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Artifacts of the Royal Cemetery of Ur


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Headdress of Queen Puabi
Headdress of Queen Puabi at Ur

Headdress of Queen Puabi at Ur

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

Queen Puabi was the name of a woman buried in one of the richest of the tombs excavated by Woolley at the Royal Cemetery. Puabi (her name, found on a cylinder seal within the tomb, was probably closer to Pu-abum) was approximately 40 years old at the time of her death.

Puabi's tomb (RT/800) was a stone and mud brick structure measuring 4.35 x 2.8 meters. She was placed on a raised platform, wearing this elaborate gold, lapis lazuli and carnelian headdress and the beaded jewelry seen on additional pages below. A large pit, probably representing a sunken courtyard or entry shafts into Puabi's burial chamber, held over seventy skeletons. Woolley called this area the Great Death Pit. the individuals buried here are thought to have been sacrificial victims who had attended a banquet in this spot before their deaths. Although they are believed to have been servants and laborers, most of the skeletons wore elaborate pieces of jewelry, and held precious stone and metal vessels.

Figure Caption: Queen Puabi’s headdress. (Comb Height: 26 cm; Diameter of Hair Rings: 2.7 cm; Comb Width: 11 cm) The headdress of gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian includes a frontlet with beads and pendant gold rings, two wreaths of poplar leaves, a wreath of willow leaves and inlaid rosettes, and a string of lapis lazuli beads, discovered on Queen Puabi’s body in her tomb at the Royal Cemetery of Ur, ca 2550 BCE.


Baadsgaard A, Monge J, Cox S, and Zettler RL. 2011. Human sacrifice and intentional corpse preservation in the Royal Cemetery of Ur. Antiquity 85(327):27-42.

Pollock S. 2007. The Royal Cemetery of Ur: Ritual, Tradition, and the Creation of Subjects. pp 89-110 In Representations of Political Power: Case Histories from Times of Change and Dissolving Order in the Ancient Near East, Marlies Heinz and Marian H. Feldman, editors. Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake, Indiana.

Rawcliffe C., et al. 2005 Laser Engraving Gulf Pearl Shell--Aiding the Reconstruction of the Lyre of Ur. Lacona VI. Unpublished paper given at the Lacona VI meetings in Vienna, Austria, September 21-25, 2005. Free download

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