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In the 19th century, the earliest known Sumerian site was Tello or Telloh. It was excavated from 1877 until 1900 by the French Vice-Consul in Bassora: Charles Ernest Gustave Chocquin de Sarzec. The search continued, from 1903 until 1909 by Gaston Cros, then from 1929 until 1931 by Leon Alexander Heuzey and Henri de Genouillac, and finally, from 1931 until 1933 by André Parrot.

The site was occupied at the time of Obeid, early 4th millennium until the 17th century BC. The remains of a ziggurat and a temple dedicated to Nin-Girsu were exhumed there.

Some 50,000 cuneiform tablets were found on this site. Many are not yet deciphered. Despite the number of translated texts, it has long been considered that Tello was the city of Lagash, because this is the place name that is the most frequently encountered. Girsu is less frequent.

The Sumerians gave a great importance to temples dedicated to the gods, to the point that often the scribes has designated city or country by the name of the temple or the God who was worshiped.

Two examples of text frequently encountered:

"Urnina king of Lagash, son of Gudinu, built the house of Girsu";

"Urnina king of Lagash, son of Gudinu, built the temple of Nin-Girsu";

In fact, this is the exhumation of Ibgal - known from texts as a temple standing at Lagash – on another tell, the tell Al Hiba, which allowed the US excavators of this latter site, to rule out the naming of Lagash to Tello. And the temple unearthed at Tello coincides with the description of Nin-Girsu temple that is placed by the texts in Girsu.

However, other texts mention constructions of temples of Nin-Girsu on other cities. What is certain is that most sovereign of the texts of Tello, including the Stele of the Vultures, bear the title of king of Lagash. Nin-Girsu is the name of the patron god of Lagash and of Girsu.

The city of Lagash is mainly cited on texts describing territorial disputes with Umma, which seem to be the most ancient writings. On the newer ones, it is especially Girsu that appears.

So I propose a different hypothesis as to the location of the city of Lagash (see here).


For an explanation on the colors of text, click here.

For French language, click here.

My notes of veracity :

Tello is the former city named Girsu: 3/5

Tello is the ancient city of Lagash: 2/5

Tag(s) : #Region: Mesopotamia

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