Sites & cities that bear the name of Jemdet Nasr

Jemdet Nasr

Today in : Iraq
First trace of activity : ca. 4,000 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 29th century B.C.E
Recorded names : جمدة نصر‎, Ǧamdat Naṣr, Dschemdet Nasr, Ǧemdet Nasr, Djemdet Nasr, Kid-Nun?

Description : Jemdet Nasr (Arabic: جمدة نصر‎) is a tell or settlement mound in Babil Governorate (Iraq) that is best known as the eponymous type site for the Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC), and was one of the oldest Sumerian cities. The site was first excavated in 1926 by Stephen Langdon, who found proto-cuneiform clay tablets in a large mudbrick building thought to be the ancient administrative centre of the site. A second season took place in 1928, but this season was very poorly recorded. Subsequent excavations in the 1980s under British archaeologist Roger Matthews were, among other things, undertaken to relocate the building excavated by Langdon. These excavations have shown that the site was also occupied during the Ubaid, Uruk and Early Dynastic I periods. Occupation is thought to have started at least in the Ubaid period and occupied until the Early Dynastic I period. The Ubaid occupation of the site has not been explored through excavation but is inferred from pottery dating to that period, and clay sickles and a fragment of a clay cone, that were found on the surface of Mound A. Both the 1920s as well as the 1980s excavations have resulted in considerable quantities of Middle Uruk period (mid-4th millennium BC) pottery. It seems that during this period, both Mounds A and B were occupied. During the Late Uruk period (late 4th millennium BC), an extensive settlement must have existed at Mound B, but its nature is again hard to ascertain due to a lack of well-excavated archaeological contexts. The Jemdet Nasr period settlement (3100–2900 BC) extended over an area of 4–6 hectares (9.9–14.8 acres) of Mound B. Some 0.4 hectares (0.99 acres) was occupied by the single, large mudbrick building that was excavated by Langdon, and where the clay tablets were found. In and around this building, kilns for firing pottery and baking bread were found, and other crafts like weaving. Many of these crafts, and also agricultural production, feature prominently in the proto-cuneiform tablets – indicating that much of the economy was centrally controlled and administered. In the texts from Jemdet Nasr, the term "SANGA AB" appears, which may denote a high official. The building was probably destroyed by fire. There is no evidence for far-reaching trade-contacts; no precious stones or other exotic materials were found. However, the homogeneity of the pottery that is typical for the Jemdet Nasr period suggests that there must have been intensive regional contacts. This idea is strengthened by the finding of sealings on the tablets of Jemdet Nasr that list a number of cities in southern Mesopotamia, including Larsa, Nippur, Ur, Uruk and Tell Uqair. After the destruction of the Jemdet Nasr building, occupation of the site seems to have continued uninterrupted, as pottery forms show a gradual transition from Jemdet Nasr forms into the Early Dynastic I repertoire. At least one building of this period has been excavated at Mound B. Based on the distribution of Early Dynastic pottery on the surface, the settlement seems to have been smaller than during the Jemdet Nasr period. A single Early Dynastic I grave was found on Mound A, but no further evidence for occupation during this period. The building that was visible on the surface of the mound was probably a Parthian fortress, but due to a lack of well-dated pottery from this area this dating could not be ascertained.

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