Lagash, the lost city of Mesopotamia

  • Share This
Ricky Joseph

Considered the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia is a prosperous region, bathed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It gave rise to several historical civilizations, such as the Sumerian civilization, which had very powerful city-states, such as the city of Lagash.

Lagash has a very rich history, but its details have been lost over time, and now excavations are revealing more about what this wonderful, historic Sumerian city was like,

What was Lagash like?

Lagash, although it was not so large, having only 300 hectares, was very influential and powerful. It had three urban centers, being the city of Lagash itself, the religious center of Girsu and Nina-Sirara, which are today the modern Al-Hiba, Telloh and Zurghul, respectively.

Relief of Ur-Nanshe. At the top he creates the foundation for a sanctuary, at the bottom he presides over the consecration. Image: Louvre Museum / Public Domain

At the time of its heyday, the Persian Gulf stretched further inland, so Lagash was a coastal city. Today, it is hundreds of miles offshore.

The city was probably founded between 5200 to 3500 BC, and in 247 BC to 224 AD it was still inhabited to some extent. The present Lagash is barely noticeable, however, an artificial mound created by thousands of years of continuous habitation has been identified, where several archaeological excavations are taking place.

Symbol of the 'Eagle of Lagash'. Image: Louvre Museum / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lagash's findings

The Lagash region was identified by French archaeologists and was the target of several archaeological campaigns between 1877 and 1933. In view of this, precious discoveries were found, such as 50,000 clay tablets with cuneiform texts.

These finds revealed much of the culture and history of Lagash. With them, it was possible to establish a continuous history of Sumer from the period 2500 BC to 2350 BC. especially with regard to rulers and important events.

It was common for their rulers to call themselves lugal, which means "King". Their rulers were able to bring about a period of prosperity that lasted for centuries.

Among them, a prominent ruler was Mesilim, who reigned in 2,600 B.C. He ruled not only Lagash, but several other cities. Therefore, it can be assumed that the early Lagash rulers were subjects of their neighbors, until she achieved her independence.

The end of the historic city

It was Eannatum, the third king of Lagash, who promoted the great achievements for the city, such as expansion of territories, and influence over neighboring cities through subjugation.

Clay brick foundations and a ziggurat are among the remains of Lagash. Image: David Stanley / CC BY 2.0

With the invasion of Elamites, the city was losing its importance over time. Then, with the turbulent life in Mesopotamia, other peoples were being formed over time, such as Amorites, Kassites, Hittites and others.

Despite having almost disappeared from history, modern excavations are revealing valuable information about what life was like millennia across this interesting Mesopotamian city.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.