Ancient City of Nippur Mesopotamia

Introduction : Nippur is an ancient Mesopotamian city located in what is now southern Iraq, south of Baghdad. Nippur was a religiously significant city because it was the home of Enlil, the supreme god and creator of mankind, a storm god for whom a ziggurat and temple were built. Furthermore, whoever controlled Nippur would be able to claim the politically significant title of King of Akkad and Sumer. Nippur has tens of thousands of Sumerian and Akkadian tablets.

What is Nippur called today ?

Nippur, contemporary Niffer, or Nuffar, ancient Mesopotamian city today located in southeastern Iraq. It is located northeast of Ad-Dwnyah. Although it was never a governmental capital, Nippur was influential in Mesopotamia’s religious life.

From 1889 to 1900, the first American archaeological expedition to Mesopotamia excavated at Nippur; work was resumed in 1948. Because of the many thousands of Sumerian tablets discovered there, the eastern section of the city has been dubbed the scribal quarter; in fact, the excavations at Nippur have been the primary source of Sumerian literary writing. An Akkadian tomb and a large temple to Bau (Gula), the Mesopotamian goddess of healing, were discovered during excavations in 1990.

Is Nippur a Sumrian city ?

On a branch of the Euphrates in the heart of Mesopotamia. Enlil’s city, the location of His sanctuary: E-kur; literally “land home.”Nippur (Sumerian: Nibru, also written as, EN. LLKI, “Enlil Metropolis;” Akkadian: Nibbur) was an ancient Sumerian city. It was the unique place of adoration for the Sumerian god Enlil, the “Lord Wind,” lord of the cosmos and subject only to An. Throughout the many decades of Nippur’s vibrant social life, from the early third millennium to the mid-second millennium, no Mesopotamian nations attempted to use the city as their political capital, but nearly all sought royal legitimacy by being acknowledged at Nippur. The city’s hallowed position was too great to be contested politically.

Does Bible mention about Nippur ?

It was never a significant city-state and was governed by others. It’s possible, but unlikely, that Nippur was the “Calneh” referenced in Genesis 10 of the Bible.

What was Nippur was it famous for ? When was it established ?

Nippur was one of the longest-lived sites, beginning in the prehistoric Ubaid period (c. 5000 B. C. ) and lasting until about A. D. 800, in the Islamic era (Gibson 1992).Nippur was crucial in the establishment of the world’s first civilization. It was the religious center of Sumer in the third and second millennia BCE, and the site of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the ‘Lord Wind,’ ruler of the cosmos. Enmebaragesi was one of the early Kish kings who ruled over regions of Sumer, and one of his most notable achievements was the erection of the Temple of Enlil at Nippur, the leading deity of the Sumerian pantheon, lord of the cosmos, and only subservient to the god An. In reality, the city’s name, Nibru, and the god Enlil are the same in Sumerian cuneiform. Nippur evolved as Sumer’s spiritual and cultural center, and it remained such until the Amorite period in southern Mesopotamia.

What was their religion ?

Prior to its abandonment in 800 CE, Nippur was a typical Muslim metropolis with Jewish and Christian minority communities. The city was the seat of a Christian bishop at the time of its abandonment, therefore it remained a religious center long after Enlil had died.

What languages did they speak ?

They spoke Sumerian language .

Archeological Excavations of Nippur : Sir Austen Henry Layard excavated Nippur briefly in 1851.  Nippur was located about 160 kilometers southeast of Baghdad on both banks of the Shatt-en-Nil canal, one of the earliest routes of the Euphrates between its current bed and the Tigris. It is characterized by the huge complex of ruin mounds known to Arabs as Nuffar, written by the older explorers Niffer, and separated into two main halves by the old Shatt-en-dry Nil’s bed (Arakhat). Nippur contains more than 80% of all known Sumerian literary writings. The first written account of the Creation and Flood stories was discovered on a single fragmentary cuneiform tablet uncovered on the site. It was written in Sumerian circa 1600 BCE during the first Babylonian dynasty.

Beads from the Akkadian period (about 2350 B.C.) site of Nippur in Iraq have been extensively studied. Among the objects investigated are two beads that were discovered in ancient Southwest Asia for the first time. One is a soda-lime-silicate mixture with 30-micron calcium-silicate crystals, indicating an abnormally extensive heat treatment. The other is a copper green lead-silicate composition that contains six phases, including calcium-magnesium silicates and yellow lead-stannate.

The plasterings of a mud-brick bench in one of the vaults of the Nippur temple of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of abundance, revealed this figure of a standing woman with her hands clasped in front of her chest. Her clothing is draped over her left shoulder, with creases indicated by two incised lines along the otherwise smooth fabric’s border.

Writing forms in Nippur : Nippur was discovered to have a significant archive of Sumerian cuneiform records. Even after the city had passed its prime, Sumerian pilgrims continued to visit Enlil shrines. A famous limestone sculpture found in Nippur’s Inanna Temple depicts a woman with her hands folded in worship. The world’s oldest known prescriptions, cuneiform tablets from Nippur dating back to 2000 B.C., described how to manufacture poultices, salves, and washes. The components, which included mustard, fig, myrrh, bat dropping, turtle shell powder, river silt, snakeskins, and “hair from the stomach of a cow,” were dissolved in wine, milk, and beer.

God of Nippur :  Enlil’s name is made up of two Sumerian components and means “lord of the storm.” The attributes given to him further demonstrate his role as a storm-god, as shown by his name. The storm serves as his weapon. He is usually referred to as the “Great Mountain.” His temple at Nippur is known as E-Kur, “Mountain House,” a title that, because of the Temple’s exceptional importance, acquired the universal designation for a sanctuary, as we have seen.

Settlement and population of Nippur : “Because Nippur is fundamentally a Sumerian settlement, the early Enlil worship must be associated with the non-Semitic portion in the population.” Almost the only location from which the Sumerians might have come was the east or north-east—the district that we can call Elam in general, though the Sumerians, like the Kassites later on, could have originated in a region much to the north of Elam.

Purpose of Nippur : Nippur was a sacred city, not a political capital, from the beginning of time. It was Nippur’s holy character that permitted it to endure multiple battles and the fall of dynasties that destroyed other towns. Despite not being a capital, the city had a significant role in politics. Kings of cities like Kish, Ur, and Isin sought respect at Ekur, the temple of Enlil, the greatest god of the Mesopotamian pantheon.