as some of you know i went to Iraq in 2008 and 2009. like Freki said in his Iraq thread
i was hesitant to post photos due to the topic sparking political arguments. but seeing that his thread didn't devolve into that, i've decided to post my pics. also like Freki, there's a limitation on what i can say about events, personell and of course show in the pics, but feel free to ask.
and please save any political commentary for current events, PM or the bar
settlements at Ur started around 3000 BC, and by 2600 BC it was a major settlement and sacred to the moon god Nanna. around 2100, the Ziggurat of Ur was built, and from 2030 to 1980 BC it was the largest city in the world with a population of 65,000. around 500 BC, the Euphrates shifted several miles to its present location, leading to the city being abandoned. nearby is the modern city of Nasiriyah.
good informational site
Originally Posted by wikipedia article
In the 1625, the site was visited by Pietro della Valle, who recorded the presence of ancient bricks stamped with strange symbols, cemented together with bitumen, as well as inscribed pieces of black marble that appeared to be seals.
The site was first excavated in 1853 and 1854 by John George Taylor, British vice-consul at Basra from 1851-1859.    He worked on behalf of the British Museum. Taylor found clay cylinders in the four corners of the top stage of the ziggurat which bore an inscription of Nabonidus (Nabuna`id), the last king of Babylon (539 BC), closing with a prayer for his son Belshar-uzur (Bel-ŝarra-Uzur), the Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel. Evidence was found of prior restorations of the ziggurat by Ishme-Dagan of Isin and Shu-Sin of Ur, and by Kurigalzu, a Kassite king of Babylon in the fourteenth century BCE. Nebuchadnezzar also claims to have rebuilt the temple. Taylor further excavated an interesting Babylonian building, not far from the temple, part of an ancient Babylonian necropolis. All about the city he found abundant remains of burials of later periods. Apparently, in later times, owing to its sanctity, Ur became a favorite place of sepulchres, so that even after it had ceased to be inhabited, it continued to be used as a necropolis.
After Taylor's time the site was visited by numerous travelers, almost all of whom have found ancient Babylonian remains, inscribed stones and the like, lying upon the surface. The site was considered rich in remains, and relatively easy to explore. After some soundings were made in 1918 by Reginald Campbell Thompson, H. R. Hill worked the site for one season for the British Museum in 1919, laying the groundwork for more extensive efforts to follow.  
Excavations from 1922 to 1934 were funded by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania and led by the archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley.    A total of about 1,850 burials were uncovered, including 16 that were described as "royal tombs" containing many valuable artifacts, including the Standard of Ur. Most of the royal tombs were dated to about 2600 BC. The finds included the unlooted tomb of a queen thought to be Queen Puabi—the name is known from a cylinder seal found in the tomb, although there were two other different and unnamed seals found in the tomb. Many other people had been buried with her, in a form of human sacrifice. Near the ziggurat were uncovered the temple E-nun-mah and buildings E-dub-lal-mah (built for a king), E-gi-par (residence of the high priestess) and E-hur-sag (a temple building). Outside the temple area, many houses used in everyday life were found. Excavations were also made below the royal tombs layer: a 3.5-metre (11 ft)-thick layer of alluvial clay covered the remains of earlier habitation, including pottery from the Ubaid period, the first stage of settlement in southern Mesopotamia. Woolley later wrote many articles and books about the discoveries.
today, fewer than 20 people live at Ur, an extended family who have cared for the sight since the excavations. adjacent to Ur is Ali (formerly Tallil) Air Base, with several thousand coalition troops and civilian contractors and an adjacent Iraqi army base.
over 4000 years later, the ziggurat still looms over the desert
the royal palace in the foreground
cuneiform is still seen in several bricks
broken pottery shards are all over the site
supposedly the world's oldest arch
the royal tombs complex
House of Abraham's family - Abraham was said to have come from Ur, the son of an idol maker. because Ur was a religious city, some historians think that Abraham's family would have been among the wealthiest after the nobility, so they partially rebuilt the house with the largest foundation they found, thinking it belong to Abraham's family
the most complete, unrestored building
a large excavation pit
and now time to tour the ziggurat
a water collection channel for the rainy season; the holes on the facade are there to allow moisture to evaporate and thus not weaken the structure
the TV show "Mudhouse" (sort of like the Iraqi Seinfeld) was doing a live show the next day
more of my Iraq pics