History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 84

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Mesopotamia


MapCity of Nippur / Nibu

Nippur (located in the modern town of Afak and still known as Nuffar) was one of the oldest of all Sumerian cities, sometimes being dated to 5262 BC. It was situated on both sides of the Shatt-en-Nil canal, which was one of the Euphrates' earliest courses, lying between the river's modern course and the Tigris, almost 160km south-east of Baghdad.

Originally, Nippur (or Nibu in Sumerian) was a village of reed huts in the marshes which gradually rose upwards as a result of continuous habitation and building work. Reed was replaced with mud brick and a holy centre seems to have existed there almost from the very beginning, with the city being regarded as sacred by many of the most powerful early kings.

Enmebaragesi was one of the early kings of Kish who achieved a level of domination over areas of Sumer, and one of his outstanding achievements was the construction at Nippur of the Temple of Enlil, the leading deity of the Sumerian pantheon, ruler of the cosmos and only subject to the god An. In fact, in Sumerian cuneiform, the local name of the city, Nibru, and the god Enlil are the same. Nippur gradually became the spiritual and cultural centre of Sumer, and remained so into the Amorite period in southern Mesopotamia.


Legendary antediluvian king.


Legendary antediluvian king.

c.2700 BC

Enmebaragesi of Kish constructs the Temple of Enlil at Nippur, quickly turning the city into the Sumerian spiritual centre.

c.2450 BC

Nippur becomes part of the empire of Eannatum of Lagash.

c.2430 BC

Nippur is conquered by Enshakushanna of Uruk.

c.2300 BC

Sargon's Akkadian empire controls the city.

In approximately 2230 BC, Naram-Sim of Agade is prompted by a pair of inauspicious oracles to attack the E-kur temple, supposedly protected by the god Enlil, head of the pantheon. As a result of this, eight chief gods of the Anunaki pantheon come together and withdrawn their support from Agade, pronouncing famine upon the city and its empire (probably the result of the widespread climate-induced collapse of this period). Naram-Sin places his son, Sharkalisharri in Nippur to control it directly.

c.2230 - 2217 BC

Sharkalisharri / Car-kali-carri

Son of Naram-Sin of Agade and later king of Agade himself.

c.2193 BC

The Gutians conquer most of Sumer, including Nippur.

c.2112 BC

The Semitic kings of the new dynasty at Ur, Ur-Gur/Ur-Engur and Dungi (probably Ur-Nammu and Shulgi of the Third Dynasty, so dating this event), rebuild the temples and city walls at Nippur along the same lines as the earlier work of Naram-Sin of Agade.

c.2004 1998 BC

With the collapse of Sumerian civilisation and the fall of Ur, Nippur is briefly occupied by invading Elamites before becoming a possession of the Amorite kingdom of Isin. The city seems to suffer some damage from the occupation but also gains recognition from the Elamites.

c.1890 BC

MapA weakened Isin loses control of Nippur around this point in time, although the details are not known. A single Amorite king is known for the city, so it may be that he rules during this period.


c.1822 - 1763 BC

Rim-Sin of Larsa is known as the 'shepherd of the land of Nippur', suggesting the city falls under Larsa's control.

c.1763 - 1595 BC

Larsa is defeated by the Babylonian empire and Nippur passes to Hammurabi. Its spiritual centre is transferred to Babylon until the Kassites gain power and Nippur is restored to its former splendour.

c.1375 - 1235 BC

Nippur is the repository of a very substantial administrative archive that concentrates on the reigns of the Babylonian kings from Burnaburiash II to Kashtiliash IV inclusive. The city and surrounding province is administered by a governor who oversees the local agricultural organisation which produces sometimes huge harvests. The archive ends with the Assyrian capture of Babylonia, and five years later the city is briefly captured by Elam.

c.1200 BC

The city is mostly abandoned between 1200-900 BC during a regional decline in urbanism. By 1000 BC there is perhaps nothing more than a small population clustered around the ancient ziggurat. Control eventually passes to the Assyrians and then the Seleucids, who turn the temple into a fortress. Final decay sets in under the Sassanids and the former city becomes a collection of mud huts beside the ziggurat. The Parthians construct over the ruins of the temple and the town finally disappears in the thirteenth century AD.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.