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Leonard Woolley at the Royal Cemetery of Ur

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Excavating Tell al-Muqayyar
Excavating Ur

This photograph and the next shows the progress of the excavations in the deep hole, Pit X at Tell al-Muqayyar, excavated between 1933-1934. The large-scale excavation removed 13,000 cubic meters of soil and involved over 150 workers.

C. Leonard Woolley, 1934, and the Iraq's Ancient Past, Penn Museum

The remains of Ur are buried within a tell called Tell al-Muqayyar. Tells (also spelled tel or til or tal) are enormous artificial hills created when people lived in the same place for thousands of years, building homes and palaces and temples, and over the period remodeling and rebuilding on top of the earlier structures. There were, of course, no bulldozers at the time. Tell al-Muqayyar, located in far southern Iraq, covers over 50 acres and is something on the order of 25 feet tall, a structure built over the course of some 2500 years.

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