How to use Nippur in a sentence
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.
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.).Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.
She is also designated as Nin-Khar-sag, "Lady of the mountain," which name stands in some relationship to Im-Khar-sag, "storm mountain" - the name of the staged tower or sacred edifice to Bel at Nippur.
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.Advertisement
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.
Grouped around the main sanctuary there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that E-Kur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur.Advertisement
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.
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.Advertisement
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 vase of calcite, also dedicated by Entemena, has been found at Nippur.
One of his successors was Ur-Gur, a great builder, who built or restored the temples of the Moon-god at Ur, of the Sun-god at Larsa, of Ishtar at Erech and of Bel at Nippur.Advertisement
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).
The men who built the temple of Bel at Nippur, in the year (say) 5000 B.C., must have felt themselves at a pinnacle of civilization and culture.
The answer to that question must come, if it come at all, from what we now speak of as prehistoric archaeology; the monuments from Memphis and Nippur and Nineveh, covering a mere ten thousand years or so, are the records of recent history.
He is closely associated with Bel, or En-lil of Nippur, as whose son he is commonly designated.
This district may have been Shirgulla and surrounding places, which, as we know, fell at one time under the control of the rulers of Nippur.Advertisement
Moreover, among the Jewish families settled in the 5th century B.C. in Egypt (Elephantine) and Babylonia (Nippur), the Babylonian-Assyrian principles are in vogue, and the presumption that they were not unfamiliar in Palestine is strengthened further by the otherwise unaccountable appearance of Babylonian-Assyrian elements later in the Talmudic law.
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.
Mild attempts, to be sure, to group the chief deities associated with the most important religious and political centres into a regular pantheon were made - notably in Nippur and later in Ur - but such attempts lacked the enduring quality which attaches to Khammurabi's avowed policy to raise Marduk - the patron deity of the future capital, Babylon - to the head of the entire Babylonian pantheon, as 1 Even in the case of the "Semitic" name of the famous Sargon I., whose full name is generally read Sharru-kenu-sha-ali, and interpreted as "the legitimate king of the city," the question has recently been raised whether we ought not to read "` Sharru-kenushar-ri" and interpret as "the legitimate king rules" - an illustration of the vacillation still prevailing in this difficult domain of research.
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.
Fisher, Excavations at Nippur (1st part 1905, 2nd part 1906); Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, a monumental edition of the cuneiform texts found at Nippur, with brief introductions and notes of a more general character (1893 foil.).
Beyond the fact that it was found at Nippur during the fourth of the American expeditions, there does not appear to be any exact record of its provenance; and, in order to determine its date, it is necessary to rely on the external and internal evidence furnished by the tablet itself.
A number of hymns and prayers addressed to the chief Babylonian gods, and written throughout in the Sumerian language, have been found at Nippur, and these may be dated in the era of the kings of Ur and Isin, since some of them are mentioned by name in the petitions.Advertisement
But, to judge from the photographic reproduction of the Nippur tablet, the characters upon it do not appear to resemble those in use at the time of the First Dynasty, nor those of the period of the Dynasties of Ur and Isin.
On purely epigraphic grounds the suggestion has indeed been made that it should be assigned to the Kassite period (not earlier than 1700 B.C.), during which a very large number of the tablets found at Nippur were inscribed.'
But, even so, the fragment is one of the most interesting that has been recovered on the site of Nippur.
Thus the resemblances which have been claimed between the Nippur Deluge fragment and the version of the "Priestly Code" in Genesis, in themselves furnish no significant evidence as to the latter's date.
While the relationship between Ea (q.v.) and Marduk is thus marked by harmony and an amicable abdication on the part of the father in favour of his son, Marduk's absorption of the power and prerogatives of Bel of Nippur was at the expense of the latter's prestige.
After the days of Khammurabi, the cult of Marduk eclipses that of Bel (q.v.), and although during the five centuries of Cassite control in Babylonia (c.1750-1200B.C.), Nippur and the cult of the older Bel enjoy a period of renaissance, when the reaction ensued it marked the definite and permanent triumph of Marduk over Bel until the end of the Babylonian empire.
The old myths in which Bel of Nippur was celebrated as the hero were transformed by the priests of Babylon in the interest 'The name Mordecai denotes "belonging to Maduk."
As the former he is the son of Anu, the god of heaven, but he is likewise associated with Bel of Nippur as the god of the earth and regarded as his first-born son.
Of the two temples, that at Sippara was the more famous, but temples to Shamash were erected in all large centres - as Babylon, Ur, Nippur and Nineveh.
Banks at Bismya (Udab), and those of the university of Pennsylvania at Niffer (see Nippur) first begun in 1889, where Mr J.H.
Indeed, there are tablets in the British Museum labelled 4500 B.C.; and later researches, particularly those of the expedition of the University of Pennsylvania at Nippur, have brought us evidence which, interpreted with the aid of estimates as to the average rate of accumulation of dust deposits, leads to the inference that a high state of civilization had been attained in Mesopotamia at least 9000 years ago.
The name indicates the existence of the same conception regarding sacred edifices in Assyria as in Babylonia, where we find such names as E-Kur ("mountain house") for the temple of Bel at Nippur, and E-Saggila ("lofty house") for Marduk's temple at Babylon and that of Ea at Eridu, and in view of the general dependence of Assyrian religious beliefs as of Assyrian culture in general, there is little reason to doubt that the name of Assur's temple represents a direct adaptation of such a name as E-Kur, further embellished by epithets intended to emphasize the supreme control of the god to whom the edifice was dedicated.
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.
For an account of one of the most interesting fragments of a literary or religious character, found at Nippur, see below.
While recognized by a temple of her own in Nippur and honoured by rulers at various times by having votive offerings made in her honour and fortresses dedicated in her name, she, as all other goddesses in Babylonia and Assyria with the single exception of Ishtar, is overshadowed by her male consort.