The Early Dynastic and Neo-Sumerian city


The ancient settlement of Nigin was part, with the cities of Girsu and Lagash, of a political entity known as the State of Lagash. The administrative cuneiform texts and the royal inscriptions documented the existence of at least two dynasties of Lagash. The first one, dated to the half of the Third Millennium BC, had a long and documented history. Events of the city of Lagash tells of the long lasting fight with the neighbouring city of Umma: the Stele of the Vultures of King Eannatum is the most eminent visual monuments that records a a moment of the war between the two cities. Then, both cities together as well as the whole Southern Mesopotamia fall under the rule of the Empire of Akkad.

At the end of the Akkadian kingdom, Mesopotamia fall in a state of chaos partially facilitated by the presence of the Guteans, which caused the collapse of Akkad, but did not keep the political unity of the territory. Facilitated by this historical situation the State of Lagash restored his independence under a dynasty of “governors” (ensi),   Gudea (II dynasty of Lagash) is the most famous and well known. But this dynasty had a brief life and the cities of the State of Lagash fall under the control of a new state ruled by a dynasty of the city of Ur (III Dynasty of Ur).

At the end of the Third Millennium BC the three cities of Girsu, Lagash and Nigin were destroyed as a consequence of the fall of the kingdom of the III Dynasty of Ur. Few documents of the Old-Babylonian Period testify the slow decline and abandonment of these settlements. The influence of the State of Lagash tradition goes beyond the Sumerian culture of the Third Millennium, leaving its traces in the following civilizations of Mesopotamia.

Photo by Francesco Prezioso