Early Dynastic Period

Definition

by British Museum
published on 03 August 2011

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.

© Trustees of the British Museum. Republished under the British Museum Standard Terms of Use for non-profit educational purposes. Original encyclopedia definition by British Museum. Edited by , published on under the following license: Copyright. You cannot use, copy, distribute, or modify this item without explicit permission from the author.

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  • Ann Goldsmith wrote on 11 September 2012 at 20:15:

    More mythological terms!!

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Timeline

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.
  • 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.
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