Ur – an ancient city in Iraq

We wanted to visit the remains of an ancient city called Ur, but first we came to the Mesopotamian Marshes on the floodplains of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The unique wetland landscape is home to the Marsh people, who have developed a unique culture tightly connected to the landscape – harvesting reeds and rice, fishing and herding water buffalo. They build fantastic houses out of reed on the islands in the marsh, something we wanted to see by going on a trip with a canoe.

Martyr monument in the marshes
Water buffalo
Hooded Crow

We spotted some Pied Kingfisher, a Squacco Heron, but surprisingly not many birds in these marches. In Africa, the guide would have pointed out every bird to you, here they seemed not interested in them.

Reed houses
Relaxing tour through the marches

Continuing to Ur, we came through many military check points. Everybody was waved through but us. We always had to stop, give them our passports which they brought to a superior, they checked our Carnet, sometimes even inspected our car and took photos with their phones of passports and the number plate. We didn’t understand why they do it again and again and what kind of threat they see in Austrian tourists with a camper, but they spoke as much English as we speak Arabic, so we couldn’t ask them.

Finally, we reached the remains of ancient Ur and were mesmerised. What is left of the city, which dates from about 3800 BC!, are mostly the remains of a Ziggurat, a temple to Nanna, the Sumerian moon god and the patron deity of Ur. The temple was built in the 21st century BC! and was reconstructed in the 6th century BC by Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon.  

Local tourists wanted their picture taken with us
Ziggurat of Ur

The massive step pyramid measured 64 m in length, 45 m in width and probably more than 30 m in height.

The city of Ur grew to be the capital of a state controlling much of Mesopotamia. At that time it was a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates on the Persian Gulf, which is now far away.

Bitumen was used as mortar

We were struggling to find a place for the night and finally ended in a quiet street in the nearby town of Nasiriyah. It was again incredibly hot, and dogs were barking all night next to our car, not a very restful night.

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