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Ca. 2112-2004 BCE

Mesopotamia /
3rd Dynasty of Ur
Other spelling: Third Dynasty of Ur
Also called: Neo-Sumerian Empire; Ur III Empire

Kings of Ur
Year BCE
Ur-Nammu 2112-2095
Shulgi 2095-2047
Amar-Sin 2047-2039
Shu-Sin 2039-2031
Ibbi-Sin 2031-2004

The actual Ziggurat of Ur.
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The ziggurat of Ur.

Head of one of the kings of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur. Found in Bismaya temple.
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Head of one of the kings of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur. Found in Bismaya temple.

Royal burial ground at Ur. Dating to the 3rd Dynasty of Ur.
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Royal burial ground at Ur. Dating to the 3rd Dynasty of Ur.

Dynasty of Ur, south in Mesopotamia, ca. 2112-2004 BCE. This period is distinguished as one of the great eras of Mesopotamian civilization.
At its largest, Ur controlled the cities of Uruk, Isin, Eridu, Larsa, Nippur, Adab, Umma, Kish and Eshnunna.
This dynasty grew from the general weakness of Mesopotamia at the time. The barbaric Gutians had neglected good administration and ruined the lands they controlled, whereas the regions of Ur and Uruk had largely been left alone. Ur's strength was not stronger than that the first 20 or so years, the Gutians remained a threat.
The Ur kings saw to the building of new and advanced irrigation systems, the economy was strongly centralized and controlled, securing better organization of the agriculture, and great production of textiles, using wool and linen. Trade was also controlled. The state took upon itself welfare for the needy, providing them food rations.
The Code of Ur-Nammu is one of the earliest law codes known, predating the Code of Hammurabi. The law defines justice to be the responsibility of the king, and it explicitly includes the weak and unfortunate. It defines how disputes are to be handled by officials, how the decisions could be appealed.
In literature, Akkadian language had great influence on Ur, and while Sumerian language was that used by the elite and in administration, Akkadian was the language of popular use.
The fabulous ziggurat of Ur, the finest remaining religious structure of Mesopotamia, was begun by Ur-Nammu and completed by his son, Shulgi. Amar-Sin launched building projects to complete the unfinished ziggurat at Eridu, but did not complete, as Eridu was becoming depopulated with the silting of the Persian Gulf.
The earliest Ur kings claimed to be of the same family as the kings of Uruk.

2112: Ur-Nammu takes power after Utu-hengal, the ruler of Uruk. It is possible that this happened violently.
2108: Ur-Nammu conquers Lagash, and kills the king. Ur-Nammu takes the title "king of Sumer and Agade".
2095: Ur-Nammu dies fighting the Gutians, his son, Shulgi, becomes new king, and takes steps towards improved administration, strengthened the tax system and standardized the national calendar.
2072: Shulgi declares himself a god.
2061: Punitive campaign is sent out against Anshan.
2058: A great wall is built to defend Ur against troops and bandits from the lands to the east.
2030's: A great wall is built to the north by king Shu-Sin, to defend Ur against the Amorites.
2020's: Amorites sends several campaigns towards Ur, soon also Elam would begin attacking.
— Fortifications are built for Ur and Nippur.
2010's: Important lands are lost, Ur becoming more and more just a city-state.
2004: Ur is conquered by Elam, bringing the state structure to an end.

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By Tore Kjeilen