Urkesh, City of the Hurrians

Article excerpt

Reading the Bible sheds light on a fact of early historic times: Many cities and their inhabitants, tribes and their customs, arose and then vanished over the last several thousand years. Whole cities and ways of life came into being, survived for maybe hundreds of years (much longer than the United States) and then, mysteriously, were gone. It was often the way of things in those times.

So it was with Urkesh, an ancient metropolis of 10,000 to 20,000 people, known by legend, by a single mention in the Bible and by a phrase on a clay tablet 4,000 years old belonging to Pharaoh Amenemhet IV of Egypt. In 1987, an archeological team led by Dr. Giorgio Buccellati of the University of California at Los Angeles began digging for the lost city of the Hurrian people beneath the modern Syrian city of Tell Mozan. Professor Buccellati got onto the trail of the dig when he followed up on an inscription on the base of two bronze lions. The lions were sold by villagers of Tell Mozan. They carried inscriptions that scholars interpreted to be the word "Urkesh." The lions are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre in Paris. …