Ur as well as the cities of Uruk and Lagash, which Larsa was subject to. Subsequent rulers of Isin appointed governors to rule over Larsa; one such governor was an Amorite named Gungunum. He eventually broke with Isin and established an independent dynasty in Larsa. To legitimize his rule and deliver a blow to Isin, Gungunum captured the city of Ur. As the region of Larsa was the main center of trade via the Persian Gulf, Isin lost an enormously profitable trade route, as well as a city with much cultic significance.

Gungunum's two successors, Abisare (c. 1841–1830 BC) and Sumuel (c. 1830–1801 BC), both took steps to cut Isin completely off from access to canals. Isin quickly lost political and economic influence.

Larsa grew powerful, but never accumulated a large territory. At its peak under king Rim-Sin I (c. 1758–1699 BC), Larsa controlled only about 10-15 other city-states — nowhere near the territory controlled by other dynasties in Mesopotamian history. Nevertheless, huge building projects and agricultural undertakings can be detected archaeologically. After the defeat of Rim-Sin I by Hammurabi of Babylon, Larsa became a minor site, though it has been suggested that it was the home of the First Sealand Dynasty of Babylon.[3]

Larsa is thought to be the source of a number of tablets involving Babylonian mathematics, including the Plimpton 322 tablet that contains patterns of Pythagorean triples.[4]

Kings of LarsaEdit

Ruler Reigned (short chronology) Comments
Naplanum   c. 1961–1940 BC Contemporary of Ibbi-Suen of the Third Dynasty of Ur
Emisum c. 1940–1912 BC
Samium c. 1912–1877 BC
Zabaia c. 1877–1868 BC Son of Samium, first royal inscription
Gungunum c. 1868–1841 BC Gained independence from Lipit-Eshtar of Isin
Abisare c. 1841–1830 BC
Sumuel   c. 1830–1801 BC
Nur-Adad c. 1801–1785 BC Contemporary of Sumu-la-El of Babylon
Sin-Iddinam   c. 1785–1778 BC Son of Nur-Adad
Sin-Eribam c. 1778–1776 BC
Sin-Iqisham c. 1776–1771 BC Contemporary of Zambiya of Isin, son of Sin-Eribam
Silli-Adad c. 1771–1770 BC
Warad-Sin   c. 1770–1758 BC Possible co-regency with Kudur-Mabuk, his father
Rim-Sin I   c. 1758–1699 BC Contemporary of Irdanene of Uruk. Defeated by Hammurabi of Babylon, brother of Warad-Sin.
Hammurabi of Babylon   c. 1699–1686 BC Official Babylonian rule
Samsu-iluna of Babylon   c. 1686–1678 BC Official Babylonian rule
Rim-Sin II c. 1678–1674 BC Killed in revolt against Babylon


List of the kings of Larsa, 39th year of Hammurabi's reign, Louvre
Compilation of plane geometry problems from Larsa, Old Babylonian period.

The remains of Larsa cover an oval about 4.5 mi (7.2 km) in circumference. The highest point is around 70 ft (21 m) in height.

Detail of a terracotta cylinder of Nabonidus, recording the restoration work on the temple of Shamash at Larsa. Dated to 555-539 BCE. Probably from Larsa, Iraq. Housed in the British Museum

The site of Tell es-Senkereh, then known as Sinkara, was first excavated by William Loftus in 1850 for less than a month.[5] In those early days of archaeology, the effort was more focused on obtaining museum specimens than scientific data and practices like site drawings and findspots were not yet in common usage. Loftus recovered building bricks of Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire which enabled the site's identification as the ancient city of Larsa. Much of the effort by Loftus was on the temple of Shamash, rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II. Inscriptions of Burna-Buriash II of the Kassite dynasty of Babylon and Hammurabi of the First Babylonian dynasty were also found. Larsa was also briefly worked by Walter Andrae in 1903. The site was inspected by Edgar James Banks in 1905. He found that widespread looting by the local population was occurring there.[6]

