Lapis lazuli cylinder seal

From Ur, southern Iraq
about 2600 BC

Discovered in the 'Queen's Grave'

This cylinder seal comes from the grave of 'Queen' Pu-abi, one of the richest in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. The seal is engraved with a banquet scene. These banquets may have been like later Greek symposia with important ritual and social meanings. The upper register depicts figures drinking, possibly beer, from a large jar through long straws. In the lower register more figures drink but this time from cups, perhaps wine poured from the spouted vessel held by one standing servant. There is food on a stand.

The seal was found against the right arm of the body of a woman who was lying on a bier in a tomb built of brick on stone foundations. A cuneiform inscription on a similar seal, found with this one, identifies her as 'The lady Pu-abi', the so-called 'Queen' of Ur. However, Pu-abi (the name used to be read Shub-ad) could have been a priestess. There were also pins, possibly for securing her cloak and the seals may have been tied to them. Many other rich objects were found in the burial pit leading to the tomb.

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Lapis lazuli cylinder seal-1

  • 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)


More information


D.J. Wiseman, Catalogue of the Western Asiat (London, 1962)

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


Height: 4.300 cm
Diameter: 2.200 cm

Museum number

ME 121545


Excavated by Sir Leonard Wolley


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