CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A flexible container with an opening at one end.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The damage that can occur to artifacts and ecofacts during excavation, transportation, and cataloging.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: The present-day capital of Iraq, a site 330 miles northwest of the Persian Gulf at the intersection of historic trade routes (Khorasn Road, part of the Silk Route) which was the foremost city of ancient Mesopotamia. Archaeological evidence shows that the site of Baghdad was occupied by various peoples long before the Arab conquest of Mesopotamia in 637 AD, and several ancient empires had capitals there. The true founding of the city dates from 762 when the Abbasids moved the Islamic capital there. It was the Islamic capital from the 8th-13th centuries. Abbassid Baghdad is buried beneath the modern city. There was a palace, a congregational mosque, ministries and barracks, surrounded by walls and a moat. In the late 8th and early 9th centuries, Baghdad was large and at its height economically; it was considered the richest city in the world. The caliph abandoned Baghdad in favor of Samarra from 836-892. The city was burnt by the Mongols in 1258, rebuilt and sacked by Timur in 1400. The glory of Baghdad is written about in The Thousand and One Nights"."
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Upper Palaeolithicsite on the Khilok River in south-central Siberia with faunal remains dated c 34,860 and c 27,210 bp. Artifacts include retouched blades, sidescrapers, endscrapers, points, and burins.
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: An alloy of gold and copper common in Central and South America during the first millennium AD. It was used for making fine ornaments, particularly in the native cultures of Colombia.
CATEGORY: site; culture DEFINITION: Early 6th-millennium BC type site of the Umm Dabaghiyah culture, the earliest-known culture of the northern Iraq plain, a pre-Hassuna occupation of Mesopotamia. The small site has long buildings with rows of small cell-like rooms arranged around a central space. Some wall paintings have been recorded with hunting scenes -- something relied upon heavily for the economy. Domesticated sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs were also kept and some domesticated cereals are present, possibly imported. Pottery is abundant in all the four main phases and includes incised, burnished, plain, and painted types similar to 'archaic' Hassunapottery. Other sites of this culture are Yarim Tepe, Telul Thalathat, and Tell es-Sotto (Tell Soto).
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: The second of two Arab dynasties of the Muslim Empire of the Caliphate (caliphs = rulers) and descended from al-Abbas, uncle of the Prophet Muhammad. It overthrew the Umayyad caliphate in AD 750 and was based in Baghdad until 1258 when it was sacked by the Mongols. The end of the Umayyaddynasty meant a shift in power from Syria to Iraq. The Abbasids' settlement in Baghdad marked the beginning of the golden age of Arabic literature. The Abbasids, of great intellectual curiosity, adapted elements of earlier high cultures and incorporated them into their own.
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: Any of a number of substances which are a mixture of two or more metals, such as bronze (copper and tin), brass (copper and zinc), or tumbaga (copper and gold). An alloy has properties superior to those of the individual metals. They are not simple mixtures, but complex crystalline structures which may differ considerably from any of their constituents. Slight alterations of the proportions of the metals can bring significant changes in the properties of the alloy. Alloys containing only two major metals are known as binary alloys and those with three as ternary alloys. Gold is alloyed with various metals; when mixed with mercury it is called an amalgam and with silver, native gold. Bronze was the most important alloy in antiquity. The term is also used to describe the technique of mixing the metals.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Almerian CATEGORY: site; culture DEFINITION: A coastal province of southeastern Spain where a Neolithicculture lived in the 5th and 4th millennia BC (c 5500-4300 BC). The village of El Garcel is the typical of the hilltop agricultural communities with circular huts of wattle and daub (with hearths and storage pits), plain baggy pottery, and trapezoidal flint arrowheads. The pottery was of a Western Neolithic tradition, possibly deriving from North Africa. Single and multiple burials were in dry stone cists under round mounds, and thought to be ancestral to the corbel-vaulted tombs of the Copper Age.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A tellsite on the Diyala River east of Baghdad, Iraq. There was a flourishing city in the 3rd millennium BC and excavations revealed a temple of the Early Dynastic period. The temple was dedicated to Shara, patron god of the city of Umma.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A tellsite on the Diyala River east of Baghdad, Iraq. There was a flourishing city in the 3rd millennium BC and excavations revealed a temple of the Early Dynastic period. The temple was dedicated to Shara, patron god of the city of Umma.