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Lagash - Sacred geography

Identifier

022222

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

Lagash is one of the largest archaeological mounds in the region, measuring roughly 3 by 1.5 km (2 by 1 mi). Estimates of its area range from 400 to 600 hectares (990 to 1,480 acres).  The site is divided by the bed of a canal/river, which runs diagonally through the mound.

A description of the experience

 

From Tomorrow we dig – Excerpts from Vaughn Crawfords letters
some of the spectacular results of the five season project which are now well known from publication by Donald Hansen include:

  • confirmation that al-Hiba is the site of ancient Lagash
  • The discovery of an oval temple in area A, ….
  • Confirmation of the location of the Bagara of Ningirsu, the chief deity of Lagash
  • The initiation of excavations in a structure in Area G having a major curving wall – probably oval

From Letter to Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot February 1966

The interesting thing about al-Hiba is its size… it takes a full hour to walk from one extremity to the other…  it is very different from other Mesopotamian mounds in that it is almost completely surrounded by marshes and can be reached only by boat.   There is a canal full of water…….The range of time at al-Hiba would probably be from 4000 to 2000 BC.

From Expedition to al-Hiba – First season Nov 8th 1968 Newsletter

Professor Hansen discovered part of a very impressive wall made of baked plano-convex bricks instead of the usual sun-dried ones, we hope that the use of the baked bricks indicates an important building

From Expedition to al-Hiba – First season February 6th 1969 Newsletter

On December 22nd, when I last wrote we were expanding the excavations in the platform of the Igbal of Inanna….. after encountering a very large courtyard, Professor Hansen suspected we were in a temple oval complex such as those discovered previously at Khafajah and Ubaid.  Indeed, once had had the idea, he and Khalaf Jasim our dig foreman looked to see if such an oval were visible on the surface, visible by means of a difference in the coloration of the soil.  There it was plain as a blueprint!

They put Salih Jasim to work tracing the oval according to the difference and it worked perfectly.  The width of the oval from east to west proved to be no less than 93 meters.

If the proportion of the length to the width is like that of Khafajah, the oval should be about 130 meters in length…. Unfortunately the southern portion is completely eroded away.

We were, though, able to complete all of the platform as well as the remains of the oval and as a result we know that the temple within the oval was not set on a free standing platform within an oval wall but rather that the oval formed the outer wall of the temple itself…. Certain features of the platform, curved steps on the southeast and a rounded corner on the north west, suggest that the architect wished for the building to blend with the curvature of the oval itself

The source of the experience

Mesopotamian system

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Egg

Symbols

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Suppressions

Creating a sacred geography

Commonsteps

References

The site was first excavated, for six weeks, by Robert Koldewey in 1887. It was inspected during a survey of the area by Thorkild Jacobsen and Fuad Safar in 1953, finding the first evidence of its identification as Lagash.

Tell Al-Hiba was again explored in five seasons of excavation between 1968 and 1976 by a team from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. The team was led by Vaughn E. Crawford, and included Donald P. Hansen and Robert D. Biggs. The primary focus was the excavation of the temple Ibgal of Inanna and the temple Bagara of Ningirsu, as well as an associated administrative area.

The team returned 12 years later, in 1990, for a final season of excavation led by D. P. Hansen. The work primarily involved areas adjacent to an, as yet, unexcavated temple. The results of this season have apparently not yet been published.