Early Dynastic Period


by British Museum
published on 03 August 2011
Gypsum statue of a man (Trustees of the British Museum)

Southern Mesopotamia was divided between competing city-states during the period 2900-2300 BCE. This so-called Early Dynastic period has three subdivisions based on archaeological finds made by the Oriental Institute of Chicago in the area of the Diyala, east of modern Baghdad. Early Dynastic I (around 2900-2800 BCE) saw the emergence of large independent cities such as Uruk. The cities were controlled by a king and his family, who owned vast estates.

Early Dynastic II (around 2800-2600 BCE) saw an increase in building and an improvement in the quality of artistic products like chlorite bowls, which also show connections with regions beyond Mesopotamia. The Early Dynastic II may be the period of rulers, like Gilgamesh, whose names survive in later legends.

The earliest writing is largely administrative, but by the beginning of Early Dynastic III (2600-2300 BCE) inscribed clay tablets contain many literary texts, including poetic hymns. Some of the best evidence for this period comes from the Royal Graves at Ur and the Dynasty of Lagash.

Help us write more

We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Each article costs us about $50 in history books as source material, plus editing and server costs. You can help us create even more free articles for as little as $5 per month, and we'll give you an ad-free experience to thank you! Become a Member

Cite this work

Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia) Books

Remove Ads


Remove Ads


Add Event


Visual Timeline
  • 4500 BCE
    First walled cities. Uruk in Mesopotamia first city.
  • c. 2800 BCE
    Probable date of the regional Great Flood when the river Euphrates rose.
  • 2750 BCE
    Secular rulers replace priests.
  • c. 2750 BCE
    The city of Tyre is founded.
  • 2700 BCE
    Hatti people establish trade with the city of Sumer.
  • c. 2600 BCE
    Uruk ruled by Gilgamesh for 126 years according to the Sumerian King List.
  • c. 2600 BCE
    The Myth of Etana written.
  • c. 2500 BCE
    Beginning of literature in Sumerian.
  • 2400 BCE
    First use of war chariots in Mesopotamia.
  • 2350 BCE
    First code of laws by Urukagina, king of Lagash.
  • c. 2330 BCE
    Sargon of Akkad sacks Ur.
  • c. 2300 BCE
    The Eridu Genesis is composed.
Remove Ads



Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week:

Visit our Shop

Ancient History Merchandising
Remove Ads