Ruins of Kish at time of excavation
(Sumerian: Kiš; Akkadian: kiššatu, modern Tell al-Uhaymir)
is an important archaeological site in Babil Governorate (Iraq). It
was occupied from the Ubaid to Hellenistic periods.
ancient cities of Sumer
Kish was occupied from the Ubaid period (c.5300-4300 BC), gaining prominence
as one of the pre-eminent powers in the region during the Early Dynastic
Dynasty of Kish :
The Sumerian king list states that Kish was the first city to have kings
following the deluge, beginning with Jushur. Jushur's successor is called
Kullassina-bel, but this is actually a sentence in Akkadian meaning
"All of them were lord". Thus, some scholars have suggested
that this may have been intended to signify the absence of a central
authority in Kish for a time. The names of the next nine kings of Kish
preceding Etana are Nanjiclicma, En-tarah-ana, Babum, Puannum, Kalibum,
Kalumum, Zuqaqip, Aba, Macda, and Arwium. These names are all Akkadian
words for animals, e.g. Zuqaqip "scorpion". The East Semitic
nature of these and other early names associated with Kish reveals that
its population had a strong Semitic (Akkadian speaking) component from
the dawn of recorded history. Ignace Gelb identified Kish as the center
of the earliest East Semitic culture which he calls the Kish civilization.
After the twelve kings a massive flood devastated Mesopotamia. According
to the Sumerians, after the flood Ishtar gave the kingship to Etana.
Ancient Sumerian sources describe Etana as 'the shepherd who ascended
to Heaven and made firm all the lands'. This implies that the historical
Etana stabilized the kingdom by bringing peace and order to the area
after the Flood. Etana is also sometimes credited with the founding
twenty-first king of Kish on the list, Enmebaragesi, who is said to
have captured the weapons of Elam, is the first name confirmed by archaeological
finds from his reign. He is also known through other literary references,
in which he and his son Aga of Kish are portrayed as contemporary rivals
of Dumuzid, the Fisherman, and Gilgamesh, early rulers of Uruk.
Some early kings of Kish are known through
archaeology, but are not named on the King list. These include Utug
or Uhub, said to have defeated Hamazi in the earliest days, and Mesilim,
who built temples in Adab and Lagash, where he seems to have exercised
Dynasty of Kish (c. 2500 - 2330 BC) :
Lugal Kish-ki, "Mesannepada, King of Kish", on a seal impression
found in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. The last column of characters, is
thought to mean "his wife..." (dam-nu-gig)
The Third Dynasty of Kish is unique in that it begins with a woman,
previously a tavern keeper, Kubau, as "king". She was later
deified as the goddess Kheba.
Afterwards, although its military and
economic power was diminished, Kish retained a strong political and
symbolic significance. Just as with Nippur to the south, control of
Kish was a prime element in legitimizing dominance over the north of
Mesopotamia (Assyria, Subartu). Because of the city's symbolic value,
strong rulers later claimed the traditional title "King of Kish",
even if they were from Akkad, Ur, Assyria, Isin, Larsa or Babylon. One
of the earliest to adopt this title upon subjecting Kish to his empire
was King Mesannepada of Ur, as well as Mesilim. A few governors of Kish
for other powers in later times are also known, including Ashduniarim
Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the
Akkadian Empire, came from the area near Kish, called Azupiranu. He
would later declare himself the king of Kish, as an attempt to signify
his connection to the religiously important area. In Akkadian times
the city's patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama).
inscription of Manishtushu, ruler of the Akkadian Empire: Manishtushu
Lugal Kish, "Manishtushu King of Kish"
After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, Kish became the capital of a
small independent kingdom. One king, named Ashduniarim, ruled around
the same time as Lipit-Ishtar of Isin. By the early part of the First
Dynasty of Babylon, during the reigns of Subahu
/ Sumu-abum and Atithi
/ Sumu-la-El, Kish appears to have come under the rule of another
city-state, possibly Kutha. Iawium, king of Kish around this time, ruled
as a vassal of kings named Halium and Manana. Sumu-la-El conquered Kish
and, later, subjugated Halium and Manana, bringing their territories
into the expanding Babylonian Empire. The First Dynasty kings Hammurabi
and Samsu-iluna undertook construction at Kish, with the former restoring
the city's ziggurat and the latter building a wall around Kish. By this
time, the eastern settlement at Hursagkalama had become viewed as a
distinct city, and it was probably not included in the walled area.
