The Great Enigma of the Cemetery at Ur

Georges Roux

in Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780748613878
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653584 | DOI:
The Great Enigma of the Cemetery at Ur

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The ruins of Ur in Iraq are the most beautiful and eloquent in all Mesopotamia. After some explorations and probes, the first of which go back to 1854, the Ur excavations began in 1918 under the direction of Sir Leonard Woolley. In 1922, the ziggurat and the great rectangular platform surrounding it had been partly exposed. From this trench many clay vessels emerged, as well as beads of cornelian, lapis lazuli and even gold, sure evidence of the presence of tombs. Excavating a cemetery, above all in Mesopotamia, is always technically difficult and, as Woolley's labourers and the archaeologist himself lacked experience, he had the admirable sense to close the workings and not return until four years later. The celebrated ‘royal cemetery’ of Ur was thus excavated between 1926 and 1932, at a rate of three or four months a year.

Keywords: ruins; Ur; Iraq; Mesopotamia; excavations; Leonard Woolley; ziggurat; tombs; royal cemetery

Chapter.  4964 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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