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: archeology (from archaia" CATEGORY: and "logos" DEFINITION: science knowledge or theory)" branch The scientific study and reconstruction of the human past through the systematic recovery of the physical remains of man's life and cultures. Artifacts, structures, settlements, materials, and features of prehistoric or ancient peoples are surveyed and / or excavated to uncover history in times before written records. Archaeology also supplements the study of recorded history. From the end of the 18th century onwards, archaeology has come to mean the branch of learning which studies the material remains of man's past. Its scope is, therefore, enormous, ranging from the first stone tools made and fashioned by man over 3 million years ago in Africa, to the garbage thrown into our trash cans and taken to city dumps and incinerators yesterday. The objectives of archaeology are to construct cultural history by ordering and describing the events of the past, study cultural process to explain the meaning of those events and what underlies and conditions human behavior, and reconstruct past lifeways. Among the specialties in the field are: archaeobiology, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, and social archaeology. Modern archaeology, often considered a subdiscipline of anthropology, has become increasingly scientific and relies on a wide variety of experts such as biologists, geologists, physicists, sociologists, anthropologists, and historians. The methods appropriate to different periods vary, leading to specialized branches of the subject, e.g. classical, medieval, industrial, etc., archaeology.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: aryballus; from Greek bag CATEGORY: DEFINITION: artifact; ceramics There are two uses for this term -- one for a small Greek vase, one for a large Incapotteryjar. The Greek flask was one-handled, normally globular (quasi-spherical or pear-shaped), with a narrowing neck. It was used mostly for oil, perfume, unguent, or condiments and stood about 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) high. Aryballos were originally made at Corinth from about 575 BC. There were painted patterns on them until 550 BC and sometimes patterns were engraved. The Inca version was a large jar with conicalbase, tall narrow neck, and flaring rim. It was used for carrying liquids, designed to be carried on the back by a rope which passed through two strap handles low on the jar's body and over a nubbin at the base of the jarneck.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Greek bag"" CATEGORY: artifact; ceramics DEFINITION: An assymetric vessel, often squat and duck-shaped, with an off-center mouth, convex top, and single arching handle. It was originally shaped like a leather bottle (uter) for holding water, oil, or wine. Some example have two mouths, one for filling and one for emptying, and others are quite unbalanced and have strange mouths. It later assumed the form of an earthenwarepitcher. Askos were popular in the Aegean from the Early Helladic to the Classical period.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Bab-ilu (Babylonian), Bab-ilim (Old Babylonian), Bavel or Babel (Hebrew), Atlal Babil (Arabic) CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: One of the most famous cities of antiquity, the capital of southern Mesopotamia (Babylonia) from the early 2nd millennium to the early 1st millennium BC and capital of the Neo-Babylonian (Chaldean) Empire in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. It was located about 80 km south of Baghdad, Iraq on the Euphrates River. Babylon was occupied from the 3rd millennium BC, but it first reached prominence under King Hammurabi (reigned 1792-1750 BC), who made it the capital of his empire. (Hammurabi is best known for his code of laws.) Babylon was destroyed by the Hittites c 1595 BC and ruled by the Kassites until c 1157 BC. The city had frequent wars with Elam and Assyria during several short-lived dynasties until the 11th and last dynasty (626-539 BC), when the city was at its highest development and largest size. This last dynasty -- that of Nebuchadnezzar -- was instrumental in destroying Assyria and it conquered lands from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean before being overthrown by Cyrus in 539 BC. It continued in existence through the Achaemenid period, though with much reduced importance, until its abandonment in 641 AD after the Muslim conquest. The city itself covered around 200 hectares and had a population of about 100,000. Excavations beginning at the turn of the 20th century revealed the city's plan and scanty remains of the ziggurat, the original Tower of Babel. The high water table, which has risen in the last few millennia, allowed those excavators (R. Koldewey from 1899-1917) access to only buildings of the Neo-Babylonian period. The ruins, including temples (some for Marduk, the city's patron deity), fortifications, palaces, and the substructure of the Hanging Gardens, have not held up well over time, especially due to brick-robbing. The finest surviving monument is the Ishtar Gate and Procession Street. Important buildings excavated include Nebuchadnessar's palace, close to the Ishtar Gate, a huge building with many rooms arranged around five different courtyards. Another huge palace of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (605-562 BC) -- the 'Summer Palace' -- was constructed to the northwest of the Inner City and was enclosed by a triangular outer wall.