At a much more remote period also the great city of Lagash stood by or on its banks.
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.
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.
In the early inscriptions of Lagash the whole district is known as Gu-Edinna, the Sumerian equivalent of the Semitic Kisad Edini.
Meanwhile (1877-1881) the French consul, de Sarzec, had been excavating at Tello, the ancient Lagash, and bringing to light monuments of the pre-Semitic age, which included the diorite statues of Gudea now in the Louvre, the stone of which, according to the inscriptions upon them, had been brought from Magan, the Sinaitic peninsula.
The earliest monuments that can be approximately dated come from Lagash (Tello).
Priest of Lagash, and the high-priest of a neighbouring town, the name of which is provisionally transcribed Gis-ukh (formerly written Gis-ban and confounded with the name of Opis).
At a later date the high-priests of Lagash made themselves kings, and a dynasty was founded there by Ur-Nina.
In his hand he holds the crest of Lagash and its god - a lion-headed eagle with outstretched wings, supported by two lions which are set heraldically back to back.
Temples and palaces were repaired or erected at Lagash and elsewhere, the town of Nina - which probably gave ' They are also called high-priests of Gunammide and a contracttablet speaks of " Te in Babylon," but this was probably not the Te of the seal.
A frieze of lions devouring ibexes and deer, and incised with great artistic skill, runs round the neck, while the eagle crest of Lagash adorns the globular part.
LAGASH, or Sirpurla, one of the oldest centres of Sumerian civilization in Babylonia.
The principal excavations were made in two larger mounds, one of which proved to be the site of the temple, E-Ninnu, the shrine of the patron god of Lagash, Nin-girsu or Ninib.
From the inscriptions found at Tello, it appears that Lagash was a city of great importance in the Sumerian period, some time probably in the 4th millennium B.C. It was at that time ruled by independent kings, Ur-Nina and his successors, who were engaged in contests with the Elamites on the east and the kings of Kengi and Kish on the north.
At this period, also, under its patesis, Ur-bau and Gudea, Lagash had extensive commercial communications with distant realms. According to his own records, Gudea brought cedars from the Amanus and Lebanon mountains in Syria, diorite or dolorite from eastern Arabia, copper and gold from central and southern Arabia and from Sinai, while his armies, presumably under his over-lord, Ur-Gur, were engaged in battles in Elam on the east.
Some of the earlier works of Ur-Nina, En-anna-turn, Entemena and others, before the Semitic conquest, are also extremely interesting, especially the famous stele of the vultures and a great silver vase ornamented with what may be called the coat of arms of Lagash, a lion-headed eagle with wings outspread, grasping a lion in each talon.
After the time of Gudea, Lagash seems to have lost its importance; at least we know nothing more about it until the construction of the Seleucid fortress mentioned, when it seems to have become part of the Greek kingdom of Characene.
There was a quarter or suburb of the old Babylonian city of Lagash whose name was written in the same way; this may possibly have been the home of those settlers from Babylonia who gave its name to the Assyrian city.
The ideogram for Nineveh, as also for the Lagash city, 3?
The mention of Gudea's building a temple for Ishtar in Nina (2800 B.C.) may refer to the Lagash city and an inscription of Dungi, king of Ur (2700 B.C.), said to have been found at Nineveh, might have been carried there by some antiquary king.
In the inscriptions found at Shirgulla (or Shirpurla, also known as Lagash), he appears as Nin-girsu, that is, "the lord of Girsu," which appears to have been a quarter of Shirgulla.
Corresponding to the states into which we find the country divided before 2250 B.C., we have a various number of religious centres such as Nippur, Erech, Kutha (Cuthah), Ur, Sippara (Sippar), Shirgulla (Lagash), Eridu and Agade, in each of which some god was looked upon as the chief deity around whom there were gathered a number of minor deities and with whom there was invariably associated a female consort.
In this way Ninib, whose chief seat appears to have been at Shirgulla (Lagash), became the sun-god of the springtime and of the morning, bringing joy and new life to the earth, while Nergal of Kutha was regarded as the sun of the summer solstice and of the noonday heat - the harbinger of suffering and death.
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.