The first modern, scientific, excavation of Senkereh occurred in 1933, with the work of André Parrot.[7][8] Parrot worked at the location again in 1967.[9] In 1969 and 1970, Larsa was excavated by Jean-Claude Margueron.[10][11] Between 1976 and 1991, an expedition of the Delegation Archaeologic Francaise en Irak led by J-L. Huot excavated at Tell es-Senereh for 13 seasons.[12][13][14][15] In 2019 excavations were resumed.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ ETCSL. The Lament for Nibru. Accessed 19 Dec 2010.
  2. ^ ETCSL. The Temple Hymns. Accessed 19 Dec 2010.
  3. ^ W. G. Lambert, "The Home of the First Sealand Dynasty", Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 26 (1974), pp. 208-210
  4. ^ Robson, Eleanor (2002). "Words and pictures: new light on Plimpton 322" (PDF). American Mathematical Monthly. Mathematical Association of America. pp. 105–120. doi:10.2307/2695324..
  5. ^ [1] William Loftus, Travels and researches in Chaldæa and Susiana; with an account of excavations at Warka, the Erech of Nimrod, and Shúsh, Shushan the Palace of Esther, in 1849-52, J. Nisbet and Co., 1857
  6. ^ Edgar James Banks, "Senkereh, the Ruins of Ancient Larsa", The Biblical World, 25 (1905), no. 5, pp. 389-392
  7. ^ Andre Parrot, Villes enfouies. Trois campagnes de fouilles en Mésopotamie, 1935
  8. ^ A. Parrot, "Les fouilles de Tello et de. Senkereh-Larsa, campagne 1932-1933", Revue d'Assyriologie, 30 (1933), pp. 169-182, 1933
  9. ^ André Parrot, Les fouilles de Larsa, Syria, vol. 45, iss. 3-4, pp. 205-239, 1968
  10. ^ Jean-Claude Margueron, "Larsa, rapport preliminaire sur la quatrieme campagne", Syria, 47 (1970), pp. 271-287
  11. ^ Jean-Claude Margueron, "Larsa, rapport preliminaire sur la cinquieme campagne", Syria, 48 (1971), pp. 271-287
  12. ^ J-L. Huot, "Larsa, rapport preliminaire sur la septieme campagne Larsa et la premiere campagne Tell el 'Oueili (1976)", Syria, 55 (1978), pp. 183-223
  13. ^ J-L. Huot, Larsa et 'Oueili, travaux de 1978-1981. Vol. 26, Memoire, Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, 1983, ISBN 2-86538-066-1
  14. ^ J.-L. Huot, Larsa (10e campagne, 1983) et Oueili: Rapport preliminaire, Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, 1987, ISBN 2-86538-174-9
  15. ^ J-L. Huot, Larsa, Travaux de 1985, Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, 1989, ISBN 2-86538-198-6


  • Ettalene M. Grice, Clarence E. Keiser, Morris Jastrow, Chronology of the Larsa Dynasty, AMS Press, 1979, ISBN 0-404-60274-6
  • The Rulers of Larsa, M. Fitzgerald, Yale University Dissertation, 2002
  • Larsa Year Names, Marcel Segrist, Andrews University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-943872-54-5
  • Judith K. Bjorkman, The Larsa Goldsmith's Hoards-New Interpretations, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 52, no. 1, pp. 1–23, 1993
  • T. Breckwoldt, Management of grain storage in Old Babylonian Larsa, Archiv für Orientforschung, no. 42-43, pp. 64–88, 1995–1996
  • D. Arnaud, French Archaeological Mission in Iraq. A Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets and Inscribed Objects Found during the 6th Season in Tell Senkereh/Larsa, Sumer, vol. 34, no. 1-2, pp. 165–176, 1978
  • EJ Brill, Legal and economic records from the Kingdom of Larsa, Leemans, 1954, ISBN 90-6258-120-X

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Larsa" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External linksEdit