Home >> New International Encyclopedia, Volume 14 >> New Years Day to Nordau >> Nippur


bel, babylonia, period, temple and euphrates

NIP'PUR (modern name. NurrAn). One of the most important cities of ancient Babylonia, situated on the northeast edge of the district now occupied by the Afej tribe; of Arabs, be tween the Tigris and the Euphrates, about 100 miles southeast of Bagdad. The Talmud identi fies it with Cableb (Gen. x. 10). Nippur was fa mous as the seat of worship of the god Bel (or Endil), who at an early period acquired a unique position as the chief deity of the Babylonian Pantheon. This is indicated by his name, which signifies 'lord' par excellence. The dose con nection in ancient Babylonia between political supremacy and religious prominence justifies the supposition that for a considerable period Nip pur. the city of Bel. also exercised control over at least a large portion of the Euphrates Val ley. The religious sanctity of the place. how ever, outlasted its political history, and for many centuries after Nippur had yielded its political supremary to other centres it con tinued to be a favorite place of pilgrimage, and the kings of both Babylonia and Assyria vied in rendering homage to the great Bel by restoring ruined portions of his temple. The chief temple was known as Ekur, 'Mountain ]louse,' and there was also a stage-tower (zik kurrat), rising to a considerable height, with a shrine of Bid at the top. Besides Bel and Ilia consort, Belli, other gods were worshiped at Nippur, and temples or shrines were erected to them, so that there came to he a large sacred complex, shut off from the rest of the city by a double wall.

Systematic explorations at Nippur have been conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, be ginning in 1888under the direction of the Rev. Dr. John P. Peters, the founder and organizer of the expedition. aml continued at intervals till 1000.

During 1893-96. and again in 1898-1000, Lhe work was in charge of .1. 11. Haynes. who was joined in the field during the spring of 1900 by Prof. II. V. llilprecht. As a result a con siderable portion of the temple area and ad joining grounds has been laid bare, the eharae ter and plans of the ancient buildings have been determined. and a large number of inscriptions, historical and votive, as well as over 30,000 commercial and literary tablts, have been found. The larger untidier of the tablets were discovered in a section of the mound containing an edifice or edifices used for the legal and literary archives of IliO 1e111111P. Through the historical and vo tive inscriptions, of which two volumes have been published by Professor Ililprecht (0/d Baby/onion /toscripf ions, ('hiefiy from Nippur, Philadelphia, 1803-00). the history of Nippur has been traced to a date, areording to some, as early as e.13110 me_ according to others to e.3200 or 3000 ice. Much light has been shed on the general course of events from this early period iiiiwn to the rifle of the EassitPS in 1f:0)3- Iona:I 1e-1709-1200 a.c.), who appear to have been particularly attached to the cult of Bel of Nippur. third volume by Professiirs prccht and Clay ( Business Dorn meats of ,11 aro SOn.c of V ippu r, Philadelphia. 1898) con sists of 120 tablets of a eotionercial character. illustrating business methods in Babylonia dur ing the Persian period. Consult, besides the wanks already mentioned; Peters. i Hair, or Explorations and .1 aril:tures on the Euphrates I New York. 1897) : Hilprecht. r.rp/orationq iii /War Lands glaring the Ninet, en/ h (.( 111101( ( Ph i a del ph i a , 1903).