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Our passports were sent to Baghdad yesterday so we should know tomorrow if we are going to get exit visas. Our police escort drove us to the town border and passed us onto a military escort to Nippur , the Sumerian religious capital. The site is extensive and has barely been excavated. The city originally stood either side of the Shat-el Nil River, surrounded by marshland, but that has long disappeared. The Enlil Ziggurat is the main structure, surrounded by the ruins of domestic habitation and littered with pot sherds, bricks and glass.
We spent a gloriously happy hour wandering around looking at our feet, in case we spotted something wonderful but had no luck.
D and I caused quite a stir sitting in the main room with the men, while the black burka women were crammed into the smaller family room. We queued for ages for the toilets because the ladies have to totally undress to use the squat loos and hang up their clothes to avoid them getting dirty. In the end they gave up and let us in. A close police escort watched our every move to make sure that no one pocketed souvenirs. G had a standoff with them last year and refused to let them search the bus after being accused of looting.
He later received an apology from the Minister. Uruk is the largest site in the Middle East and very little has been mapped or excavated. Founded 5, BC, continuously occupied until the Middle Ages, the ziggurat is in good condition. There are millions of pot sherds, some 6, years old and virtually intact. Beautiful pottery room cones made to line and decorate rooms still show their original colour and are now scattered under our feet; Glass fragments everywhere; Blobs of bitumen which have fallen from between the bricks.
Small votive animals and coins are often found lying on the surface, washed out by the rain. Sumerian room cones, Uruk Sumerian room cones, Uruk Sumerian pottery sherd , Uruk Sumerian pottery sherd , Uruk We walked up to the ruined Parthian temple Charyos and stood in the golden twilight for a while, just trying to absorb everything in the short time we had.