𒌷𒀕 or 𒌷𒀔 Unug (Sumerian)
𒌷𒀕 Uruk (Akkadian)
وركاء Warkā'(Arabic)
Part of front of Inanna temple of Kara Indasch from Uruk Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin.jpg
Relief on the front of the Inanna temple of Karaindash from Uruk. Pergamon Museum.
Uruk is located in Iraq
Shown within Iraq
LocationAl-Warka, Muthanna Governorate, Iraq
Coordinates31°19′27″N 45°38′14″E / 31°19′27″N 45°38′14″E / 31.32417; 45.63722
Area6 km2 (2.3 sq mi)
Founded4th millennium BC
AbandonedApproximately 700 AD
PeriodsUruk period to Early Middle Ages
Site notes
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official nameUruk Archaeological City
Part ofAhwar of Southern Iraq
Inscription2016 (40th Session)
Area541 ha (2.09 sq mi)
Buffer zone292 ha (1.13 sq mi)

Uruk (k/; Cuneiform: 𒌷𒀕 or 𒌷𒀔 URUUNUG; Sumerian: Unug; Akkadian: Uruk; Arabic: وركاء‎, Warkāʼ; Aramaic/Hebrew: אֶרֶךְʼÉreḵ; Ancient Greek: Ὀρχόη, translit. Orkhoē, Ὀρέχ Orekh, Ὠρύγεια Ōrugeia) was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia), situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the dried-up, ancient channel of the Euphrates, some 30 km east of modern Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.[1]

Uruk is the type site for the Uruk period. Uruk played a leading role in the early urbanization of Sumer in the mid-4th millennium BC.At its height c. 2900 BC, Uruk probably had 50,000–80,000 residents living in 6 km2 (2.32 sq mi) of walled area; making it the largest city in the world at the time.[1] The legendary king Gilgamesh, according to the chronology presented in the Sumerian king list, ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC. The city lost its prime importance around 2000 BC, in the context of the struggle of Babylonia against Elam, but it remained inhabited throughout the Seleucid (312–63 BC) and Parthian (227 BC to 224 AD) periods until it was finally abandoned shortly before or after the Islamic conquest of 633–638.

William Kennett Loftus visited the site of Uruk in 1849 and led the first excavations from 1850 to 1854; he had identified it as "Erech", known as "the second city of Nimrod".[2]

The Arabic name of Babylonia, which eventually became the name of the present-day country, al-ʿIrāq, is thought to derive from the name Uruk, via Aramaic (Erech) and possibly via Middle Persian (Erāq) transmission.[3]In Sumerian the word uru could mean "city, town, village, district".[4]


Uruk cultural expansion c. 3600-3200 BC

In myth and literature, Uruk was famous as the capital city of Gilgamesh, hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is also believed Uruk is the biblical Erech (Genesis 10:10), the second city founded by Nimrod in Shinar.[5]

Uruk period

In addition to being one of the first cities, Uruk was the main force of urbanization and state formation during the Uruk period, or 'Uruk expansion' (4000–3200 BC). This period of 800 years saw a shift from small, agricultural villages to a larger urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, military, and stratified society. Although other settlements coexisted with Uruk, they were generally about 10 hectares while Uruk was significantly larger and more complex. The Uruk period culture exported by Sumerian traders and colonists had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. Ultimately, Uruk could not maintain long-distance control over colonies such as Tell Brak by military force.

Geographic factors

Geographic factors underpin Uruk's unprecedented growth. The city was located in the southern part of Mesopotamia, an ancient site of civilization, on the Euphrates river. Through the gradual and eventual domestication of native grains from the Zagros foothills and extensive irrigation techniques, the area supported a vast variety of edible vegetation. This domestication of grain and its proximity to rivers enabled Uruk's growth into the largest Sumerian settlement, in both population and area, with relative ease.[6]

Uruk's agricultural surplus and large population base facilitated processes such as trade, specialization of crafts and the evolution of writing. Evidence from excavations such as extensive pottery and the earliest known tablets of writing support these events. Excavation of Uruk is highly complex because older buildings were recycled into newer ones, thus blurring the layers of different historic periods. The topmost layer most likely originated in the Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC) and is built on structures from earlier periods dating back to the Ubaid period.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Uruk
አማርኛ: ኦሬክ
العربية: الوركاء
تۆرکجه: اوروک
বাংলা: উরুক
беларуская: Урук
български: Урук
bosanski: Uruk
català: Uruk
Чӑвашла: Урук
čeština: Uruk
dansk: Uruk
Deutsch: Uruk
Ελληνικά: Ουρούκ
español: Uruk
Esperanto: Uruk
euskara: Uruk
فارسی: اوروک
français: Uruk
galego: Uruk
한국어: 우루크
հայերեն: Ուրուկ
hrvatski: Uruk
Bahasa Indonesia: Uruk
íslenska: Úrúk
italiano: Uruk
עברית: ארך
ქართული: ურუქი
Kiswahili: Uruk
kurdî: Urûk
Latina: Orchoë
latviešu: Urūka
lietuvių: Urukas
magyar: Uruk
македонски: Урук
Nederlands: Uruk
नेपाल भाषा: उरुक
norsk: Uruk
occitan: Uruk
polski: Uruk
português: Uruk
română: Uruk
русский: Урук
sardu: Uruk
Scots: Uruk
Simple English: Uruk
slovenčina: Uruk
slovenščina: Uruk
српски / srpski: Урук
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Uruk
suomi: Uruk
svenska: Uruk
Tagalog: Uruk
தமிழ்: உரூக்
Türkçe: Uruk
українська: Урук
Zazaki: Uruk
中文: 烏魯克