Faience mask

From Ur, southern Iraq
About 1500-1200 BC

The excavator Leonard Woolley discovered this mask in a tomb within the Gipar-ku (residence of the High Priestess of the Moon god Nanna) at Ur. The tomb consisted of a shaft partly lined with burnt bricks, with a tomb chamber lying two metres below the pavement level. The top had been destroyed and the grave plundered. The mask, which may have been part of a statue, was found with a delicate faience bowl.

The mask is also made of faience, finely powdered quartz grains cemented together and glazed by heating. Faience can be modelled by hand but this mask was probably made in a mould. The colours are now very faded but the glazes, coloured with metallic compounds, were white, red and yellow. A filling of bituminous paste was used for the eyebrows, represented by grooves. The holes in the ears and the hair were presumably intended for ear-rings. A yellow band in relief round the neck probably represents a gold necklace.

Although Woolley dated the mask to the early years of the second millennium BC, similar masks are known from sites like Tell al-Rimah in northern Iraq, which are later in date.

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More information


P.R.S. Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian materials (Oxford, 1994)

C.L. Woolley and M. Mallowan, Ur Excavations, vol. VII: The (London, The British Museum Press, 1976)


Height: 7.600 cm
Width: 6.000 cm

Museum number

ME 119401


Excavated by C.L. Woolley


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