Nuzi (or Nuzu; Akkadian Gasur; modern Yorghan Tepe, Iraq) was an ancient Mesopotamian city southwest of the city of Arrapha (modern Kirkuk), located near the Tigris river. The site consists of one medium-sized multiperiod tell and two small single period mounds.

Coordinates: 35°22′12″N 44°15′18″E / 35.3699722222222°N 44.2549166666667°E / 35.3699722222222; 44.2549166666667 (Nuzi (Gasur, Yorghan Tepe))


In the middle second millennium the Hurrians founded the town and called it Nuzi. The history of the site during the intervening period is unclear, though the presence of a few cuneiform tables from Old Assyrian Empire indicates that trade with nearby Assur was taking place. After the fall of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni to Ashur-uballit I of the Middle Assyrian Empire, Nuzi fell back into the hands of the Assyrians and went into gradual decline. Note that while Hurrian period is well known because those levels of the site were fully excavated, the earlier history is less firm because of only scant digging.[1] The history of Nuzi is closely interrelated with that of the nearby towns of Eshnunna and Khafajah.


While tablets from Yorghan Tepe began appearing back as far as 1896, the first serious archaeological efforts began in 1925 after Gertrude Bell noticed tablets appearing in the markets of Baghdad. The dig was mainly worked by Edward Chiera, Robert Pfeiffer, and Richard Starr under the auspices of the Iraq Museum and the Baghdad School of the American Schools of Oriental Research and later the Harvard University and Fogg Art Museum.[2][3][4] Excavations continued through 1931. The site has 15 occupation levels. The hundreds of tablets and other finds recovered were published in a series of volumes. More finds continue to be published to this day.[5]

To date, around 5,000 tablets are known, mostly held at the Oriental Institute, the Harvard Semitic Museum and the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. Many are routine legal and business documents and about one quarter concern the business transactions of a single family.[6] The vast majority of finds are from the Hurrian period during the second millennium BC with the remainder dating back to the town's founding during the Akkadian Empire. An archive contemporary to the Hurrian archive at Nuzi has been excavated from the "Green Palace" at the site of Tell al-Fakhar, 35 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of Nuzi.[7]

Sketch of the Nuzi map with French legends.

Perhaps the most famous item found is the Nuzi map, which is the oldest known map ever discovered. It is unknown exactly what the Nuzi map charts, even though the majority of the tablet is preserved. The Nuzi map is actually one of the so-called Gasur texts, and predates the invasion of the city of Gasur by the Hurrians, who renamed it Nuzi. The cache of economic and business documents among which the map was found date to the Old Akkadian period (ca. 2360–2180 BC).[8] Gasur was a thriving commercial center, and the texts reveal a varied business community with far reaching enterprises. It is possible that Ebla was a trading partner, and that the tablet, rather than a record of land-holdings, might indeed be a road map.[8] The tablet, which is approximately 6 × 6.5 cm., is inscribed only on the obverse. It shows the city of Maskan-dur-ebla in the lower left corner, as well and a canal/river and two mountain ranges.[8]

Nuzi, a provincial town in the 14th century BCEdit

The best-known period in the history of Yorghan Tepe is by far one of the city of Nuzi in the 15th-14th centuries BC. The tablets of this period indicate that Nuzi was a small provincial town of northern Mesopotamia at this time in an area populated mostly by Assyrians and Hurrians, the latter a people well known though poorly documented, and that would be even less if not for the information uncovered at this site.


Nuzi was a provincial town of Arrapha. It was administered by a governor (šaknu) from the palace. The palace, situated in the center of the mound, had many rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The functions of some of those rooms have been identified: reception areas, apartments, offices, kitchens, stores. The walls were painted, as was seen in fragments unearthed in the ruins of the building.

