Uruk Visualisation Project: Building E
About the project

Uruk/Warka, situated in modern-day Iraq, is one of the first cities in the world, and was populated almost without interruption for over 5,000 years – from the 4th millennium BCE to the 1st millennium CE. Uruk is famous for the invention of cuneiform writing at the end of the 4th millennium, the so-called “late Uruk period”. One of the architectural layers of ‘Untersuchungsareal’ 5 in the centre of Uruk carries the number 11, which consists mainly of two buildings.

We scientifically reconstructed and visualised Building E as part of the TOPOI-Project ‘XXL – Monumentalized Knowledge. Extra-large Projects in Ancient Civilizations’, in close cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Berlin. The near rectangular building measures around 57 x 57 m. It was not preserved completely, but the ground plan could be reconstructed due to symmetrical reasons. Where the building was preserved, it was so up to a height of two courses of mud-brick. It basically was constructed as a combination of four architectural wings, which enclosed a rectangular courtyard. The court walls and outer walls were structured by an extraordinary pillar-niche-system.

In one corner of Building E was a basin constructed into the ground. The function is unclear. Inside, many jug caps were found and the floor, consisting of limestone was added at a later point, so that the basin originally was deeper. It is unlikely, that the basin was a water basin, as the mud-brick walls and the limestone floor were not isolated with asphalt.

The building was painted with a bright ocherish yellow colour on the outer and inner walls. This sets Building E apart from most other buildings in Uruk. It is not certain, if the central middle-halls where constructed with a heightened roof or not. The fireplaces inside the central halls however point to a heightened roof, as the rooms would need proper air circulation.

Eichmann, R. 2007: Uruk. Architektur I. Von den Anfängen bis zur frühdynastischen Zeit (=AUWE 14), Textteil und Beilagen, Rahden.

3D visualisation, scientific reconstruction, infographics
Prof. Dr. Ricardo Eichmann, Oriental Institute, German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Berlin
Completed in 2014
Overview over Building E from the South. Alternative 2 was constructed with heightened roofs over the central middle-halls, to ensure air circulation in the rooms with fireplaces.
Detail of a corner of Building E. The ocherish yellow colour was painted on the outer and inner walls of the building. The pillar-niche-system of the buildings corner is most elaborate.
Detail of the basin in room 1 of Building E. One can see the mud-brick walls and limestone floor. The function of the basin is not certain.