According to the Sumerian King List Eridu was the first city in the World. The opening line reads:
“[nam]-lugal an-ta èd-dè-a-ba
“When kingship from heaven was lowered,
the kingship was in Eridu.”
Eridu (Coordinates: 30 ° 48’57.02 “N 45 ° 59’45.85” E) was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia, 24 kilometers south of Ur in the current archaeological site of Tell Abu Shahrein. Eridu, also transliterated as Eridug, could mean “mighty place” or “guidance place” according to scholars who say this archaeological site is of great importance.
At its foundation, it was most likely within walking distance of the Persian Gulf; however, currently, due to the accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq.
Some scholars argue that in ancient Sumerian times Eridu was linked to the estuary by means of channels and according to the Babylonian epics, it was the first city created in the world.
As noted by Sumerian mythology, the ancient city of Eridu was ONE of the FIVE ancient cities built on Earth before the great deluge.
Eridu was the most southern city of the conglomerate of Mesopotamia and important center of the cult to the God of the water, Enki.
In July 2016, UNESCO chose the archaeological site of tell Eridu as a Mixed Heritage of Humanity, as “part of the archaeological remains of Sumerian settlements in Lower Mesopotamia, which flourished between the third and fourth millennia BC in the delta formed by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.”
As noted by ancient Sumerian tradition, as well as the Sumerian King list, Eridu was the oldest of the cities of Mesopotamia, in whose location the god Marduk had created the world.
Archaeologists have proven, through research in the twentieth century, that the lower levels of the city (level XIX) date back to at least 4900 B.C., at the beginning of the El Obeid period. Mainstream scholars suggest the city was founded in the 54th century BC.
In this first stage, the ceramic remains show a significant role of Eridu in the region.
Towards 3800 BC (level VI) the city had an important temple and a cemetery from which a thousand graves have been discovered.
Towards the year 2500 BC., during the archaic dynastic, a ruler, perhaps of the first dynasty of Ur, built a great palace in Eridu, and at the end of the III millennium BC, during the reign of Amar-Sin, a large ziggurat was built in the city, which remained an important religious center in the empire of the third dynasty of Ur.
According to the Sumerian King list, the first ‘mythological’ kings, successors of the reign of heaven, are those of Eridu.
The king list continues:
In Eridu, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alalngar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridu fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira.
The Sumerian King list describes in unprecedented detail a time when the world was governed by beings referred to as ‘Gods’ for thousands of years. This is one of the main reasons why mainstream scholars suggest that the Sumerian King list is a mixture of prehistorical and mythological accounts and that those rulers who lived through implausibly lengthy reigns were not real, and were part of ancient folklore.
Mainstream scholars see the age a ruler allegedly governed over the people as a reflection of his or her importance. The more years a king ruled, the more important he was. However, this is highly debated among many authors.
This ancient city was one of the most important settlements in ancient times, and the urban nucleus of Eridu was Enki’s temple, called House of the Aquifer.