Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian: 𒌨𒀭𒇉, ca. 2047-2030 BC short chronology) founded the Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, following several centuries of Akkadian and Gutian rule. His main achievement was state-building, and Ur-Nammu is chiefly remembered today for his legal code, the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest known surviving example in the world.
Year-names are known for 17 of Ur-Nammu's 18 years, but their order is uncertain. One year-name of his reign records the devastation of Gutium, while two years seem to commemorate his legal reforms: "Year in which Ur-Nammu the king put in order the ways (of the people in the country) from below to above", and "Year Ur-Nammu made justice in the land".
Among his military exploits were the conquest of Lagash and the defeat of his former masters at Uruk. He was eventually recognized as a significant regional ruler (of Ur, Eridu, and Uruk) at a coronation in Nippur, and is believed to have constructed buildings at Nippur, Larsa, Kish, Adab, and Umma. He was known for restoring the roads and general order after the Gutian period.
He was succeeded by his son Shulgi, after an 18-year reign. His death on the battle-field against the Gutians (after he had been abandoned by his army) was commemorated in a long Sumerian poetic composition.
In 1925, a shattered nine-foot tall limestone pillar was discovered in Mesopotamia. Under the remote supervision of Leonard Woolley, it was reconstructed by the Penn Museum. In 1985, Jeanny Canby determined that it had been pieced back incorrectly. She removed the plaster filler of the stele, and added the rearranged pieces she found in the museum's storeroom, and discovered the figure of a courtesan embracing a deity. "It's an amazingly intimate scene for a royal monument," she said.