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Kish (modern Tell al-Uhaymir)Comments

Kish (modern Tell al-Uhaymir)

The Sumerian Palace at Kish was built by Sargon, who founded the Agade Dynasty upon seizing Kish in 2334 BC.

It is remarkably well preserved. The wide stone foundations and much of the niched and buttressed mud-brick above it were discovered. Interiorly, its sumptuous wall decoration of stone, mother-of-pearl and other luxurious materials were also found. Ash and brick discoloration attest to its its violent destruction, as does the discovery of a section of wall which seems to have been broken down such that the surviving bricks rose very little but were covered in much rubble. The reed roof seems to have been set fire, and when it collapsed it smoldered and burnt a reed pattern into the baked-brick pavement.

The Sumerian Palace's magnificence matched its tremendous role at the heart of Kish, the symbolic seat of power (Sargon later moved the capital to Akkad for practical reasons). Amidst the fracture of Kishite hegemony from Gutian pressure, the destruction of Kish was a fatal coup. More esoterically, the Sumerian Palace at Kish typifies the new palace institution. Unprecedentedly enormous with strong fortifications and internal courtyards, it is in stark contrast to tripartite temples and household-like oikoi. Against the backdrop of Sumer's shift from a tributary to an oikos economy, the palaces, oikoi and temples together formed the societal fabric of Sumerian cities (though this is debated).

Studies

Mackay, Ernest. 1929. A Sumerian Palace and the “A” Cemetery at Kish, Mesopotamia. In Berthold Laufer (ed.) Anthropology, Memoirs, Vol I No 2. Chicago, Field Museum of Natural History. Pages 70-214. (Pages 107-122, plus map and plates.)


Woolley, Leonard. 1965. The Sumerians. New York City: W. W. Norton & Company. (Page 38.)


Elizabeth Carter. Winter Quarter 2011. ANE 164A Lecture, UCLA. (23 February 2011: Depictions from National Geographic and insight into Sumerian Palace’s role as third economic pillar alongside temples and oikoi.)