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The Temples and Tombs of Shumer Vol 1

Temple of Tiamut

The temple of Tiamut lies in Northern Arat and is colloquially known as Tia's Deep or The Mothers Tomb. The Temple was constructed During the 2nd Dynasty, most probably during the reign of Labash. The construction of a shrine to the Evil Mother has been thought unusual and once suggestive of a new cult at the instigation of a new King. However there are no changes to the religious order recorded during this period and it is more likely to have been an attempt to placate evil forces rather than to call upon them. It has been suggested that the original temple was not for Tiamut at all and it only became so around the time of the Priest Kings; for obvious reasons this seems an unlikely speculation.

The Temple follows the usual form with two large halls, one for the Altar and one for statues of the goddess. There are two ante chambers of the standard arrangement, immediately beyond the entrance for those supplicants not of the priesthood. The temple is unusual for having a much larger priests quarter with a main room and two further rooms off the connecting corridor. The Hall of Statues has as a large antechamber before the entrance, this does appear in other temples but is not common and the use of such a room is unclear.

Temple of Innana

The temple is of unusual form and is thought to be the first to have employed a maze structure within it, no doubt to form some representation of Innana's convoluted visit to the underworld. The temple has a single antechamber which is incorporated into the main course of the temple rather than as a side chamber; the second antechamber is then positioned by the priests quarters and the entrance to the maze. The latter is positioned within what must have been a natural cavern, giving access to the cavern itself which acts as a 'Hall of Statues' from which access is given to the Altar Hall.

There is of course no access to this temple through the conventional entrance; which lies high up in the mountains and must presumably have been originally accessible by a high pass of some form. This high pass must have become impassable at some point in the early history of the temple and the builders drove a passageway allowing access to an existing cave system which gave access to the Central plain of Arat at ground level. This cave is colloquially known today as Nanna's Dusk.

Temple of Enkir

There are three Temples to Enkir in Shumer that are known, the one described here lies in Southern Arat and is colloquially known as Enkir's Delight. It is of standard form, with two initial ante chambers a small priests quarter and a large altar hall. When originally constructed towards the beginning of the 2nd Dynasty it is also thought to have had a Hall of Statues as was normal and investigations by Arentur during the 7th Century revealed that there had once been a further corridor just beyond the ante chambers. It is believed that a catastrophic collapse may have led to the abandonment of the second hall.

Tomb of Melemana - 2nd Dynasty of Valhina

The Tomb of Melemana represents the final form of 2nd Dynasty tombs which had seen a steady progress towards simplicity. The grand structures of the early kings were reduced to a funerary chapel, two antechambers and a sarcophagus chamber. The main features of the funerary of this period were an altar, offering platforms and twin stela on which were normally inscribed the name of the tomb owner his titles and those of family members. These were all present when the tomb was discovered some 400 years ago but only the altar now remains in situ.

Tomb of Meanne (Dadua) - 1st Dynasty of Lagash

The Tomb of Meanne located just outside the borders of Harata was originally thought to be that of the 2nd dynasty king Dada and is still named as such today and given it has been so since its discovery 400 years ago this is unlikely to change. In fact it remains the most interesting fact about this simple and uninspiring tomb so typical of the 1st Dynasty. It takes the simple form of the tombs of the preceding Dynasty and simplifies it further. Consisting of a single chamber for the funerary chapel, leading to a smaller sarcophagus chamber; it became the template for the rest of the dynasty. It is still visited as a shrine today and the original altar remains although not in its original location; which indicates that there have been unsuccessful attempts to remove it in the past.

Tomb of Balula - 1st Dynasty of Lagash

The Tomb of Balula, the last king of his Dynasty, is virtually identical to that of the first with a single chamber for the funerary chapel and a smaller sarcophagus chamber. Cut into the rock of the eastern mountains facing central Arat it is remains extremely hard to reach which no doubt explains its good state of preservation.

Unknown Tomb - 2nd Dynasty of Valhina

Travelling further along the ridge, beyond the Tomb of Balula one comes upon the blocked entrance of an unknown tomb. There is no record of this tomb ever being entered and indeed no guarantee that it is a tomb at all, the entrance is mentioned briefly in inscriptions of the time of the 1st Dynasty of Lagash which is the reason that it is commonly dated to the previous dynasty but it could well be older. The rock fall around the entrance is substantial and it is unlikely to be cleared as it will require more coin than is readily available in the present day.