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Coordinates: 32°43′01″N 44°46′44″E / 32.717°N 44.779°E / 32.717; 44.779

Black marble figurine (formerly inlaid) of a sitting bull, found at Uruk, Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3000 BC). Kept at the Louvre, Paris.

Jemdet Nasr is an archaeological site in Iraq's Babil Governorate, situated to the north-east of Babylon and Kish and east of Kutha. It may hold the earliest written account of any language.



Jemdet Nasr is the type site of an Early Bronze Age culture of southern Mesopotamia, the Jemdet Nasr period (or Uruk III period), which dates to around the 30th century BC.

During the Jemdet Nasr period writing began in southern Mesopotamia. The earliest cylinder seals also came into use in the period. It also represents the urban revolution when the numerous small Mesopotamian settlements developed into major cities.


The site of Jemdet Nasr was first explored in 1926 and 1928 by a team of British and American archaeologists headed by Stephen Langdon. The objects recovered were divided up, with the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University and the Iraq Museum at Baghdad receiving the epigraphic objects, and with most of the pottery ending up at the Field Museum in Chicago. [1] Even by the standards of the day, the dig was poorly documented and the finds inadequately analyzed and published. An effort is now under way to retrospectively document and publish information from the excavations and archaeological objects. [2]

Excavation of the site was resumed in 1988 and 1989 by Roger J. Matthews and others. [3] [4] [5] The excavators discovered a large building which contained an archive of proto-cuneiform texts with seal impressions, as well as cylinder seals. The pottery, a polychrome painted ware, found at the site is helpful in determining the layer of the Jemdet Nasr period at other sites.

The Jemdet Nasr period is now believed by the excavator R. J. Matthews to have been short, about a century, though a longer period c.3200-2900 BC is found in older scholarly literature. The Jemdet Nasr culture succeeded the earlier Uruk culture and was contemporary with the Ninevite 5 culture of northern Mesopotamia and the Proto-Elamite civilization of western Iran. It represents the final stage before the Sumerian Early Dynastic Period in southern Mesopotamia.


  1. ^ [1]Ernest Mackay, Report on Excavations at Jemdet Nasr Iraq, Field Museum of Natural History Anthropology Memoirs, vol 1, no 1, Field Museum Press, 1931
  2. ^ Roger Mathews, Defining the Style of the period: Jemdet Nasr, Iraq, Vol 54, pp. 1-34, 1992
  3. ^ Roger Matthews, Excavations at Jemdet Nasr 1988, Iraq 51, pp 225-248, 1989
  4. ^ Roger Matthews, Excavations at Jemdet Nasr 1989, Iraq 52, pp 25-39, 1990
  5. ^ Roger Matthews, Jemdet Nasr: the Site and the Period, Biblical Archaeologist 55, pp 196-203, 1992


  • Robert K. Englund, The Proto-Cuneiform Texts from Jemdet Nasr 1, Mann Verlag, Gebrueder, 1991, ISBN 3-7861-1646-6
  • Roger Matthews, Secrets of the Dark Mound: Jemdet Nasr 1926-1928, Iraq Archaeological Reports 6, Aris & Phillips Ltd., 2002, ISBN 0856687359

See also

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