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Grey and white marble jar

  • Reconstruction of the burial shaft, showing the queen's retinue and the ox drivers (1928)

    Reconstruction of the burial shaft, showing the queen's retinue and the ox drivers (1928)


Height: 15.000 cm
Diameter: 8.000 cm (rim)
Diameter: 8.000 cm (rim)

ME 121702

Room 56: Mesopotamia

    Grey and white marble jar

    From Ur, southern Iraq
    Early Dynastic period, about 2600-2400 BC

    From the grave of 'Queen' Pu-abi

    This marble jar was discovered in the burial of 'Queen' Pu-abi in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. This grave contained the greatest variety of stone vessels, including bowls made of common calcite, green calcite, lapis, obsidian and marble. The precise source of many of the stones is unknown. Although limestones and gypsums were native to southern Mesopotamia, marble was not available on the Mesopotamian plain. However, it does occur in the Zagros mountains to the east and deeper into Iran.

    Reconstructions of stone vessel manufacture in Mesopotamia is currently based on scattered tools and on deductions for the most part from finished vessels. There is evidence in Egypt, however, of quarrying, of tools and of excavated workshops along with illustrations of craft procedures in tomb reliefs.

    It is likely that stone vessels like this were either roughly outlined in silhouette close to the source of the raw material, or else that stone pieces of portable size were prepared for transport. Further shaping in a workshop probably preceded hollowing-out, using drill-bits made of stone, and later copper. This was the most risky point of production and the method used probably depended on the hardness of the stone. The surfaces were then polished. External decoration is generally rare on stone vessels manufactured in Mesopotamia.

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


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