Archives that have been exhumed tell us about the royal family, as well as the organization of the internal administration of the palace and its dependencies, and the payments various workers received. Junior officers of the royal administration had such titles as sukkallu (often translated as "vizier", the second governor), "district manager" (halṣuhlu), and "mayor" (hazannu). Justice was rendered by these officers, but also by judges (dayānu) installed in the districts.

Free subjects of the state were liable to a charge, the Ilku, which consisted of a requirement to perform various types of military and civilian services, such as working the land.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Reallexikon der Assyriologie by Erich Ebling, Bruno Meissner, 1993, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-003705-X
  2. ^ The Joint Expedition of Harvard University and the Baghdad School at Yargon Tepa Near Kirkuk, David G. Lyon, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No 30, 1928
  3. ^ Edward Chiera, Joint Expedition with the Iraq Museum at Nuzi. Mixed Texts., University of Pennsylvania Press, 1934
  4. ^ Nuzi; report on the excavation at Yorgan Tepa near Kirkuk, Iraq, conducted by Harvard University in conjunction with the American Schools of Oriental Research and the University museum of Philadelphia, 1927–1931, Richard F. S. Starr, Harvard University Press, 1937 and 1939, 2 volumes ISBN 0-674-62900-0
  5. ^ Joint Expedition With the Iraq Museum at Nuzi VIII: The Remaining Major Texts in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians, V. 14), M. P. Maidman, David I. Owen, Gernot Wilhelm, Mathaf Al-Iraqi, University of Chicago Oriental Institute, CDL Press, 2003, ISBN 1-883053-80-3
  6. ^ "The Teip-tilla Family of Nuzi: A Genealogical Reconstruction," Maynard Paul Maidman, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3, 1976
  7. ^ al-Khalesi, Y.M. (1970). "Tell al-Fakhar. Report on the First Season's Excavations". Sumer. 26: 109–126. ISSN 0081-9271.
  8. ^ a b c Freedman, Nadezhda. (1977). The Nuzi Ebla. The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Mar., 1977), pp. 32–33.


  • Martha A. Morrison and David I. Owen, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 1 – In Honor of Ernest R. Lacheman on His Seventy-fifth Birthday, April 29, 1981, 1981, ISBN 978-0-931464-08-9
  • David I. Owen and Martha A. Morrison, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 2 – General Studies and Excavations at Nuzi 9/1, 1987, ISBN 978-0-931464-37-9
  • Ernest R. Lacheman and Maynard P. Maidman, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 3 – Joint Expedition with the Iraq Museum at Nuzi VII – Miscellaneous Texts, 1989, ISBN 978-0-931464-45-4
  • Ernest R. Lacheman et al., Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 4 – The Eastern Archives of Nuzi and Excavations at Nuzi 9/2, Eisenbrauns, 1993, ISBN 0-931464-64-1
  • David I. Owen and Ernest R. Lacheman, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 5 – General Studies and Excavations at Nuzi 9/3, Eisenbrauns, 1995, ISBN 0-931464-67-6
  • David I. Owen and Gernot Wilhelm, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 7 – Edith Porada Memorial Volume, Capital Decisions Ltd, 1995, ISBN 1-883053-07-2
  • David I. Owen and Gernot Wilhelm, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 8 – Richard F.S. Starr Memorial Volume, CDL Press, 1997, ISBN 1-883053-10-2
  • David I. Owen and Gernot Wilhelm, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 9 – General Studies and Excavations at Nuzi, CDL Press, 1998, ISBN 1-883053-26-9
  • Brigitte Lion and Diana L. Stein, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians: Volume 11 – The Pula-Hali Family Archives, CDL Press, 2001, ISBN 1-883053-56-0
  • G. R. Driver and J. Miles, Ordeal by Oath at Nuzi, Iraq, vol. 7, pp. 132, 1940
  • J. Paradise, "A Daughter and Her Father’s Property at Nuzi", Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 32, pp. 189–207, 1980
  • [1] Ignace J. Gelb et. al., "Nuzi Personal Names", Oriental Institute Publications 57, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1943

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