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Nippur (Iraq)
Location of Nippur in what is now Iraq

Nippur ( Sumerian Nibru , Akkadian Nibbur ) was a Sumerian city ​​whose history dates back to the 5th millennium BC. Goes back. It is located about 180 km southeast of today's Baghdad ( Iraq ).


The main temple of the heaven and creator god Enlil was in Nippur . From this arose for Nippur the role as the religious center of Sumer , which also under various power constellations, for example in the empire of Akkad , under the hegemony of the II. Dynasty of Lagasch or the III. Dynasty of Ur was preserved. The typical Sumerian temple buildings go back primarily to the latter.

From Kassite period ( Burna-Buriasch II. By the end of the government of Kaschtiliasch IV. ) Business texts have survived many of Nippur. Both the king himself and the temple of the god Enlil owned extensive land in the city. However, taxation on the temple was under royal control. The irrigation system was also under the control of the ruler and was supervised by the GÙ.EN.NA. Kadašman-Turgu carried out work on the È.KUR (Enlil Temple) of Nippur. Numerous lapis lazuli plates are evidence of dedications, especially Enlil, Ninlil , Ninurta and Nusku were given consideration. Some priests are known by name, such as Ninurta-reṣ-ušu at the time of Nazi Maruttaš . Also Adad-šuma-usur built on È.KUR.

Nippur was inhabited until the 8th century AD. It was a Muslim city, but it was also a bishopric .


Antique city map of Nippur with translations

The ruins, today's Nuffar (Niffer), have been explored in excavation campaigns primarily by American research groups since the end of the 19th century. In the years 1889–90, the Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania discovered numerous Kassite economic texts. Other documents were unearthed in the so-called "Tablet Hill" between 1893 and 1895. Due to the old age of the city, which was also less damaged than other cities because of its role as a religious center, which was also accepted by warring groups, particularly good results were achieved here.

The so-called nippur cubit found in Temple E, made of a copper alloy, represents the oldest tangible measure. Probably due to its weight of 45.5 kg, it was spared the pillage.

A significant find from the excavations at the University of Pennsylvania is a 21.5 by 17 centimeter clay tablet with a map of Nippur , the oldest known map of the world to this day, dates to around 1400 BC. Chr.


Nippur with the ziggurat , 2016

Most important were É.KUR , the temple of Enlil , which had three gates, and É.ŠU.ME.DU ( esumetum , eschumesha ?), The temple of Ninurta . Since the end of the 3rd millennium, É.KUR had had a ziqqurrat that lasted until the 1st millennium BC. Is attested.

Written certificates

A text about agriculture

After the discovery of eight fragments of a text that today would be called a farmer's calendar , in 1950 a seven by 11.5 centimeter, 3500 year old clay tablet was found, which was translated as follows by the sumerologists Kramer , Benno Landsberger and Jacobson and called one of the oldest texts about agriculture is:

“Before you till your fields, open the irrigation ditches, but don't drown the fields! Guard the damp soil so that it stays level like a board. Don't let wandering oxen trample it! You should quickly chase away all intruders.
Then prepare the fields for sowing. Clean it with sharp hoes and pull out the stubble by hand. When the field is burning in the sun, divide it into four parts and mesh one part around the other so that you are not stopped in your work. Plug in your devices with your eagerness to make them sing. Even the children of your servants should help mending baskets, yoke beams and whips.
Before you start plowing, break up the soil twice with the hoe and once with the pickaxe. If necessary, use a hammer to break up brittle chunks. Flatten the field and put a fence around it. Keep an eye on your servants!
When plowing, make sure that the tongue of the plow goes deep enough into the field. The grains should trickle two fingers deep into the ground from the sowing pipe that is attached to the plow. Draw the new furrows across the furrows from the previous year. Make sure that lumps of earth don't make it difficult for the grain to sprout.
On the day that the field is green, direct your prayer to the goddess of field mice and all vermin that she may spare your fields. Chase away the winged thieves, the birds.
When the grain is as high as a mat, give it water. You are to open the irrigation ditches twice more, four times in all.
If the grain is then in full force, cut it. Let the threshing sleigh pull over the stalks until the ears are empty.
The grains should be thrown until they have been freed from all dirt and chaff. Finally, remember that this advice comes from my mouth, but is given by the god of the hallways, the son of Enlil. "

The Murašû archive

The Murašû archive belonged to a family of entrepreneurs of the same name who started life in the 2nd half of the fifth century BC. Were active in Nippur.

The texts in the archive were unearthed in Nippur in 1893. The 830 previously known and published late Babylonian texts are now in museums in Berkeley, Istanbul, Jena, London and Philadelphia. Some of the cuneiform tablets have Aramaic glosses. The archive also included Aramaic documents, which are mentioned in the cuneiform texts, of which only bulls of seals testify today. The archive has a runtime of 454 BC. BC ( Artaxerxes I ) to 404 BC BC ( Artaxerxes II. ).

Most of the documents were written in the name of Murašû's son Enlil-Shum-iddin and his grandson Rimut-Ninurta. However, the last owner of the archive was an agent des Arsames , a Persian prince and satrap of Egypt . The deeds concern lease agreements, receipts for rent and taxes as well as promissory notes. The Murašûs managed arable land, d. H. Crown land, domains of members of the court or high officials, and temple lands. Crown land was leased by the government to small farmers who had to pay taxes and military service. The Murašûs held rights of use to such lands and leased them to smallholders.

The Murašû archive is the most comprehensive source on the economic conditions in Mesopotamia under the Achaemenids .


To the temples

  • Tim Clayden - Bernhard Schneider: Assurbanipal and the Ziggurat at Nippur. KASKAL 12, 2015, 348–382.

To the agricultural text

  • Hans Baumann: In the land of Ur. P. 96/97
  • Robert D. Biggs: A Letter from Kassite Nippur. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 19/4, 1965, 95-102.

To the Murašû archive

  • Michael D. Coogan: West Semitic Personal Names in the Murašu Documents (= Harvard Semitic Monographs 7). Missoula 1976.
  • Franziska Ede: Murashu. In: The scientific Bible lexicon on the Internet (WiBiLex) , December 2018
  • Michael Jursa : Neo-Babylonian Legal and Administrative Documents. Typology, Contents and Archives (= Guides to the Mesopotamian Textual Record 1). Munster 2005.
  • Matthew W. Stolper : Murašû , in: Erich Ebeling, Bruno Meissner: Reallexikon der Assyriologie , 8th vol. Meek - Mythologie, 5./6. Delivery 1995, pp. 427-429.
  • Matthew W. Stolper: Entrepreneurs and Empire. The Murašû Archive, the Murašû Firm, and Persian Rule in Babylonia (= Uitgaven van het Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologische Instituut te Istanbul 54). Leiden 1985. ISBN 90-6258-054-8
  • Matthew W. Stolper: Fifth Century Nippur: Texts of the Murašûs and from Their Surroundings. In: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 53 (2001), pp. 83-132.
  • Govert van Driel: The Murašûs in Context . In: Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient 32 (1989), 203-229.
  • Veysel Donbaz, Matthew W. Stolper: Istanbul Murašû Texts (= Uitgaven van het Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologische Instituut te Istanbul 79). Istanbul 1997. ISBN 90-6258-080-7

Coordinates: 32 ° 7 ′ 34 ″  N , 45 ° 13 ′ 51 ″  E

Web links

Commons : Nippur  - collection of images, videos and audio files