Another day in Iraq, another chance to see more amazing ancient sites!
Today we are visiting the ancient Sumerian city of Nippur. This was the religious center of Mesopotamia for several THOUSAND years. As well, from information on Nippur on the UNESCO site: “where Enlil, the supreme god of the Sumerian pantheon, created mankind, and lived in the E-kur, the ‘mountain house’ or the assembly of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus. This was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.”
Nippur has been closed to visitors since 2018 but our guides made arrangements with the organization who helps preserve the site and conduct further excavations — the Inspectorate of Antiquities Diwaniyah. This lovely group of passionate archeologists were wonderful in welcoming us to tour the ancient site, and we all felt incredibly lucky to be given the chance to see it. Truly a remarkable experience!
The temple of Ekur can be seen from a distance rising up. We made our way up to it, watching our step NOT to crush the multiple shards of ancient pottery found along the way. We explored inside the temple and learned more about the city and it’s importance for so many achievements to civilization, such as the library, pharmacy, law codes, cuneiform script, arithmetic, astronomy, the wheel, and… BEER!
I wish I had read about the city prior to touring it, as I would have explored even more than just the temple. It is a fascinating place and one which you should make a great effort to visit if you travel to Iraq. Spectacular.
After lunch and a stop alongside a highway to snap a photo of the world’s largest Iraqi flag, our Nippur guides invited us back to their museum of antiquities, The King Gazi Landscape Museum.
We learned more about the ancient history of Mesopotamia and listened to the sounds of golden hour in the countryside of Iraq… dogs barking, bugs and birds chirping away and a nearby call to prayer.
From here, we had a long drive to Baghdad, our home for the next two nights, but part of the way we enjoyed a friendly police escort which allowed us to bypass a police checkpoint or two.