Walking toward the Ziggurat of Ur, a massive Sumerian temple dedicated to the moon god Nannar, tourists often can't help but express their awe. Representative of their excitement is one visitor who remarked, “It’s incredible! I studied it when I was at the primary school! My heart is beating like a drum!”
Ali Zughair, a professor of computer science at the Institute of Technology in Nasiriyah and a civil society activist, is used to overhearing such remarks when he accompanies tourists and students to the archaeological site of Ur, which in the 2nd millennium BCE was one of the most important Sumerian city-states in ancient Mesopotamia. The site is located a mere 16 miles from Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar province, in southern Iraq.