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Artifacts of the Royal Cemetery of Ur

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Artifacts of the Royal Cemetery of Ur
Head of a Lion from the Royal Cemetery of Ur

Head of a Lion from the Royal Cemetery of Ur

Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur's Royal Cemetery, Penn Museum

The Royal Cemetery at the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia was excavated by Charles Leonard Woolley between 1926-1932. The Royal Cemetery excavations were part of a 12-year expedition at Tell el Muqayyar, located on an abandoned channel of the Euphrates River in far southern Iraq. Tell el Muqayyar is the name given to the +7 meter tall, +50 acre archaeological site made up of the ruins of centuries of mud brick buildings left by the residents of Ur between the late 6th millennium BC and the 4th century BC. The excavations were jointly funded by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and so many of the artifacts that Woolley recovered ended up in the Penn Museum.

This photo essay features images of some of the artifacts which are currently on exhibit at the museum, in an exhibition entitled "Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur's Royal Cemetery" which opened October 25, 2009.

Figure Caption: Head of lion (Height: 11 cm; Width: 12 cm) made of silver, lapis lazuli and shell; one of a pair of protomes (animal-like adornments) found in the "death pit" which Woolley associated with Puabi's tomb chamber. These heads were 45 cm apart and had originally been attached to a wooden object. Woolley suggested they might have been the finials for the arms of a chair. The head is one of many masterpieces of art from the Royal Cemetery of Ur, ca 2550 BCE.

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