Kish (Sumer)

Kish (Sumer)

Kish (KI' cuneiform:?; Sumerian:kiš; Akkadian:"?")is modern Tell al-Uhaymir, Babil Governorate, Iraq), and was an ancient city of Sumer. Kish os located some 12 km east of Babylon, and 80 km south of Baghdad.


Kish was occupied beginning in the Jemdet Nasr period, through the Ubaid,gaining prominence as one of the pre-eminent powers in the region duringthe early dynastic period. Afterwards, though its military and economicpower was diminished, it retained a strong political and symbolic significance. Just as with Nippur in the south, control of Kish was aprime element in legitimizing dominance over the north. Kish continued to beoccupied through the old Babylonian period, the Neo-Assyrian periodand into classical times before being abandoned.

Little specific is known about the history of Kish before Sargon of Akkad,who came from the area. The Sumerian king list names 40 kings ofKish spread over four dynasties. Of those, at least one has been attested toby archaeological finds, Enmebaragesi. Whether the rest existedor were mythical will have to await further research. Note that oneattested ruler of Kish from that period, Mesilim is not even mentionedin the king list.

Because of the cities symbolic value, strong rulers traditionally took the titleKing of Kish, even if they were from Akkad, Ur, and later,
Babylon. This makes it hard to distinguish actual rulers of Kishafter the Sargonic period. A few governors of Kish for other powersare known, however.

The city's patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama) in Akkadian times,along with his wife, the goddess Inanna.

Kish had a Semitic population from earliest times, discernible from some early dynastic king names from the list that are considered to be Semitic [ [ Cambridge Ancient History, p. 100] ] .


The Kish archaeological site is actually an oval area roughly 5 miles by 2 miles encompassing around40 mounds, the largest being Uhaimir and Ingharra. The most notable mounds are

*Tell Uhaimir - believed to be the location of the city of Kish. Itmeans "the red" after the red bricks of the ziggurat there.
*Tell Ingharra - believed to be the location of Hursagkalamma, east of Kish, home of a temple of Inanna.
*Tell Khazneh
*Tell el-Bender - held Parthian material.
*Mound W - where a number of Neo-Assyrian tablets were discovered.

After illegally excavated tablets began appearing at the beginningof the last century, François Thureau-Dangin identified the site as being Kish. Those tablets ended up in a variety of museums.

A French archaeological team under Henri de Genouillac excavated at Kish between 1912 and 1914, finding 1400 Old Babylonian tablets which were distributed to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and the Louvre. [Henri de Genouillac, Fouilles françaises d'El-`Akhymer, Champion,1924-25] Later a joint Field Museum and
Oxford University team under Stephen Langdon excavated from 1923 to 1933, with the recovered materialssplit between Chicago and the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. [Stephen Langdon, Excavations at Kish I, 1924] [Stephen Langdon, Excavations at Kish III, 1930] [Stephen Langdon, Excavations at Kish IV, 1934] [Henry Field, The Field Museum-Oxford University expedition to Kish, Mesopotamia, 1923-1929, Chicago, Field Museum of Natural History, 1929] [ P. R. S. Moorey, Kish excavations, 1923-1933 : with a microfiche catalogue of the objects in Oxford excavated by the Oxford-Field Museum, Chicago, Expedition to Kish in Iraq, Clarendon Press, 1978, ISBN 0198131917]

More recently, a Japanese team from the Kokushikan Universityexcavated at Kish in 1988, 2000, and 2001. The last season lasted only one week. [K. Matsumoto , Preliminary Report on the Excavations at Kish/Hursagkalama 1988-1989, al-Ra¯fida¯n 12, pp.261-307, 1991]

ee also

*Cities of the Ancient Near East



*McGuire Gibson, The city and Area of Kish, Coconut Grove, 1972
* [] E. Mackay, Report on the Excavation of the "A" Cemetery at Kish, Mesopotamia, Pt. 1, A Sumerian Palace and the "A" Cemetery , Pt. 2 (Anthropology Memoirs I, 1-2),Chicago: Field Museum,1931
*Nissen, Hans "The early history of the ancient Near East, 9000-2000 B.C." (Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1988. ISBN 0-226-58656-1, ISBN 0-226-58658-8) Elizabeth Lutzeir, trans.
* [] I. J. Gelb, Sargonic Texts in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Materials for the Assyrian Dictionary 5, The University of Chicago Press, 1970 ISBN 0-226-62309-2

External links

* [ Online Kish Collectionat the Field Museum]
* [ YouTube video on Field Museum Kish effort]
* [ Kish Site photographs at Oriental Institute of Chicago]

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