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Style of decorated middle Neolithicpottery found in western parts of Scotland and classified by Stuart Piggott into three groups: unornamented bag-shaped bowls (A); decorated carinated bowls with a rim diameter less than the diameter at the carination and incised or channeled ornament (B); and small bowls with panel ornament in fine whipped cord (C).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Bagram; Kapisa CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A site in eastern Afghanistan north of Kabul which has been identified as Kapisa, the capital of several Indo-Greek rulers of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and the Kushan summer capital from the 1st century BC to 3rd century AD. It was important for its placement on the caravan route between India and the West. Excavations have yielded fragmentary ivory furniture, pre-Islamic footstools of Indian origin (both c 1st c AD), as well as painted glass from Alexandria; plaster matrices, bronzes, porphyries, and alabasters from Rome; carved ivories from India; and lacquers from China. The Persian Sasanians established control over parts of Afghanistan, including Begram, in AD 241.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A site in southern Spain that was probably Carthaginian in origin and was occupied by the Romans in 152 BC. It declined under the rule of the Visigoths from the 6th to the early 8th century AD. In 711 Córdoba was captured and largely destroyed by the Muslims. Its recovered under 'Abd ar-Rahman I, a member of the Umayyadfamily, who made Córdoba his capital in 756. 'Abd ar-Rahman I founded the Great Mosque of Córdoba, which was later enlarged and completed about 976. The city quickly rose to become one of the finest in Europe, rivaled only by Baghdad and Constantinople. In the 10th century, one of the rulers of Cordoba built a pleasure-city outside its walls known as Medina al Zahara; this is now an archaeological site.
CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: A distinctive pottery named after a Roman settlement site on the north bank of the Nene in Northhamptonshire. Castor ware is a slate-colored pottery which commonly had hunting scenes of dogs, boars, etc. on the outer surface, which were applied by squeezing paste from a bag or applying by brush. The E barbotine hunt cups were a highlight of the native Romano-British potter's craft.
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: A hilltop entrenchment characteristic of Neolithic times, 4th millennium BC, especially in southern Britain. The hilltop was enclosed by a series of concentric ditches, 1-4 in number, with internal banks and which were not continuous but interrupted by solid causeways (undisturbed lanes of earth). Pottery, animal bones, and domestic garbage stratified within the ditches show that the camps were used during the entire Neolithicperiod. A common theory about the camps' use is as meeting places used at intervals by the population of a wide area.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Muisca CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A South American people who lived in the high valleys around the modern cities of Bogota and Tunja in Colombia. They had a population of more than 500,000 and were more centralized politically than any other South American people outside the Inca empire. Each of the many small districts had its own chief and they belonged to several lesser states that in turn were allied to two major states, each headed by a hereditary ruler. The arrival of the Spanish cut short the Chibchas' development and their political structure was crushed in the 16th century. Their language was no longer spoken by the 18th century. Archaeological evidence is of a scattered rural population who cultivated highland crops and traded salt and emeralds for cotton, gold, and luxury goods. Gold, copper and tumbaga (a copper-goldalloy) were also worked in a variety of techniques. The ceremonial coating of the chief's body with gold leaf may well by the origin of the El Dorado legend. Chibcha's ceremonial practice centered around sun worship and included human sacrifice.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A region in Panama where the type site of Sitio Conte has yielded deep rectangular tombs with grave goods of a rich ceramic and metallurgical tradition of c 500-1000 AD. The Coclé region was strongly influenced by the Quimbayastyle. It is particularly known for its striking gold pieces set with precious stones, including emeralds, quartzes, jaspers, opals, agates, and green serpentines. The extremely fine polychrome pottery is characterized by decoration of intricate geometric patterns and by stylized biomorphic forms. Gold- and tumbaga-working techniques, probably imported from Columbia, include cire perdue casting. Some association with Tairona is recognized in some artifacts especially in the wing-shaped pendants. In addition to the grave goods, there are indications that wife and servant sacrifice took place at the death of an important person.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tusbun, Taysafun CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Ancient city founded by the Parthians, located on the Tigris River southeast of modern Baghdad, Iraq. It served as the winter capital of the Parthian empire and later of the Sasanian empire. The site is famous for the remains of a gigantic vaulted hall, the Taq Kisra, which is traditionally regarded as the palace of the Sassanian king Khosrow I (reigned 531-579 AD) and Shapur I (reigned 241-272 AD). The hall has one of the largest single-span mud-brick arches in the world.
