Archaeologists hope Pope Francis’ visit will draw renewed attention to the birthplace of the highly revered Prophet Abraham.
Popular with Western visitors in the 1970s and 1980s, Ur is rarely visited today after decades of war and political instability devastated Iraq’s international tourism industry. The new corona virus crisis (COVID-19) is now also keeping local tourists away.
Located about 300 km south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the site consists of a pyramid-style Ziggurat and adjacent residential complexes and temples and palaces.
It was excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, an Englishman who found a treasure trove that rivaled those found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt. However, little work has been done in one of the world’s oldest cities, where urban settlement, writing and the seat of state power began.
According to the director of Ur’s State Agency for Antiquities and Heritage, Ali Kadhim Ghanim, the complex next to the Ziggurat dates from around 1900 BC (BC).
The prophet Abraham or also known as Abraham, the father of the Jews, Christians and Muslims, is described in the Bible as living in this ancient city before God called him to create a new nation in the land which he later learned was Canaan.