Diameter: 12.000 cm
Depth: 4.500 cm
Length: 18.000 cm (total, including handle)
Room 56: Mesopotamia
Gold strainer for beer or wine
From Ur, southern
About 2600-2400 BC
From the 'Queen's Grave'
This strainer comes from the 'Queen's Grave' in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. It contained the body of a woman and two serving ladies surrounded by extraordinary rich material. The main burial was in a rough stone chamber at the bottom of the pit where this strainer was found.
There are no gold deposits in Mesopotamia, and the metal would probably have been imported from Iran or Anatolia (modern Turkey). It would have arrived as nuggets or in a semi-processed state. The strainer is a good example of the most common technique of working gold at this time: beating sheets into shape.
Beer and wine were drunk in Mesopotamia from at least the fourth millennium BC and it is possible that the strainer was used to remove any debris when serving. Straws were commonly used to help the filtration process.
C.L. Woolley and others, Ur Excavations, vol. II: The R (London, The British Museum Press, 1934)
T.C. Mitchell, Sumerian art: illustrated by o (London, The British Museum Press, 1969)