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Bill of sale Louvre AO3765.jpg
Shuruppak is located in Iraq
Shown within Iraq
Shuruppak is located in Near East
Shuruppak (Near East)
Alternative nameTell Fara
LocationAl-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq
Coordinates31°46′39″N 45°30′35″E / 31.77750°N 45.50972°E / 31.77750; 45.50972Coordinates: 31°46′39″N 45°30′35″E / 31.77750°N 45.50972°E / 31.77750; 45.50972
Typearchaeological site, human settlement
Area120 hectare
Height9 metre
PeriodsJemdet Nasr period, Early Dynastic period, Akkad period, Ur III period
Site notes
Excavation dates1902; 1931
ArchaeologistsRobert Koldewey, Friedrich Delitzsch, Erich Schmidt, Harriet P. Martin

Shuruppak (Sumerian: 𒋢𒆳𒊒𒆠 ŠuruppagKI, "the healing place"), modern Tell Fara, was an ancient Sumerian city situated about 55 kilometres (35 mi) south of Nippur on the banks of the Euphrates in Iraq's Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate. Shuruppak was dedicated to Ninlil, also called Sud, the goddess of grain and the air.[1]

Shuruppak and its environment[edit]

Shuruppak is located in Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, approximately 55 kilometres (35 mi) south of Nippur. The site of extends about a kilometer from north to south. The total area is about 120 hectares, with about 35 hectares of the mound being more than 3 meters above the surrounding plain, with a maximum of 9 meters.


List of titles of different occupations, clay tablet from Shuruppak, Iraq. 2nd half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin
Pig-shaped rattle from Shuruppak, Iraq. Baked clay. Early Dynastic period, 2500-2350 BCE. Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin

After a brief survey by Hermann Volrath Hilprecht in 1900, it was first excavated in 1902 by Robert Koldewey and Friedrich Delitzsch of the German Oriental Society for eight months.[2] Among other finds, hundreds of Early Dynastic tablets were collected, which ended up in the Berlin Museum and the Istanbul Museum. In March and April 1931, a joint team of the American Schools of Oriental Research and the University of Pennsylvania excavated Shuruppak for a further six week season, with Erich Schmidt as director and with epigraphist Samuel Noah Kramer.[3][4] The excavation recovered 87 tablets and fragments—mostly from pre-Sargonic times—biconvex, and unbaked. In 1973, a three-day surface survey of the site was conducted by Harriet P. Martin. Consisting mainly of pottery shard collection, the survey confirmed that Shuruppak dates at least as early as the Jemdet Nasr period, expanded greatly in the Early Dynastic period, and was also an element of the Akkadian Empire and the Third Dynasty of Ur.[5] A surface survey was conducted in 2016 to 2018.[6]

Recently a full magnetometer survey of the site was completed. The researchers found thousands of robber holes left by looters which had disturbed surface in many places. They were able to use remains of the 900 meter long trench left by excavators in 1902 and 1903 to orient old excavation documents and aerial mapping with their geomagnetic results. Part of the site was inaccessible because of the spoil heaps from the excavations. A city wall was found (in Area A), which had been missed in the past.[7][8]

Occupation history[edit]

Summary account of silver for the governor written in Sumerian Cuneiform on a clay tablet. From Shuruppak, Iraq, circa 2500 BC. British Museum, London.

Shuruppak became a grain storage and distribution city and had more silos than any other Sumerian city. The earliest excavated levels at Shuruppak date to the Jemdet Nasr period about 3000 BC; it was abandoned shortly after 2000 BC. Erich Schmidt found one Isin-Larsa cylinder seal and several pottery plaques which may date to early in the second millennium BC.[9] Surface finds are predominantly Early Dynastic.[10]

The report of the 1930s excavation mentions a layer of flood deposits at the end of the Jemdet Nasr period at Shuruppak.[3] More recently, it has been suggested that the nature of this deposit is more like that deposited by river avulsions, a process that was very common in the Tigris–Euphrates river system.[11]


Several objects made of arsenical copper were found in Shuruppak/Fara dating from the mid-fourth to early third millennium BC (approximately Jamdat Nasr period), which is quite early for Mesopotamia. Similar objects were also found at Tepe Gawra (levels XII-VIII).[12]

The city expanded to its greatest extent at the end of the Early Dynastic III period (2600 BC to 2350 BC) when it covered about 100 hectares. At this stage it was destroyed by a fire which baked the clay tablets and mudbrick walls, which then survived for millennia.[13]