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: A New World metallurgical technique in which tumbaga (copper and goldalloy) metal artifacts wee treated with chemicals that removed much of the copper from the surface, leaving a finish that looks like pure gold.
CATEGORY: geography DEFINITION: One of the main tributaries of Tigris River, east of Baghdad, Iraq, where four sites were excavated: Tell Asmar (Eshnunna), Khafajah (Khafaje), Ischali, and Tell Aqrab of the Jemdet Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. The work allowed the establishment of a potterysequence for this part of Mesopotamia, from the late 4th to the early 2nd millennium BC and the investigation of a number of important buildings of the periods.
CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: An installation for firingpottery with a firebox, in which the fuel burns beside the chamber in which the pots are fired and separated from it by a bagwall" so that hot gas from the fire must rise over the bagwall and then pass down through the chamber before exiting through a chimney flue on the other side. It achieves high temperatures and better control over atmosphere."
CATEGORY: lithics DEFINITION: A flake with evidence of modification along one or more edges, whether by natural forces, human use, or bag wear.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tell Asmar CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An ancient city under the mound of Tell Asmar, northeast of Baghdad, Iraq. It was a city-state in the Early Dynastic period (early 3rd millennium BC) and there are shrines, sculpture, palaces, and private houses. It became politically important in the 19th and 18th centuries BC, when it was involved in a struggle for power with Assur, Mari, Elam, and Babylon. It is rarely mentioned in history after its conquest by Hammurabi of Babylon, c 1761 BC.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Shaduppum; Tall Abu Harmal CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An administrative center, Shaduppum, of the kingdom of Eshnunna of the Old Babylonian period, on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq. It was a walled settlement (Shaduppum) from the early 2nd millennium BC with several temples, residential buildings, and a collection of literary, scholarly, and administrative texts on tablets. The Laws of Eshnunna" are inscribed on two broken tablets which are not duplicates but separate copies of an older source. The laws are believed to be about two generations older than the Code of Hammurabi; the differences between the two codes help illuminate the development of ancient law."
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Jamdat Nasr CATEGORY: site; artifact; chronology DEFINITION: A small site between Baghdad and Babylon, near Kish, Iraq, which has given its name to a period of Mesopotamian chronology and its black-and-red painted potteryware. The period of 3100-2900 BC was characterized by writing in pictographs, pottery with painted designs or plum red burnished slip, and plain pottery with beveled rims. Cylinder seals are squat and plain and drill used in designs. The period is characterized by increasing populations, the development of more extensive irrigation systems, towns dominated by temples, increased use of writing and cylinder seals, more trade and craft specialization. The period -- equivalent to Uruk III of the Eanna Sounding sequence -- was followed immediately by the Early Dynastic period of Sumer. A building of Jemdet Nasr date may be the oldest palace discovered in southern Mesopotamia.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: midden; shell midden CATEGORY: feature DEFINITION: A mound or deposit that is formed from the accumulation of domestic refuse, including cooking and eating equipment, food, and garbage. Some of these mounds are of sea shells left by some food-gathering peoples. The term was first used in Danish to describe the middens of the Ertebolle culture and is also used as an adjective for the people who create middens. In Scandinavia, there are many mounds of shellfish debris.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Before the founding of Baghdad, one of the largest and most important towns in Iraq. It was founded as a garrison by the caliph Omar I in 638. In 749, it served briefly as the capital of the Abbasids, before they founded Baghdad. Kufa became a large commercial and intellectual center, but a series of incursions by the Qarmathians caused extensive damage and by the 14th century it was almost deserted. The mosque, built in 670, was a stonestructure with columns 15 meters high supporting the roof without the use of arches.
