One of the earliest known cities in the world is the Sumerian city of Girsu. It is located approximately midway between the modern cities of Baghdad and Basrah. The city is estimated to be nearly five thousand years old. Girsu became the capital of the Lagash kingdom which is a sacred metropolis and is devoted to the Sumerian heroic god Ningirsu. This continued to be the religious center after political power was shifted to the city of Lagash. The evidence of Sumerian civilization was discovered in the form of thousands of cuneiform tablets with records of economic, administrative and commercial matters of the city.
In the fifty years of excavations of this mega archeological site, some significant monuments of Sumerian art and architecture have been revealed. This includes a 4000-year-old bridge built of baked brick which is perhaps the oldest bridge ever discovered in the world. A team of French archeologists, in 1877, excavated Girsu. The French were not very keen to follow the protocols and paid very less attention to preserve the architectural remains. Treasure hunters looted a large part of the tablets and other artifacts and sold them to the collectors. Nearly 35000 to 40000 tablets were looted from Girsu.
The Bridge of Girsu was discovered in the 1920s. It was variously interpreted as a temple dam and water regulator. Recently the structure was identified as a bridge over an ancient waterway. After the excavation, more than a century ago, the bridge remained open and exposed to the elements, and no effort was made at the conservation or plans to manage the site. Girsu’s modern name is Tello. This site is currently being used by the British Museum with funding from the UK government. As per a recent announcement, restoring the 4000-year-old bridge will be the part of the training program launched by the UK Government.