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LARSA (Biblical Ellasar, Gen. xiv. 1)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 224 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LARSA (Biblical Ellasar, Gen. xiv. 1), an important city of ancient Babylonia, the site of the worship of the sun-god, Shamash, represented by the ancient ruin mound of Senkereh (Senkera). It lay 15 M. S.E. of the ruin mounds of Warka (anc. Erech), near the east bank of the Shatt-en-Nil canal. Larsa is mentioned in Babylonian inscriptions as early as the time of Ur-Gur, 2700 or 2800 B.C., who built or restored the ziggurat (stage-tower) of E-Babbar, the temple of Shamash. Politically it came into special prominence at the time of the Elamite conquest, when it was made the centre of Elamite dominion in Babylonia, perhaps as a special check upon the neighbouring Erech, which had played a prominent part in the resistance to the Elamites. At the time of Khammurabi's successful struggle with the Elamite conquerors it was ruled by an Elamite king named Eriaku, the Arioch of the Bible, called Rim-Sin by his Semitic subjects. It finally lost its in-dependence under Samsu-iluna, son of Khammurabi, c. 1900 B.C., and from that time until the close of the Babylonian period it was a subject city of Babylon. Loftus conducted excavations at this site in 1854. He describes the ruins as consisting of a low, circular platform, about 42 M. in circumference, rising gradually from the level of the plain to a central mound 70 ft. high. This represents the ancient ziggurat of the temple of Shamash, which was in part explored by Loftus. From the inscriptions found there it appears that, besides the kings already mentioned, Khammurabi, Burna-buriash (buryas) and the great Nebuchadrezzar restored or rebuilt the temple of Shamash. The excavations at Senkereh were peculiarly successful in the discovery of inscribed remains, consisting of clay tablets, chiefly contracts, but including also an important mathematical tablet and a number of tablets of a description almost peculiar to Senkereh, exhibiting in bas-relief scenes of everyday life. Loftus found also the remains of an ancient Babylonian cemetery. From the ruins it would appear that Senkereh ceased to be inhabited at or soon after the Persian conquest. See W. K. Loftus, Chaldaea and Susiana (1857). (J. P. PE.) LARTET, EDOUARD (1801-1871), French archaeologist, was born in 1801 near Castelnau-Barbarens, department of Gers, France, where his family had lived for more than five hundred years. He was educated for the law at Auch and Toulouse, but having private means elected to devote himself to science. The then recent work of Cuvier on fossil mammalia encouraged Lartet in excavations which led in 1834 to his first discovery of fossil remains in the neighbourhood of Auch. Thenceforward he devoted his whole time to a systematic examination of the French caves, his first publication on the subject being The Antiquity of Man in Western Europe (186o), followed in 1861 by New Researches on the Coexistence of Man and of the Great Fossil Mammifers characteristic of the Last Geological Period. In this paper he made public the results of his discoveries in the cave of Aurignac, where evidence existed of the contemporaneous existence of man and extinct mammals. In his work in the Perigord district Lartet had the aid of Henry Christy (q.v.). The first account of their joint researches appeared in a paper descriptive of the Dordogne caves and contents, published in Revue archeologique (1864). The important discoveries in the Madeleine cave and elsewhere were published by Lartet and Christy under the title Reliquiae Aquitanicae, the first part appearing in 1865. Christy died before the completion of the work, but Lartet continued it until his breakdown in health in 1870. The most modest and one of the most illustrious of the founders of modern palaeontology, Lartet's work had previously been publicly recognized by his nomination as an officer of the Legion of Honour; and in 1848 he had had the offer of a political post. In 1857 he had been elected a foreign member of the Geological Society of London, and a few weeks before his death he had been made professor of palaeontology at the museum of the Jardin des Plantes. He died at Seissan in January 1871.
End of Article: LARSA (Biblical Ellasar, Gen. xiv. 1)
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