Mallowan, Sir Max Edgar Lucien (1904-1978)
CATEGORY: person DEFINITION: British archaeologist who worked in the Middle East, excavating at Arpachiyah, Chagar Bazar, Tell Brak, and Nimrud (Kalhu). He also served as director of the British School of Archaeology in Baghdad and ran the British Institute of Persian Studies. He was married to Agatha Christie.
Nene Valley ware
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Castor Ware CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: A type of Roman pottery made by an organized industry on the banks of the River Nene west of Peterborough, by the Roman town of Water Newton (ancient Durobrivae), England, from the 2nd-4th centuries AD. (It was formerly known as Castor Ware.) The commonest shapes are drinking vessels and tumblers, made of a light clay with a dark slip, sometimes with a white decoration. Decoration was by applied scales, rouletting, or barbotine. Barbotine ornamentation is applied to pottery by squeezing a bag containing thin clayslip in the same way as a cake is iced today. It may be applied by brush or spatula as well. The best known are the Hunt Cups, showing dogs pursuing deer or hares, but human scenes also occur. It is a local ware, made in imitation of the dark, glossy Rhenish wares, and was perhaps the first fine ware to be produced locally in Roman Britain.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Ar-Raqqah, Rakka; Ar-Rashid CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: City in northern Syria on the Euphrates River, founded by the 'Abbasid caliph al-Mansur and reputedly modeled on those of Baghdad. Raqqa is on the site of an ancient Greek city, Nicephorium, and a later Roman fortress and market town, Callinicus. It flourished again in early Arab times when the 'Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rashid built several palatial residences there and made it his headquarters against the Byzantines. The surviving part of the Baghdad gate shows that it had a four-centered arch surmounted by a band of three-lobed niches resting on engaged colonnettes. The congregational mosque, also attributed to al-Mansur, was a rectangular building with a sanctuary of three arcades. Raqqaware is 12th- and 13th- century earthenware with painted ornament under thick alkaline glaze.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: trash, garbage CATEGORY: artifact; feature DEFINITION: Any materials or remains left behind or discarded by humans.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Incan term for mesh bags containing rocks, used as fill in the construction of ancient structures.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: modern Abu Habbah CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Ancient city of Babylonia, southwest of Baghdad, Iraq, an ancient Sumerian city lying on a canal linking the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was an important religious and trading center in southern Mesopotamia. Sippar was subject to the 1st dynasty of Babylon, but little is known about the city before 1174 BC, when it was sacked by the Elamite king Kutir-Nahhunte. It recovered and was later captured by the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser I. Under the 8th dynasty of Babylon (c 880), Sippar's great Temple of Shamash was rebuilt. Tens of thousands of tablets from Old Babylonian and Neo-Babylonian periods have been found.