Two possible kings of Shuruppak are mentioned in epigraphic data from later sources found elsewhere. In some versions of the Sumerian King List a king Ubara-Tutu is listed as the ruler of Shuruppak and the last king "before the flood". In the Epic of Gilgamesh, a man named Utanapishtim (also Uta-na'ishtim), son of Ubara-Tutu, is noted to be king of Shuruppak. The names Ziusudra and Atrahasis are also associated with him. These figures have not been supported by archaeological finds and may well be mythical.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobsen, Thorkild (1 January 1987). The Harps that Once--: Sumerian Poetry in Translation. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-07278-5.
  2. ^ Heinrich, Ernst; Andrae, Walter, eds. (1931). Fara, Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft in Fara und Abu Hatab. Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
  3. ^ a b Schmidt, Erich (1931). "Excavations at Fara, 1931". University of Pennsylvania's Museum Journal. 2: 193–217.
  4. ^ Kramer, Samuel N. (1932). "New Tablets from Fara". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 52 (2): 110–132. doi:10.2307/593166. JSTOR 593166.
  5. ^ Martin, Harriet P. (1983). "Settlement Patterns at Shuruppak". Iraq. 45 (1): 24–31. doi:10.2307/4200173. JSTOR 4200173.
  6. ^ Otto, A., & Einwag, B., "The survey at Fara - Šuruppak 2016-2018", In Otto, A., Herles, M., Kaniuth, K., Korn, L., & Heidenreich, A. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Vol. 2. Wiesbaden, pp. 293–306. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2020
  7. ^ Otto, A., Einwag, B., Al-Hussainy, A., Jawdat, J. A. H., Fink, C., & Maaß, H., "Destruction and looting of archaeological sites betweenFara/ˇSuruppak and Iˇsan Bahrīyat/Isin damage assessment during the Fara Regional Survey Project FARSUP", Sumer,64, pp. 35–48, 2018
  8. ^ [[1]]Hahn, S. E., Fassbinder, J. W. E., Otto,A., Einwag, B., & Al-Hussainy, A. A., "Revisiting Fara:Comparison of merged prospection results of diverse magnetometers with the earliest excavations in ancient Suruppak from 120 years ago", Archaeological Prospection, pp. 1–13, 2022
  9. ^ Martin, Harriet P. (1988). FARA: A reconstruction of the Ancient Mesopotamian City of Shuruppak. Birmingham, UK: Chris Martin & Assoc. p. 44, p. 117 and seal no. 579. ISBN 0-907695-02-7.
  10. ^ Adams, Robert McC. (1981). Heartland of Cities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Fig. 33 compared with Fig. 21. ISBN 0-226-00544-5.
  11. ^ Morozova, Galina S. (2005). "A review of Holocene avulsions of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and possible effects on the evolution of civilizations in lower Mesopotamia". Geoarchaeology. 20 (4): 401–423. doi:10.1002/gea.20057. ISSN 0883-6353.
  12. ^ Daniel T. Potts, Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations. Cornell University Press, 1997 ISBN 0801433398 p167
  13. ^ Leick, Gwendolyn (2002). Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-026574-0.


  • Andrae, W., "Aus einem Berichte W. Andrae's über seineExkursion von Fara nach den südbabylonischen Ruinenstätten(TellǏd, Jǒcha und Hamam)", Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft,16, pp. 16–24, 1902 (in german)
  • Andrae, W., "Die Umgebung von Fara und Abu Hatab (Fara,Bismaja, Abu Hatab, Hˇetime, Dschidr und Juba’i)", Mitteilungen derDeutschen Orient-Gesellschaft,16, pp. 24–30, 1902 (in german)
  • Andrae, W., "Ausgrabungen in Fara und Abu Hatab. Bericht über dieZeit vom 15. August 1902 bis 10. Januar 1903", Mitteilungen derDeutschen Orient-Gesellschaft,17, pp.4–35, 1903 (in german)
  • Koldewey, R., "Acht Briefe Dr. Koldewey's (teilweise im Auszug)(Babylon, Fara und Abu Hatab)", Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft,15, pp. 6–24, 1902 (in german)
  • Koldewey, R., "Auszug aus fünf Briefen Dr. Koldewey's (Babylon,Fara und Abu Hatab)", Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft,16, pp. 8–15, 1902 (in german)
  • Matthews, R. J. (1991). "Fragments of Officialdom from Fara". Iraq. 53: 1–15. doi:10.2307/4200331. JSTOR 4200331.
  • Nöldeke, A., "Die Rückkehr unserer Expedition aus Fara", Mitteilun-gen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft,17, pp. 35–44, 1903 (in german)
  • Pomponio, Francesco; Visicato, Giuseppe; Westenholz, Aage; Martin, Harriet P. (2001). The Fara Tablets in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. CDL Press. ISBN 1-883053-66-8.
  • Wencel, M. M., "New radiocarbon dates from southern Mesopotamia (Fara and Ur)", Iraq, 80, pp. 251-261, 2018

External links[edit]