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Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian: 𒌨𒀭𒇉, ca. 2047-2030 BC short chronology) founded the Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, following several centuries of Akkadian and Gutian rule. His main achievement was state-building, and Ur-Nammu is chiefly remembered today for his legal code, the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest known surviving example in the world.

King Ur-Nammu.jpg
Enthroned King Ur-Nammu, founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur, on a cylinder seal. Inscription of the upper segment: "Ur-Nammu, the Great King, King of Ur". The name of King Ur-Nammu (𒌨𒀭𒇉) appears vertically in the upper right corner.[1]
King of the Neo-Sumerian Empire
Reignc. 2112  BC – 2095  BC
ConsortDaughter of Utu-hengal
Dynasty3rd Dynasty of Ur
ReligionSumerian religion


Mud-brick stamped with the name of king Ur-Nammu. Using a marker pen, Nippur was written in Arabic at one of the corners; therefore, this brick might well have been found in Nippur. Neo-Sumerian Period. Erbil Civilization Museum, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Year-names are known for 17 of Ur-Nammu's 18 years, but their order is uncertain. One year-name of his reign records the devastation of Gutium, while two years seem to commemorate his legal reforms: "Year in which Ur-Nammu the king put in order the ways (of the people in the country) from below to above", and "Year Ur-Nammu made justice in the land".[2]

Cylinder seal of Ur-Nammu. British Museum.[3]

Among his military exploits were the conquest of Lagash and the defeat of his former masters at Uruk. He was eventually recognized as a significant regional ruler (of Ur, Eridu, and Uruk) at a coronation in Nippur, and is believed to have constructed buildings at Nippur, Larsa, Kish, Adab, and Umma. He was known for restoring the roads and general order after the Gutian period.[4]

A brick stamped with the name of Ur-Nammu of Ur

Ur-Nammu was also responsible for ordering the construction of a number of ziggurats, including the Great Ziggurat of Ur.[5]

He was succeeded by his son Shulgi, after an 18-year reign. His death on the battle-field against the Gutians (after he had been abandoned by his army) was commemorated in a long Sumerian poetic composition.[4]


In 1925, a shattered nine-foot tall limestone pillar was discovered in Mesopotamia. Under the remote supervision of Leonard Woolley, it was reconstructed by the Penn Museum. In 1985, Jeanny Canby determined that it had been pieced back incorrectly. She removed the plaster filler of the stele, and added the rearranged pieces she found in the museum's storeroom, and discovered the figure of a courtesan embracing a deity. "It's an amazingly intimate scene for a royal monument," she said.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Hash-hamer Cylinder seal of Ur-Nammu". British Museum.
  2. ^ Year-names for Ur-Nammu
  3. ^ "Hash-hamer Cylinder seal of Ur-Nammu". British Museum.
  4. ^ a b Hamblin, William J. Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2007-07-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (November 28, 2007). "Archaeologist Jeanny 'Jes' Canby". The Washington Post.

External linksEdit