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: Late prehistoricculture of northeast Colombia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The Taironas were organized into small political states (chiefdoms) and had one of the most advanced cultures of the Caribbean mainland. Their crafts were ceramicware (black and red painted with zoomorphicdesign and appliqué); stone utensils (metates); bone and shell ornaments; and beads, buttons, and jewelry made of gold, copper, and gold-copperalloy (tumbaga). Most sites, like Pueblito and Buritaca-200, have hundreds of stone foundations for circular houses. There are also remains of tombs, stone-built retaining walls, bridges, stairways, roads, agricultural terraces, and irrigation canals. A central feature of most villages was a ceremonial building, usually on a platform-mound, and often of dressed masonry. The town site at Pueblito had all these features and, in addition, paved streets, the remains of large irrigation projects, and urn burials. Specialized funerary vessels are often modeled with life forms which are similar to Mesoamerican motifs. Populations in the thousands occupied Tairona towns and villages at the time of the Spanish conquest.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tarascans, Purépecha CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: An independent state of the Late Post-Classic Period centered in the mountains of the Michoacán province of Mexico, one of the very few to successfully resistAztec incursions. It is also the name of the people there, who were linguistically unrelated to any other Mesoamerican group. Their capital, Tzinzunzan, was built overlooking Lake Patzcuaro, and appears to be a ceremonial center consisting of a huge platform mound surmounted by five pyramids. Fine gold and tumbagajewelry and well-made copper and bronze tools have been found. The Tarascanstate, with its later capital of Pátzcuaro, survived into historic times. They reached a level of social and political organization comparable to that of the Aztec and the Maya.
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: Large earthen ovens of South Island, New Zealand, used to cook the roots of a cabbage tree.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Uqair CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Tell site south of Baghdad, Iraq, with a temple of the Urukphase with unexpectedly fine wall paintings depicting mythical scenes. The fine polychrome wall paintings had human and animal figures. A small subsidiary chapel, later in date than the temple, contained a collection of pottery and four clay tablets inscribed with pictographic symbols of the kind used in the Jemdet Nasr period (4th millennium BC). The site was occupied from the 'Ubaidperiod.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: biblical Erech, modern Warka; Uruk period CATEGORY: site; culture DEFINITION: One of the greatest city-states of Sumer, northwest of Ur, which flourished at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. It is 250 km south of Bagdad, Iraq. Potterydating from around 5000 BC has been found there, but the civilization is traditionally dated to c 3800-3100 BC. Uruk's rulers tried to lead Sumer until Ur became more powerful, but Uruk still remained important as a holy city. It was one of the great Sumerian city-states, developing from the 'Ubaidperiod. It was the site of numerous innovations, the most important being the invention of writing. It lost importance with the rise of Ur, c 2100 BC, but remained occupied till the Parthianperiod. Archaeologists have found very important structures and deposits of the 4th millennium BC and the site has given its name to the period that succeeded the Ubaid and preceded the Jemdet Nasr period. Uruk was Mesopotamia's -- and the world's -- first true city. There are two large temple complexes -- the Anu sanctuary and the Eanna sanctuary -- both with several successive temple-structures during the Urukperiod, including the White Temple in the Anu sanctuary and the Limestone and Pillar Temples in the Eanna sanctuary. A characteristic form of decoration is claycones with painted tops pressed into the mud plaster -- known as clay cone mosaic. A ziggurat laid out by Ur-Nammu in the Ur III period (late 3rd millennium BC) is by the Eanna sanctuary. The earliest clay tablets appear in late Uruk levels; they are simple labels and lists with pictographic symbols. Tablets from slightly later levels, of the Jemdet Nasr phase, show further developments towards the cuneiformscript of the Early Dynastic period. There was also mass-produced wheelmade pottery, cylinder seals, and sophisticated art. Uruk was the home of the epic hero Gilgamesh, now thought to be a real king of the city's first dynasty.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Military and commercial city of medieval Iraq, especially important during the Umayyad caliphate (661-750 AD). It was established as a military encampment in 702 on the Tigris River, between Basra and Kufah. A palace and the chief mosque were built and irrigation and cultivation were encouraged. Because of its location on the Tigris, Wasit became a shipbuilding and commercial center. Even after the caliphal capital was moved from Damascus to Baghdad, the city remained important. The only standing building is a shrine with a monumental portal flanked by minarets, datable to the 13th century. Excavations revealed a congregational mosque with four periods of construction, the earliest with a large courtyard surrounded on three sides by a single arcade and a sanctuary 19 bays wide and 5 bays deep. Adjoining the mosque was the Dar al Imara, or governor's palace.