Ancient name of a great city in central Babylonia whose ruined site is now known as Nuffar (Niffer), which is the same word in an Arabicized form. It is one of the oldest cities in the world at present identifiable by name and situation.
It is just possible, but scarcely probable, that "Calneh" in Gen. x. 10 is another name for Nippur. The city lay about thirty-five miles southeast of Babylon on the canal Shaṭṭ al-Nil, which was at one time, and perhaps at the date of the founding of Nippur, a separate branch of the Euphrates. Its ancient renown was due partly to its central position among the Semitic settlements, and especially to the fact that it was the first known great seat of the worship of Bel. The name of this chief Babylonian god, identical with the Canaanitish Ba'al, suggests that his worship at Nippur was the consolidation of that of many local Ba'als, and that Nippur obtained its religious preeminence by having gained the leadership among the Semitic communities. In any case its predominance was actually established at least as early as 5000
The principal colony of the Hebrew exiles of 597
The modern excavations of Nippur under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania are among the most important of all that have been as yet undertaken in western Asia. The explorations, which have been carried on with some interruptions since 1888, have brought to light the ruins of several of the oldest temples of the world and have recovered many treasures of the most antique art, besides tens of thousands of inscriptions representing all phases of the life of ancient Babylonia.
- Peters, Nippur or Explorations and Adventures on the Euphrates, 1897;
- Hilprecht, Explorations in Bible Lands, 1903, pp. 289-568.