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Kish is located in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, about 90 km southeast of Baghdad. While it is no longer on a water course, it seems to have been so during its peak period of significance in the 3rd millennium B.C. Its geographical position made Kish an important nexus between north and south, one in which Semites (or at least individuals with Semitic names) appeared early in the Early Dynastic period (circa 2800 B.C.). Archaeological evidence shows that, out of several late 4th millennium villages, Kish eventually coalesced into a much larger entity. This movement towards urbanization is reflected in the Sumerian King List, wherein Kish is named as the seat of the first dynasty to hold sway over Sumer after the Flood. 

In the absence of any specific correlations, it is difficult to tie together archaeological and pseudo-historical information with much confidence. Certain aspects of the “Y Sounding” in a concentration of mounds at Kish (Tell Ingharra), where twin ziggurats were built in the early 2nd millennium B.C., do suggest, however, that material from it is more or less contemporary with the date generally assigned the first dynasty of Kish, i.e., sometime before ED III, in general Mesopotamian terms.

Kish is crucial in many ways for a proper reconstruction of the development of copper-base technology in the Near East, in part because of the role that the city played in early Mesopotamian politics, in part because its metal artifacts come from reasonably well-dated graves. Both these points, as well as other historical associations, make Kish a good comparative site for the funerary deposits at Ur. The historical and archaeological background of Kish has been ably reconstructed by Moorey (1978) and Gibson (1972), with considerable additions and refinements by Algaze (1983-84).