The Uruk site is well organized, with large explanatory signs, a strong perimeter fence, and (wonder of wonders) an actual ticket office, which doubles as a guard post.  We were the only visitors of the day so it took a few minutes to round up the ticket seller.

Uruk was the first great city, the home of writing (!), prospering from around 4000 bc onwards.  The site was also occupied by many successor civilizations, so there is a wide range of material, from early Sumerian to Seleucid and even Parthian.

Uruk, Red Temple

Red Temple Mound

The site covers about 7 sq km, with many acres of scattered shards, occasional lumps of mud brick, and two major temple mounds.   As we walked, our site guide pointed out a mud brick wall from the time of Gilgamesh; many mud bricks with Babylonian cuneiform stamps; a mud brick with a much simpler early Sumerian cuneiform stamp; and much more.  Frequently Sumerian and Babylonian and Seleucid work is all intermingled.

White Temple (3000 bc)

The most prominent mound is the mud brick platform of the Red Temple (around 3100 bc), distinguished by a modern concrete marker pillar on top.  Alas, almost nothing visible remains of the temple itself.

The White Temple aka the Sky God Temple, from 3000 bc is also at the top of a tall mud brick platform.  The temple is now only a few low mud brick mounds, perhaps from pillars or a wall.   But given its vast age, any remains at all are still damned impressive.  I thanked the Sky God for sending me reliable GPS and prayed for better wireless internet.

We also visited Agee Gal, a very large Seleucid Temple.  Only the two ends have been excavated – a long central section is still untouched.  A few of the exposed bricks have the original bright blue glaze akin to the Ishtar gate, but most of the glazed bricks are very faded.

I am in Mesopotamia in placid Southern Iraq (yes this part of Iraq is genuinely safe) on a private tour with Babel Tours.  (Tour notes.) If you are seriously interested in ancient history I recommend a visit!