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Stele of Ur-Nammu

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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From the Ur III era is the double-sided Stele of Ur-Nammu, discovered in the Sin Temple at Ur.

Noticeable is the return to a use of registers, an archaizing attribute which fits into the broader Sumerian renaissance that characterizes the Ur III era. On the obverse, at the top center of the first register is a crescent which likely contained an eight-pointed star, representing the moon god Nanna who was the main deity of Ur. Below this is the king with his staff and measuring rope, showing him as the fountainhead from which the temple plan came (perhaps via a nocturnal vision).

His intimate role with building the house of the gods is reinforced in the succeeding register, where he is tailed by a man with a surveyor's kit while priests present him with baskets of earth. Ur-Nammu is thoroughly preoccupied with building a temple, likely to Nanna, thus giving the god proper housing.


Crawford, Harriet. 1991. Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. (Page 246-9 sheds light on the stelae.)