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Mari, Syria

Mari was an ancient kingdom on the western bank of the Euphrates which flourished in the 3rd millennium BC as an important hub between the main irrigation-based states of the Land of the Two Rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) and the drier plains of Northern Syria and the Upper Euphrates/Khabur system, occupied by Akkadians, Sumerians, Amarite, and destroyed in about 1760 BC by King Hammorabi. It was the capital of the 10th dynasty after the flood.

Iku Shamagan, the king of Mari in 18th century BCA statue of fountain goddess with flowing vaseStatue of Shalim, made of alabaster, Temple of Nini-Zaza, MariStatue of Orant, made of alabaster, Temple of Nini-Zaza, Mari

Excavations revealed the remains of a 275 room palace covering 2.5 hectares, with a great library stacked with 20,000 cuneiform tablets.

This palace is the most impressive and best preserved of the Early Bronze Age palaces unearthed in the region. It is one of the most extensive excavated in the Middle East and was constructed across several centuries, though it misleadingly bears the name of the last ruler, Zimri-Lim. The fact that the building was deliberately destroyed, its mud walls half knocked down to fill in the rooms, accounts for its remarkable state of preservation.

A religious scene board of mosaic from temple of Dagan, Mari, made of sea-shells, ivory and lapis lazuli

The site of Mari is of central importance, discovered in 1933. The excavation of this rare example of a Mesopotamian palace found with its costumes and archives virtually intact has been one of the keys to the unravelling of the history of the Syria/Mesopotamia region during the early millennia of recorded history. Its excavation has largely rested in the hands of the French archaeologist, Andre Parrot, who supervised the excavations from 1933 to 1974; a remarkable record.

Since 1978, excavations have continued with the aim of better establishing Mari's place in the Mesopotamian world of the third and second millennia and researching its economic resources and agricultural base.

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