Sumerian Art from the Royal Tombs of Ur

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Sumerian artwork from the Royal Tombs of Ur, also called the Royal Cemetary - select for enlargement and more information

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spouted jug
spouted jug

Archeologist C. Leonard Woolley led an excavation at a burial place at the Sumerian city of Ur between 1922 and 1934. He and the other archeologists discovered 1850 graves and 16 tombs, some of which were untouched. They revealed an extraordinary treasure of Sumerian artifacts, including skilled artwork. He called them the Royal Tombs of Ur. The larger burial site is called the Royal Cemetary at Ur. It was located at the temple near the center of the city of Ur and dates from 2600-2000 BC.

C. Leonard Woolley
C. Leonard Woolley

In one part of the cemetary there were found 16 large shaft graves. These consisted of a tomb built at the bottom of a pit. Some had multiple chambers. The most well preserved was that of a woman identified as Pu-abi from the name carved on a cylinder seal. Along with the principal occupants of the tombs, they found attendants who had been sacrificed and offerings of food and objects, many quite valuable. It was named the Royal Tombs of Ur because Woolley thought the tombs must belong to kings and queens.

The discoveries were part of a joint expedition by the British and American archeologists. Due to agreements with the government, the finds were split between the host country (Iraq Museum), the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum.


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