Copper vessel with silver wire

From Ur, southern Iraq
About 2600-2400 BC

Food for the afterlife from one of the 'Royal Graves'

This copper vessel was discovered by Leonard Woolley in one of the graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, possibly in the first 'Royal Grave' that he excavated. It was only recognized as such after others had been revealed, because it had been completely ruined by ancient plunderers. The chamber which normally held the main burial was so badly damaged that only part of a mud brick wall remained. Three bodies were found in the pit. They were presumably sacrificial victims as found in the other fifteen graves, but unusually here one of them was a child.

This bowl suggests that vessels in these graves contained provisions, perhaps for an afterlife, since this one contained the remains of a lump of organic substance. When this was analyzed it was found to be fig pulp, so the vessel probably contained some kind of fruit juice.

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More information


C.L. Woolley and others, Ur Excavations, vol. II: The R (London, The British Museum Press, 1934)


Length: 29.840 cm
Width: 7.620 cm
Weight: 1026.000 g

Museum number

ME 121654


Excavated by a British Museum Expedition


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