Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia)


Jan van der Crabben
by British Museum
published on 03 August 2011
Gypsum statue of a man (by 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.

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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.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

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Cite This Work

APA Style

Museum, B. (2011, August 03). Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia). Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Early_Dynastic_Period_(Mesopotamia)/

Chicago Style

Museum, British. "Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia)." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified August 03, 2011. https://www.ancient.eu/Early_Dynastic_Period_(Mesopotamia)/.

MLA Style

Museum, British. "Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia)." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 03 Aug 2011. Web. 25 Aug 2019.

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