Uruk: First City of the Ancient World

Edited by Nicola Crüsemann, Margarete van Ess, Markus Hilgert, and Beate Salje
English-language edition edited by Timothy Potts

More than one hundred years ago, discoveries from a German archaeological dig at Uruk, roughly two hundred miles south of present-day Baghdad, sent shock waves through the scholarly world. Founded at the end of the fifth millennium BCE, Uruk was the main force for urbanization in what has come to be called the Uruk period (4000–3200 BCE), during which small, agricultural villages gave way to a larger urban center with a stratified society, complex governmental bureaucracy, and monumental architecture and art. It was here that proto-cuneiform script—the earliest known form of writing—was developed around 3400 BCE. Uruk is known too for the epic tale of its hero-king Gilgamesh, among the earliest masterpieces of world literature.

Containing over 480 images, this volume represents the most comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the archaeological evidence gathered at Uruk. More than sixty essays by renowned scholars provide glimpses into the life, culture, and art of the first great city of the ancient world. This volume will be an indispensable reference for readers interested in the ancient Near East and the origins of urbanism.

Nicola Crüsemann is a Near Eastern archaeologist and former codirector of the Junge Museum Speyer, Historical Museum of Pfalz. Margarete van Ess is scientific director at the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. Markus Hilgert is former director of the Museum of the Ancient Near East in Berlin and professor of Sumerology and Assyriology at the University of Heidelberg. Beate Salje was director of the Museum of the Ancient Near East in Berlin until her retirement in 2014.

This book is a valuable resource for all teachers and students of the Bible and world history. . . . Highly recommended. All readership levels.”
—S.M. Burstein, Choice

“A worthy and welcome expansion of literature on Uruk in English, with a cornucopia of images . . . sure to intrigue almost any 21st-century city dweller.”

“There is much here for the non-specialist, and no doubt many of the objects illustrated will be a source of astonishment and delight.”

408 pages
9 1/2 x 11 inches
374 color and 68 b/w illustrations
16 maps and 22 charts
ISBN 978-1-60606-444-3

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum