In a long inscription which he caused to be engraved on hundreds of stone vases dedicated to El-lil of Nippur, he declares that his kingdom extended " from the Lower Sea of the Tigris and Euphrates," or Persian Gulf, to " the Upper Sea " or Mediterranean.
Below the bifurcation the river of Babylon was again divided into several streams, and indeed the most famous of all the ancient canals was the Arakhat (Archous of the Greeks and Serrat and Nil of the Arabs), which left that river just above Babylon and ran due east to the Tigris, irrigating all the central part of the Jezireh, and sending down a branch through Nippur and Erech to rejoin the Euphrates a little above the modern Nasrieh.
The Narss, also, the modern Daghara, which is still navigable to Nippur and beyond, left the Sura a little below Hillah; and at the present day another large canal, the Kehr, branches off near Diwanieh.
The fact also that many of the most ancient of these ruins, like Ur, Lagash (Sirpurla), Larsa, Erech, Nippur, Sippara and Babylon, were situated on the banks of the great canals would indicate that the control of the waters of the rivers by a system of canalization and irrigation was one of the first achievements of civilization.
P. Peters, Nippur (1897); M.
Excavation at Nippur in Babylonia has brought to light numerous contract tablets of the 5th century B.C. with Hebrew proper names (Haggai, Hanani, Gedaliah, &c.).
In Elephantine, as in Nippur, the legal usages show that similar elements of Babylonio-Assyrian culture prevailed, and the evidence from two such widely separated fields is instructive for conditions in Palestine itself.3 20.
For Nippur, see Bab.
An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Erech (or some other centre), Bel as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.
For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil or Bel, was once regarded as the head of an extensive pantheon.
It is not, however, proposed to give here a list of the newly discovered names 37 of the Babylonian kings on tablets from Nippur, published by Poebel 38 and others, as results of this kind belong to the realm of history rather than to that of archaeology.
The new series of " Creation " and " Deluge " tablets from Nippur, published by Poebel & Langdon, 39 also belong to the realm of the historian and anthropologist rather than to that of the archaeologist, so are merely mentioned here; the excavation in which they were found being now ancient history.
As the consort of En -lil, the goddess Nin-lil or Belit belongs to Nippur and her titles as "ruler of heaven and earth," and "mother of the gods" are all due to her position as the wife of Bel.
The title Belit was naturally transferred to the great mother-goddess Ishtar after the decline of the cult at Nippur, and we also find the consort of Marduk, known as Sarpanit, designated as Belit, for the sufficient reason that Marduk, after the rise of the city of Babylon as the seat of his cult, becomes the Bel or "lord" of later days.
It is not likely, as many scholars have thought, that Akkad was ever used geographically as a distinctive appellation for northern Babylonia, or that the name Sumer denoted the southern part of the land, because kings who ruled only over Southern Babylonia used the double title "king of Sumer and Akkad," which was also employed by northern rulers who never established their sway farther south than Nippur, notably the great Assyrian conqueror Tiglath pileser III.
En-lil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, and since En-lil with the determinative for "land" or "district" is a common method of writing the name of the city, it follows, apart from other evidence, that En-lil was originally the patron deity of Nippur.
At a very early period - prior to 3000 B.C. - Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent, and it is to this early period that the designation of En-lil as Bel or "the lord" reverts.
Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888-1900 by Messrs Peters and Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Bel of Nippur was in fact regarded as the head of an extensive pantheon.
His chief temple at Nippur was known as E-Kur, signifying "mountain house," and such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another in embellishing and restoring Bel's seat of worship, and the name itself became the designation of a temple in general.
The name "mountain house" suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top. The tower, however, also had its special designation of "Im-Khar-sag," the elements of which, signifying "storm" and "mountain," confirm the conclusion drawn from other evidence that En-lil was originally a storm-god having his seat on the top of a mountain.
