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Coordinates: 31°17′9″N 45°51′13″E / 31.28583°N 45.85361°E / 31.28583; 45.85361

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Mesopotamia in the time of Hammurabi

Babylonlion.JPG Ancient Near East portal

"The Worshipper of Larsa", a votive statuette dedicated to the god Amurru for Hammurabi's life, early 2nd millennium BC, Louvre

Larsa (also Larag or Larak, modern Tell as-Senkereh and Tell Sankarah, Iraq, possibly the Biblical Ellasar), was an important city of ancient Sumer. It lies some 25 km southeast of the ruin mounds of Uruk (biblical Erech), near the east bank of the Shatt-en-Nil canal (modern day southern Iraq).


According to the Sumerian king list, Larsa was one of the five cities to "exercise kingship" in pre-dynastic times (before ca. 2900 BC).

The city again became a political force during the so-called Isin-Larsa period. After the Third Dynasty of Ur collapsed ca. 1940 BC, Ishbi-Erra, an official of Ibbi-Sin, the last king of the Ur III Dynasty, relocated to Isin and set up a government which purported to be the successor to the Ur III dynasty. From there Ishbi-Erra recaptured Ur as well as the cities of Uruk and Lagash, which Larsa was subject to. Subsequent Isin rulers appointed governors to rule over Lagash; one such governor was an Amorite named Gungunum. He eventually broke with Isin and established an independent dynasty in Larsa. To legitimize his rule and deliver a blow to Isin, Gungunum captured the city of Ur. As the main center of trade with the Persian gulf, Isin lost an enormously important portal to a profitable trade route, not to mention a city with much cultic significance. Beyond these few details, the precise reason for Gungunum's break with Isin are largely unknown. One group of scholars theorizes that Isin's internal problems were to blame; it does seem that Isin's rulers allowed the once burgeoning irrigation and agricultural systems to wane. It is possible this was due to sheer neglect, but there is evidence that acquiring access to water in this arid region posed quite a problem for most of southern Mesopotamia in this period.

Gungunum's two successors, Abisare (ca. 1841 - 1830 BC) and Sumuel (ca. 1830 - 1801 BC), both took steps to cut Isin completely off from access to canals. After this period, Isin quickly lost political and economical force.

Larsa grew powerful, but it never accumulated a huge tract of land. At its peak under king Rim-Sin I (ca. 1758 - 1699 BC), Larsa controlled only about 10-15 other city-states, nowhere near the territory controlled by other dynasties in Mesopotamian history. Nevertheless, huge building projects and agricultural undertakings can be validated by archaeological evidence.


The remains of Larsa cover an oval about 4.5 miles in circumference. The highest point is around 70 feet in height

The site of Tell es-Senkereh, then known as Sinkara, was first excavated by William Loftus in 1850 for less than a month. [1] In those early days of archaeology, the effort was more focused on obtaining museum specimens than scientific data and niceties like site drawings and findspots were not yet in common usage. Loftus recovered building bricks of Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire which enabled the sites identification as the ancient city of Larsa. Much of the effort by Loftus was on the temple of Shamash, rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II. Inscriptions of Burna-Buriash of the Kassite dynasty of Babylon and Hammurabi of the First Babylonian Dynasty were also found. Larsa was also briefly worked by Walter Andrae in 1903.

The first modern, scientific, excavation of Senkereh occurred in 1933, with the work of Andre Parrot. [2] Parrot worked at the location again in 1967. In 1969 and 1970, Larsa was excavated by Jean-Claude Margueron. [3] [4] Between 1976 and 1991, an expedition of the Delegation Archaeologic Francaise en Irak led by J-L. Huot excavated at Tell es-Senereh for 13 seasons. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Kings of Larsa

(short chronology)

List of the kings of Larsa, 39th year of Hammurabi's reign, Louvre


  1. [1] WIlliam Loftus, Travels and researches in Chaldæa and Susiana; with an account of excavations at Warka, the Erech of Nimrod, and Shúsh, Shushan the Palace of Esther, in 1849-52, J. Nisbet and Co., 1857
  2. Andre Parrot, Villes enfouies. Trois campagnes de fouilles en Mésopotamie, 1935
  3. Jean-Claude Margueron, Larsa, rapport preliminaire sur la quatrieme campagne, Syria, vol. 47, pp. 271-287, 1970
  4. Jean-Claude Margueron, Larsa, rapport preliminaire sur la cinquieme campagne, Syria, vol. 48, pp. 271-287, 1971
  5. J-L. Huot, Larsa, rapport preliminaire sur la septieme campagne Larsa et la premiere campagne Tell el 'Oueili (1976), Syria, vol. 55, pp. 183-223, 1978
  6. J-L. Huot, Larsa et 'Oueili, travaux de 1978-1981. Vol. 26, Memoire, Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, 1983
  7. J.-L. Huot, Larsa (10e campagne, 1983) et Oueili: Rapport preliminaire, Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, 1987
  8. J-L. Huot, Larsa, Travaux de 1985, Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, 1989, ISBN 2865381986


  • Ettalene M. Grice, Clarence E. Keiser, Morris Jastrow, Chronology of the Larsa Dynasty, AMS Press, 1979, ISBN 0404602746
  • The Rulers of Larsa, M. Fitzgerald, Yale University Dissertation, 2002
  • Larsa Year Names, Marcel Segrist, Andrews University Press, 1990, ISBN 0943872545

See also

  • Cities of the ancient Near East
  • short chronology timeline

External Links

  • Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Larsa. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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