After the Old Babylonian period, however,
Kish appears to have declined in importance; it is only mentioned in
a few documents from the later second millennium BCE. During the Neo-Assyrian
and Neo-Babylonian periods, Kish is mentioned more frequently in texts.
However, by this time, Kish proper (Tell al-Uhaymir) had been almost
completely abandoned, and the settlement that texts from this period
call "Kish" was probably Hursagkalama (Tell Ingharra).
the Achaemenid period, Kish completely disappears from the historical
record; however, archaeological evidence indicates that the town remained
in existence for a long time thereafter. Although the site at Tell al-Uhaymir
was mostly abandoned, Tell Ingharra was revived during the Parthian
period, growing into a sizeable town with a large mud-brick fortress.
During the Sasanian period, the site of the old city was completely
abandoned in favor of a string of connected settlements spread out along
both sides of the Shatt en-Nil canal. This last incarnation of Kish
prospered under Sasanian and then Islamic rule, before finally abandoned
during the later years of the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258).
Kish is located east of Babylon and 80 km (50 mi) south of Baghdad.
The Kish archaeological site is an oval area roughly 8 by 3 km (5 by
2 mi), transected by the dry former bed of the Euphrates River, encompassing
around 40 mounds, the largest being Uhaimir and Ingharra. The most notable
mounds are :
Tell Uhaimir – believed to be the location of the city of
Kish. It means "the red" after the red bricks of the
Ingharra – believed to be the location of Hursagkalamma,
east of Kish home of a temple of Inanna.
Tell el-Bender – held Parthian material
Mound W – where a number of Neo-Assyrian tablets were discovered
After irregularly excavated tablets began appearing at the beginning
of the twentieth century, François Thureau-Dangin identified
the site as being Kish. Those tablets ended up in a variety of museums.
Because of its close proximity to Babylon
the site was visited by a number of explorers and travelers in the 19th
century, some involving excavation, most notably by the foreman of Hormuzd
Rassam who dug there with a crew of 20 men for a number of months. None
of this early work was published. A French archaeological team under
Henri de Genouillac excavated at Tell Uhaimir between 1912 and 1914,
finding some 1,400 Old Babylonian tablets which were distributed to
the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and the Louvre. Later, a joint Field
Museum and University of Oxford team under Stephen Langdon excavated
from 1923 to 1933, with the recovered materials split between Chicago
and the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.
The actual excavations at Tell Uhaimir
were led initially by E. MacKay and later by L. C. Watelin. Work on
the faunal and flora remains was conducted by Henry Field.
More recently, a Japanese team from
the Kokushikan University led by Ken Matsumoto excavated at Tell Uhaimir
in 1988, 2000, and 2001. The final season lasted only one week.
of a ziggurat at the Sumerian city of Kish. Babel Governorate, Iraq
ancient mound at Kish, Babel Governorate, Iraq
ancient mound at the city of Kish, Mesopotamia, Babel Governorate, Iraq
fragments, illegal exavations at the ancient city of Kish, Tell al-Uhaymir,
mound at the city of Kish, Mesopotamia, Babil Governorate, Iraq
near the ziggurat of Kish at Tell al-Uhaymir, Mesopotamia, Babel Governorate,
near the ziggurat of Kish, Tell al-Uhaymir, Babylon Governorate, Iraq
near the ziggurat of the city of Kish at Tell al-Uhaymir, Babel Governorate,
of the ziggurat of the ancient city of Kish, Tell al-Uhaymir, Mesopotamia,
Valley Civilisation "Unicorn" seal excavated in Kish, early
Sumerian period, circa 3000 BCE. An example of ancient Indus-Mesopotamia