When, with the political rise of Babylon as the centre of a great empire, Nippur yielded its prerogatives to the city over which Marduk presided, the attributes and the titles of En-lil were transferred to Marduk, who becomes the "lord" or Bel of later days.
Nippur continued to be a sacred city after it ceased to have any considerable political importance, while in addition the rise of the doctrine of a triad of gods symbolizing the three divisions - heavens, earth and water - assured to Bel, to whom the earth was assigned as his province, his place in the religious system.
It was no doubt owing to his position as the second figure of the triad that enabled him to survive the political eclipse of Nippur and made his sanctuary a place of pilgrimage to which Assyrian kings down to the days of Assur-bani-pal paid their homage equally with Babylonian rulers.
Of Hillah), Nippur (Niffer) - where stood the great sanctuary of El -lil, the older Bel - Uruk or Erech (Warka) and Larsa (Senkera) with its temple of the sun-god, while eastward of the Shatt el-Hai, probably the ancient channel of the Tigris, was Lagash (Tello), which played an important part in early Babylonian history.
The latest to be identified are Bismya, between Nippur and Erech, which recent American excavations have proved to be the site of Udab (also called Adab and Usab) and the neighbouring Fara, the site of the ancient Kisurra.
Two main centres, Eridu in the south and Nippur in the north.
El-lil, around whose sanctuary Nippur had grown up, was lord of the ghost-land, and his gifts to mankind were the spells and incantations which the spirits of good or evil were compelled to obey.
Long before history begins, however, the cultures of Eridu and Nippur had coalesced.
While Babylon seems to have been a colony of Eridu, Ur, the immediate neighbour of Eridu, must have been colonized from Nippur, since its moon-god was the son of El-lil of Nippur.
A contract has been found at Sippara, dated in the fourth year of Assur-etil-ilani, though it is possible that his rule in Babylonia was disputed by his Rab-shakeh (vizier), Assur-sum-lisir, whose accession year as king of Assyria occurs on a contract from Nippur (Niffer).
Peters, Nippur (1897); E.
NIPPUR, one of the most ancient of all the Babylonian cities of which we have any knowledge, the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god, En-lil, lord of the storm demons.
The result of their work is a fairly continuous history of Nippur, and especially of its great temple, E-kur, from the earliest period.
Originally a village of reed huts in the marshes, similar to many of those which can be seen in that region to-day, Nippur underwent the usual vicissitudes of such villages - floods and conflagrations.
So far as we can judge from the inscriptions, Nippur did not enjoy at this time, or at any later period for that matter, political hegemony, but was distinctively a sacred city, important from the possession of the famous shrine of En-lil.
As at Tello, so at Nippur, the clay archives of the temple were found not in the temple proper, but on an outlying mound.
The whole city of Nippur appears to have been at that time merely an appanage of the temple.
Jewish names, appearing in the Persian documents discovered at Nippur, show, however, that Jewish settlement at that city dates in fact from a much earlier period, and the discovery on some of the tablets found there of the name of the canal Kabari suggests that the Jewish settlement of the exile, on the canal Chebar, to which Ezekiel belonged, may have been somewhere in this neighbourhood, if not at Nippur itself.
Of the history and conditions of Nippur in the Arabic period we learn little from the excavations, but from outside sources it appears that the city was the seat of a Christian bishopric as late as the 12th century A.D.
The excavations at Nippur were the first to reveal to us the extreme antiquity of Babylonian civilization, and, as already stated, they give us the best consecutive record of the development of that civilization, with a continuous occupancy from a period of unknown antiquity, long ante-dating 5000 B.C., onward to the middle ages.
But while Nippur has been more fully explored than any other old Babylonian city, except Babylon and Lagash, still only a small part of the great ruins of the ancient site had been examined in 1909.
Excavation at Nippur is particularly difficult and costly by reason of the inaccessibility of the site, and the dangerous and unsettled condition of the surrounding country, and still more by reason of the immense mass of later debris under which the earlier and more important Babylonian remains are buried.