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Girsu is located in Iraq
Shown within Iraq
LocationTell Telloh, Dhi Qar Province, Iraq
Coordinates31°33′43.3″N 46°10′39.3″E / 31.562028°N 46.177583°E / 31.562028; 46.177583Coordinates: 31°33′43.3″N 46°10′39.3″E / 31.562028°N 46.177583°E / 31.562028; 46.177583

Girsu (Sumerian Ĝirsu;[1] cuneiform ĝir2-suki 𒄈𒋢𒆠) was a city of ancient Sumer, situated some 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Lagash, at the site of modern Tell Telloh, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq.


Girsu was possibly inhabited in the Ubaid period (5300-4800 BC), but significant levels of activity began in the Early Dynastic period (2900-2335 BC). At the time of Gudea, during the Second Dynasty of Lagash, Girsu became the capital of the Lagash kingdom and continued to be its religious center after political power had shifted to city of Lagash.[2] During the Ur III period, Girsu was a major administrative center for the empire. After the fall of Ur, Girsu declined in importance, but remained inhabited until approximately 200 BC.


An account of barley rations issued monthly to adults and children written in Cuneiform on clay tablet, written in year 4 of King Urukagina (circa 2350 BC). From Girsu, Iraq. British Museum, London.

Telloh was the first Sumerian site to be extensively excavated, at first under the French vice-consul at Basra, Ernest de Sarzec, from 1877 to 1900, followed by his successor Gaston Cros from 1903–1909.[3][4] Excavations continued under Abbé Henri de Genouillac in 1929–1931 and under André Parrot in 1931–1933.[5][6][7] It was at Girsu that the fragments of the Stele of the Vultures were found. The site has suffered from poor excavation standards and also from illegal excavations. About 50,000 cuneiform tablets have been recovered from the site.[8] Excavations at Tello have now resumed as part of a training program for Iraqi archaeologists organized by the American Schools of Oriental Research. [9] A foundation tablet and a number of inscribed building cones have been found.

See also[edit]

Media related to Girsu at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Because of the initial nasal velar ŋ, the transcription of Ĝirsu is sometimes spelled as Ngirsu (also: G̃irsu, Girsu, Jirsu).
  2. ^ Dietz Otto Edzard, Gudea and His Dynasty. University of Toronto Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8020-4187-6
  3. ^ Découvertes en Chaldée, E. de Sarzec, Paris, Leroux, 1884–1893
  4. ^ Nouvelles fouilles de Tello, Gaston Cros, Paris, 1910
  5. ^ Fouilles de Telloh I: Epoques presargoniques, Abbé Henri de Genouillac, Paris, 1934
  6. ^ Fouilles de Telloh II: Epoques d'Ur III Dynastie et de Larsa, Abbé Henri de Genouillac, Paris, 1936
  7. ^ A. Parrot, Tello: vingt campagnes de fouilles 1877–1933, Paris, A. Michel ,1948
  8. ^ Telloh Tablets at Haverford Library
  9. ^ The Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme

Further reading[edit]

  • Harriet Crawford, The Construction Inférieure at Tello. A Reassessment, Iraq, vol. 49, pp. 71–76, 1987
  • Benjamin R. Foster, The Sargonic Victory Stele from Telloh, Iraq, Vol. 47, pp. 15–30, 1985
  • Claudia E. Suter, A Shulgi Statuette from Tello, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 43/45, pp. 63–70, (1991–1993)

External links[edit]