A. Shuruppak (modern Fara) Settled around 3000 B.C. and then abandoned a thousand years later, Shuruppak is mentioned in Sumerian literature as one of five cities to survive a cataclysmic flood.

B. Tell Shmid (the site’s ancient name is unknown) Today a looted, pockmarked moonscape, this Sumerian site contains the remains of an ancient manor house. In 1999 Iraqi archaeologists conducted a salvage excavation at Tell Shmid after being informed that looters were ransacking the unexcavated site.

C. Umm el-Aqarib (the site’s ancient name is unknown) This arid, mid-third millennium B.C. town has been dubbed the “mother of scorpions” by Iraqi archaeologists. During a salvage excavation in 1999, excavators uncovered the ruins of a temple and a palace. A huge cemetery containing thousands of tombs filled with figurines, jewelry, knives, axes and other grave goods was also uncovered.

D. Umm el-Hafriyyat (the site’s ancient name is unknown) Discovered a quarter century ago, this site was first inhabited around 3500 B.C. More than 100 pottery kilns have been found at the site, a testament to the high quality of its clay.

E. Umma (modern Tell Jokha) This great Sumerian city-state has never been scientifically excavated. Many late-third-millennium B.C. cuneiform tablets from Umma have been spirited away from the site, turning up in antiquities collections around the world. Umma and its neighboring city-state of Lagash were embroiled in protracted disputes over territory and water rights; a mid-third millennium B.C. monument erected in Umma marks the frontier between the two cities.